From the Desk of the President (March, 2016)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Newsletter Editor - the Local 34 Executive Board will interview candidates for our Local 34 newsletter editor at our April 20, 2016 meeting.  The editor is responsible for pulling together articles from officers and activists of our local as well as information of interest from various newspapers/publications and formatting the newsletter once per month.  Our goal is to have a newsletter ready for distribution and posting on our web site at least one week before the beginning of each month.  Candidates are requested to submit an example of their writing to the Executive Board by no later than April 16, 2016 and to then attend the meeting to be interviewed.  The meeting is held in HSB 917 at 5:30 PM on Wednesday, April 20th.  Please contact me for more information.  

Do you know about the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program?  The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly loan payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.  As a county employee, you meet the criteria for public service.   It might be worth your while to investigate the terms and conditions of this program to see if you are eligible to see some debt relief on your loans.  

More information can be found at: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/public-service-loan-forgiveness.pdf and https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service.  

Thank you to all of you who took time on Tuesday, March 2nd, to attend your precinct caucus.  If the parking by the caucus site for my precinct was any indication, there was a record turnout of citizens who wanted to participate in the process this year. Traffic was clogged and the streets surrounding Roosevelt High School were bumper to bumper parking for at least eight blocks in all directions of the school.  Kudos to the organizers from all the political parties for their hard work in maintaining order and running the caucuses.  For all of you who are now delegates to your respective district conventions, congratulations and thank you for your continued efforts to move your party platforms issues forward.  I wish you luck if you hope to move forward to your respective state conventions.  

One of the issues that has been on the table at the Capitol for the past few sessions is our pension - PERA.  PERA has a new Executive Director, Doug Anderson.  It is gratifying to read in the most recent issue of PERAgraph, the newsletter of the General Plan of PERA, that Mr. Anderson is a strong proponent of our current defined benefit plan.  He states that he believes a defined benefit plan provides more benefits at a lesser cost because you have a larger investment return over a longer period of time.  This is what our lobbyists from AFSCME have been saying for years as we work to maintain a plan that is sustainable and healthy.  And this is one of the reasons why we hold Day on the Hill each year and why we must remain politically active.

Important Dates for the 2016 Legislature:

         March 8: Legislature convenes.

         March 9: Governorís State of the State.

         March 15: The Governor will submit his supplemental FY16-17 budget recommendations to     Legislature.

         March 25-March 28: Easter break.

         April 1: First policy committee deadline.

         April 8: Second policy committee deadline.

         April 21: Third committee deadline. Major appropriations and finance bills must be out of the Finance and Ways and Means Committees.

         April 22: Passover break.

         April and May: Conference Committees meet to resolve differences between House and Senate versions of bills.

         May 22: Last day in the 2016 regular session that bills may be passed.

         May 23: Mandatory adjournment. 

One action that you can take right now is to ask your state representative to stop the tax breaks for billionaires and big businesses.   Some of our lawmakers have introduced bills that would give tax breaks to those groups instead of conserving our state's budget surplus or using the money judiciously on sustainable programs that would benefit all Minnesotans such as more funding for K - 12 education or statewide broadband. You can text SURPLUS to 237263 to be connected to your state representative or dial 1-888-440-2111. You will be connected to their phone so that you can leave a message asking that our and, yes, it is our money because we paid those taxes!) budget surplus be used to benefit all of us, not just a few.

Officer elections will take place April 4, 2016 to April 25, 2016. We have contested races for Treasurer and Member-at-Large.  See the Nominations Chair report elsewhere in this newsletter for candidates for those offices.  Ballots will be mailed to your home address by Monday, April 4th.  You will have until Monday, April 25th to return your ballot - must be postmarked by April 25th in order to be valid.  Ballots will be counted at the Local 34 office on Thursday, April 28th.   You must be a member in order to receive a ballot.  If you have moved recently, please contact me to see if we have your new address.  If you are currently fair share and wish to become a member, please contact our Membership Secretary, Deborah Konechne, so she can get a membership card to you.

Dates to keep in mind:

April 15, 2016: "Northern Lights" shown at 6:00 PM at East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier St, St Paul

May 5, 2016: Sixth Annual Labor Bowl at the Midway Pro Bowl, St Paul 

May 14, 2016: NALC Stamp out Hunger food drive - leave a bag of groceries by your mailbox

May 20, 2016: "Blood Fruit" shown at 6:00 PM, Room 356, United Labor Center, 312 Central Ave SE, Minneapolis 

June 17, 2016: "Pride", 6:00 PM at East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier St, St Paul

July 15, 2016: "The Organizer", 6:00 PM, Room 356, United Labor Center, 312 Central Ave SE, Minneapolis 

July 14 -17, 2016: Netroots Nation, St Louis, Missouri

July 18 - 22, 2016: AFSCME 42nd Annual International Convention, Las Vegas, Nevada

August 12 -14 & 19 - 21, 2016: Working Partnerships booth at the Game Fair near Anoka, MN

August 19, 2016: "Matewan", 6:00 PM at East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier St, St Paul

August 21, 2016: AFSCME Family Picnic at Battle Creek Regional Park, Maplewood, MN

August 25 - September 5, 2016:  AFSCME booth at the Minnesota State Fair

September 19, 2016: Working Partnerships Golf Tournament

September 22 - 24, 2016: AFSCME Council Convention in Bloomington, MN

September 25 - 27, 2016: Minnesota AFL-CIO Convention in Duluth, MN

 

And, as an end to my article, a quote from Mark Twain: "In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours."  He must have known Minnesota and our weather!  Jean