From the Desk of the President (September, 2012)

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Election of delegates to the Council 5 Convention will be held at the September 5, 2012 General Assembly. We will elect up to 30 delegates to represent our local at this convention which will be held Thursday, October 4, 2012 - Saturday, October 6, 2012. The local will cover up to 2 days lost time for our elected dele-gates. The convention will be held at the Double Tree by Hilton (formerly the Sheraton) in Bloomington, MN. We will hold an election of all chair officers and Executive Board members. The "New Delegate" workshop will be held on Wednesday evening only. The workshops held on Friday are "Growing the Labor Movement", "Let's Make the Economy Work for Workers", "MSRS/PERA", "Next Wave", "Building Union Power One Person at a Time", "AFSCME Minnesota Retirees United", "Defeat the Marriage Amendment", "Building Political Power in Your Local Union", "Women in the Labor Movement", "How to Run a Meeting", "History: The Great Depression, WPA and What We Can Learn From It", and "Talking Taxes with Myron". If you are interested in putting your name forward, please plan to attend the meeting - begins at 5:30 PM and is held in Room 110, Health Services Building at 525 Portland Ave (corner of Portland Ave and 6th St), Minneapolis, MN.

Health Insurance: The deadline for completing the two wellness activities for the reduced co-pays in 2013 is fast approaching. You have until October 31, 2012 to complete the two activities AND document those activities on the PreferredOne website. A list of the wellness activities sponsored by Hennepin HealthWorks are listed HERE.

Webinars can be watched at: The Preferred One website address is HERE.

Please note that if you have your spouse on your insurance, your spouse must also complete AND document the wellness activities, too, in order to qualify for the reduced co-pays. A word of caution from the past several years: even if you and your spouse choose to watch the same Webinar, you will each need to log into the webinar and watch it as the activity is tracked by the person logging in. If you log on, you are the one who gets credit for the activity - not your spouse.  

We continue to hold our monthly Labor/Management Health Care Committee meetings. Each month we receive an update on the insurance paid for medical and dental bills during the previous month versus the premiums put into the designated health insurance "reserve" by the County. We are holding our own so far with more money in reserves than we have expended for all of our health care needs in 2011 and 2012. This will be a factor in any decisions made about possible changes to the existing plan for 2013. Other factors to be considered are the rising costs of health care and a number of brand name drugs becoming generic by the end of this year. Please watch the HC Weekly for announcements about information on any changes to the plan - cost, tier structure, etc. You will be able to learn about those before open enrollment in November.  

AFSCME Retirees: AFSCME Council 5 continues to build the Retiree Chapter. Local 34 has a Standing Rule that we will cover the dues for the 1st year's membership. If you know of any retiree from Local 34 who might be interested in joining the Retiree Chapter, please let them know about this opportunity. They can call the Council 5 office at 651-450-4990 to get more information.  

Dental Benefits: And speaking of retiring, if you are making plans for your retirement, remember that you can continue the dental cover-age you have enjoyed through Local 34. You would need to complete necessary paperwork and arrange for payment of the monthly premium with the Council 5 office. Please let me or Kela Williams, our Membership Secretary, know of your interest and we can get the information sent to you right away. We want that smile on your face as you walk out the door into retirement to be a permanent fixture!  

Politics: Yes, the politicians are very much correct when they say unions are a factor in elections - and that is a good thing for us. Since everything we do is funded with tax dollars, we have a vested inter-est. in making sure that we have elected officials who can work together to allocate those tax dollars to programs that work for all of us. By all of us, I mean the American public, those of us who get up every day to go to work and pay our taxes. So, if you get a call to work a phone bank or do a door knock, please say "yes". Even two hours will make a huge difference on the success of getting people who will work FOR us instead of AGAINST us.

"The best way to predict the future is to invent the future" - Alan Kay. Get out there and invent your future by talking to the candidates and then work for the ones who best represent you. Jean