From the Desk of the President (March, 2009)

ANNOUNCEMENTS

March 4, 2009 General Assembly activities

Nominations –second and final round of nominations for officers, trustee and delegates to Minneapolis and St Paul Regional Labor Federations. If you are interested in putting your name forward for any of the positions, contact our Nominations Chair, LaQuita Williams, via e-mail or by phone at 612-348-0006, before the March meeting.

Guest speaker - John Thorson, our Council 5 local government lobbyist, will attend our meeting. He will give us an update on the most recent government forecast, as well as answer any questions we might have about the current status of legislative bills, etc.

Negotiations - we will also hold our first discussion about this year’s upcoming negotiations as our existing contract expires at the end of this year. As we have done in the past, any member is able to bring their ideas to the General Assembly, as that body constitutes our Master Negotiations Committee. We have found this to be an extremely effective process as we have the ideas and wisdom of all members who attend the meetings in March and April, bringing forward their ideas, talking about the pro's and con's of those ideas, and crafting them into our proposal. I hope that you can attend those meetings to bring your fresh perspectives to the table.

I spent a good portion of our long weekend with my family doing stuff - nothing big - just spending time looking at family pictures and enjoying the banter, laughter, reminiscing of school, picnics, vacations, parties, how we helped each other to overcome obstacles along the way, pitching in when one of us needed assistance - all the activities that are the cement that hold us together. It got me to thinking about our local and unions as a whole - how we really are a family, too. We spend so much of our daily lives working side by side with people who listen to us talk about our ups and downs and how we spent the weekend or where we went on vacation; who pitch in to cover our desk when we are away; who help us out when we run into a situation we have not handled before; who have already walked the walk and let us know where all the pratfalls are so we can avoid them. Sometimes, just like any family, we get frustrated with each other, especially when we see one of us doing something that we know is not the best thing to do and, when we talk to them - offer our advice - point out the possible outcomes - they ignore us and keep on that path. But we are there to pick up the pieces and help them get back on track afterwards. Many times we pitch to help a coworker out on the weekend to move to a new home or go to a fundraiser for their loved one in times of trouble. We talk to people around the state and the country who do the same things that we do and, when we talk to them, they share the same stories - different names and places - but still the same stories.

Well, sisters and brothers, our family is in trouble and we all need to pitch in to help. We are the middle class and we are under attack. Every time the politicians of the no-new-taxes ilk slashed taxes for the wealthiest citizens of our state and country, every time they cut funds to services that we deliver, every time they built up huge budget deficits, they took bits and pieces away from our family's ability to stay healthy and safe. We are facing one of the greatest challenges any family can face - the loss of job security as we watch businesses close, companies move, neighbors homes being foreclosed, and the uncertainty of what is going to happen to us as the current economic woes play out. Unions have been a mainstay in the fight to build the economy, to bring jobs back, to keep our communities healthy and safe places to live.

 That being said, this is our family and now is the time for each of us to take action. Call or write your state and federal Senator and Representative to let her/him know what impact the cuts that have already taken place have had on your ability to do your job and what impacts further cuts will have. Let them know what changes you have seen in your neighborhoods, the activities that you can no longer afford to do as money is tight, the stores that are no longer there, the neighbors who have moved, the lack of supplies and activities in your children's schools. They need to hear firsthand accounts and they need to hear it now. If you do not know who your Senator or Representative is, use this link: http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/districtfinder.asp to get the person's name and a link to their web page with their office address and phone number. It has been said that a person needs to hear a message seven times before they remember it. I think that our family can convey our message to each of legislators at least seven times. We want fair taxes, we want local government aid funding restored, and we want the resources to do our work so that our communities are safe. If you need ideas on how to frame your message, just let me know and I can forward talking points to you. Remember, as Chief Joseph said, "It does not require many words to speak the truth.” I look forward to hearing from you,

Jean