From the Desk of the President (March, 2010)



The new payroll system continues to create problems for county employees.  The AFSCME Local Presidents and our Staff Representatives have a monthly meeting with County Administrator Richard Johnson.  Labor Relations Director William Peters and Human Resources Director Rafe Viscasillas generally attend these meetings.  We had a very candid discussion about the myriad of issues and complaints revolving around APEX at the January 20, 2010 meeting with the President of each local sharing specific situations experienced by our members.  We did not hold anything back - voiced the concerns you have been raising since the first paycheck on APEX.  We did get an agreement from Mr. Viscasillas that he would keep us updated on the progress they are making in resolving the many issues we face.  That is why you are seeing the weekly e-mails from him noting the status of the various issues.  Please continue to check your paystub to make sure that the appropriate deductions are being withheld and that it is correct.  Also, when you do see that something is not correct, follow through with your payroll contact and IT.EHD/Hennepin as issues will not be resolved if you do nothing about them.


AFSCME Council 5 2010 Day on the Hill:


This event was another success as close to 1000 AFSCME activists met to attend workshops on how a bill becomes a law, the outlook for the 2010 State budget and the impact of that budget on the budgets of counties, cities and nonprofits; heard from our endorsed gubernatorial candidate, Mark Dayton, as he voiced his support for our issues - putting money into the budget by raising taxes on those who can best afford them instead of cutting programs for those who can least afford the cuts; listened to AFSCME International Legislative Director, Chuck Loveless, as well as Council 5 Political lobbyist, Julie Bleyhl,  about the issues that concern us most - bills that bring funding back for the programs and services we provide.  We met with fellow members in our legislative districts to go over the list of questions that we asked of the Senators and Representatives at our meetings with them. 


The rally at the Capitol revolved around our theme for this year's event - We Make Minnesota Happen.  Executive Director, Eliot Seide, asked the legislators to "Get a spine and do the right thing!" while holding up a spine.  That spine accompanied the group meeting with Senator Linda Berglin (although I doubt she got the message that she needed to get one).  We heard from members speaking about the need to put funding back into higher education so that quality education would be available to the children of Minnesota and resources there for those who work in the schools to do their jobs; the need to restore the GAMC cuts so that those most in need would be able to have access to quality health care instead of going without and using the emergency rooms for their health care; letting legislators know that our pensions do not need to be changed - that defined benefits work just fine and, when we retire, those benefits help create jobs in Minnesota; and about the impact that the cuts in Local Government Aid and County Aid have had on our ability to do our work.   The Capitol rocked with our chant of "Who are we?"  "We are AFSCME!" which kicked off our members going to the meetings with the legislators.  The comment that I heard from a number of first time attendees was that they were impressed with the ability to discuss their issues with their Senator or Representative - that it was the first time they had done so and did not realize how easy the process was.  We did have a large number of people there for the first time which was refreshing.  They brought a lot of enthusiasm to the day and took away a wealth of knowledge to share with their coworkers. 


Thank you to our Local 34 attendees - Katie Farber, Linda Flykt, Diane Fossen, Rhonda Griffin, Fatuma Hassim, Heather Hemmer, John Herzog, Elena Izaksonas, Kathy Kelly, Andrea Lazo-Rice, Sheila Lipsco, Vicki Moore, Shawnice Reid, Cliff Robinson, Bob Velez and Vern Wagner.  They were visible in the legislative meetings - ask Andrea about the one with Linda Berglin - as well as in the workshops and other events during the day. 


Hennepin County AFSCME Picnic:


This picnic has been scheduled for Sunday, August 8, 2010 at French Regional Park in Plymouth.  We will need lots of help to make the picnic a success - planning for food, activities - getting all of the supplies - setting up and cleaning up.  Thanks go to Local 2822 members, Ann Baird and Molly Malecki, and Local 2864 member, Anita Urvina Davis, for volunteering to serve as the chairs of the picnic committee.  Please let them know what you can do to help them in the process.