From the Desk of the President (July - August, 2012)

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Local 34 Next Wave contact - Heather Hemmer will serve as our Local 34 contact for Council 5 Next Wave initiatives. Please let her know if you are interested in becoming involved with the Next wave group and their events. Next Wave is geared towards bringing 35'ish and younger AFSCME members together to learn about becoming active within the union, about the union and step into leadership positions. We have at least 1/2 of our county workforce over the age of 45 which gives you a good picture of the need you to step for-ward, learn the ropes and charter the future of your union. To that end, if anyone is interested in learning more about what I do as President of the local, please let me know. One those duties is attending the quarterly Council 5 President's meetings. The next meeting is on Wednesday, August 1st. If you think that you might be interested in accompanying me to the meeting to learn about that facet of the job, give me a call at 612-348-0266.  

State Fair - free admission to the Fair is available to you if you volunteer at the Council 5 kiosk in the Labor Pavilion. The fair begins Thursday, August 23rd and runs through Labor Day, September 5th. Shifts are 9:00 Am - 12:30 PM; 12:30 - 4:00 PM and 4:00 -7:30 PM daily during the course of the fair. Contact Michael Kuchta at to sign up for a shift or two - for more fun, sign up with one of your coworkers. We have a number of Local 34 members participate in past years and all report that they had a blast.  

AFSCME International Convention - thank you for sending me as one of our Local contingent. You were well represented by your delegation - Katie Farber, Heather Hemmer, Kathy Kelly, Andrea Lazo-Rice and Kela Williams as well as by alternate Wes Volkenant. Our field went a bit deeper as Zachary Rice joined us for part of the convention and John Herzog accompanied his wife, Colleen, who was a delegate from her local, Scott County Local 2440.  

Unfortunately, I did not get to spend as much time on the convention floor as I would have liked as I served on Elections Committee. The duties of that committee meant that I, along with about 30 other rank-and-file members, spent a lot of time in the room assigned to the committee accepting forms for block voting, verifying that those persons signing the forms were delegates, accepting revocations of the block voting forms from delegates who decided to do their own voting and getting finals block voting counts to the designated voters. That involved an awful lot of signatures - I think that all of us signing the forms had very sore hands by the end of the convention. Thursday, the day of the election, meant that the Election Committee members had to be at the Convention Center by 4:30 AM to go over the process and fine-tune our responsibilities. We were responsible to make sure that voting stations were not blocked, that voters had plenty of space, that observers kept an appropriate distance from those stations, that observers had someone to call on if they had questions or wanted to file an objection, that no cameras or phones were used on the voting floor, checked to make sure that anyone entering the voting area had a delegate badge, etc. Once voting was completed, we then were responsible to keep an eye on the ballots as they were sorted and counted while answering questions from the observers. We did not get to the Convention floor until 5:30 PM that afternoon which made for a very long day standing on concrete floors. My feet/knees were not at all happy with me that day! I am very honored to have served on this committee I feel that I represented our Local and Council 5 well - and would do it again if asked.  

For me, one highlight of the convention was listening to Vice President Joe Biden. He stressed that we public employees are owed a huge thanks for all the work that we do, day in and day out, to keep our country moving forward, to keep our public safe. He gets the value of what we do and the reasons that we do our jobs.  

Here is the link to part of his speech:  

The other highlight was our Local 34 evening out. All of us went out to supper at Roy's Hawaiian Fusion and enjoyed spending some time away from the convention business to just kick back and relax. The restaurant was three - five blocks from the hotel - depending on whose directions we followed (tee hee) so we managed to work up an appetite before we got there and to walk off some of the calories on our way back. Our Local 34 folks were joined by Wes's wife, Cheryl; John's wife, Colleen; Kela's friend, Byron; and Zachary Rice so we had a full table. The food was both delicious and filling. Being able to unwind was priceless.  

As always, meeting fellow AFSCME members from around the country, talking to them about issues we all face and listening to how they approach those issues make the convention worthwhile. I was a bit disappointed in how disjointed much of the convention trainings were this year. It seemed as if the sessions were always running late, that the materials were not as well prepared as usual and that there was a lack of focus. Hopefully, things will improve between now and the next one which will be held in Chicago.  

Upcoming events - we have both the MN AFL-CIO and the Council 5 conventions coming up this fall. The AFL-CIO convention will be held September 16-18, 2012 in Rochester, MN and the Council 5 convention will be held October 4-6, 2012 at the Doubletree Hilton (formerly known as the Sheraton) in Bloomington, MN.  

Phone banks, door knocks and elections - the Minnesota Primary election is held earlier than normal this year - on August 14th - which means that Council 5 is holding phone banks, working on door knocks and can use your help. Anyone interested in participating can call Tigger Lunney at the Council 5 office, 651-45-4990. We hope to have phone banks up and running at both the Council 5 office and the Minneapolis Labor Building. Also, if you plan to vote by absentee ballot for the Primary election, you should get that request in as soon as possible. For new voters, the deadline for registering to vote is July 24th. If you miss that deadline, you will then need to wait until you actually go to vote on August 14th with same day registration.  

I hope that you have all been able to get out and enjoy all that this beautiful state has to offer us. In spite of the heat and humidity, there is so much to see and do with all the lakes and parks. When you visit them, chances are that their upkeep is done by a fellow union member so remember to thank them for helping you to have a good summer. ~ Jean