From the Desk of the President (July, 2017)



Congratulations to Michael LaCoste – please join me in congratulating our Field Representative, Michael LaCoste, on his promotion to Acting Organizing Director for AFSCME Council 5. His promotion was effective June 20, 2017. We will miss his presence at our meetings and his words of advice to our officers and stewards and his very even keeled approach to the myriad of issues that crop up in our work lives. However, our loss is our gain as he will be working with the Organizing staff at the Council to bring more employees into our AFSCME ranks. The more members we have the stronger we are when we are advocating for better working conditions or negotiating our contracts.

Joyce Carlson, West Region Field Director, has notified us that we have a new Field Representative assigned to our local. Jolene Catudio will take over the Field Representative duties from Michael LaCoste. She may be reached at 651-287-0527 (direct dial office), (email) and cell 651-280-0043. Michael will be sharing the meetings he has on his calendar for L34 with Jolene, and will be available to her to make the transition go smoothly. I am excited to have Jolene join us as she brings new eyes and new experiences to our local and how we do our work. Please join me in welcoming Jolene.

Redbrick and reduced co-pay for 2018 office visits – if you have not already completed your health assessment and other activities to qualify for the reduced co-pay you might want get started. You need to earn 30 wellness points to qualify. Unlike years past this is not some-thing that can be done at the last minute. The easiest step is completing the health assessment to get you started on the process.

This is the information found at:

2018 Health Incentive

Employees, spouses and retirees with Hennepin County health insurance can choose to complete the steps to earn the health incentives.

New this year

 Wellness points have replaced wellness credits. You will earn points for many of the same activities you completed for credits last year: Learn more about points:

 You must document your participation to earn points for certain activities. Learn which activities have to be documented:

 Employees can earn a Healthy Savings card to use in 2017.

 Steps must be completed between November 1, 2016 and October 31, 2017.

Employees, spouses and retirees with Hennepin County health insurance can choose to complete the health incentive steps to receive a $15 reduction on their office visit co-pays in 2018. Both the employee and covered spouse must complete the incentive steps for the couple/family to receive reduced co-pays in 2018.

Complete the RedBrick Compass health assessment at any time in the year to earn 10 wellness points. The health assessment is an online health questionnaire.

Earn an additional 20 wellness points by completing in person or online HealthWorks and RedBrick activities throughout the year. You can find activity options on your RedBrick HealthMap page or RedBrick Rewards page.

Check your progress towards earning the health incentive on your RedBrick Rewards page.

Health incentive activities and wellness points are tracked in RedBrick Health. Log in to or call 1-844-724-7968 to get started.

I strongly encourage everyone who has not started to begin the process so that you have completed the necessary steps in order to qualify for the reduced co-pay for 2018.

WIC Nutritionists – a number of the WIC Nutritionists contacted Grace Baltich and myself regarding the changes in hours as they shift to the Regional Service Centers. One of the major concerns was the matter of breaks. They work in a clinic setting with appointments scheduled in increments of ½ hour. That type of schedule is not conducive to 15 minute breaks. We held a Meet & Confer with some of our WIC Nutritionists along with Management from WIC/Public Health and representatives from Labor Relations and Human Resources. The end result of that conversation is that we signed a Letter of Agreement which allows our WIC Nutritionists to combine the two paid 15 minute breaks and unpaid ½ hour lunch into a one hour lunch period to be utilized during their work day. We do have another issue on scheduling to resolve as they conform to the work hours at the Regional Service Centers. As the effective date of those changes draws near our staff should have a clear knowledge of how they will be assigned to the different schedules and what the hours of operation will be for each work site as some will have extended hours one day a week.

Netroots Nation – we have four members who will be attending this event in Atlanta, Georgia in August. Two of the members elected, Dawn Coburn-Paden and Fatuma Kassim, stepped down due to conflicts that cropped up after the election at the May 2017 General Assembly. Folks ask why we rank alternates when we hold an election and this is the reason. The first and second ranked alternates, Christina Eichorn and Tamika Hannah, are now able to join Paul Madison and Grace Baltich as our representatives to this busy event. I look forward to hearing their reports when they return from this event as there is so much to do that is new every year.

Union bulletin boards - per the terms of our contract we should have a bulletin board on every floor where we work for posting of our union news, our newsletters and announcements of union activities. Could all of you please take the time to look around your work area and let me know if there is a bulletin board dedicated to our union information? We want to find out which areas do not have one so that we can get one installed. Our hope is to be able to get the same pieces of information out across the county to every work site in a timely fashion. Thank you in advance for your assistance on this piece of member education.

Labor/Management HealthCare Committee and consensus based bargaining – two representatives from each of the 17 bargaining units will meet with representatives from Benefits and Labor Relations starting July 13th to begin the consensus based bargaining process for our 2018 health insurance. As we did last year, we will look at the report from Milliman summarizing our actual usage and projecting possible trend costs for 2018. We use that report along with the information we receive on a monthly basis as we explore what changes, if any, could be made to the premium costs and plan design. Kathy Kelly and I will represent our local in this process. Your comments shared last year helped us during the process so we ask that you again share your comments about the health insurance plans with us now. Having your concerns in front of us when we discuss those concerns with other members of the committee is extremely helpful.

Good & Welfare Committee – Donna Ronning and Robert Warmboe have been appointed to serve as our Good & Welfare folks. They join Amanda Abell in providing recognition of important life events to our members. Please join me in thanking them for stepping forward and taking on this task. You should send your request to the three of them.

Look at your calendar – we have the AFSCME Council 5 Convention coming up October 5-7, 2017. Last year we could have sent 86 members as our delegation. That number might be higher this year. We have already had some discussion on sending our full complement this year for several reasons – all the anti-worker initiatives coming from different corners of the country and the 2018 political races. One of this year’s convention events will be a Gubernatorial candidate forum with the candidates answering questions from our members. It will the first opportunity many of our convention delegates have to hear what the candidates have to say about issues important to us as working people such as living wages, health insurance, transportation, pensions, etc. We will have an announcement of delegate elections for this convention once we receive the official convention call.

Happy 4th of July!!!

I hope that folks remember the reason that we celebrate this day as a national holiday and afford all people those freedoms and rights. Jean