From the Desk of the President (September, 2009)

Letter of Understanding - the members attending the August 5, 2009 General Assembly passed a motion to accept to the County's proposed Letter of Understanding for changes to our contract necessitated by the new payroll system, APEX.  Thank you to everyone who took time to ask the questions about the effects the changes in the contract language will have on us in the future and to those of you who attended the meeting to vote.  The new language will appear in our next contract but is effective when the APEX is up and running.  And speaking of APEX....

APEX- new payroll system -  if you have not already signed up for the mandatory training for APEX, you should make sure to do so now.  The training sessions can be found on the County's Learning Center site on the intranet.  According to the information we have been given, there will be a change in the way we complete our timecards so it is imperative that everyone attends the training.  Those sessions will be held over the course of this month with room for all employees to attend.  My normal mode of operation is to wait til the last minute but I decided that might not be such a good idea for something of this import so signed up for one of the first sessions.  My hope is that I will be able to ask as many questions as possible that you might have so that we get the answers early on.  Please let me know if you walk out of your sessions with questions as I might be able to help clarify them for you or help you get the answers. 

2010 Census - it is not too early to begin talking about the census that will be conducted next year.  Minnesota is one of the states that is cited as being in danger of losing a Congressional Representative if our population numbers show a large decrease from the 2000 census.  Right now, the prognosticators say that we lost a good number of people when jobs left the state and the economy took a downward turn.  Local 34 has appointed one of our members, Rita Salone, to represent us on the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation Complete Count Committee.  This group will work with unions, community organizations, churches, etc. to encourage all residents of the state to participate fully in the census.  One of the barriers that we will face are those members of our communities who fear that they will be harmed if they talk to the census takers - some because they think that the Immigration will come into their homes, some because they are afraid of trouble with law officials, some because they do not trust any governmental entity.  Since much of the work that we do is funded with federal dollars, we have a strong interest in having the census count be a success.  When Rita asks for your assistance, please help her.  You will hear more on this effort as the year progresses.

Negotiations- we held our final meeting of the Master Negotiations Committee on August 17, 2009 to wrap up the work on the union's joint proposal as well the various local supplemental items.  Our Staff Representatives will fine tune the language and deliver that proposal to the Employer on September 8, 2009.  It will be posted on the Council 5 website with a link for the Hennepin County negotiations by that date for your perusal.  Our first negotiations meeting will be held on September 14, 2009 at which time the Employer will present their counter-proposal to the Table Team.  We have five meetings scheduled this year - down five sessions from years past, as we feel that we can be more effective with fewer meetings that go a bit longer into the evening.  Look for a Table Talk to be issued after the 9/14/09 session with information about the proposals.

The Action Team is chaired by Vern Wagner this year.  He is looking for willing members to help with the work of the committee.   Send him an e-mail if you can help out.

Please read Vicki Moore's article with the information about the County Board meetings for the 2010 budget process and plan to attend at least one of those sessions.  

MAT (Member Action Team) Coordinator - I am pleased to announce that Robert Velez has graciously agreed to be our Local 34 MAT Coordinator.  His appointment to this position was approved by the Executive Board at our August 19, 2009 meeting.  Bob will be responsible for working with building contacts throughout our local to develop an electronic or e-tree for speedy and effective dissemination of time sensitive news such as an update on the progress of the Table Team or asking for people to attend a meeting.  He will use the lists compiled by our stewards when they mapped our work sites to get the information to those sites.  This is a work in progress and is part of the Executive Board's commitment to improving our local's communication with our members.  Your feedback is greatly appreciated as this rolls out.

"To build a labor movement we have to look beyond our own personal interests - look beyond our own local -- we have to look beyond our own union and remember that ALL workers ... every last one of them ... are our brothers and sisters.  Not just when it's easy ... not just when I get my way ... not just some days ... but every day -- every last day." - Richard Trumka        

Happy Labor Day to all of you.  Take time to sit back and relax - this is your holiday to celebrate you - the worker!