From the Desk of the President (9/2006)



Election of delegates to the October 5 - 7, 2006 AFSCME Council 5 2nd Annual Convention at the Sheraton-Bloomington Hotel will be held at our September 6, 2006 General Assembly.  Local 34 voted to send up to 34 delegates from our local to the convention.  One of the more important matters before the body this year will be election of the Council 5 Executive Board members.  In order to vote, delegates must be registered by 9:30am on Thursday, October 5th.  Registration will close at time so that we can be in compliance with the provision of the AFSCME International Union Election Code and the federal Landrum-Griffin Act.  Also, if you choose to put your name forward for the elections of delegates, please keep in mind that we will ask for a firm commitment from you to be present for all of the business of the convention, especially the elections - both initial and any run-off races - as our delegation votes will be divided by the number of delegates registered.  If you register and then are not present for the voting, our local will lose the number of votes attributable to your share.  If you are interested in putting your name forward for the election of delegates, and cannot the GA, please send an e-mail to either our Secretary, Anita Selin, or to me by no later than noon on Wednesday, September 6th. 

Child Care Providers Together/AFSCME (CCPT/AFSCME)

The Hennepin County CCPT/AFSCME chapter of the newly designated AFSCME Local 3400 invited me to attend their "birth" day meeting on Tuesday, August 22nd.  It was held at the Brookdale Service Center and was well attended (at least as many folks as attend our GA's).  Many of the providers attending were there to get more information about the benefits of organizing - what can a union do for me as a provider, what sorts of services can the union provide, what would our dues look like, why is AFSCME better than SEIU, who decides what the union will or won't do for the members?  One of the concerns raised by a provider was the perception that it would be conflict of interest for AFSCME to represent both the providers and the Child Care Licensers, which I addressed by pointing out that AFSCME represents many different job classes who sometimes approach work from differing perspectives. Some of the examples offered were: County Attorneys representing the County and Public Defenders representing clients in the same courtroom;  Eligibility Support HSRs and Child Protection Social Workers dealing with the same client when setting up work plans for remaining eligible for assistance and reunification plans for a parent to reunify with children in placement; and Probation Officers working with children while Social Workers deal with the same family.  A point was also made that, many times we, as County workers, receive direction on our work from State workers who are also AFSCME members.  The conversation and questions were still flowing when I left after two hours, which is a good sign that the providers were engaged.  If it meets with your approval, I would like to invite the officers of the Chapter to attend our meetings, so that they can observe and learn, as that is something that they are interested in doing.  Hopefully, by working together, we can assist in getting this newly formed Local/Chapter onto firm footing as they face the challenges of laying the groundwork for providing a strong voice for child care providers. 

2007 Health Insurance

We received the information about the changes for the 2007 health insurance rates.  Because HCMC is forming their own pool and will no longer be a part of the Hennepin County pool for health insurance as of January 1, 2007, our rates will go up by 12%.  We do not know have the final dollar amounts yet but will get them out to you as soon as we do.  HealthPartners had originally proposed making some changes to the benefit set for 2007 such as capping infertility treatments at $5000.00 per year and reducing the time from 12 months to 6 months for the beginning of reconstructive dental treatment as a result of an accident.  The members of the Labor/Management HealthCare Committee made it very clear that we thought those changes were a reduction in our benefit set and could not agree to them.  The proposed changes have been removed and our existing benefit set will not be changed, unless mandated by federal law, for the duration of our current agreement with HealthPartners, which is through 2008.   The committee still needs to hear back from the carrier for any changes in our rates for long-term disability (LTD).  That information should be available to us around mid-September. 

Volunteers Needed

It is that time of the cycle when we need to start looking at gearing up for the next contract campaign.  To that end, if you are interested in working on developing a contract survey and being part of the Local 34 member driven team to determine our contract proposal for 2008 - 2009, please contact me at 348-0266 or by e-mail.  It will be the experience of a lifetime! 

As a point of personal privilege, I would like to say a huge thank you to Paul Cegla, Director of Benefits, who is retiring as of September 15, 2006.  His many years of selfless dedication to improving the health lives of Hennepin County employees has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated but, like many folks who put long hours into behind-the-scenes work, you may not have known who was a major part of making things work.  Please join me in letting Paul know that we are very grateful to him for his years of service, for always answering our questions with grace and tact, and wish him well as he heads out to the rest and relaxation phase of life called retirement.