FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT (MAY, 2002)

  "The price of greatness is responsibility." - Winston Churchill

I am beginning my column this month with a request for members to think about those words from Winston Churchill.  I believe that we have a golden opportunity to show that there are a number of us who willing to act responsibly by stepping forward to serve as election judges for the primary and general elections this year.  You have seen the article in the Hennepin County Weekly that comes to us via the County e-mail. You have probably also read articles in your local newspapers asking for help as we are facing a critical shortage of judges this year.  Hennepin County has one of the most efficient and accurate voting systems in the country but it will not work at its optimum level if there are not enough judges to make it work. Without enough judges, there will be substantial wait times at the polling sites.  In order to be an election judge, you must be: eligible to vote; be able to read, write and speak English; not be a candidate in the election; not be a parent, spouse, child or sibling of another election judge (at the same polling place); attend required training; and declare your party affiliation (State law requires this to make sure that no more than half of the election judges at a polling place are from any one party).  You can work either the primary (September) or the general election (November) or both.  Like jury duty, Minnesota law allows you time off from work with full pay if you give 20 days prior notice to your employer. If you are not employed, you receive an hourly wage for both training and service. If interested, contact the Hennepin County Election Division at 612-348-5151 or go online at the following address: http://www.co.hennepin.mn.us/taxsvcs/vote/geninfo.htm to obtain more information. If you do not live in Hennepin County, but are interested in serving as an election judge in your city, check with your local Election Division.  I have been fortunate to have worked with a wonderful group of election judges the past two years. The hours were long and the work was sometimes overwhelmingly busy but knowing that I was part of a free election process, something that is not available to many people around the world made it all worthwhile. Election judges are essential to the voting process as they are the ones responsible for opening the polling sites, making sure that the ballots are handled correctly, certifying vote totals and best of all, meeting all sorts of new people.  Please think about serving in this crucial role in the elections process. 

Congratulations to the winner of the Local 34 lapel pin design contest and a $25.00 savings bond. Yee Vue, a worker in the Elderly and Disabled Division of Economic Assistance won with his design of a circle with two hands joined under a colorful umbrella with a rising sun. Yee used these words to describe his design: the two hands shaking represent partnership, coming together or appreciation. The umbrella represents protections, shelter or a roof for all of us. The colors of the umbrella represent our diversity, different nationalities and different cultures. The shining sun represents our hopeful future and strength with the rays representing reaching beyond our dreams, goals and accomplishments. The circle of the pin is "all Union members coming together as one Local."  Please join the Executive Board in thanking Mr. Vue for his symbolic design.  We will have an enlarged copy of his design at the May 10, 2002 Inaugural Ball for all to see.

We have received the Call for the 31st Annual Coalition of Black Trade Unionists Convention to be held May 22 - 27, 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The March 20, 2002 Executive Board passed a motion to send up to two delegates with the Local paying up to 4 days lost time, $50.00 per diem for 6 days, registration cost of $170.00 per person, and transportation (including to and from the airport) with the delegates to be elected at the May 1, 2002 General Assembly. If you are interested in putting your name forward for this election and are not able to attend the GA, please contact Jean Diederich at 348-0266 or by e-mail by no later than 3:30 PM on May 1, 2002.  NOTE: you must be able to show that you are you a current CBTU member as of the date of the election in order to be considered for the election. You can contact at (202) 429-1203 to find out how to join if you have not already done so.

This is an election year and the role of the PEOPLE Committee will be extremely important, as we become involved in the races for various political candidates. The goal this year is to form not only a telephone tree, but also an e-mail tree with home e-mail addresses of members interested and willing to work on campaigns for our endorsed candidates. You will see more about this at a later date from the PEOPLE Committee Chairs once they have appointed at the May General Assembly.  I encourage each of you to think about what you can do to help get our candidates elected. It may be working on a mailing or doing a door knock or literature drop. Maybe you will decide that, even after being on the phone all day, you still have the stamina to do some more phone work at a phone bank. Whatever it is, the time and effort will be greatly appreciated. We need YOU!  (Note: Contact either Jean Diederich or John Thorson at Council 14 to express your interest or inquire as to what you can contribute).

Our Executive Board voted to send $500.00 to the Ronald McDonald House of the Twin Cities to help them in their campaign to add on to their existing housing so that they can help more families. This expansion project will add 15 more guestrooms, a new classroom, a half-court gymnasium, and a new office building as well as improving the common areas such the kitchen and dining room. Our assistance will help more families battling critical health issues by increasing the capacity from 33 to 48 families; expanding their ability to serve patients referred from pediatric sub-specialties such as cystic fibrosis, cardiovascular surgery and neonatology; enlarging the in-house school and the Family Resource Center whose services are invaluable to families struggling to balance practical daily needs with overriding concerns for their ill child - especially those faced with a lengthy stay; and creating a safe and friendly environment by vacating the alley between the buildings and physically connecting all facilities.  If you would like to read more about the Ronald McDonald House and get more information about their program, you can call 612-331-5752 or visit them at their web site at  at www.rmhmpls.com.

Thanks to all of you who came out to vote on April 10th for our new officers. Please join us at the May 1st GA meeting as we take our oath of office and take care of the business of our Local.

A tip for the gardening season - wear lots of sunscreen!

Jean