From the Desk of the President (June, 2015)



We have a vacant Executive Board Member-at-Large position created with Deb Konechne election as Membership Secretary. Per the terms of our Local 34 Constitution, that vacancy will be filled via a special election by the Executive Board members at the June 17, 2015 Executive Board meeting. Any member in good standing for at least 12 months as of June 1, 2015 is eligible to run for this office. Duties include attending both the monthly General Assembly and Executive Board meetings, serving on the newsletter/information distribution group, serving as the Chair of one of the Local 34 Standing Committees, helping to fill in for stewards as needed, and other duties as assigned. If you want more information or would like to put your name forward for this election, please call me at 612-348-0266 or send me an email by no later than Monday, June 15, 2015. We do ask that you plan to attend the June 17, 2015 Executive Board meeting to introduce yourself and answer any questions.  

The July 15, 2015 Local 34 Executive Board has been re-scheduled to coincide with the Local 34 Executive Board retreat held the following week on July 22, 2015. The meeting will immediately follow the retreat which is set for 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM. Please update your calendar to reflect that change.  

A 2015 contract negotiations survey is coming to a work site near you soon. We will be talking to our fellow members about issues that are important to us as we work on our contract proposal. We are asking for home email and phone numbers so we are able to spread any news, get notices of actions, ask for feedback, etc., in a speedy fashion. Please take the time to fill out the survey when we stop by. Volunteers to talk to members are welcome – let me or one of the other officers or stewards know if we have not already invited you to join us in the fun.  

Health insurance update – Bill Peters let us know that the County will most likely have a proposal at the first contract negotiations meeting for an insurance premium increase to cover what appears to be an upward trend in our use and costs. The proposal will reflect that trend. We are continuing to watch what the possible effects the reduced premiums for the Advantage plans have on the overall income versus overall costs for our plan. Another topic of conversation was adding more activities to the health incentives for further reduced co-pays. To paraphrase Paul Wellstone, “We all do better when we all do better,” which is especially true for our health. When we are healthier, we tend to be happier. When we are happier, we tend to be healthier. In my mind, that is a good cycle to get into and stay in.  

We had our bi-monthly AFSCME Presidents meeting with David Hough. He introduced the new Human Resources Director, Michael Rossman who addressed some possible enhancements to PeopleSoft/APEX which would give us the ability to attach a rebuttal or more information to our performance reviews on APEX. Right now you can only attach that document to the paper copy in the Human Resources file. Michael said he would give us updates as he has information available to him.  

We also met the new Chief Information Officer, Jerome Driessen, who gave us an update on the County’s cell phone policy and stipend plan. The County’s contract with Blackberry will end in October 2015. Employees who have a business need to have a cell phone for their job will have the option of using their personal cell phone with a $65.00 stipend or be issued a County phone. The Department Directors are responsible for determining which jobs need phones based on safety and security implications.  

We have had two groups of HSR’s start with the County since the first of the year with another group to start in June under the Workforce Development auspices. A group of Office Support workers will begin in August. This is a wonderful path for new workers coming into the workplace from our local education institutions to learn our work and do that work well as those of us who are retiring walk out the door. We have talked about succession planning for our work – it is good to see it in play.  

That is how my world is moving this month. Stay tuned for more news. Jean