From the Desk of the President (9/2005

 

"Why not go out on a limb? That's where the fruit is." - Mark Twain 

This quote seems to sum up the atmosphere that I have noticed over the past few months around our workplaces. The work of the Master Negotiations Committee, our Hennepin Action Team and our Strike Committee and the support we are receiving from Council 5 has not gone unnoticed by our members. We are trying new approaches in our "United to Make a Difference Contract Campaign (going out on the limb) to obtain a fair and reasonable contract (the fruit). The benefits to our members is immense. We are unified in our efforts - we are refreshed in our unionism - we are excited to be part of a massive effort to make our lives better for all of us and for those who will follow in our footsteps.  

Negotiations Update

The Employer gave us their initial proposal on August 18th. You should have received the Table talk spelling out the issues we have with this initial proposal. Since the entire document is posted on the Council 5 web site, www.afscmemn.org, and our Local's web site, www.afscmelocal34.org, I am not going to comment on it here other than to say that we can do much better. If you do not have computer access and would like to review the document, please contact me or any other member of our Table Team - Anita Selin, Shannon Wesley, Mary Kay Popko and Clifford Robinson. Our next meetings are scheduled for August 25th to discuss our Local 34 supplemental issues, and September 12th, 19th and 28th for our entire contract. Your ongoing support as we go back to the table for further discussions is greatly appreciated. (We still have Local 34 t-shirts if you want one - just send me an e-mail).  

Responsible Property Tax Levy

And speaking of support, I strongly encourage you to contact your County Commissioner to ask her or him to support a responsible tax levy for 2006. In order for us to continue providing comprehensive quality services to the residents of Hennepin County, we need adequate resources to do so. The meeting to set a levy is scheduled for Tuesday, August 31st at 1:30 PM in A-2400 Government Center. The Local has approved paying lost time for our members to attend the County Board meetings on this matter. If you are able to attend, please wear AFSCME green or your Local 34 T-shirt to show your support for a responsible levy.  

Health Insurance Update

The Labor/Management Health Care Committee has a series of meetings scheduled over the month of September to review all of the information from the proposals submitted by insurance carriers for our health insurance. The folks the Benefits Department along with the consultants from Deloitte, will have it broken down in a comparisons format that is "apples to apples" which will enable us to do a comprehensive review of all aspects of each proposal. The goal of the committee is to find the best possible set of health insurance benefits for the employees of Hennepin County. It will not be an easy task but you have great people representing you. More information will be forthcoming as it is available.  

Council 5 Convention

We will elect delegates to this convention, being held October 6-8, 2005 in Duluth, at the September 7th General Assembly. Please review the August GA meeting highlights for details. If you cannot attend the meeting and wish to have your name put in for the delegate election, please call or send me an e-mail by no later than noon on that day.  

Para-professional Chief Steward

Congratulations to Shannon Wesley who was elected as our Chief Steward by unanimous ballot at our August 17th Executive Board meeting. Please stop and give her your best wishes the next time you see her.  

Early Retirement/Resignation Incentive

We have a number of our sisters and brothers who decided to avail themselves of the County's incentive program. Congratulations and best wishes to all who have decided that this was too good a deal to pass up. Keep in mind that you can continue your dental coverage through our union dental program under COBRA. You can call the Council 5 office at 651-455-0773 to get the necessary information for this program.  

Happy Labor Day!

Jean