From the Desk of the President (July, 2015)


Please join me in congratulating Paul Madison (left) who was elected at our June 17th Executive Board meeting to fill the vacant Member-at-Large seat. His term will run from the date of our meeting through April 30, 2016. The oath of office was administered by our Staff Representative, Michael LaCoste, following the election, so Paul started right in on his duties as an officer.  

Please note that the Executive Board meeting scheduled for Wednesday, July 15th has been canceled. We have our retreat the following week and will hold a shortened version of the meeting at the end of that retreat. Some of the topics that we plan to cover at the retreat are ongoing communications, on-site meetings and mapping our workplace.  

The Council 5 Convention will held in Duluth on September 30th – October 3rd. We traditionally receive the convention call towards the end of summer and elect our delegates at the September General Assembly. Keep your eyes open for that notice. The theme for the convention this year will center on the AFSCME Strong initiative to build our union’s strength and unity.  

Alex Erickson, Kenneth W. Garnier, Tywanna Gray, Kathy Kelly and I will represent all of us in Local 34 as our Table Team this year. We have our first meeting with the Employer on August 10th to present our proposal (note – all our negotiations meetings will begin at 9:00 AM instead of the past practice of 2:30 PM. This will make all our lives much easier!!!).  

Before that happens, we will work with the Table Team members of Locals 552, 1719, 2822, 2864 and 2938 to fine tune our general proposal. Our Local 34 members who attended the Master Committee meetings will meet mid-July to craft our Local 34 supplemental proposal – taking all the ideas and suggestions offered by you that are specific to our job classes and the work that we do. That supplemental proposal, along with the supplemental proposals from the other locals, will then be added to general proposal for the finished document. I would like to thank all the folks who have attended meetings so far.  

Our contract campaign is already starting with events planned by our EE&O Committee. We welcome all members to join us as we work on those plans and come up with ideas to involve folks at every work site.

The next two meetings are scheduled for Monday, July 6th and Monday, August 3rd, both at 5:30 PM in HSB L14/L15 (rooms across from the elevator in the lower level). Food is provided so you can feed your creativity as you come up with a game plan. Any questions that you have about EE&O should be directed to Norm Meier, Chair. He can be reached at 612-348-5735.  

The Executive Board, based on the direction of the June 3rd General Assembly, found union-made and union-printed t-shirts in Kelly green. We will be ordering those this month – hopefully will have them on hand in time for us to wear for our first actions. Go green!!!

Michael LaCoste and I, along with Jon Grebner and Joyce Carlson from Council 5, attended a County Board briefing on the possibility of merging the Hennepin County Home School with the Ramsey County Boy’s To-tem Town. Hennepin County DOCCR (Department of Community Corrections & Rehabilitation) staff gave a presentation of the current situation and why they are looking at a merger. Both facilities are old – County Home School was built in 1908 and Totem Town in 1936 – so the physical plants are aging and do not meet the requirements for services both counties would like to provide. DOCCR will bring this matter to a County Board meeting in the near future.

Watching the Minnesota Legislature this year was like watching a yo-yo or a slinky going down steps. They moved up and down and what movement they had was very slow and jerky. One good thing did come out of that – putting $52 million into the budget to fund the need for increased staffing counties will have to have in place if they are to meet the requirements of the Task Force recommendations for Child Protection. Our HSPD Director has already asked the County Board to approve adding 100 new staff to meet those needs. This is good news for our Child Protection workers as, once the new workers are up to speed on cases, caseloads should be reduced. It will take time for this to happen so we all need to keep supporting each other.

Happy 4th of July! Enjoy the celebration of the creation of our great country.