From the Desk of the President (March 2014)



Important events at the March 5, 2014 General Assembly

1st – the second and final round of nominations for officers with terms expiring 4/30/14 will be completed by Nominations Chair, LaQuita Williams. Please contact her at 612-348-0006 if you are interested in putting your name forward for any of the open offices.

2nd - we will elect up to 8 members to attend the Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship Reception, Silent Auction and Dinner. The local has purchased table for this event which is held Thursday, March 27, 2014 beginning at 5:30 PM at the Prom Center in Oakdale. Scholarship winners are announced and those present give a brief speech about their goals. This is always an uplifting evening.

3rd – we will elect two members to attend the Labor Notes Conference held in Chicago on April 4-6, 2014. The local will cover 1 day lost time, 2.5 days per diem at $71.00 (2014 IRS rates), lodging for two nights and transportation costs. If you would like information about the conference, visit their web site at: Anyone interested in putting your name forward for either of the two elections can do so at the meeting or by sending me an e-mail no later than 2:00 PM on that day, 3/5/14.

Upcoming events at the April 2, 2014 General Assembly

Tickets to the May 3, 2014 11th Annual MN State Retiree Council, AFL-CIO Fundraiser will be given to members by drawing at the meeting. This is a fun event with food, mu-sic, games hourly raffles and good company. Folks who attended in the past all say they had a great time.

Costco Membership will provide a presentation at the beginning of the meeting. Fruit and pastries will be provided to munch as you think of your questions to ask the representative.

Please join me in thanking Rhonda Griffin for her service as our distribution coordinator. She tendered her resignation from that position. Rhonda has done a fabulous job of recruiting members to do the distribution of the newsletter and other materials as well as constantly updating the list for area by area counts as workers move around. This is one of the jobs that is very much behind the scenes but is extremely important to all of us as we remain connected to one another. Rhonda - THANK YOU!!

And then join me in thanking Laura Ross for taking on this task. She will be in con-tact with folks to keep the list current. If you are one of our distribution folks and you have changes in the number of copies needed for your area, please send Laura an e-mail with that information.

While I am at it, thank you to all of our distribution folks. The work that you do to get the newsletter and fliers out to our members in a timely fashion is very much appreciated by all of us. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

And now, a new feature in my monthly column – Ask Jean:

I am often stopped in the hallway or on the street or, yes, even while shopping on weekends by members who have a question about one thing or another – some union related, others work related and yet others about pending legislation. Many times the questions are asked by more than one person. Some-times I don’t know the answer so have to do some research before responding – always a great learning experience as knowledge gained is knowledge shared. One of my friends said I should start a column like Heloise has for house-hold hints – just make it about our con-tract and our work. So, here you have it – Ask Jean.

The inaugural question is one I have been asked a lot this month by folks with dependents regarding the Dependent Audit for Health Insurance - why is this being done, and why is it be handled by an entity other than Hennepin County Benefits?

I am copying the answer provided in the letter sent on February 3, 2014 to those employees with dependent coverage:

“To ensure that only eligible dependents are covered under our health plans, Hennepin County has retained the services of HMS Employer Solutions (HMS), an independent firm, to conduct a de-pendent eligibility verification audit. This is a common practice that helps organizations make sure their plans are compliant, competitive and cost effective. This process also helps manage overall plan costs, which benefits all employees. In order to ensure that dependents en-rolled in the health plans meet the eligibility guidelines, HMS Employer Solutions has been authorized to obtain documentation regarding your enrolled dependents. Protecting your personal information is a priority to Hennepin County and HMS. All documents provided during the dependent verification audit are securely stored and protected through physical, electronic and procedural safeguards. For more information on privacy and security, please refer to the enclosed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

A detailed list of documents required to validate each dependent can be found on the reverse side of this letter. You must provide all required documentation for each enrolled dependent to HMS no later than March 21, 2014. You will be notified by mail that all documentation has been received if all documents are sub-mitted before March 21, 2014. “

A follow-up question is, who is a dependent eligible for coverage?

Again, I am copying that information from the letter:

As a reminder, eligible dependents are defined in your Summary of Benefits as:

A child is defined as your natural biological child; stepchild; legally adopted child or child placed with you for adoption; foster child; a child for whom you or your spouse has been appointed the legal guardian, or a child for whom you are required to provide health insurance by a Qualified Medical Child Support Order.

Questions should be referred to HMS Employer Solutions.

I encourage everyone who has not already done so to read the letter and submit the necessary documentation by the March 21, 2014 deadline.

If you have a question that you would like to have answered in a future column, please send it to me. I will do my best to find the answers and include them in the coming months.