From the Desk of the President (July, 2013)


Local 34 purchased two tickets to the Tubman 20th Annual Wing Ding held Wednesday, July 24, 2013 from 5:00 - 10:00 PM at The Depot, 425 S 2nd St, Minneapolis MN. Everyone who attends the Local 34 General Assembly on Wednesday, July 10th, will have their name put into a hat. A drawing will then be held at the meeting for two lucky winners of the tickets. According to those of our members who have attended this event in the past, the food is delicious and the cause, a fundraiser for Tubman, is a worthy one.

Local 34 Table Team for negotiations - I am pleased to announce that the following members have been approved as your Local 34 Table Team for negotiations this year: Jean Diederich, Douglas Graham, Maggie Keating, Paul Madison, Laura Ross, Wes Volkenant and Kela Williams. This group will represent all of you at the table beginning with the August 12th presentation to the Employer of our contract proposal. Your words of encouragement and support over the course of the meetings - August through November - are much appreciated as the task ahead of us is daunting - but not impossible.

Thank you to all of our Master Negotiations Committee members who participated in some grueling meetings to put together the proposal. The final meeting was especially long - went from 5:30 - 10:00 PM—but the job was completed. Please join me in thanking Angel Alexander, Douglas Graham, Rhonda Griffin, Jodi Hammer, Dana Hanson, Heather Hemmer, John Herzog, Maggie Keating, Kathy Kelly, Kim Kurth, Paul Madison, Julie Miller, Vicki Moore, Jacquelin Poole, Kay Powell, Sheila Prok, Pat Regan, Laura Ross, Miguel Salazar, Rosemary Tomscha-Scholes, Wes Volkenant and Kela Williams.

As always, we sifted through a number of suggestions, and the discussions of the merits - or lack thereof - of those suggestions, in order to arrive at the final proposal. That will be available for you to read when we present it to the Employer. I found the following quote which, to me, is an excellent summary of this process and the work that it will generate:

“With courage you will dare to take risks, have strength to be compassionate , and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity." - Keshavan Nair.

And speaking of negotiations, Heather Hemmer is the Chair of our AFSCME Education, Engagement & Outreach (EE & O) Committee. She is looking for members to become involved in activities to support the Table Team's work during the negotiations process. Please contact her, to let her know what help you can provide, and join with your fellow AFSCME members to show our AFSCME green unity and strength. Opportunities are wide open - there is room for everyone!

Annual performance reviews - David Hough, County Administrator, meets with the Presidents of our AFSCME Locals and our Council 5 Staff Representatives on a bi-monthly basis. One of the topics on the agenda for the most recent meeting was that of performance reviews. Mr. Hough stated that his message to all Managers and Supervisors is that reviews should be done annually. He would like to see employee engagement in the process so that there would no surprises in the review.

We raised our concern that some supervisors are doing multiple reviews, one right after another, citing shortcomings and giving employees no time to address those issues before the next review. As an example, one of our members just received the review for 2010 - 2011, with several issues identified for that time period. The 2011 - 2012 was completed and given to the member this week citing that there had been no improvement in the behavior from the last review. Needless to say, this is disconcerting, as the member did not have any conversation during the 2010 - 2012 time period about the issues raised in the first review, had not had time to address those issues during the period covered by the second review, and is now in the position of looking at a possible discipline or being put on a work plan.

Mr. Hough and Rafe Viscasillas from Human Resources had the same response - that the supervisor should only be looking at the last 12 months for the review - not the past three years. In this instance, that would mean that whatever happened during the 2010 - 2012 period is moot - the supervisor should only be going back to the 12 month period from 2012 to now, and addressing the member's work performance for just that time period. As a union, that is what we have been saying - it is refreshing to have our position validated. So, if you have not had a review for over a year, and you receive one that covers more than the past 12 months, please let one of our stewards know about it. Reviews serve a critical purpose but they should also be completed in a timely fashion. My last word on reviews is this: that if an issue exists, the supervisor should address it when the issue happens, not wait until a review to use it as a negative tool. I would much rather know now if I need to correct an error on a case versus waiting six months and having that error compounded by 50 other cases.

ROWE and Regionalization - the majority of our Local 34 members work in HSPHD - Human Services and Public Heath Department - and are in a ROWE (Results Only Work Environment). With the reality of Regionalization - the NorthWest Hub is up and running, the South Suburban Hub is almost ready to open and plans for the other sites are on the horizon - and the fact that many of us, our ROWE is outside of the traditional 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Monday - Friday schedule - we need to learn how to effectively communicate with each other. Going from several large work sites where we see our coworkers on a daily basis to six hubs and a number of satellites where we might see a fellow unit member once a week means that our current communications processes will need to be tweaked so that we stay current on member needs and concerns. If any of you have ideas, thoughts, suggestions, prototypes, please share them with us. Our goal is to keep all of us as up-to-date as possible on the issues that are important to us. "America is a tune that must be sung together." - Anonymous. Happy 4th of July - I look forward to celebrating on that day with a huge Diederich family reunion, seeing cousins whom I have not seen for a long time and sharing good food, good company and lots of laughs. Whatever you do, be safe and enjoy!