From the Desk of the President (10/2006)


"Government is too big and too important to be left to the politicians." - Chester Bowles; that being said, who do you think it should be left to? If you are a public employee, like the majority of us reading this article, it makes a lot of sense for us to be the ones who decide how our government should be run and who works on the myriad of rules, regulations, statutes and laws affecting our work. How do we do that? We work to get labor-friendly politicians elected to public office, at every level of the public sector. Once they are elected, we hold them accountable for their actions. Where am I going with this you might wonder. To the first step in the chain of events – working to get folks elected. A good way to do that is to contact Vern Wagner and Shannon Wesley, our two lost-timers working out of the Council 5 office, to see what they can identify as opportunities for you. Or, contact Jon Grebner, our Council 5 political guru, as he knows where the need is and how to hook you up with the right people to get you started on campaigning for labor-friendly, AFSCME-endorsed candidates. The main number for Council 5 is 651-455-0773. If you call, you will get directed to those folks. Another step is to think about taking the day of the general election, November 7th, off to do GOTV (get-out-the-vote) activities – door knocking, phone banks, literature dropping, or taking folks to and from the polls. You can request an absentee ballot and vote prior to Election Day, your vote will be counted, and you will be part of an important election activity – one that will impact your ability to continue doing the work that you do for the coming years. 

If you have questions about absentee ballots and live in Hennepin County, visit the County’s site,,2300,1273_1760_101091056,00.html or the Minnesota Secretary of State's web site at to get complete information on how to request an absentee ballot. You do have the power to effect a change in how our government is run – take advantage of it! 

Health Care Expense Account Issues

Many folks have expressed concerns with how the reimbursement process has been working - or not - since the beginning of this year for their health care expense accounts this year. Some of the complaints have been that when a request is submitted for reimbursement of a bill paid - such as a chiropractor visit or medical equipment - HealthPartners seems to be acting as a gatekeeper, requesting additional information or telling you that the bill cannot be reimbursed - rather than processing your valid request. We shared those concerns with HealthPartners at our Labor Management Health Care Committee meetings. They stated that they experience problems at first due tot he volume of requests but should be caught up by now plus they acknowledged that their role is not that of a gatekeeper. If you have tried to achieve resolution on bills submitted and not had success, you can contact their Customer Service Representative, Pierre Gilfoil, at 952-883-5234, and he will work you towards resolving the problem. Also, sometime in the coming months, a representative from HealthPartners will be in the Wellness office space on a regular basis to assist you with questions and concerns regarding HealthPartners concerns. According to Murray Harber, this should be an upcoming HealthWorks newsletter. 

Labor & Immigration Conference and Council 5 Convention Delegates

The following members were elected to represent you at the September 21, 2006 Labor & Immigration Conference: Barbara Rivas-Herrera, Carolyn Johnson, Lindsay Schwab, Osman Aweis and Terry Grace. 

The following members were elected to represent you at the October 5-7, 2006 Council 5 Convention:  Alex Gordon, Andrea Lazo-Rice, Brian Arneson, Chalmers Davis, Christine Brown, Clifford Robinson, DeAnna DeLoach, Diane Bourgeois, Doug Britt, Jean Ayer, Jean Diederich, John Herzog, Judy Corrao, Kela Williams, Patrick Regan, Peggy Bennett, Phillip Gray, Shannon Wesley, Vern Wagner, Vicki Moore, Vicki Nelson, and Wes Volkenant. Please join me in thanking each of these individuals for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend these functions and represent you. The information they gain will be brought back to enrich the lives of all of us in the local. 


Linda Parker, a long-time Hennepin County employee currently serving as the HSPHD Health & Safety guru - and one of Local 34's Table Team members for our first contract as Local 34, is retiring from the County. The Executive Board voted to extend out thanks to Linda as a strong and staunch supporter for our ergonomic and health concerns. She has helped to lead us from the days of bucket chairs and CRTs to adjustable chairs and tables for our computers. Thank you, Linda, for a job well done. We appreciate all that you have done to keep our backs straight and our feet firmly planted on the floor - or footrest! Enjoy your years of retirement. 

Happy Trick-or-Treating! Jean