From the Desk of the President, Jean Diederich (May, 2003)

Every month I tell myself that I am going to take a break from writing my article and every month it becomes clear that there is a reason that this article is needed.   It is the most effective method of letting you know about some of the events that have taken place in the past month which help our Union to work for all of us.  Both Audie Lussier and John Herzog, the two most recent past Presidents of this local, impressed upon me that this might be the only communication that the majority of our members receive directly, so it should be used wisely.  One thought that has occurred to me is that some of you might be interested and willing to be a guest columnist - writing about an issue affecting us as members that is in your area of expertise.  If so, please let me know.  This space could yours and what a wonderful way to share your knowledge!  

No news on negotiations, but next month…  Instead, this month's column will include bits and pieces of other information for your edification.

The County Board approved a retirement/resignation incentive program. It was developed to reduce the number of possible layoffs needed to meet the cuts on income used to fund our programs.  This is, per County Administrator Sandy Vargas, a one-time incentive.  It will not—as  some folks had speculated—be repeated, so, if you are interested in taking advantage of the incentive, you should explore your options now. 

Another item approved by the County Board is the use of Special Leave Without Pay. Think about using this program to take some time off to rejuvenate yourself while keeping your benefits in place.  It is a win-win tool to help address the need to reduce our budget.  We get some time off and the Employer had great monetary savings.  I have not quite decided how much time to use but I am definitely going to request approval for use of the program. 

Check out our web site for ongoing summaries of Minnesota Senate and House bills.  Our Web Developer, John Herzog, is doing an excellent job of keeping up-to-date information about the pending bills that will have both direct and indirect effects on our jobs.  And, if you have a moment, drop him a line to let him know what a great job he is doing to keep us educated on these issues.

It is Committee time once more.  See the article on Page 13 in this issue. If you miss the deadline listed, but are interested in serving on any of the committees, give me a call.   We need—and can use—all the fresh enthusiasm you will bring to them!

The Take Back Minnesota initiative is taking off. If you haven’t already done so, please complete an interest card so that you can be a part of this effort to address our concerns about how the proposed bills will affect not only our ability to do our jobs, but also the ability of the public to receive services we provide.  You can obtain a card from any of our officers or union activists.  Also, give some thought to filling out a payroll deduction card for a PEOPLE contribution.  This money goes to help our political action efforts.  We have several members who are giving 1% - 3.4% of their wages to enable our Council and International staff to continue working on our behalf. 

Last, but not least, please remember to leave a bag of non-perishable groceries by your mailbox on Saturday, May 10th, for the 11th Annual Food Drive sponsored by NALC (National Association of Letter Carriers).

Thanks!     Jean