From the Desk of the President (January, 2015)

 

Hello and Happy 2015 to every-one. The holidays are behind us - hope that you all were able to enjoy spending some time with friends and family doing something to relax - even if it was only for a few hours. We all need time to rejuvenate.  

2015 will be a busy year for us. Many of us are still making adjustments to our work - either how we do it or where we do it - and that is not going to let up as staff shift around with regionalization. Many of our long time co-workers will be leaving us for the land of retirement. It will be hard to see them go as they have shared so much of their time and knowledge with us. We wish them well - they deserve reaching this goal. As they leave, we will welcome new coworkers stepping in to fill the positions and learn new names and stories. We will do a lot of sharing our wealth of knowledge as folks settle into new positions.  

We have Local 34 officer elections in April, with nominations in February and March. We have our 2015 AFSCME Council 5 Day on the Hill in March to meet our legislators and discuss issues important to us. We will also be keeping an eye on legislative actions at both the state and federal levels. Since laws, statutes and regulations coming from those bodies affects our daily work lives - and our pensions, our schools, our roads, etc., - it behooves us to stay informed on any proposals that would change things.  

Some of us may be called to attend state committee meetings to testify about our work. We also have negotiations coming up as our contract expires at the end of this year. We put a lot of time and effort into making sure that we address the issues most important to our local when we meet with the Employer at the bargaining table. Negotiations will begin sometime after Au-gust so, hopefully, we will be able to obtain a new contract before the old one expires. We also have our Council 5 Convention in October up in Duluth. The "Take a Break" lunch time sessions will continue as will the Labor Lunch events. All in all, everyone will have the opportunity to participate in our union activities over the course of the year. I look for-ward to talking to you.  

ANNOUNCEMENTS:  

Reminder: we will elect up to 2 members at the January 7, 2015 General Assembly to attend the Council 5 Social Media Workshop held Friday, January 23, 2015 at the Council 5 office. The local will cover 4 hours lost time and mileage for folks elected to attend the workshop. Our request from the local is that anyone putting their name forward be willing to commit to using skills gained for the work of our local. Please call me at 612-348-0266 if you have questions.  

The 2015 Hennepin County Budget and levy of 2.10% was approved by the Commissioners at the December 16, 2014 Board meeting. The positions in the proposed HSPHD budget were included in that final budget so we should see more workers in the Child Protection ranks. Our hope is that this will provide some well-deserved relief to our CP Investigators and Case Managers as they, hopefully, see a reduction in their caseloads. Members attending the December 2014 General Assembly brought books and toys which have been donated to the room used for supervised family visits at the Brookdale site. Thank you to everyone who brought a contribution.  

We will begin our work for negotiations this year by reviewing our contract at next three General Assembly meetings beginning with the January 7th meeting. The meetings are held in HSB 110, 525 Portland Ave S, Minneapolis at 5:30 PM. All members are welcome to attend and participate in the discussion of what we would like to see proposed for improvements. Our current contract can be found on our Local 34 web page.    

Please take some time to read through it before the meeting so that you are prepared to ask questions or speak to what you would like to see changed. Council 5 is planning a Day of Service in April 2015 to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A planning session is taking place at the Council 5 on Tuesday, January 6th. If you can assist, please contact Jennifer Munt at 651-287-0575 or via e-mail at jennifer.munt@afscmemn.org.  

We have our work cut out for us this year. Let's all start off on the right foot by remembering to take time to breathe, to say goodbye to our retirees and say hi to our new coworkers and to plan vacations so you stay refreshed. Welcome 2015!

Jean