I attended a meeting on February 5th held by the State AFL-CIO.  The meeting had more than one purpose.  According to Ray Waldron, President, and Steve Hunter, Secretary-Treasurer, they were holding this session, as well as several others around the state, to find out what issues were of concern to union members; for members to tell them what they saw as important to them about their jobs and the economy; and to tell them what criteria should be considered when screening candidates for endorsement.  We had a good number of Unions attending the meeting and the discussion was engaging. 

The common theme throughout the two-hour session was that we want the COPE committee to hold candidates accountable to Labor goals and ideals.  Many of us voiced our concerns about candidates who have been endorsed in the past not supporting Labor bills, and yet they continue to be endorsed.  If they will not support us, why do we continue to give them our support?  We want them to work for and earn our support.  We have the muscle - let's use it!  A case in point was the recent state worker's strike.  Governor Ventura slam-dunked the employees for going out on strike - even questioning their patriotism after the events of September 11th.  Why didn't our "friends of Labor" speak up on their behalf? They should have been out their on the front lines letting the workers, both visibly and vocally, know that they disagreed with the Governor and supported their right to strike.

Another concern raised was that of the rush we always seem to be in to endorse someone for political office.  We discussed the value of waiting until after the caucuses, the State endorsing conventions and even the primaries before endorsing candidates. President Waldron thanked everyone who attended for his or her frank comments.  I appreciated the fact that we had this forum to voice our concerns.

A bit of trivia for those of us who have been around the County a long time…  I seem to be in a perpetual state of cleaning out files and came across this shocker.  In 1989, when the County began the Health Care Expense Account, my contribution towards family coverage for Group Health - now Health Partners - was $44.83 per month. If I had family coverage now - with the no co-pay option, that same coverage would be over $200.00 per month. Sort of makes you wonder, doesn't it?

We received a new listing of Union print shops at the February 13th Central Labor Union meeting.  If you plan to have any printing done, the Allied Printing Trades Council asks that you use those shops. I have the list at my desk and will provide it to anyone asking for a copy. You can get your wedding invitations, birth announcements, etc. printed by your Union sisters and brothers and put your hard-earned Union dollars to Union work.

We have Meet and Confer language in our current contract on a variety of issues. I, along with the Presidents of the other AFSCME Locals, met with our Business Agents to discuss how we will approach those issues. Please contact me with any thoughts that you have about the issues we will be discussing in the near future. The Meet & Confer topics can be found in Article 31, Sections 4, 5 & 6 on page 36 of our contract. 

Speaking of the new contracts, you should have received your copy via US mail in the past week. David Heins, Elizabeth Portlance and I spent several hours on Saturday, February 16th, stuffing them into envelopes to be mailed.  Give a big thanks to David and Liz for their time and energy spent on your behalf as well as to Lois McEwen, Office Manager for Council 14, for spending part of her Saturday morning at the office while we worked.  Those of you who have not received your copy by now might want to check to see if you have updated your mailing address. As always, if the Council office does not have a new address and your mail is not forwarded from your old address, we have a tough time getting the necessary information out to you. I have asked Lois to give me those names so I may be calling you.

Keep sending in those designs for our Local 34-lapel pin.  he ones I have received so far are very creative and I look forward to receiving more before the March  20th E-Board meeting. Send them to me at JJC, LL (880). Some lucky person will win a $25.00 savings bond and the pleasure of seeing her/his artwork on our lapels.

 "Passion, not pedigree, will win in the end." - Jon Bon Jovi

 I feel the winds of change , spring must be on the way! Get out and enjoy it.