From the Desk of the President (June, 2004)

 

Announcement:

We will have a guest speaker attending our June 2, 2004 General Assembly. Dennis Hill from Take Back Minnesota will speak about the multitude of opportunities open for members to become active in this year’s political process. Labor 2004 is a campaign developed by the AFL-CIO to win battleground states in this year’s presidential election. Both political parties have identified Minnesota as one of the states where the vote for president will be close and hard fought. AFSCME has agreed to work with the Minnesota Area Labor Councils to inform union members about issues important to working families. Some of those issues are one we have already faced in the past twelve months - contracting out and government cutbacks. Privatization is another threat on the horizon for our sisters and brothers at HCMC. If you cannot attend the GA and would like more information, Dennis can be reached at 651-287-0487 or dhill@afscmemn.org

The Dignity and Respect Meet & Confer process as negotiated in our current contract has begun. Chalmers Davis and I are representing Local 34. We join members from the other Hennepin County AFSCME locals, our Business Agents, Bill Peters from Labor Relations and folks from Management in the varying Departments where we work. We have had two meetings so far - mostly working on defining what we see as the crux of the problem. Alan Olson from the Bureau of Mediation Services is facilitating some of the meetings as we work our way through this process. Per the terms of our contract, the goal of this committee is to create a plan to utilize by September 1, 2004 so we do have our work cut out for us. 

If you have not already heard about our Local beginning actions to improve our work lives, you will. We have had one training session on April 19th for our officers and stewards to begin the “Building for a Better Contract” initiative. We met at Ridgedale with members from Locals 2822 and 2864 to discuss what our goals were and how we could achieve them as we worked towards the 2005 contract negotiations. One goal was identified as having a voice in the 2005 County budget process - encouraging union participation in the budget discussions by the various Departments as well as educating folks about the need to have the levy limit if we are to continue providing quality services to the citizens of Hennepin County. We have another training session scheduled for Friday, May 21st, for officers, stewards, and members who have volunteered to be part of this first step. We will learn how to conduct a one-on-one survey of the entire membership. We, the Union, need to know what all of us are willing to do to in order to achieve better working conditions, better budgets, better workloads while providing for the health and safety of the people we serve. When you are approached by your coworkers to complete this survey, please think about the questions and answer them honestly. Think about what you will be willing to do - write a letter or call a commissioner about an issue that concerns you; work on a political campaign of someone running for office so that we have labor-friendly faces at every level of the political strata come next January; serve on a Local committee or workgroup to further our efforts - anything that will help us get to where we need to go. The end goal is to be prepared for the 2005 negotiations so that we can get a better contract. We will all thank each other for the work that we are going to do. 

If you have any questions, please call me at 348-0266.

Jean