From the Desk of the President (July, 2010)


Our Pension:

We read quite a bit in the newspaper or hear on the news about how our public pension - PERA for us County employees - is a Cadillac plan that cannot continue to be funded by the tax payers. The pundits state that we should all have to switch from the defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan (401K type plan). The biggest problem with a 401K plan is the risk involved - that you have to hope the employer will match it, hope that you are good at putting money into the account and hope that you will know how to invest those savings. Those same pundits state that our pensions provide a burden to the state that we cannot afford to cover. What they fail to note is that our defined benefit plan is comprised of money that is withheld from our wages and matched by the Employer - by state law - and put into a dedicated fund - PERA. Those monies are invested wisely so that when we retire, we will have a secure but modest retirement benefit. This benefit also acts as an economic stabilizer for the state as close to 90% of us continue to live in Minnesota after retirement. We pay taxes on the pension as we receive it and those taxes help to fund the state budget. We actually help the state to "keep on keeping on" - both as current employees and as retirees. When you talk to the political candidates calling you and knocking on your door during this election cycle, tell them to leave our pension alone, that we have worked with legislators, the pension administrators and employers to address the health of the fund and that it is doing just fine.  (For more on our pensions, see pages 5 and 6.)

Upcoming Events:

A couple of events to note are the Minnesota AFL-CIO convention and the AFSCME Council 5 Convention. Both will be held at the Sheraton Hotel in Bloomington , MN at the end of September 2010. The local traditionally sends delegates to both events. Look for more information once we have received the convention calls - probably in the August newsletter.
Political Opportunities:

All of our Minnesota State Senators and Representatives are up for elections this year as well as our federal Representatives and some of our County Commissioners . The Council 5 PEOPLE screening committees have been busy screening candidates for the various races and recommending endorsements of labor friendly folks to the Council 5 Executive Board. Once those candidates have received our endorsement, they need assistance from us to get them elected. I know that all of us are swamped trying to keep up with work life, family life and, if we are lucky, some leisure life. That being said, we have a vested interested in working for candidates who will represent us at the various steps of government as all that we do in our work lives is governed by the laws, statutes and policies they work on once they are elected. We need people who know us, who care about us, who have seen us in action to represent us. This is a tough ask but I am asking you - help all of us. Take a few hours to work a phone bank, door knock, put up lawn signs, register voters. Remember to vote in the August 10 primary. Every little bit helps us to better provide the resources that we need to do our jobs.

Summer is here and so is the heat, the humidity and all the fun we cram into our warm Minnesota months. One of the events we hope you choose to attend is the Hennepin County AFSCME Family Picnic sponsored by all six AFSCME locals 34, 552, 1719, 2822, 2864 and 2938.  It will be held on from 1:00 - 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 10, 2010, at French Regional Park , 12605 County Road 9, Plymouth, MN . This is one of our fabulous Hennepin County parks and is a great place to join your sisters, brothers and families for good food and entertainment. We will have a magician to amaze us, a face painter to bring color to our lives and games for the children. There is a swimming area/beach so plan to bring your swimsuits and beach gear. Snow cones, hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad, chips, and beverages will be provided. This is a family style event and what better way to celebrate than to bring a dish to share - maybe your prize chocolate cookies or peach cobbler?? We are looking for members to help set up before the picnic and clean up afterwards.  Gloria Gallegos has already volunteered - thank you, Gloria!  Please let me know if you can help.
Celebrate the 234th birthday of our country on the 4th of July safely.

Happy Birthday to all of us!