From the Desk of the President (May, 2014)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Happenings at the May 7, 2014 General Assembly, held in HSB L14/15 at 5:30 PM, include:

1st – officers and new stewards beginning a new term in office will take their oath of office. We will also hold our annual recognition of current, incoming and outgoing officers and stewards. Food is provided (the local voted to expend up to $400.00). Please plan to attend the meeting to recognize the people who have worked for you over the past year and to discuss how we can work together to improve our local.

2nd – election of two members to attend Netroots Nation, an event for “bloggers, newsmakers, social justice advocates, labor and organizational leaders, grassroots organizers and online activists to come together to make new connections, hone their organizing skills, share best practices and build stronger relationships with others working on the issues they care most about” to be held July 17-20, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. Expenses covered by the local are: 3 nights lodging – about $600.00 per person; 3.5 days per diem of $56.00 = $196.00 per person; roundtrip airfare = about $450.00 per person and registration of $450.00 per person.

3rd – the members attending the 4/2/14 GA voted to send two delegates to the AF-SCME International Convention held July 13-18, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Note that the President is an automatic delegate so one more member will be elected at this meeting. Expenses covered by the local are: 7 nights lodging – about $1200.00 double occupancy; 5 days lost time – an average of $1040.00 per member; 7.5 days per diem of $71.00 = $532.50 per member and roundtrip airfare –about $250.00 per member.

May 16th – Labor Movie Night will feature “Morristown: In the Air and Sun” - a documentary about workers in east Tennessee, interior Mexico and Ciudad Juarez, who speak about their lives, work, disappointments and hope. Movie Night is held in Room 356, United Labor Center, 312 Central Ave SE and is sponsored by AFSCME Locals 3800, 2822, 34, 1164 and AFSCME Council 5 Next Wave. Snacks, beer and soda are available during the movie – donations are accepted and appreciated. ~ AFSCME Local 34

Future events:

Labor Movie Night June 20th – “Live Nude Girls Unite!” – documentary about the 1996-1997 efforts to unionize dancers and support staff in San Francisco.

Labor Movie Night July 18th – “Remembering ‘34” – documentary footage of the most memorable labor strikes in 1934

80th Anniversary of the 1934 Truckers Strike Commemoration will be held July 19-20, 2014 in downtown Minneapolis. This strike broke the Citizens Alliance and helped Minneapolis to become a strong union town. See the article in the March 2014 newsletter for a well written article about the strike. Local 34 voted to contribute $250.00 towards the cost of the commemoration.

Labor Movie Night August 15th – “Office Space” – tale of company workers who hate their jobs and rebel against the boss

AFSCME Council 5’s 10th Anniversary Convention –held September 11-13, 2014 in in Bloomington, MN.

Labor Movie Night September 19th – “Oh Freedom After While” – documentary about the January 1939 share-croppers stand against the planters, federal government and desperate working conditions of their lives.

MN State AFL-CIO Convention held September 21-23, 2014 in St Paul, MN. 

Help your neighbors - In the United States, 14.5 percent of U.S. households, nearly 49 million Americans and 15.9 million children, are food insecure. On Saturday, May 10, you can help the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) be part of the solution just by leaving a bag of non-perishable food items by your mailbox!
This year marks the 22nd year of the NALC (National Association of Letter Carriers) “Stamp Out Hunger” national food drive. In 22 years, this food drive has become the nation’s largest food drive, with more than 1.3 billion pounds of food delivered to 10,000 communities to help those in need.  Want to help? Simply place non-perishable, non-breakable food items near your mail box for your letter carrier to pick up on Saturday, May 10. The earlier you start saving the more generous you CAN be!

On Saturday, May 10, you can help the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) be part of the solution just by leaving a bag of non-perishable food items by your mailbox! This year marks the 22nd year of the NALC (National Association of Letter Carriers) “Stamp Out Hunger” national food drive. In 22 years, this food drive has become the nation’s largest food drive, with more than 1.3 billion pounds of food delivered to 10,000 communities to help those in need. Want to help? Simply place non-perishable, non-breakable food items near your mail box for your letter carrier to pick up on Saturday, May 10. The earlier you start saving, the more generous you can be!

Ask Jean this month is about our pension.  I forwarded a request from the Council 5 office last month asking that you contact your state legislators about our pension - to retain it as a defined benefit.  a lot of you asked me why that is so important and wanted to know the difference between a defined benefit, which is what we have now, and a defined contribution, which is what has been proposed - repeatedly - by the labor unfriendly legislators and organizations such as ALEC. 

This is a very simple explanation:

Our existing defined benefit (PERA, MSRS and TRA) is a nest egg for our future.  Both the Employer and the employee contribute an amount each paycheck.  That amount is invested by the State Board of Investment (SBI) for all of us.  The SBI invests our money wisely and provides for stability in those investments so that we have money set aside to be used when we retire.  The money, our pension plan, is like Social Security, there to be paid out to us over our retirement years.  It provides us with the ability to live with dignity and, for many of our sisters and brothers, is a safety net for those golden years.  The best part is that you are not on your own, your money is combined with others to be invested by experts who do all the investigations into the companies, stocks and bonds and make sure that we get a good return for our dollars.

A defined contribution plan, the one touted by ALEC, is basically a savings plan with investments made by Wall Street firms who are looking out for their bottom line, not your retirement security.   It is a risky proposition in that the money can run out if not invested wisely and can result in your golden years being tarnished and you facing hardships with a reduced budget.  And you do this on your own, not with the combined investments of other people.  How many of you are savvy enough to invest your hard-earned pension dollars wisely?  How many of you have the ability to take a risk with your dollars on your own?

Thank you to everyone who took time to contact their state legislators on this matter.  It is up to every one of us to protect our pension so that, when we retire, we have that financial cushion to help us provide for a stable and dignified life.   

Last, but definitely not least, I would like to say thank you to Wes Volkenant as he steps down for serving us a Vice President of our local.  His dedication to answering questions, doing research and investigations on the issues and concerns you presented to him, his steadfast belief that our union will always grow forward has helped all of us.  His leadership has benefitted you in ways that you will never know because, like any effective leader, that work is often done behind the scenes providing for seamless service.  Thank you Wes.  We appreciate all of your hard work on our behalf and wish you well as you have more time for other endeavors.  

In ending, I would like to include one of my favorite quotes. It sums up a healthy approach to life. "Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is an-other one." - Dr. Seuss... Enjoy your tomorrows! ~ Jean