From the Desk of the President (May, 2015)



Michael Lacoste has been assigned to us as our Staff Representative from Council 5. He comes to AFSCME from prior service with UNITE Here and has a background in organizing. Please join me in welcoming Michael. Come meet him at our May 6th General Assembly.

We will hold an election at the May 6th General Assembly of up to two members to attend the AFSCME Next Wave Assembly held in St Louis, Missouri June 12 -14, 2015. The Local will cover two days lost time, round trip transportation, housing for three nights, registration costs (if any) and per diem for 3.5 days. The Next Wave Assembly’s goal is to provide a forum for our younger AFSCME members from around our union to gather and exchange ideas & strategies for building a stronger union. If you have any questions, please contact me.

Our May meeting will be held in HSB L14 and L15, the rooms across from the elevators in the lower level. We will recognize those of our officers and stewards who are stepping down, and welcome our new officers and stewards as they take their oath of office. Food is provided as we celebrate all of our hard work over the past year and gear up for the work ahead of us this year. I hope that you will join us in our celebration. The meeting begins at 5:30pm. HSB (Health Services Building) is located at 525 Portland Ave, on the corner of Portland Ave and 6th St. There is on-street parking, as well as parking at the HCMC Ramp on 6th St.

Dental Trustee- Monica Jochmans has served as our Local 34 Dental Trustee for over 10 years – taking over that position when our first trustee, Bernie Grisez, retired. Monica says it is time to hand the baton on to a new person to work with the trustees from Locals 1719 and 2822 and the Council 5 Dental Trust. Douglas Graham has accepted that baton and his appointment to serve as our Dental Trustee was approved at the April 15th Executive Board meeting. Please join me in thanking Monica for her many years of service on this position and welcoming Doug as he takes over the task of keeping our Trust healthy so that our teeth can stay healthy.

Also, please join me in welcoming Leah Hicks who has been appointed to serve as one of our Good & Welfare contacts. She will be learning the ropes from Marcia Dietz and Amanda Abell. Thank you, Leah, for serving our members in this role.

The Executive Board approved the appointment of Paul Madison to serve in an acting position as Co-Chief Steward while Kela Williams is on maternity leave this summer. Paul will be working closely with Kela and Tywanna Gray, Co-Chief Steward, to ensure that the needs of our members are met during this period. Thank you, Paul, for agreeing to serve in this capacity.

We still have room for more volunteers to serve at 2nd Harvest, 6325 Sandburg Rd. Suite 1700, Golden Valley, MN 55427 on May 12th. We will be there from 6:00 – 8:00 PM. Please contact Kay Powell or me to indicate your inter-est. Fun is predicted for all who help.

Negotiations –we have two more meetings set for May 18th and June 15th to refine our proposals and begin building up our contract campaign. Both meetings are in the Government Center Auditorium from 5:30 – 7:30 PM. Please contact me if you are interested in helping with this process. Keep in mind that we will have many opportunities for everyone to become involved in our march towards a fair contract for all of us.

Health Care Committee – our health insurance reserves remain steady. For whatever reason, our trend remains below the aver-age for a group of our size. I like to think that one of the reasons we are doing so well is that we have an active and educated committee comprised of management and labor folks who take the time to examine all aspects of our insurance plan and use that information to make informed recommendations to Benefits and the County Administrator to take to the County Board. This process has worked well and our ability to maintain premium rates as well as our benefits is proof of that.

One of the leaders in this process for the past seven years has been Jeremy Zajicek. He has done a superb job of gathering information, putting it in an easily understandable format, bringing it to the committee, facilitating the transition from paying another company to be our health insurance provider to Hennepin County being self-insured. Jeremy announced that he will be leaving Hennepin County in July of this year for a new and exciting job opportunity. Please join me in thanking him for all of his hard work on behalf of us and our dependents. We have a healthy health plan because of his work and the work of his staff. We wish him well as he moves on to his new endeavor.

This is my annual reminder of the US Postal Letter Carriers food drive. This year it is held on Saturday, May 9. All you need to do is put a bag of non-perishable food by your mailbox that morning. The Letter Carriers pick that food up and bring it to collection points around the metro area. The food is then loaded onto trucks and delivered to central sites such as Second Harvest for distribution to local food shelves. Last year people donated over 1 million pounds of food. That was the good news. The bad news is that food was gone by July, due to the heavy need of our fellow residents. Any donation is greatly appreciated.

A dozen Local 34 members and family members spent the morning of Saturday, April 18, 2015, volunteering at Bridging in Roseville. I joined Lorrie Adams, Cindy Calderon, Dylan (son of member, Jim Evans) & Jim Evans, Sheila Lipsco, Kay Powell, Laura Ross, Miguel Salazar, Pamela Stempfley, Ashly Stensland (daughter of member, Lorrie Adams) and Vicki Moore with the sun shining brightly and the birds singing their little hearts out. It was a beautiful day outside and an even more beautiful day inside the Bridging warehouse as we worked on our project - cleaning silverware and sorting it into sets of 2, 4 and 6 for families who are served at the warehouse. We were truly organized with each person pitching in where needed. Cindy, Pamela and Dylan grabbed the dirty silverware out of the bin and stacked it on a table to sort into piles for washing. Sheila, Miguel, Jim, Ashly, Kay and I washed and dried the silverware. Lorrie, Laura and Vicki sorted it by patterns and divided the stacks into the settings for the families. As each task was completed, folks moved over to assist with the next phase. Wendy Erickson, Volunteer Supervisor at Bridging, stated that what we did was so important. We take for granted having enough utensils for our families to use for meals. Some families come in who have been sharing utensils as they do not have enough for everyone. She said that the shelves we filled will help so many of those families.

This is Wendy’s thank you for our work:

Dear Hennepin County AFSCME 34, Volunteer Team

Is there no limit to your awesomeness? Thank you for volunteering at Bridging on Saturday! You are an amazing team and you made a huge difference in the lives of the families transitioning out of homelessness and poverty. Thanks to you, our shelves are overflowing with clean and beautiful silver-ware sets! Bridging could not accomplish its mission without the help of volunteers like you. Thank you for being part of the good things that happen at Bridging every day!

With heartfelt appreciation, Wendy Erickson, Volunteer & Program Supervisor

All I can say to Wendy is “Thank You for letting us be a part of a larger initiative to serve.” So many of us have referred our clients to Bridging. Seeing first-hand what goes on behind the scenes really does help to “connect the dots”.

Happy May! I hope that we see some beautiful weather coming up for us – not sure if Mother Nature is going to decide if this is truly spring or she is playing with our hopes. Even though the winter was, for Minnesota, a mild one, I am very much ready for warm weather, flowers and gardening.