From the Desk of the President (6/2006)
have received the convention call for the AFSCME International Convention to be held in
Chicago the week of August 7 - 11, 2006.
Local 34 is allotted six delegates.
A motion was passed at the 5/16/06 E-Board to send
our delegation to the convention with the election to take
place at the June 7, 2006 GA. This is going to be an extremely
important convention for us as we will review and vote on
resolutions which will determine the direction we head over
the next few years. Those
of us who attended the 36th International Convention in Los
Angeles will recall voting on a resolution to establish what
has been titled the 21st
The charge of this committee was to “... examine
every aspect of its International Constitution, as well as
review all committees called for under the Constitution to
best focus their purpose and activities; analyze the dues
structure; evaluate programs, priorities, representational
structure, and methods of operation; all for the purpose of
recommending changes to make the union more effective,
stronger, and to ensure that AFSCME is on the offensive and
serves as the leader of the labor movement."
Committee members include the International Vice
Presidents - see the afscme.org web site for a
complete list. Along
with a number of union members from around the country, they
have met over the past two years, meeting the charge of that
resolution and completing a report which will be presented
at this year's convention.
They will also have a good number of resolutions to
address their recommended changes for our union, based on
the work of the Committee.
34 has actually implemented some of the changes that will be
suggested as a best practice and recommended policy by the
of those is the dues structure which we just changed
effective this year. We
went from a 5-tier structure to a straight progressive
structure of 1% of monthly gross income.
The Committee is going to recommend that, by the year
2009, all locals throughout the International implement some
version of a progressive dues structure such as ours.
The thinking behind this is that it is one of the
most equitable methods of handling dues.
recommendation will be to raise the minimum dues rate by
$3.00 over the coming three years.
This resolution would have the $.50 per month that is
set to expire June 30, 2006, restored effective July 1,
proposal goes on to further increase minimum dues rates by
$1.25 per month effective January 1, 2007;
$.76 per month effective January 1, 2008; and $.50
per month effective January 1, 2009.
The increase in the dues will be used to implement
the work of the union including increased organizing
activities, educational programs, legislative issues,
up-to-date databases of our members, and improved
communications which will help to build the AFSCME's
strength in the workplace and allow us to continue to be a
leader in worker's rights. I suspect that this will be the
most hotly contested resolution before the body at the
convention as it does hit us in one of our most hard hit
spots - our pocketbooks.
It is also one of the best arguments for a
progressive dues structure as, if we are successful in
getting good contracts, we should enjoy decent wage
increases which, in turn, leads to receiving better services
from both the International and the Council and a greater
acceptance on our part of increased dues as we see the value
of spending some money to make more money and improving our
have a copy of the 21st Century Committee recommendations if
you would like to read through it.
It lays out the groundwork for an extremely
comprehensive plan for our future as a union.
It spells out the need for us to be more cohesive in
our political efforts, in our legislative efforts, in our
organizing efforts, and in improving members lives overall. The
bottom line to all of this is that it is clear that we will
need to become more politically effective as those folks who
are elected to public office end up being our bosses.
They are the ones who make the decisions about rules,
regulations, laws, etc., that affect our daily work lives -
how we do our work and what our work is - as well as our
wages and benefits. So,
the better we are at getting friends elected to office, the
more likely we are to get better contracts and better
working conditions. The
better those are, the happier we are in both our work and
the same time as this important AFSCME Convention is held,
the Minnesota State
AFL-CIO Convention will be held in St Paul.
The dates for that convention are August 7 - 9, 2006
at the Crowne Plaza, St. Paul Riverfront Hotel (the old
Radisson - Riverfront).
We will need to have a full delegation at that
convention, too, as the direction of the AFL-CIO as an
effective body will be on the table.
The discussion and work to make changes in the local
member bodies from Minneapolis Central Labor Union Council
or St. Paul Trades and Labor Assembly to six Local Area
Councils throughout the state will come to fruition at this
convention, and we, as a member Local, must be part of that
ability to have a voice in the Local Area Council must
remain strong, so that we can continue in this venue, to
have input in the working relationships between the body and
elected officials who have an impact on our working lives.
At the time of writing this article, we have not
received the call to that convention.
We will most likely elect these delegates at the July
5, 2006 GA so keep your eyes open for this
does not put things in front of you that you are not able to
handle." - Unknown
would like to take the time to address one more very
important item in my article and that is stress.
We all face stress in our work lives as well as our
personal lives. Unfortunately,
one of our sisters, Jill Schulte, was not able to overcome
the stress that she faced, and she took her life.
My hope is that her act will serve as a wake-up call
for those of us who are in danger of letting the daily
stresses of life get to us. Unlike the quote above, sometimes life
does throw something at us that is more than we feel we can
handle on our own. Hopefully, we all have someone we trust
whom we can turn to at that point - a friend, a family
member, a coworker, someone in our church or community - to
help us work our way through it. Also, we have access to the County's
Employee Assistance Program - one of our work benefits.
You can check it out at http://www.chsfs.org/Employee_Assistance.html
or you can call 651-635-0477 OR 1-800-332-0477 OR TTY at
651-635-0013 for information about services available to you
and your family. You
can also talk to your primary caregiver through our health
plan, HealthPartners; talk to a Nurse Navigator at
952-883-5000 or call the Mental Health/Chemical Health
Services Behavioral Health Personalized Assistance Line at
952-883-5811 or 1-888-638-8787. You
do have options. Your
ongoing good health and well-being is important to all of
do not let work become the be all and end all of your life.
We earn our vacation and sick leave for a reason - to
be used to help us maintain not only our physical health,
but also our mental health.
It is there to be used.
I know that many of us let our time accrue for a
rainy day but what is the point of saving for the day that
you do not reach or are not healthy when you do reach it?
Sometimes we have to put our health and
well-being at the front of the line. We certainly are not going to be able to
serve our clients efficiently, effectively and respectfully
if we do not take care of ourselves first.