From the Desk of the President (March, 2007)



Please join me in congratulating Kela Williams on becoming our new Membership Secretary. She was unanimously elected by the Executive Board members at our February 21, 2007 E-Board meeting. Kela brings her infectious (this is a good thing) enthusiasm, boundless energy and a keen understanding of the importance of unionism to her new position. Welcome, Sister Williams! 

IMPORTANT INVITATION TO ALL DUES PAYING MEMBERS OF LOCAL 34 - MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO PARTICIPATE: Hopefully that will be you - yes, you. It is that time of the cycle again when we work on crafting our proposal in preparation for contract negotiations. 

The 1st opportunity for you to be involved in this process will be one-on-one, talking to your fellow members who will be asking you to meet on breaks to go over a questionnaire about is important to you for the coming two years with the information to be used as part of the contract proposal. 

The 2nd opportunity for you to become even more involved will be the March 14, 2007 General Assembly in HSB 110 and the April 4, 2007 General Assembly in HSB 112, both meetings held at the Health Services Building at 525 Portland Ave S, Minneapolis. We will begin the meetings at 5:15 PM sharp so that we can hold the necessary discussions to identify the areas of the existing contract that we would like to improve and perhaps find new items to add. We did this two years ago and, in my humble opinion, it truly was democracy in action as the floor was open to all members wishing to have a voice in what our issues were and how they were framed. 

A 3rd opportunity exists for you to be part of the Local 34 Master Negotiations Team. This group of members will be responsible to attend the large Master Negotiation team meetings with members from Locals 552, 1719, 2822, 2864 and 2938 to merge our common proposals in our master contract proposal and fine tune the Local 34 supplemental proposals. This group will meet during the months April and May and then again whenever needed during the negotiations process. It is also the group that meets to go over the final offer from the Employer to recommend acceptance or rejection with authorization to strike to the membership before the contract vote. If you are interested in serving on this Team, please let me know by no later than 12:00 noon on Wednesday, March 14, 2007, as I will ask for approval of the appointments at that meeting. 

The 4th opportunity for you to be really involved in the ongoing contract campaign will be to volunteer to participate on Contract Campaign Committees. The Hennepin County Policy Committee (comprised of members of all nine Hennepin County AFSCME locals) will serve as the oversight agency for the campaign. These committees will be responsible for developing, coordinating and carrying out the various activities in support of the 2007 Contract Campaign effort. Folks will be able to commit a lot of time or a little time, depending on the specific need of the individual events and efforts. Two years ago, we had an Action Team and a Strike Committee. This year, the Policy Committee has decided to look at how to improve our process and you could be on the ground floor of that discussion and work! If this is something that you think you might enjoy, please let me know. We do have a meeting scheduled for March 13, 2007 from 9:00 Am - 12:00 noon and you are welcome to attend. 

Brother Volkenant covered the information from our most recent Labor/Management Health Care Committee. The information we are receiving in this venue is extremely crucial as it is clear that much of it will be brought to the table during negotiations. Please feel free to share your ideas, concerns, suggestions about the information with Wes, myself, Mary Kay Popko, Doyle Juenke, and Matt Nelson as we all sit on this committee. 

Last, but certainly not least, we had our monthly HSPHD Labor/Management Meet & Confer on February 21st. We had hoped for an update on possible adjustments to the HSR series but, according to Mark Lee from Administrative Services, there is still some work to be done before Department Director, Dan Engstrom, will be ready to make a final decision. As soon as there is news on that front, it will be shared with us. Also, at that same meeting, Mark let us know that the County's lobbyist is continuing to work on the issue of the proposed cuts in Child Support funding. Personally, my hope is that the folks we worked hard to elect will have the ability to roll back many of the cuts from the Deficit Reduction Act.  

In solidarity,