From the Desk of the President (July, 2007)

WANTED – AFSCME Council 5 has extended an offer that our Executive Board decided we could not refuse.  That offer is to assist our local with internal organizing efforts by paying for up to 8 days lost time per month for up to 4 months – with the local matching with another 8 days per month – for a member – or members – to coordinate one-on-one meetings with current fair share fee payers from Local 34 and, possibly, some of the other Hennepin County AFSCME locals, to introduce them to AFSCME, answer questions they might have about the union, and invite them to join as dues paying members.  We have voiced our concerns in the past that we are not doing as good as job as we could in meeting new employees and introducing them to the union.  This offer from the Council will give us the opportunity to rectify that concern and to grow our local’s strength and power in the workplace.  We will be using this as one of our many tools in our 2008 contract campaign to build that power in the workplace.  This lost time position could be done by one or two of our members - splitting the 16 days per month – with the time away from your County job paid for by AFSCME.   The position is open to any member of Local 34.   

SPECIAL ELECTION – As noted earlier in the newsletter, one of our Trustees, Sara Pearson, has left our ranks to work at HCMC.  With her departure, her trustee position, with one year remaining of a three-year term, is vacant.  A special election will be held at the July 18, 2007 Executive Board meeting to fill the vacant position.  We have three trustees whose responsibility is to conduct an annual review of our Local’s financial books, craft a report of the findings and present that report along with any recommendations to the Executive Board and membership.  The time commitment is approximately three – four meetings over a two-month period prior to the October General Assembly. 

COUNCIL 5 CONVENTION – We have received the “Call” to this annual convention, which will be held September 27 –29, 2007 in Duluth, MN this year.  The Local has approved sending up to 35 members, paying lost time of two days, lodging for three nights, per diem of $35.00 for three days, and mileage to and from Duluth.  The election of the delegates will be held at the August 1, 2007 General Assembly.  There are a variety of workshops planned, ranging from “New Delegates: Why the Heck Do We Have These Conventions?” to “Communicating With a Powerful Voice” to “Retirement Programs Under MSRS & PERA” to “Bullying in the Workplace” and “Commanding Laughter: Humor in the Workplace”.  I serve on the Convention Committee and one message that has been heard loud and clear is that speakers should be kept to a minimum.  There will be very few speakers who are not conducting our Council business.  Both President McEntee and Secretary-Treasurer Lucy have been invited to speak although we have not received confirmation of the time or dates as of yet.   Childcare will be available during the hours of convention business if you need it.  

GOLF ANYONE? – The Local voted to contribute $500.00 as an Event Sponsor to the Bill Peterson 7th Annual Golf Tournament fundraiser held July 30, 2007 at the Oak Marsh Golf Course in Oakdale, MN – near the Prom Center.  Proceeds from the event fund educational scholarships for Regions Hospital employees and AFL-CIO/Teamsters union members, spouses and children. Along with our sponsorship comes the opportunity for one of our members to enter the tournament and then attend the dinner with a guest.  If you like to golf, this is an opportunity to enjoy a day on the course while representing your local!  We will elect our participant at the July 11, 2007 General Assembly.    

For more information about the work and to express an interest in any of the above opportunities, please contact me at 612-348-0266 or send me an e-mail at or - by July 11, 2007 for the Bill Peterson Golf Tournament, by July 17, 2007 for the Trustee and lost time positions, and by July 31, 2007 for the Council 5 Convention delegate election.


MILEAGE GRIEVANCE – Matt Nelson, Barbara Harrison and I met with Labor Relations for our mileage grievance.  We had a good discussion about the issue as we explained the adverse effect this policy has had on our folks who work out of their homes – have no desk anywhere in a county building – and drive to see their clients.  I sent an e-mail asking the telecommuters impacted to send me their mileage totals since May 1, 2007 along with the miles they have been able to claim.  Here are the totals from the responses so far: total # of miles driven = 11,951 minus the total # miles claimed = 3925 and this equals the total # unreimbursed miles = 8026 times rate of $.485 which equals $3892.61 lost reimbursement for our members.  This is just for the period May 1, 2007 – June 18, 2007 and is for the 17 members who have responded to date.   If you are a “100%” telecommuter with your County provided desk, chair, phone/computer equipment and supplies at your home - and have not responded to the request for information - please do so as soon as possible, so that we can have as complete a picture as possible of how this policy has impacted our members. 


LAST, BUT NOT LEAST – Negotiations begin on July 30 at 2:30 PM when AFSCME Locals 34, 552, 1719, 2864, 2822 and 2938 present our union proposal to the Employer.  Keep your eyes open for the complete proposal that will be shared as soon as we have the final copy ready. 


Upwards and onwards!