From the Desk of the President (March, 2008)

Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship Dinner - Local 34 voted to sponsor a table for eight at the 21st Annual Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship Dinner held Thursday, March 27, 2008, beginning at 5:30 PM, at the Prom Center in Oakdale, Minnesota. We also voted to provide four $50.00 gift certificates to union restaurants as items for the silent auction which is part of the evening. The Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship program provides financial support for minority students who have a union connection - either being a union member or a dependent of a union member. Over $150,000.00 has been provided to date in scholarships to students attending over 100 state university, community and technical colleges in Minnesota. We will elect eight members to attend this dinner at the March 5, 2008 General Assembly.

Day on the Hill - We have received our notice for the 2008 Council 5 Day on the Hill event. This year it will be a two-day event held April 1-2, 2008 at the Crowne-Plaza Hotel in St Paul. The first day will be a series of workshops and breakouts to provide a more in-depth look at our legislative agenda, as well as focus on organizing more effectively in support of our union's work at both the workplace and at the Capitol. The second day will be the traditional lobby day with our legislators. Local 34 voted to send up to 30 members to this event, paying lost time for two days, mileage and a per diem of $25.00 per day, the $15.00 registration cost for the first day, with delegates to be elected at the March 6, 2008 General Assembly.

If you are interested in attending either of these two events and cannot attend the March GA, please send me e-mail with your request by no later than noon on Wednesday, March 6, 2008. Your name will be put forward for the respective election to the GA.

Mileage grievance - I believe that we are coming to the end of this long, drawn-out process of resolving the grievance. Matt Nelson, our Business Representative, has asked that all telecommuters who work from home and were previously getting mileage from the 1st trip out and the last trip home but are no longer getting it due to the change in the policy last year contact us immediately. We want to get a complete list of all the folks in our bargaining unit in this situation so that we can present that list to Management. The goal is make sure that everyone who qualifies to be reimbursed for all the mileage that they are entitled to receive are included. You can send me e-mail with your name and, if you have the information handy, a tally of your mileage since the inception of the change - noting what has been reimbursed and what has not been reimbursed. It will be a good day when we get this one settled and our folks made whole.

Executive Board Retreat - The Local 34 Executive Board will hold an all day retreat on Friday, March 28, 2008. Part of our process will be to create a timetable from our charter in April 1950 to present, noting milestones along the way. If you can remember events in our Local 34 history, please let us know so that we can add them to the continuum. Some ideas already presented were the bowling trophy - does anyone remember when that started/ended? Who was on our first negotiations team? Does anyone remember when we hit the 1000 bargaining unit member mark? What events are important to you? The second half of our retreat will be spent brainstorming on our future. What would you like to see as a goal for the local over the next five years? What issues are important to you? How can we improve the services we provide to our members? What can we do to engage people in the activities of the local? What can we do to improve meetings? Again, your suggestions and ideas are greatly appreciated. Feel free to give any one of the officers a call or send us e-mail. The more input we have from you, the more effective we will be during the retreat and the better the outcomes should be. This is your local - you have a vested interest in the direction we take.

Scholarships - It is that time of the year when parents are helping their graduating seniors look for financial assistance for school. I won't go into a rant about why tuition is climbing at the state schools here in Minnesota as it would take too long. Suffice it to say that it is just another symptom of a breakdown in the ability of our middle class to stay afloat. There are a number of scholarships available through AFSCME and the AFL-CIO. If you are interested in learning more about them, I can be reached at 612-348-0266. You can also find the information on the Council 5 web site, http://afscmemn.org, and on the Minnesota AFL-CIO web site, www.mnaflcio.org.

Spring is just around the corner - stay warm until thenů

Jean