From the Desk of the President (January / February, 2008)
New Chief Steward – Cathy Cowden joins Clifford
Robinson in handling chief steward duties.
New Trustee – Osman Aweis will fill out the term
which expires at the end of April 2008.
He joins Jim Evans and Audie Lussier as our Trustees.
New Good & Welfare member – Marcia Dietz will
join Lisa Durkot and Cathy Cowden in handling Good &
Welfare requests for the Local.
Nominations Chair – Deanna DeLoach will be in
charge of taking nominations at the February and March 2008
General Assembly meetings.
If you are interested in putting your name forward
for any office, please contact her.
You should have received a letter regarding the
nominations and elections procedure for this year.
Please join me in thanking Cathy, Osman, Marcia and
Deanna for stepping forward to participate in Local 34
activities on our behalf.
you to Commissioner Peter McLaughlin for attending the Local
34 sponsored viewing of the Michael Moore movie,
“SiCKO”, on November 3, 2007. All of the Commissioners
were invited to attend.
We received regrets from Commissioner Randy Johnson
as he was moving that day.
to Kela Williams and Aboubker Ouassaddine who were the
leaders in our efforts in contacting fair share fee payers
to discuss union issues and benefits and inviting them to
join us as members by signing the dues authorization cards.
Due to their hard work, as well as the hard work of
other officers, stewards and activists, we were able to
reach out to over 200 folks in our bargaining unit with new
card signed by close to 120 new members. Barb Harrison,
Ester Killion, Miguel Salazar, Shawnice Watson, Laurie
Simon, Robert Velez, and Joe Weston are some of the other
leaders. Katie Farber and Vern Wagner deserve a huge thank
you for their efforts in coordinating the organizing drive,
getting information out to the activists, planning site
visits, arranging for food for informational meetings,
meeting with stewards and activists to devise strategies for
different work sites. Local 34 was recognized for their
efforts at the December 2008 Council 5 Executive Board
meeting as part of Metro Area Director, Jerry Serfling‘s,
report. He said
that the work, summarized in a report from Katie and Vern,
will be shared with other locals as they begin their
organizing drives. Hats off to both Katie and Vern!!
for representatives from the local to attend the Council 5
Affordable Heath Care Conference February 22-23, 2008 will
be held at the February 6, 2008 General Assembly.
The Council 5 Executive Board has made addressing
health care one of the top priorities for our members and
this conference is a step in that direction.
The conference will provide tools for us to frame our
concerns, assist us in crafting a message and obtain tools
to help us speak about the issue.
We will participate in an electronic town meeting as
part of the conference.
The average Minnesotan pays 32 % of their income for
family coverage or 11% for single coverage, we need to be
part of the solution to the problem.
Health insurance was one of the most time intensive
portion of our past negotiations discussions – both
amongst ourselves and with the Employer. Both sides had to
make concessions in order to arrive at the benefit set in
our 2008 – 2009 contract.
Inasmuch as the rates were reduced for an employee
with children in an effort to make the coverage more
affordable to employees at the lower end of the pay scales,
we still have members who cannot afford to pay those
premiums and who either do not have coverage or qualify for
Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare for their children –
or do not have coverage at all.
This is not
just our issue. Affordable
health care is an issue faced by our friends, our neighbors,
our family members – people across the state and country.
We need to find a way to address the issue so that
all of us will be able to access health care that – quite
literally - does not cost us an arm and a leg.
Finding candidates who actually talk about this issue
and are willing to talk about a plan to bring those costs
down will be a key component to our success.
This conference is a good step on that path.
I will be on leave from January 21, 2008 til about
February 29, 2008. In my absence, please address your
questions to our Vice Presidents, Wesley Volkenant and Mary
Kay Windels. As 1st Vice President
this year, Wes will chair the union meetings and be the
point person for my normal union activities.
Thank you to both Wes and Mary Kay for the extra work
they will take on during my absence.