FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT (MARCH, 2003)

 

Reminder

We will elect delegates to four events at the March 5, 2003 General Assembly. If you are unable to attend the meeting and would like to have your name put forward for any of the elections, please contact me by no later than 12:00 noon on Wednesday, March 5th and I will make sure that your name is included in the list for the election.  The events are as follows:

1) AFSCME Day on the Hill, Thursday, March 13, 2003 – we will elect up to 50 delegates to attend this all day event.  This year’s lobbying will be more meaningful than ever because of the state budget crisis and all the attendant proposals to cut aid.

2) Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship Dinner, Thursday, March 20, 2003 – we will elect up to 8 delegates to attend this annual recognition dinner/fundraiser event for the Nellie Stone Johnson scholarship winners.  At the January E-Board, Local 34 voted to purchase a table at the Nellie Stone Johnson Dinner.

3) AFSCME Council 14 Convention, March 28 – 29, 2003 – we will elect up to 40 delegates for this event which will include workshops and a dinner/dance on Friday and resolutions, constitutional amendments and legislative updates on Saturday.

4) CBTU Convention, May 21- 26, 2003 – we will elect up to 3 delegates for this event.

Please Note: Please keep your eyes open for upcoming publicity about the Local 34 party scheduled for the evening of Friday May 9, 2003. This party will be open to all dues paying members and guests with entertainment and food provided adding up to a good time to be had by all!

"What, me worry?"    - Alfred E. Neuman

The past few weeks have been filled with phones calls, e-mails and conversations in the hallways with many of you as you voice your concerns about the projected Federal and State budgets with the trickle down impact on our County budget. You have explained how concerned you are about your jobs, the level and quality of services we will be able to provide – or not provide, the fears you have about the safety of your clients – their health and well-being, the frustrations you have with the politicians of all parties and the general public who appear to see public employees as fair game.  You have talked about your fears of possible layoffs and the effect that will have on our families and us.  Some of you have stated that you just want to put your head in the sand and hope that this will pass even though you know it is a symptom of denial.  Others have asked what can be done to address these concerns.  The general overall message is that I am hearing is, however, very simple, “Leave me alone and let me do what I am paid to do – providing services and doing the best that I can do as I do it!” 

I would like to be able to tell you that the solution is that simple but that would be a lie.  The truth is that, until the County Board gets the information that they need about the anticipated income for the next year, everything is supposition, hearsay and rumor.  None of these provides any foundation for addressing our concerns. 

You, however, can do something very simple.  Pick up your phone or your pen or your keyboard and contact your State and Federal Senators and Representatives to let them know how you feel about this mess we are in. Let them know about the work that you do and the impact any cuts will have on the services you provide.  It is very important that you let the State legislators know how you, as a public employee and a taxpaying constituent , feel about the various proposals to freeze wages and benefits.  Let them know what impact their proposals will have your ability to provide for you and your family, what the cuts in your spending ability will have on your local economy.  Keep in mind that the State’s income is derived 40% from income tax and 40% from sales tax.  Look at your income and where you will need to make cuts, which, in turn will trickle up to the State sources of revenue.  Communication is the key to this issue.  If we are silent, how can we expect our concerns to be heard, our issues to be addressed, our fears to be allayed?  It is up to every single one of us to stand up and be counted right now. 

If you did not attend one of the Take Back Minnesota strategy sessions sponsored by the Minnesota AFSCME Councils 6, 14, 65 and 96, contact our Business Agent, Matt Nelson, or the Council 14 office, 651-455-0773, to get the information from those training sessions.  Band together with AFSCME activists in your legislative districts to meet with your Senators and Representatives to talk about the issues you, as public employees, face on a daily basis.  Let them see you as a person.  Get the message out that it is not right to try and fix their mess on our backs.  Let them know that PERA is our retirement money, money we have put aside, just like any other wage earner, for our future and is not open for them to raid just because it happens to be overseen by a public board.  It is so much easier to propose and pass legislation when the persons affected are faceless so make your face known to them.  You have the power in your hands to educate everyone you know.  Write a letter to your local newspaper about your concerns.  Stand up for yourself.

Last, but definitely not least, remember that we are all in this together.  We are a force to be reckoned with as long as we stand together as a unified group.

In solidarity,

Jean