From the Desk of the President (November, 2014)


11/5/14 General Assembly - we will have the 2nd reading of an amendment to our Local 34 Constitution regarding a proposed dues increase.  The current and proposed language can be found on the front page of this newsletter – please read that. The process for any change to our constitution is as follows: the 1st reading – basically presenting the proposed amendment in written format to the members at a General Assembly. The only thing that happens at that meeting is the presentation of the language with any procedural questions answered. The nuts & bolts of the process- discussion and voting - occurs with the 2nd reading at the General Assembly the following month. At that time members can discuss the merits of the proposal. In this instance, the Budget & Finance Committee will answer any questions that members might have about the proposal.  I strongly encourage you to participate in this process. As an FYI, the last time our dues changed was in 2005 when we changed to the current 1% structure effective January 2006. Our local budget has absorbed all per capita increases from both AFSCME International and Council 5 since that time.   

11/19/14 Executive Board – we will hold a special election to fill the vacant Executive Board Member-at-Large seat. If you are interested in finding out the job duties of that office, please let me know and I will send the information to you. If you wish to put your name forward for the election, contact me by no later than Tuesday, November 18, 2014. The meeting in held at 5:30 PM in HSB 917.   

Health insurance – you have probably already read about this in one of the many e-mails from the County but good news always bears repeating. Our health insurance premiums will remain the same for 2015 as they are in 2014. This is definitely good news. That, added to the 3 paycheck holiday from insurance premiums, should bring a smile to all our faces. I hope that everyone found something fun to do with their premiums savings (I have to admit that it was nice to spend mine on several books that I had on my “to read” list with money left over to take my daughter and niece out to eat). Open enrollment takes place November 10th through November 25th. You should note that there is a now a third option under the Advantage plan – HCMC with their clinics and NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center. Take the time to read all the information about the various options and then complete the enrollment form.  If you do nothing, your current choices will remain in place. If you wish to make a change, you MUST complete the enrollment form on APEX.  

Please note that even if you have one for 2014, you MUST complete the enrollment form on APEX for the flexible spending account in 2015.  If you do not complete the enrollment, you will have $0.00 for 2015 in that account. This information can be found at:  

Labor Ball 2014 – this is held on November 14th at the Wabasha Street Caves from 8:00 PM – 1:00 AM.  I attended the event last year and had a blast. Activists from many labor organizations as well as our community allies came to enjoy an evening of music, dance and good conversation. And yes, this is open to all ages so dust off your dancing shoes and join in the fun!  

Election Day is Tuesday, November 4th.  Per Article 20 of our contract: “An employee who is entitled to vote in any election, as defined in M.S. 204C.04, subd 2, may absent himself/herself from his/her work for the purpose of voting during such election day for a period not to exceed two (2) hours without deduction from salary on account of such absence, provided the employee has made prior arrangements for the absence with the EMPLOYER. Any employee making claim for time off for voting and not casting a ballot or utilizing the time off for unauthorized purposes shall be subject to disciplinary action.”.     

A growing need for the return of mentorship - in the next five years close to 32% of our workforce will retire.  That means that we will see large numbers of new hires around the County.  For those of us who were here in the early – mid 80’s (yes, a lot of us are still around!), we remember what it was like to leave work one day with familiar faces and come in to work the next day with new faces at the desks around us.  Having been one of those new faces when I started, I appreciated the fact that I had some longer term coworkers nearby to count on for questions that I had on a daily basis about our work processes and policies.  I was grateful that they were willing to mentor me and coworkers who came after me.  And then, one day, I found that I was that longer term worker providing mentorship to new workers!   With regionalization and swim lanes and hubs and flexible work spaces, this is one of the top concerns you are expressing – not knowing who does the same work as you do and who might have an answer for a quick question – show you how to navigate a system, show you where to find information, provide some direction, in short – a mentor.  We all know that we can Lync and e-mail but sometimes having that mentor next to you as you find the answers is exactly what you need.   Having mentors is going to be even more important over the next few years than it is now as we say farewell to our retiring co-workers and welcome their replacements.  Those who are leaving want to make sure that all their hard work and wealth of knowledge is passed on.  Those of us who stay want to make sure that their legacy continues to be passed on.  My expectation is that we will have to find a way for this to happen. Perhaps it means being in the office more often so that we can share our knowledge.  Perhaps it means that we volunteer to serve as a mentor to a new co-worker in our unit for a year or so until they get their “sea legs” for our programs.  Whatever the answer, I am confident it will come from us.  We all remember being the new worker lucky enough to have someone take us under their wing.  It is time to pass that on to those who come in the door over the next five years.   

November is a busy month.  Please vote on November 4th.   Thank those who served our country on November 11th, Veteran’s Day.  Enjoy spending time with family and friends Thanksgiving weekend.