FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT (NOVEMBER, 2002)
Executive Board held a special election at the October 16th
meeting to fill the vacant position of Paraprofessional
Executive Board Member-at-Large.
Please join the members of
the Executive Board in welcoming Wes McGee, as he
assumes his newest role in serving our Local effective Nov
1, 2002. He
will bring a wealth of information with him.
motion was passed at the October 16th Executive Board
meeting to send up to three members to attend the Minnesota
Department of Human Rights 19th Annual Conference
which takes place on Friday, December 6, 2002. The
conference will be held at the Touch Stone Energy Place at
River Centre, 175 West Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul, MN
starting at 8:30 AM with registration and a continental
breakfast beginning at 7:30 AM. Expenses covered by the
Local are registration, mileage, parking and lost time. The
election will be held at the November 6th General Assembly.
If you are interested in putting your name forward for this
election and cannot attend the meeting, or would like more
information about the conference, please contact Jean
Diederich at 348-0266, by no later than noon on November
have breaking news on the status
of the parking reimbursement policy for part-time employees
who have car available status in the Children, Family and
Adult Services Department.
After discussions at the monthly Meet & Confer meetings
with Dr. David Sanders, a decision has been made to change
this policy back to the original status. This means that
any part-time employee in the Department with car available
status who had their reimbursement changed because of that
part-time status will now be able to get their parking
reimbursed at the full monthly rate retroactive to July 1,
2002, when the policy was initiated. You should contact your
supervisor to complete the reimbursement forms for the
months of July to present. We have an agreement, reached at
our October 16th Meet & Confer, that the requests for
the corrective reimbursements will be processed by the end
of the year. Karen Wahlund stated that she will notify the
Managers and Supervisors of this policy change immediately.
Presidents of the nine AFSCME Locals, along with our
Business Agents, meet every other month with Bill Peters and
his staff from Labor Relations to talk about issues
affecting the members of our Locals.
One of the issues on the agenda for the September
23rd meeting was that of
FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act).
I am not going to go into how the process works as
you can find that information on the County's website under
benefits but I do want to stress one piece that you should
all note. It
is the supervisor's
to inform the employee of their rights under FMLA when an
employee notifies her/him of a need to be on family medical
such as birth, adoption, illness, surgery, etc., or when
they can see that an employee might be in need of the
benefits of this law due to health needs.
I stress this as several of our members have shared
with me the fact that they had to contact Benefits on their
own to obtain the information even after requesting leave
under FMLA. Please
take the time to visit the Benefits site on the County
Intranet and read about this program so that you are
also meet every other month with Sandy Vargas, County
Administrator and her staff.
At the October 3rd meeting, Ms. Vargas gave us an update
of the budget for
2003. The recommendation to the County Board is that the
levy increase will be 2.3%. We
also discussed security measures at County facilities.
A consulting firm reviewed current practices, and has
made suggestions for improvements.
The Board has still not made a decision on the public
parking in the Government Center parking ramp although the
surrounding buildings have been surveyed finding that they
have reopened their ramps to the public for parking. We
made a request that the products in the Hennepin County
Employee Store be purchased from sweatshop free companies
and presented information about this initiative that has
already been implemented in other public entities.
Ms. Vargas wanted to know if AFSCME had an official
policy on immigrants' rights and noted that she had a
concern about taking income away from workers in those
did point out that our goal was not to deprive workers of their jobs
but to ensure that they would have safe working conditions
and a living wage such as we enjoy. I
noted that this change will happen only if entities such as
the County take the initiative to require sweat-free
products as that will have more of an impact on companies
than an individual consumer.
She stated that she will look into our request and
get back to us.
should have received notice of the changes
in health care providers and rates for 2003.
The Labor/Management HealthCare Committee studied all of the
information and the proposals from Health
MHP and Blue
Cross/Blue Shield. Each
year we have a series of meetings with information provided
to us about the proposed increases and the rational for
those changes. It
is extremely frustrating to sit and listen to all the
reasons why the costs continue to climb - mostly due to
increases in costs for drugs. Some of it is due to improvements in
medical procedures which do have a cost attached.
Our workforce is aging with a high percentage in the
baby boom range so, as we get older, we are using more
services and demanding better procedures.
I would liked to have come to you and reported that
we were able to convince the providers to give us those
services at a lower cost.
As you have read in the information provided by
Benefits, that did not happen.
to recommend a change from MHP to Blue Cross/ Blue Shield
was made only after the members felt that all our concerns
about the impact of this change had been answered.
Please make sure to read the comparisons so that you
can make an informed decision about your coverage for 2003.
is enough for this month.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving celebration.