When is a Friend a Friend?
the normal course of human relations a friend is some one
who cares about you, who values a relationship with you, and
most of all, is someone whom you can count on when you
really need him or her. And then there is politics.
Sometimes politicians seem to play by different rules. It is
kind of like the rather naÔve girl asking her insistent
boyfriend,Ē I know you say you love me tonight but will
you respect me in the morning?Ē
in the labor movement are sometimes like that naÔve girl.
Politicians come to us asking for our endorsement and
support that we give with the understanding that, when we
really need them, they will be there for us. Often our
expectations are met and long and enduring political
friendships blossom. In other cases, like the naÔve girl,
we find that they really donít respect us in the morning.
The most notorious recent case of that nature was the way
Attorney General Lori Swanson and her sidekick, Mike (Gabby)
Hatch turned on AFSCME when the Assistant Attorneys General
in her office tried to form a union. Despite the fact that
we endorsed both Swanson and Hatch and gave them massive
support of money and boots-on-the ground work, their
reactions to our efforts would make a right wing union
is an old saying that declares,Ē Hell hath no fury like a
woman scorned.Ē The same is true of labor unions. And we
now we need our friends. Lack of funding from the state and
federal governments has placed the county government in a
tough position. The county board must rely on local property
taxes to fund needed services. We were hoping that the Board
would approve County Administrator Richard Johnsonís
recommended levy increase of 7.98 % for the 2009 budget.
Three of our friends, Commissioners McLaughlin, Dorfman and
Johnson, did vote
for that percent. Imagine our disappointment when two of our
friends, Commissioners Opat and Stenglein,
voted for only a 7% increase, especially after one of them
had promised to support a high enough levy to ensure that we
would have the resources so that we would be able to
continue providing services to county residents. Our
disappointment was made even more bitter by all the talk of
possible layoffs because of the lack of funds.
we are not unreasonable people. We recognize that our
friends must weigh many factors when making these decisions.
We will be talking to each of them very soon. We will show
them how they can manage this budget crunch without laying
off any of our people. For example,
we will show them how their administrators in HSPHD have
contracted out thousands of cases to private venders who
receive huge reimbursements from the federal government.
Those contracts with vendors can be cancelled and those
cases can be serviced by county social workers.
union also believes that county government is top heavy with
highly paid administrative jobs. Trimming some of the fat
from county administration could go a long way towards
reducing the deficit and the whole operation would probably
Yes, we need our friends. And, yes, we expect them to respect us in the morning. AFSCME Local 34, September, 2008
~ Cliff Robinson, AFSCME Local 34