From the Desk of the President (November, 2003)
had our first Local 34 Supplemental meeting for negotiations
on October 13th. Our
Table Team met with Management to discuss the items we had
included in our initial proposal.
We presented our reasons for our requests.
Management will come back to the next meeting to
respond to our request for shift bidding for the Sentencing
to Service Crewleaders and on our request for review of
bumping rights for several job classes.
We asked for Meet & Confer on the Trainee portion
of our contract as we feel the program is not handled
equitably by different areas.
Lindsay Schwab and Elizabeth Portlance will work with
Susan Wray to pull together a committee to review the Human
Services Representative series as it was envisioned and as
it is currently functioning. Hopefully, we will have some progress
with regular negotiations by the time you read this.
We have made very little movement on either side of
the proposals as of our last meeting on October 8th.
position of Recording Secretary remains open.
If you are interested in the job, please contact me
to indicate your
The past few weeks have been difficult ones for many
of us as we either have a consultation with supervisor and
manager, or talk to our co-workers about their consultation,
in preparation for the pending layoffs which are a result of
the budget approved by the County Board.
Many of you have expressed your anger, hurt,
frustration, disbelief, sense of betrayal and unfairness
that this is happening.
You have also asked why it had to happen and who is
responsible for the mess that we are facing.
The most realistic answer that I can give is that the
cuts we face are due to unwillingness of the politicians at
every level - Federal, State, County, and City - to
realistically face what is going on in front of their eyes.
While the economy tanks, they are slashing funds for
the programs that help those who most need the help, while
giving tax breaks to those who are the least in need of
them. At the
County level, that translates into our Commissioners levying
taxes at a less than maximum rate which determines the
ability to fund the Human Services budget for the County.
I know that they feel the need to answer to their
constituents, but, in doing so, were they acting
a taxpayer in Hennepin County who sees people in need of
services on a daily basis, their action did not represent my
opinion on the matter.
We may not know all the ramifications of their
actions until the public begins to feel the hurt from cuts
in programs to the poor, the elderly, the homeless, the
unemployed or underemployed, the mentally ill.
Maybe we are lucky and no one from any of those
groups live in any part of Hennepin County, so we will not
see people in pain, people facing further need for our help.
Personally, I doubt that we will be so lucky. I am disappointed that what I saw as the
responsibility for a realistic budget was not shouldered by
the folks on the 24th floor.
Yes, we would still face cuts in the budget and
layoffs but not to the degree that we face under the
What this means is that the greatness we seek will
have to come from us as we deal with the fallout from the
2004 budget. We
will see many acts of that greatness in the coming months,
as notices of layoff or reassignment to another work area
are received by our members. That greatness will be
displayed by you when you give your support to your affected
co-workers, when you ask what they need to help them deal
with the news and the ramifications of that drastic change
in their lives and then provide that assistance.
You will display your greatness when you are there to
help your new co-workers make the transition into their new
responsibility portion of this equation comes into play as
we continue to provide quality services to our clients while
dealing with all of our issues.
We are all going to need to be more aware of each
other's feelings and needs as we deal with the coming
changes. It is
not going to be easy for any of us, including our
supervisors and managers who have to deliver the news to us.
Many times, the very people that they sought to hire
for the qualities needed to provide quality services are now
the people they have to tell that they are laid off or will
be sent to another work area.
They will be called on to listen to us as we voice
our feelings and still counsel us to provide ongoing quality
work so that our clients do not feel the pain of these cuts.
We will need to recognize the feelings of both those
of us who will be leaving and those of us who will be going
to a new unit or team.
Our anger and frustration with all of this should not
be misplaced - taken out on the new faces in our work areas
as they replace valued friends and co-workers.
I don't have all the answers on how to deal with this
but I do have the time and energy to listen and discuss this
disruption in our work lives.
Hopefully we will be able to find ways to carry on
and get our work done while acknowledging our grief.
Please contact me at 348-0266 or send me an e-mail.