August, 2008 - AFSCME Local 34

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http://www.afscmelocal34.org/
AFSCME Council 5, Local 34, Hennepin County Social Services and Related Employees
*Inside– a New Look for August
AFSCME BACKS OBAMA FOR
PRESIDENT
L 34 Banner – 08/2008
Issue Contents:
Group Launches Ad Critical of
Franken's Union Views
ASSOCIATED PRESS – JULY 7, 2008
August 2008
General Assembly
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
5:15 pm
Health Services Bldg, Room 112
Special accommodations will be made
for our physically challenged members.
Please call 596-1003 or 348-0266 if
arrangements need to be made.
September 2008
General Assembly
Wednesday,
September 10, 2008 **
(HSB 110)
Note change of date and
room location
Local 34 Banner
A business coalition has launched a new ad
criticizing DFL Senate candidate Al Franken
for supporting legislation that would make it
easier for workers to start unions.
The ad by the Coalition for a Democratic
Workplace takes aim at the Employee Free
Choice Act, which would certify a union as
soon as a majority of workers at a plant
signed cards authorizing it. Current law
allows employers to demand a secret ballot
election when their workers seek to organize
a union.
The ad features actor Vince Curatola, who
played the mob boss Johnny (Sack)
Sacramoni on "The Sopranos," staying in
character and praising "My pal Al." Then an
announcer urges people to call Franken and
tell him "he's wrong to end worker privacy."
Franken spokesman Andy Barr says that
rather than take away workers' rights, the
bill prevents corporations from intimidating
workers.
 http://www.startribune.com/politics/state/24046409.html?l
ocation_refer=State%20Politics:highlightModules
 http://www.mncampaignreport.com/showDiary.do;jsessionid
=A81D4E9DD2AC68B330056AD26545EE08?diaryId=1647
 http://www.mncampaignreport.com/showDiary.do;jsessionid
=A81D4E9DD2AC68B330056AD26545EE08?diaryId=1661
WCCO-TV Reality Check:
http://www.alfranken.com/content/video_detail/?id=50
August 2008
Page 2 – Local 34 Officer & Steward List
and Notes from the July 2008 General
Assembly Meeting
Page 3 – Calendar, Contacts, Upcoming
Council 5 Training; Thanks, Grace!; EBoard & Meet & Confer Highlights
Page 4 – Membership Questions and
Receiving the Newsletter via E-mail; AFLCIO: Working Partnerships; Dilbert
“Workplace” Cartoon
Page 5 – Q&A About Lay-Off Procedures
in the County; Good & Welfare;
Contribute to W.P.; Worst Boss Contest
Page 6 – Hennepin County Political News
– Four-Way Race to Succeed Koblick:
Callison, Cooney, Robb and Crockett;
Signing Up for PEOPLE
Page 7 – Health Care News & Opinion –
Getting Less for More (Costs we Face);
Spending More for Less Medical
Research
Page 8 - State Fair volunteers are
needed; Health Care for America, Now
introduced;
Page 9 – Legal Labor News – Court
Denies Beneficiary’s Benefits in Spherion
Case; Public Employees Again Treated as
2nd Class Citizens in Appel Case
Page 10 – Four Key Employee Cases at
Supreme Court: Chamber of Commerce ,
Kentucky Retirement Systems, Meacham
and MetLife; Other Important Court
Decisions
Page 11 – Minnesota Judge Rules
Against Wal-Mart Time/Pay Abuses; VP
Volkenant’s Column
Page 12 – President Diederich’s Column;
Good & Welfare Thank You Notes to
Local 34
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Local 34 Officers & Stewards
President:
Jean Diederich
Vice Presidents:
Mary Kay Windels
Wesley Volkenant
Chief Stewards:
Cliff Robinson
Cathy Cowden
Recording Secretary:
Rita Salone
Treasurer:
Patrick Regan
Membership Secretary:
Katie Farber
Sergeant-At-Arms:
Chalmers Davis
Members-At-Large:
Andrea Lazo-Rice
Ibrahim Adam
Angel Alexander
Betty Pharr
Jacquelin Poole
Alex O. Gordon
8/1/08
348-0266 – 880
348-7546 – 961
348-9592 – 630
348-7542 – 961
543-0301 – L890
596-1003 – L890
348-8760 – L890
543-0306 – L890
521-3056 – N704
348-2249 – 959
348-2313 – 961
596-1863 – 630
348-8263 – 630
348-4246 – 956
348-6910 – 961
Stewards:
Zachary Rice
Ester Killion
Miguel Salazar
Nancy Scarlotta
Fatuma Kassim
Kela Williams
Jamoda Williams
Diane Fossen
Shawnice Watson
Edgar Kusleika
James Stevenson
Phillip Gray
Terry Grace
Aboubker Ouassaddine
Bob Velez
Susan Frame
Brian Arneson
Maureen Glover
Carolyn Johnson
Monica Jochmans
Penny Wile
Elena Izaksonas
Dennis Moore
Jeff Meyer
348-2274, Century Plaza 1
596-7858, Century Plaza 1
596-7465, Century Plaza 2
348-9452, Century Plaza 2
596-8457, Century Plaza 2
596-0949, Century Plaza 2
596-8948, Century Plaza 4
302-4704, North Point Dental
302-4638, North Point Medical
348-3633, Msgs, Home Monitring
596-9220, STS
348-5771, Juvenile Justice Ctr
348-7308, Juvenile Justice Ctr
543-0373, Family Justice Ctr
348-4869, Family Justice Ctr
348-0293, Govt Center A15
348-7641, Govt Center A16
348-4492, Govt Center A16
348-8586, Govt Center A16
348-4192, HSB 5
348-7133, HSB 9
821-4539, 4th Precinct Station
879-3560, 1800 Chicago
348-5880, 1800 Chicago
Trustees
Jim Evans, Audie Lussier, Osman Aweis
Delta Dental Trustee
Monica Jochmans
Local 34 Banner
News from the July General Assembly—July 2, 2008
Officers attending were: Jean Diederich, Wes Volkenant, Clifford Robinson, Patrick Regan, Rita
Salone, Betty Pharr, Chalmers Davis, Alex Gordon, Ibrahim Adam, Jacquelin Poole, Angel
Alexander, Katie Farber and Cathy Cowden
Excused Absence: Andrea Lazo-Rice and Mary Kay Windels
□ Approved $100 contribution to the Minneapolis regional Labor Federation to support a
labor booth and prizes at the 2008 Anoka County Game Fair, August 15-17th.
□ Approved providing four $34 gift certificates to the St. Paul Trades & Labor Union Retirees
to be used as door prizes for the Annual Retirees Picnic, July 16th.
□ Approved providing six $34 gift certificates and 12 AFSCME lanyards to the Hennepin
County AFSCME Policy Committee to be used as prizes at the County Picnic on July 20 th.
□ Approved a $1000 donation to the AFSCME International Fallen Heroes Fund in order to
help AFSCME members in flood-affected states. Individuals can contribute via the Web.
□ Approved sending Katie Farber to the July 22 Minnesota Women’s Leadership Gathering at
the Minnesota Humanities Center in St. Paul, paying her registration, mileage, parking and
five hours’ lost time.
□ Approved paying for two days of lodging (up to $150 total), two additional days of lost
time, and $30 per day Per Diem for Jacquelin Poole and Ester Killion, the two Local 34
representatives to the Midwest School for Women Workers in St. Louis (Conference start
and end times affected arrival and departure dates).
□ Approved spending up to $100 for printing flyers concerning an information session at FJC.
Katie Farber arranged a lunchtime Brown Bag session to discuss the lay-off process for
very concerned Child Support Officers at FJC. In addition to discussing lay-off language and
procedures, there will be discussion about the importance of negotiations and follow-up to
earlier Political Action efforts.
□ Approved one of two resolutions Wes Volkenant wrote for the International Convention;
approved one requesting the AFSCME blog provide court decision analysis from a
labor/AFSCME perspective; defeated one calling for a new AFSCME presidential
endorsement process for 2012 or 2016, based on criticism of not endorsing the eventual
Democratic nominee in either 2004 or 2008.
□ Angel Alexander reported on the availability of a pop-up tent for displays.
□ Congratulations to Steward Shawnice Watson on her July 12 wedding in St. Paul!
□ Following discussion of concerns about the increasing expectation of Social Worker
licensure, the issue will be added to the July Meet & Confer agenda.
□ Jean Diederich reported on the need for State Fair volunteers, on the International’s
endorsement of Barack Obama for President, on the dates for 2009 Day on the Hill (March
10-11), on nominations for the Council 5 Achievement Awards (the President is
nominating Locals 34 & 2822 for the Fall 2007 Mobilzation campaign that reduced the
number of Fair Share during the late part of 2007 Negotiations), and on the Presidents’
meeting with Richard Johnson, concerning the 2009 budget (the County Administrator
intends that HSPHD not bear the whole of necessary cuts; AFSCME played a Legislative
role in getting Levy exemptions; AFSCME must have a presence at the public Tax Levy
meetings and hold the Commissioners accountable to us).
□ A Council 5 Arbitration Team decision to dismiss a grievance before Arbitration for a Local
34 member was referred to the July E-Board to decide whether to appeal to the Council 5
Executive Board.
□ Senior Trustee Jim Evans reported on the first Audit efforts since 2005. The Trustees will
conduct three years’ worth of audits. A motion to approve sending the two newest
Trustees to AFSCME Financial Responsibility training in Duluth on October 22 was
approved, with the Local paying registration, one day’s lost time, one night’s lodging, a $25
Per Diem, and mileage or transportation costs. The 2005 Audit is underway, and the
Trustees will have recommendations for the Local. The intention is to complete the 2006
Audit by the end of the year.
□ Katie Farber reported that the new Membership Committee has met – its membership was
approved by the GA - and the members will be doing fact-finding to find out why people
do/don’t join. Efforts will be made to identify why Local 34 members have joined the
Union, and to share this on the Web and in future newsletters.
□ Written reports were received from Wes Volkenant (met with the Presidents of the two
Supervisor associations); Katie Farber (Internal Organizing Drive at the University of
Minnesota and efforts to sign up members); and Matt Nelson (good news from Congress
on the TCM moratorium/no news on Child Support funding; importance of the Tax Levy;
update on grievances –one to appeal and two to present to the Arbitration Team).
August 2008
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Council 5 Business Representative:
Matt Nelson
651-287-0578
e-mail Matt at: [email protected]
Council 5 Contact Information:
300 Hardman Avenue South,
South Saint Paul, Minnesota 55075-2469
(651) 450-4990 Fax: (651) 450-1908
To Contact the Newsletter Editor:
Call or e-mail—
Wesley Volkenant - 612-348-9592
For Distribution concerns, contact:
Rhonda Griffin at 612-348-8328
Internet Web Site Developer:
John Herzog – 952-492-5233
August 2008
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September 2008
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UPCOMING LOCAL 34
MEETING SCHEDULE
August
6th General Assembly - HSB 112
20th E-Board - HSB 917
September
10th General Assembly - HSB 110
17th E-Board - HSB 917
Upcoming AFSCME Training
New Officer Training – Council 5 Office –
August 6, 2008
Basic Steward Training – Council 5 Office –
August 12-13, 2008
Who We Are
AFSCME’s 1.4 million members provide the vital
services that make America happen. With
members in hundreds of different occupations —
from nurses to corrections officers, child care
providers to sanitation workers — AFSCME is
the voice of the dedicated workers who take care
of America, and is a leading advocate for all
working families.
Local 34 Banner
Local 34 extends a thank you and well wishes to departing Steward Grace Anderson.
Grace accepted a position with the City of Minneapolis, as of July 18 th, as the Healthy
Start Site Coordinator. Grace’s service to the Local is greatly appreciated!
What’s the Buzz? Highlights from July’s Meet & Confer and E-Board
July Meet & Confer
Social Worker Licensure: we noted that several Social Work positions, including the Care
Guide positions posted in June, were requiring licensure, which had been confined to
Supervisors and Sr. Psychiatric Social Workers, also known as “Clinical Social Workers.”
Mark Lee and Rex Holzemer indicated that licensing of SWs can be tied to reimbursement
requirements, and non-licensed SWs would not be able to access reimbursements. Lori
Olsen of HR indicated that the job specs were being rewritten to say “some positions may
require licensure.” Social Workers should take note that Management suggests that there
will be fewer jobs in the future that won’t require licensure. For example, reimbursement
from the health plans – which could be a growing piece of our business – will require
licensed SWs. Those who don’t get licensed will be limiting their options. Jacquelin Poole
asked if the $300+ fees would be reimbursed by the County when licensure is required for
a job; Labor Relations said that will have to be negotiated.
Social Work Unit Supervisor Register: until all of the reductions are settled later this year,
there are no plans to open this Register; we also confirmed there are two Acting SWUSes
still in our bargaining unit – one is taking a new position, the other awaits the supervisor
staffing changes following this fall’s staff reductions.
Lay-Off FAQ: HR has appointed Darcy Flink to coordinate efforts to update their earlier
FAQ re: the lay-off process. Katie Farber of Local 34 will be the point person working with
HR on our members’ questions concerning the process.
Impact of the Republican Convention, Sept 1-4: Labor Day week looks to disruptive in
downtown Minneapolis. Richard Johnson is asking Departments to identify flexibility it
can create that week, and as an example, most Courts will be on a reduced schedule.
HSPHD’s Executive Committee will be discussing this issue in late-July, and will let staff
know about the impact on them that holiday week.
Budget Update and TCM Moratorium: Rex Holzemer reiterated many of the points Dan
Engstrom shared in his July 8 e-mail. The HSPHD Budget is in the hands of County
Administration, before going to the Board this fall. Lay-offs have not been approved by the
Board yet, but in the HSPHD proposal, 115 FTEs must be reduced for 2009 late this year.
If the Board changes the cuts to contracted services, the operated expenses, including
staffing, will need to be further reduced. Until there is direction from St. Paul and
Washington, it’s difficult to know what impact the TCM moratorium will have on our case
management services.
Telework Project: Kara Terry will be directing a horizontal initiative project looking at the
strategies and issues surrounding large-scale use of teleworkers in HSPHD.
July E-Board Meeting
Steve Cook addressed the Board concerning the Social Work Unit Supervisor Register
The Board discussed options to do Union meetings differently, and will further discuss at
the August 15 E-Board Retreat at the Council 5 office. Ideas include, changing locations
regularly, moving meetings to Noon, conducting fewer “business” meetings and adding
social and/or educational meeting opportunities.
Approved contributions to the Minnesota Festival for Fathers & Families ($500, Sat.,
August 9th at North Commons), the 2008 Backpack Challenge (up to $340) and to
Alliance Housing (continue $100 per month).
Approved sending up to 8 officers to Council 5’s August 6 New Officer Training class – pay
registration, lost time and mileage.
Approved appealing an Arbitration Denial to the Council 5 Executive Board. Matt Nelson
reported that he will be meeting with Chris Yates of L.R. to discuss a settlement of the
Stability Pay grievance. The Arbitration Team approved Arbitration for an STS employee
who was denied pay while out of the office as a result of trauma suffered when her group
of supervised juveniles came under fire. The Arbitration Team rejected a member’s
grievance resulting from a poor evaluation given by an Acting Supervisor, who remains
part of our bargaining unit.
Approved motions correcting details of expenses to be covered for the AFL-CIO and
Council 5 conventions in September.
Discussed Dignity & Respect projects in Century Plaza, the Library system and Taxpayer
Services. See Jean Diederich’s comments on page 12.
August 2008
-3-
New to the County?
Just transferred into Local 34?
This recent “Dilbert” strip had a lot to say in just eight little panels.
To sign up as a union member, to receive
Delta Dental Insurance information, or to get
answers to questions about AFSCME and
membership benefits, please complete this
form and send it to:
Katie Farber, Membership Secretary
FJC – mail code L890 – 612-543-0306
Name _______________________________
Job Title
_______________________________
Work Location
_______________________________
Mail Code _________
Phone _________________
I’m especially interested:
□
□
I want to sign up as a member
I want to sign up for Delta Dental
Sun Jun 29, 2008
http://news.yahoo.com/comics/080629/cx_dilbert_umedia/20082906
Council 5 Contact for Delta Dental Questions:
Cindy Pince – 651-287-0564
Are you interested in setting the Local 34 website as
your Microsoft Explorer home page? If so, go to the
website address listed on the front page. Click on
“Tools” in the menu bar at the top of your page. Select
“Internet Options.” Under the “General” tab, find the
option for Home Page, and copy the Local 34 address
there. The next time you bring up your Internet
connection, the website will be your new Home Page.
Do You Have Friends Who Would Like
to Receive Our Newsletter?
There is now a quick and simple way for you to
become informed on a wide variety of issues
concerning AFSCME Local 34. Just sign yourself up
for our free on-line newsletter! Please follow the
directions below…
> Send an e-mail to the following address:
[email protected]
> In the Subject Line or Text, state “Subscribe to 34
Newsletter”, identify who you are, and send it off.
> You will receive a confirmation e-mail within a week;
you should have the latest issue attached, so you can
determine if you will be able to receive – and read – the
e-mail newsletter attachments.
Note: if at any time you want to stop receiving these
updates, all you have to do is send an e-mail to the
address listed above, state “Unsubscribe” in the
Subject Line or Text, and your name will be removed
from our list.
** You can also access us from our Local 34 Website at:
http://www.afscmelocal34.org
** For Netscape users, you may need to press “Reload” to
get the most current version.
Local 34 Banner
Minneapolis Regional Labor
Federation Action List
The Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation is pleased to announce that
the new Minneapolis Labor Community Services program, Working
Partnerships, has launched a website: www.workingpartnerships.org.
Working Partnerships is dedicated to serving working families in the
West Metro region by providing emergency financial services,
emergency food assistance, and referral services to community
members facing financial hardship.
New initiatives in the development of Working Partnerships include
educational forums and non-partisan civic engagement to promote
democracy and economic justice in our community.
www.workingpartnerships.org contains program information, volunteer
opportunities (see the related item on the next page), educational and
research publications, a calendar of events, and more.
To learn more about Working Partnerships, please visit their website and be sure to sign up for their monthly newsletter!
www.workingpartnerships.org.
August 2008
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Working Partnerships – Can You Help?
The Local has approved a donation to
Working Partnerships – affiliated with the
Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, an
affiliate of the AFL-CIO. This agency gives
$25 Cub Foods discount cards to union
brothers and sisters in need.
http://www.unitedwaytwincities.org/ourpartners/union.cfm
Good and Welfare
The Good and Welfare Committee was
established to send remembrances to dues
paying members at times of happiness or
sorrow. This includes marriages, the birth or
adoption of a child, prolonged illness or
hospitalization, or the death of a member,
immediate family member or significant
other.
In the case of surgery or prolonged illness,
or for the birth or adoption of a child,
flowers or plants can be sent to a member.
In situations involving the death of a
member or a death in the family of a
member, memorials can be sent. (“Family” is
defined the same as in Article 16 – Funeral
Leave – in our contract; it includes:
spouse,
child,
significant other,
aunt/uncle,
father/mother,
sister/brother,
grandparent/grandparent-in-law,
grandchildren,
niece/nephew,
or a person regarded as a member of the
member’s immediate family).
In the event of members getting married,
retiring, gaining U.S. citizenship, or for a
death in the family of a member or in the
case of the death of a member, a card can
be sent to the family.
Please send all requests for remembrances
to the Chairs for the Good and Welfare
Committee - Lisa Durkot (MC 965), Marcia
Dietz (MC L890) and Cathy Cowden (MC
L890). The referrals must include the name
of the member and the reason for your
request. If the request is for a plant or
flowers, you will also need to include the
person’s home phone number for delivery
purposes.
Local 34 Banner
Lay-Offs… At the June and July GA meetings, Membership Secretary Katie Farber
introduced a “Layoffs FAQ” document, which she compiled with the assistance of our
Business Agent, Matt Nelson. Again, we share a sampling of those questions and
answers. These continue to be unofficial interpretations, and should be read in
conjunction with the official information we expect to be put out by Human Resources
and Labor Relations at the HR web site soon. And, please refer to the Local 34 contract
– the Seniority section – Article 6, Section 3, page 7. In the examples below, HSR and
CSO serve as representative classification examples – SW/CPSW or CMA/FCA could be
used instead.
Q. What if I was an HSR II before I became a Senior Child Support Officer — can
I go back to being an HSR II?
A. Yes, you can “bump” a less senior HSR II person out of their job and take
their position.
Q. If I bumped an HSR II and then the Senior Child Support Officers were
recalled from lay-off, would I still be recalled?
A. Yes, you are still on the lay-off list.
Q. If I don’t bump somebody else, and I accept a lay-off, and then an HSR I
position opens up — can I get the job? Do I have to apply? Does the employer
have to hire me in to the vacant HSR job at that point? The contract says I can
be called back for vacant positions for which I am capable, but how is that
capability determined? Is it based on whether or not I have had the job before?
And it says as long as I don’t create a vacancy by exercising my right—what
does that mean?
A. This employee would be in the lay-off list. If they had been an HSR I already,
this employee would be recalled to this position. If they were only a Senior CSO,
they could be recalled if qualified for the vacancy. The Employer decides who is
qualified for a vacancy. An employee cannot use their
seniority for a position they did not work in before.
Do You Have the Worst Boss in America?
Share your story with us in our annual My Bad Boss Contest, and you
could win a much-deserved vacation—far, far away from your bad boss!
The numbers are in on bad bosses—and frankly, it's a little scary. Working
America, the AFL-CIO community affiliate, is releasing a new report that reveals 15 million U.S.
workers are suffering in silence under a bad boss. After polling workers nationwide, the report
not only exposes their bad behavior—it also kicks off our third annual My Bad Boss Contest.
Now, through Aug. 19, we're asking working people to expose the truth about their bad bosses.
It's not just a chance to vent—you also could win one of two grand prizes if your story is rated
the worst bad boss experience in the country. So what are you waiting for?
You could win:
 First prize: A week's free stay at a condo in your choice of more than 50 countries. You'll
also get $1,000 toward airfare and other travel/trip expenses.
 Second prize: A week's free stay at a condo in your choice of more than 50 countries and
$500 toward airfare or other travel/trip expenses.
You wouldn't believe some of the stories we heard during last year's contest:
There was the boss who forced an employee to stay in a burning building for 45 minutes to
shut down office computers and lights. Another boss knowingly hired his employee's stalker,
and laughed about it! There was even a boss who told an ailing employee, "This is not a good
time for the company for you to be having cancer." It's time bad bosses were held accountable
for their bad behavior, so don't wait another minute. Share your worst bad boss moments, and
you could win a weeklong getaway, airfare included, miles away from your boss.
Working Families e-Activist Network, AFL-CIO
http://www.workingamerica.org/badboss/
August 2008
-5-
Hennepin County Political News
Sign Up for the PEOPLE Fund
The AFSCME People Fund is AFSCME’s
political action fund, and is used to
support our endorsed candidates. If
many members pledge as little as $2.00
a payroll period, our ability to get our
endorsed candidates elected will be
greatly enhanced.
At $4.00 per pay period, a contributor
receives an AFSCME green jacket.
Please contact Jean Diederich at
348-0266 to sign up now!
From the 3rd Congressional District Republican
newsletter, we found this item covering the race
for the 6th District Hennepin County
Commissioner seat being vacated by Linda
Koblick.
Deephaven City Council Member is 4th Candidate to Enter
{Hennepin County Commissioner} District 6 Race
BY JOE KIESER SUN NEWSPAPERS - (Wednesday, June 11, 2008)
http://mnsun.com/articles/2008/06/17/news/fw19crockett.txt
Kim Crockett's main focus in her bid to become the District 6 Hennepin County
commissioner will be property taxes. Crockett, a two-term Deephaven City Council
member, joins Minnetonka Mayor Jan Callison, Minnetonka resident John Cooney - a
former aide to U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minnetonka - and Edina School Boardmember
Peyton Robb as a candidate for the office. The four candidates are vying to succeed
Hennepin County Commissioner Linda Koblick, who is not seeking re-election.
Cooney and Robb sought the Republican Party endorsement for the seat, but Crockett
said she declined to seek the endorsement because the Hennepin County Board is a
non-partisan governing body. Cooney won the Party's endorsement. If elected, Crockett
said, she would work to restructure the property-tax system.
"The property-tax system is broken," Crockett said. "I think there are structural
problems." Too much of the county's $1.6 billion annual budget comes from property
taxes, Crockett said, adding that annual property-tax increases are pricing some
residents out of their homes. "Anybody that has been paying property taxes realize how
much we are paying to the county," Crockett said. "The core focus for me is that the cost
of government is exceeding the ability of taxpayers to pay. I think there is an opportunity
to control property taxes better than we've done." Crockett said restructuring the
property-tax system cannot be accomplished overnight. She said it could take years to
do, but she is ready to take on the challenge. "I don't see any short-term fixes," she said.
"I look at problems and I want to try to solve them."
Crockett said she would work to limit county spending by trimming some of the "fat" in
the county's budget. "It's not that I am an anti-spender, I'm just very careful with a
buck," she said. Crockett points to the 0-percent levy increase the Deephaven City
Council delivered to residents in 2008 as evidence of her belief in fiscal responsibility.
Hennepin County's District 6 includes Deephaven, Eden Prairie, Edina, Excelsior,
Greenwood, Hopkins, Long Lake, Minnetonka, Minnetonka Beach, Orono, Shorewood,
Tonka Bay, Wayzata and Woodland.
Kim Crockett was elected to the Deephaven City Council in 2002 and re-elected in 2006.
She is a senior attorney with Twin Cities Federal National Bank. She attended the
University of Minnesota and University of Pennsylvania law school. She lives in
Deephaven with her husband, Brian, and their two children.
Progressive Majority Minnesota has joined AFSCME in endorsing
Jan Callison for this seat.
http://www.cd3.org/newsletters/2008_04_volume_2_issue_2.pdf
For more on the race to replace Koblick, see the
articles on Kim Crockett and Jan Callison in the
next column…
Local 34 Banner
Jan Callison - Candidate for Hennepin County Board - District 6
(Open Seat)
Jan Callison is the Mayor of Minnetonka and a candidate for Hennepin
County Board of Commissioners. Jan was a three-term at-large city
councilmember before being elected mayor in 2006. She is an attorney by training,
but is better known in her community as a councilmember and community activist.
She has earned the support of AFSCME, WomenWinning and has bipartisan support
from elected officials in the 14 communities represented in her commission district.
Jan has three potential opponents in the non-partisan primary: Peyton Robb, an
Edina City School Board Member, Kim Crockett, a conservative activist and John
Cooney, former aide to Republican Congressman Ramstad. Callison's November
victory will ensure a flip of the Hennepin County Board from a conservative to a
progressive majority. Her election will also ensure that a second progressive
woman's voice will be added to the board.
http://www.progressivemajorityminnesota.org/
August 2008
-6-
Health Care News & Opinion
More Taxpayer Dollars, Less
Medical Research
The United States accounts for 51% of all
global spending on medical research,
according to a 2006 Global Forum for Health
Research report. The report estimated that
60% of this is public funding, 8% comes from
nonprofit institutions, and only 32% comes
from the private sector. Even more important,
most basic research—the research that
undergirds most applied research and that
requires long-term investment before any
payoff can be expected — is heavily funded by
the public.
That the United States spends the most
money, however, does not necessarily mean
that this country does the most research. U.S.
heart surgeons charge twice as much as
Canadian heart surgeons—or more—for the
same coronary bypass operation, with no
difference in morbidity or mortality. Likewise,
U.S. taxpayers pay more for the same
research. It isn’t how much you pay, but how
much quality research is carried out.
Persons living in Canada and Sweden, who
apply for a research grant for, say, $200,000,
an additional circa 15% would be tacked on to
cover administration of the grant and other socalled indirect costs. In the United States, the
indirect-cost “surcharge” on a research grant to
a university can range from about 50% at
public universities up to 100% at private
universities.
Whereas in Canada and Sweden, libraries,
computer centers, offices for grad students,
and so on are included in university budgets, in
the United States much of the funding for
these basic facilities is drawn from the
“overhead” line added on to grants. So, the
same $200,000 research project would cost
about $230,000 in Sweden or Canada, versus
$300,000 to $400,000 in the United States.
http://www.dollarsandsense.org
In 2006, U.S. health care spending exceeded 16% of the nation’s GDP. To put U.S.
spending into perspective: the United States spent 15.3% of GDP on health care in
2004, while Canada spent 9.9%, France 10.7%, Germany 10.9%, Sweden 9.1%, and the
United Kingdom 8.7%. Or consider per capita spending: the United States spent $6,037
per person in 2004, compared to Canada at $3,161, France at $3,191, Germany at
$3,169, and the U.K. at $2,560.
By now the high overall cost of health care in the United States is broadly recognized.
And many Americans are acutely aware of how much they pay for their own care. Those
who are fortunate enough to have insurance face steep annual premium hikes along
with rising deductibles and co-pays, and, all too often, a well-founded fear of losing their
coverage should they lose a job or have a serious illness in the family. Still, Americans
may well underestimate the degree to which they subsidize the current U.S. health care
system out of their own pockets. And almost no one recognizes that even people without
health insurance pay substantial sums into the system today. If more people understood
the full size of the health care bill that they as individuals are already paying — and for a
system that provides seriously inadequate care to millions of Americans — then the
corporate opponents of a universal single-payer system might find it far more difficult to
frighten the public about the costs of that system. In other words, to recognize the
advantages of a single-payer system, we have to understand how the United States
funds health care and health research and how much it actually costs us today.
The U.S. health care system is typically characterized as a largely private-sector system,
so it may come as a surprise that more than 60% of the $2 trillion annual U.S. health
care bill is paid through taxes, according to a 2002 analysis published in Health Affairs.
Tax dollars pay for Medicare and Medicaid, for the Veterans Administration and the
Indian Health Service. Tax dollars pay for health coverage for federal, state, and
municipal government employees and their families, as well as for many employees of
private companies working on government contracts. Less visible but no less important,
the tax deduction for employer-paid health insurance, along with other health carerelated tax deductions, also represents a form of government spending on health care.
All told, then, tax dollars already pay for at least $1.2 trillion in annual U.S. health care
expenses. Since federal, state, and local governments collected approximately $3.5
trillion in taxes of all kinds—income, sales, property, corporate—in 2006, that means that
more than one third of the aggregate tax revenues collected in the United States that
year went to pay for health care.
How much does a typical household contribute to the country’s health care system
altogether? Here is an estimate of the average size of the health care cost burden for
households at different income levels, both those with job-based health coverage and
those with no coverage. Note that the estimates in the table below do not include out-ofpocket expenses.
Paying More, Getting Less
How much is the sick U.S. health care system
costing you?
By Joel A. Harrison http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2008/0508harrison.html
By any measure, the United States spends an
enormous amount of money on health care.
Here are a few of those measures.
Local 34 Banner
How were these figures derived? The tax component of the figures represents 34.4% of the
total tax burden (federal, state, and local) on households at the three income levels. Of
course, estimating average combined federal, state, and local taxes paid by households at
different income levels is not a simple matter. These figures are not meant to be exact, but
do offer reasonable estimates of how much U.S. families are actually paying into the
country’s health care system today. Again, they do not include out-of-pocket expenses,
which averaged 13.2% of all health care expenditures in 2005.
August 2008
-7-
Health Care for
America Now!
On July 8, in 52 cities
across the nation, an
unprecedented coalition of
labor unions, community
groups and women’s
organizations launched a
campaign to push for quality, affordable health
care for every American. Between now and
election day, Health Care for America Now will
spend $25 million in paid media and have 100
organizers mobilizing people in 45 states,
including Minnesota.
The coalition includes AFSCME, ACORN,
Americans United for Change, Campaign for
America's Future, Center for American Progress
Action Fund, Center for Community Change,
MoveOn, the National Education Association,
National Women's Law Center, Planned
Parenthood, SEIU, UFCW, and USAction.
“Whether you’re insured or uninsured, our
health care system is broken and cost is the
problem,” explained Council 5 Director Eliot
Seide at a news conference. “That’s why we’re
working for a national solution that will control
costs and guarantee quality, affordable health
care for every American.
 http://afscmemn.org/
 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gerald-mcentee/healthcare-for-america-n_b_111419.html
 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/roger-hickey/health-carefor-america-n_b_111242.html
 http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/07/08/health-care-for-americanow-coalition-launches-today
STATE FAIR
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED
August 21- September 1
At AFSCME’s State Fair Kiosk in
the Labor Pavillion at Dan Patch
& Cooper Streets – Council 5 will
pay for your Admission!
Pick your four-hour shift:
9 am – 1 pm or 1 pm – 5 pm
Additional Friday/Saturday shifts
from 5 pm – 9 pm
Contact Jessica Hayssen at
651-287-0537 or at
[email protected]
Local 34 Banner
From the Labor-Management Health Care Committee (July Meeting)
Two things we all could be doing better, that might lead to lower costs …
 Utilize the mail-order option for our on-going prescriptions instead of using
the retail options (Target, Walgreen’s, CVS etc.)
 Reduce use of brand names – buy generic fiber instead of Metamucil or
buy store-brand cold medicines instead of something like Sudafed. Insist
that your doctors allow for generic prescription options.
Long Term Care – 2009
Are you currently one of the 7% of benefit-eligible employees receiving Aetna
long-term care insurance? The Aetna contract is expiring, and the company is
getting out of long-term care group coverage. So, while the County looks at its
options, there will be no LTC benefit offered in 2009. Employees currently
receiving this coverage will be able to convert to individual Aetna policies for
2009 – or may consider alternatives such as AARP or ING. One option the County
is considering for 2010 is the LTC Partnership Policy.
Long Term Disability - 2009
Our current carrier, Hartford, is being replaced by Standard as of 12/21/08, after
the County considered seven proposals. Standard provides a 3-year guarantee
and a 26% premium reduction. For full-time employees, it will reduce the cost
from 12.9 hours per year to 10.2.
Employee Assistance Program – 2009
Nine vendors applied for the contract; after interviewing three companies, the
County is staying with local firm Sand Creek, which has guaranteed a 7-year rate
with a 12% decrease. Sand Creek will be coming directly to the Be Well Center to
meet with employees.
Discussion of Meet & Confer Health Topics – Health Assessments
Bill Peters of Labor Relations resumed discussion of concerns that the annual
Health Assessment is not providing incentive for employees to make health
changes in their lives. By State Law (181.938 NonWork Activities: Prohibited
Employer Conduct), an employer can not refuse to hire, discipline or discharge an
employee who engages in the use of lawful consumable products off the work
premises during non-work hours (including food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic
beverages and tobacco). However, there is no violation for an employer to offer,
impose or put into effect a health or life insurance plan that makes distinctions
between employees for the type of or cost of coverage based on the employees’
use of lawful consumable products, provided that different premium rates reflect
actual differential costs to the employer.
In both 2004 and 2005, 6053 individuals completed the health assessment. In
2006 and 2007, only 4760 individuals completed it both years. Assessment
trends:
2004
2005
2006
2007
Overweight or Obese:
63.3%
64.1%
65.7%
65.9%
Tobacco
14.2%
12.5%
12.2%
10.8%
Low Physical Activity
35.5%
34.9%
33.2%
32.5%
Unhealthy Food Choices 55.8%
49.0%
49.3%
45.1%
You can see that obesity continues to be a self-reported problem area, but use of
tobacco, making unhealthy food choices, and to a lesser extent, physical inactivity
have seen improvement. Still, tobacco use remains a critical target. A 2004 AMA
study showed over 18% of deaths in 2000 were attributed to tobacco (and 16.5%
to poor diet and physical inactivity).
August 2008
-8-
Labor Unions & Legal News
Shameful
Employers Use Federal Law to Deny
Benefits:
Workers - and some judges - frustrated in
legal fights over benefits with large
employers
MARK SHERMAN - AP News - Jul 05, 2008
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2008/07/
employers_use_federal_law_to_d.php
Dying of cancer, Thomas Amschwand did
everything he was told to make sure his
wife would collect on the life insurance
policy he had through his employer. "He
was obsessed with dotting every `i' and
crossing every `t'," Melissa AmschwandBellinger recalled about her husband,
who died in 2001 at age 30. But
Spherion Corp., the temporary staffing
company where Amschwand worked, told
Amschwand-Bellinger she would not
receive any of the $426,000 in benefits
she believed she was due. When she
went to court, Spherion succeeded in
getting her lawsuit thrown out. The
Supreme Court on June 27 refused to
review the case.
Amschwand-Bellinger received a refund
of the few thousand dollars in insurance
premiums she and her husband dutifully
had paid. The total, she said, would not
cover the costs of his funeral.
The story has played out often under the
federal Employee Retirement Income
Security Act (ERISA). Designed to protect
employee benefits, the law has been used
by employers as a shield against suits.
Federal appeals courts, interpreting
Supreme Court decisions dating to 1993,
consistently have said companies that
offer health, life and retirement benefits
under ERISA cannot be sued for large
amounts of money, or damages. Instead,
they can be sued only for typically smaller
sums such as Amschwand's insurance
premiums.
Several federal judges have bemoaned
the unfairness even as they have felt
constrained to rule in favor of employers.
"The facts ... scream out for a remedy
beyond the simple return of premiums,"
Judge Fortunato Benavides of the New
Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals said in the Amschwand case.
"Regrettably, under existing law it is not
available."
For more details, see the next column…
Local 34 Banner
The Supreme Court Strands Beneficiaries of Retirement and Health Benefit Plans
by Harper Jean Tobin and Simon Lazarus
http://www.acsblog.org/guest-bloggers-the-supreme-court-strands-beneficiaries-of-retirement-and-health-benefit-plans.html
On June 27, the Supreme Court quietly refused to correct one of its most widely
condemned areas of jurisprudence — the interpreting remedies available under the
Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). ERISA was enacted in 1974 to protect
the over 130 million workers and family members covered by employer-sponsored
retirement and health benefit plans. By refusing to grant certiorari in Amschwand v.
Spherion, the Court declined to revisit decisions that bar monetary compensation to “make
whole” beneficiaries who are illegally denied pension benefits, life insurance proceeds, and
medical treatment.
Melissa Amschwand, a widow, was denied $400,000 in life insurance benefits due under her
late husband’s employer-sponsored benefit plan on the basis of a technicality. Her husband's
employer had never informed him of the requirement, refused to give him the life insurance
plan documents that would have revealed it, and repeatedly assured him he was covered when
the company switched insurers to Aetna from another insurance company. These failures
constituted clear violations of ERISA. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals nevertheless concluded
that the Supreme Court’s prohibition of monetary relief required denial of the widow’s claim. A
concurring judge wrote that the circumstances of the case “scream out” for change in the
Supreme Court’s rules. But the Court has now turned what would appear to be a definitive deaf
ear to that and numerous other similar pleas for reform.
ERISA expressly enables individuals wrongly denied employee benefits to go to court to seek
“appropriate equitable relief.” Yet in Mertens v. Hewitt Associates, a 1993 decision by Justice
Antonin Scalia, the Court held 5-4 that “equitable relief” under the 1974 law means relief
“typically available” in equity courts before the 1930s. Further, Mertens held that monetary
compensation for loss was not a “typically equitable” remedy during that time-period. Critics
have amassed compelling evidence that Congress intended to incorporate common-law trust
remedial principles into ERISA and that these principles empowered courts to award all forms of
relief, including monetary relief, necessary to make trust beneficiaries whole when they suffer
losses from illegal misconduct by trustees or other fiduciaries.
For employees and their families, the upshot of Justice Scalia’s cramped interpretation was to
erase the words “appropriate equitable relief” from the law, because the only relief available is
an injunction – infeasible or irrelevant in virtually all real-world instances of illegal conduct by
benefit plan administrators. If, for example, a lawsuit is brought after, say, a wrongful denial of
medical care leads to life-altering complications, there is no claim under ERISA. To make
matters worse, the Court subsequently held that ERISA preempts state law claims for redress of
unlawful conduct by employers, insurers, or others administering employee benefit plans. The
result is that for most victims of ERISA violations, the law created legal rights literally without
any remedy at all. In a 2004 opinion, Justices Ginsburg and Breyer pointed to a solution
suggested by the Bush Administration. The Court’s 1993 decision arguably applied only to suits
against a non-fiduciary (there, a pension plan’s actuary, rather than its administrator). The
Administration argued awarding damages against the fiduciary itself would fit within the Court’s
established, if questionable, definition of “equitable relief.”
Of the ten federal circuits to address the question so far, only one has embraced the
Administration’s fiduciary theory. The Solicitor General, at the Court’s request, filed a brief
restating its fiduciary-relief theory and decrying the injustice visited by the denial of
compensatory relief. Having rebuffed Ms. Amschwand, the Court is unlikely to revisit ERISA
remedies for plan beneficiaries anytime soon. Simply put, it seems that hopes for a judicial
solution to injustice under ERISA are over.
Public Employees: Second-Class Citizens
Relying on the recent Supreme Court decision in Engquist that held that there is no class of one
equal protection claim for public employees, the Second Circuit has reversed a lower court
decision that had banned a public university in Connecticut from forcing a professor to undergo
psychological testing. The case is Appel v. Spiridon.
Under Justice Stevens' analysis in dissent in Engquist, a rational basis test would have been
applied to the professor's equal protection complaint and if there was evidence that the
psychological testing was retaliatory or based on bad motives, the employee could have won her
case. Instead, there is no such claim for public employees, period. There is a blanket exception
from the general applicability of the equal protection clause.
Frankly, it makes no sense and this case points out the holes it creates for public employees
seeking to vindicate their constitutional rights.
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/laborprof_blog/2008/07/absence-of-clas.html#comments
August 2008
-9-
Significant Non- Union/Labor/Employee
Supreme Court Decisions – 2008 Term

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
□
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D.C. v. Heller – Second Amendment
ruling declaring Washington DC ban on
guns unconstitutional; is expected to lead
to numerous cases to have the Court
further define what prohibitions on what
type of weapons can be placed, under
which circumstances.
Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker – Ruling in
favor of Exxon by greatly reducing the
punitive damages awards to Prince
William Sound fishermen – from $2.5
billion to $507.5 million.
Giles v. California – Decision that
statements of domestic violence from the
ex-girlfriend of the accused could not be
introduced as testimony due to 6th
Amendment protections for the accused
to face his absent accuser – even though
he is accused of murdering his exgirlfriend; part of the majority suggested
that evidence of abuse could be
introduced to lay a foundation for the
accused having murdered to prevent his
accuser’s testimony.
Kennedy v. Louisiana – Prohibits the
death penalty for the crime of child rape;
further defines a principle of not using the
death penalty for cases that did not result
in death, excepting treason.
Boumediene v. Bush – in which the
Court ruled in favor of habeus corpus for
detainees at Guantanamo Bay; will lead
to trials for the accused.
Davis v. Federal Election Commission
– which held that it is unconstitutional for
Congress to try and level the playing field
in campaign finance through the so-called
“Millionaire’s Amendment.”
http://www.acsblog.org/news-and-announcementsus-supreme-court-strikes-gun-ban.html#discussion
http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/links-to-new-gunrights-lawsuits/
http://www.acsblog.org/economic-workplace-andenvironmental-regulation-the-court-lets-exxon-offthe-hook.html#discussion
http://www.acsblog.org/guest-bloggers-punitivedamages-run-aground-before-the-supremecourt.html#discussion
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iiEniqpAKUX1R
KGGD9edZH_WHkYwD91H5TPO5
http://www.acsblog.org/guest-bloggers-boumedienewhats-in-it-for-the-rest-of-us.html#discussion
http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/debate-overboumedienes-meaning/
http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/analysis-the-politicalplaying-field/
Local 34 Banner
2008 Supreme Court Term – Decisions that Impact Unions and Employees
Late in the 2007-2008 Supreme Court term, the Justices handed down four decisions that
I’ve chosen to highlight. Each has implications for unions or public employees or workers in
general.
A general article discussing all four decisions can be found at:
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/laborprof_blog/2008/06/humongo-day-at.html#comments .
Chamber of Commerce v. Brown:
Federal labor law bars a state from curbing the rights of employers to speak out about
labor union organizing by their workers. A California law imposing limits on employer
speech when the companies are using state funds for that kind of message is preempted
by federal labor law. The vote was 7-2.
In an opinion that brings labor laws in a dozen states into question, the Supreme Court ruled that
federal labor law preempts a California law which prevented employers from using state funds “to
assist, promote, or deter union organizing,” because the state law regulated conduct that Congress
intended to leave unregulated. Fundamentally, the majority’s holding is based on the conclusion
that the California law represents a policy judgment by the state that directly contradicts federal
labor policy laid out by Congress in the National Labor Relations Act. The majority relied on AB the
law’s preamble, which opines that even non-coercive employer speech “interfere[s] with an
employee’s choice about whether to join or to be represented by a labor union.” According to Justice
Stevens, Congress preempted states from acting on this view by adding Section 8(c) - which
provides that non-coercive speech by either unions or employers cannot be subject to NLRB
regulation as an unfair labor practice.
 http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/laborprof_blog/2008/06/supreme-court-b.html#comments
 http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/opinion-recap-chamber-of-commerce-v-brown/#more-7528
Kentucky Retirement Systems v. EEOC:
A pension system does not discriminate illegally against older workers who become
disabled after becoming eligible for retirement, when eligibility depends on the worker’s
age. The ruling split the Court 5-4.
Here, the Supreme Court ruled that Kentucky’s disability retirement system does not violate the
ADEA, even though age is an explicit factor in calculating benefits for at least some workers. The
Court concluded that Kentucky’s system was not “actually motivated” by bias against older workers
but was instead organized around the “analytically distinct” concept of “pension status.” Thus, the
Court held that when a retirement plan conditions pension eligibility on age but then discriminates
on the basis of pension status, an ADEA plaintiff must show that the disparate treatment was
“actually motivated” by age itself rather than pension status.
 http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/laborprof_blog/2008/06/supreme-court-k.html#comments
 http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/opinion-recap-kentucky-retirement-systems-v-eeoc/#more-7529
Meacham v. Knolls Atomic Power Lab:
In a case involving a claim of age bias in the workplace, the employer not the employee
has the burden of providing evidence on the issue of whether an employment action was
done for reasons other than age.
By a vote of 7-1, the Supreme Court ruled that when an employer engages in business practices
that place a disproportionate burden on older workers, the employer bears the burden of
persuasion of showing that its action was based on reasonable factors other than age. This decision
eases the burden on plaintiffs bringing disparate impact claims under the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (ADEA). The case arose after Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL), faced with
significant budget cuts, laid off 31 workers. Of those, 30 were over the age of 40 and therefore fell
under the ADEA’s protections for older workers.
 http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/laborprof_blog/2008/06/employer-has-bu.html#comments
 http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/opinion-recap-meacham-v-knolls-atomic-power-lab/#more-7527
MetLife v. Glenn:
By a 6-3 ruling, the administrator of an employee benefit plan has a conflict of interest if
allowed to perform the dual role of evaluating claims and paying them.
Here, the Supreme Court ruled that a company which both administers and funds a benefit plan
operates under a conflict of interest that must be considered as a factor in a court’s review of claim
denials. The justices, while split over other questions raised by the case, agreed unanimously on the
most basic issue: the Sixth Circuit was correct in holding that MetLife, as a plan administrator that
both reviews claims and pays out benefits, has conflicting interests. “The employer’s fiduciary
interest may counsel in favor of granting a borderline claim while its immediate financial interest
counsels to the contrary,” wrote Justice Breyer.
 http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/laborprof_blog/2008/06/holding-pat-and.html#comments
 http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/opinion-recap-metlife-v-glenn/#more-7506
August 2008
-10-
No Organization: Efforts to
Unionize Local Wal-Mart Workers
are Moribund
- Wes Volkenant
By Paul Demko –– July 02 2008 –
The Minnesota Independent.com
Local Wal-Mart workers achieved a significant legal
victory when it was announced that a Dakota County
District Court judge awarded
them $6.5 million in damages.
The ruling highlighted some
two million instances of
wrongdoing
and
could
ultimately cost the world's
largest retailer up to $2 billion
in damages. Judge Robert
King, Jr., concluded that Wal-Mart routinely shorted its
workers on rest and meal breaks and allowed
employees to work off the clock.
But will the critical ruling -- which comes seven years
after the lawsuit was filed and is likely to be appealed - ultimately bolster efforts to unionize the company's
workers? Wal-Mart has been fanatical in its efforts to
beat back previous organizing efforts. In 2000, after
the meat-cutting department at a Wal-Mart
Supercenter in Jacksonville, Tex., voted to join the
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the
company responded by eliminating all such
departments across the country. The retailer now only
sells prepackaged meats. Three years ago, after
workers at a Jonquiere, Quebec, store voted to
unionize, Wal-Mart opted to close the outlet rather than
bargain a contract.
According to Bernie Hesse, an organizer with UFCW
Local 789, there are currently no credible efforts
underway to organize local Wal-Mart workers. "It's not
even seen as an option for a worker," he says. UFCW
has sent the word down from on high that organizers
shouldn't waste their time trying to recruit workers for
union campaigns. "We engage the workers," Hesse
says. "We try to inform them of what their rights are.
But in no way, shape or form is it to resemble an
organizing campaign."
Instead, UFCW has been focused on a marketing
campaign, Wake Up Wal-Mart, designed to shame the
corporation into more responsible behavior, gum up its
expansion plans and bloody its bottom line. Hesse
says he called the union's national headquarters
yesterday to discuss the court decision and to lobby
for more active engagement of workers. "Here's a real
chance for us to run with this thing," he says. "I'm tired
of standing out in front of a Wal-Mart doing stuff that
maybe makes for a nice little sound-bite on occasion,
but it's not changing people's lives."
http://minnesotaindependent.com/view/no-organization
Local 34 Banner
Let’s talk presidential politics – and views of working men and women – this month.
As you can see on the cover, AFSCME came out in support of Senator Barack Obama
for President in mid-June, following the end of the primary season. Hillary Clinton
fought long and hard to win that nomination, and one group she particularly appealed
to was white women ages 35 and older. As noted by the AP and MSNBC below, in
July, both Senator Obama and his opponent, Senator McCain began to target working
women – a large segment of the group Senator Clinton had been attracting.
Senator Obama focused on “Senate legislation that sought to counteract a Supreme
Court decision limiting how long workers can wait before suing for pay discrimination.
Obama said McCain ‘thinks the Supreme Court got it right. He suggested that the
reason women don't have equal pay isn't discrimination on the job — it's because they
need more education and training,’ eliciting groans from the audience. Obama said
the problem is some employers aren't paying women enough and many women aren't
able to challenge that. ‘The solution is to finally close that gap and pay women what
they've earned, nothing less.’ Obama backed the Senate legislation that would have
made it easier for women to sue their employers for pay discrimination. McCain
opposed it, saying at the time: ‘I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind
of legislation ... opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems.’”
Senator McCain has a different focus on working women’s issues, saying “Sen.
Obama's policies would make it harder for women to start new businesses, harder for
women to create or find new jobs, harder for women to manage the family budget,
and harder for women and their families to meet their tax burden." The candidate
addressed the equal pay issues raised in the recent Ledbetter Supreme Court
decision. "I'm committed to making sure that there's equal pay for equal work, that
there's an equal opportunity in every aspect of our society and our economy and that
is my record and you can count on it," McCain said.”
“But Progressive Accountability, a liberal watchdog group, quickly sent out a response
highlighting McCain's opposition to various equal pay bills throughout his senate
career, including an equal rights bill last April that would have expanded the window in
which plaintiffs could file discriminatory pay complaints.” The heart of the differences
between the candidates comes down to this final paragraph…. “Anita Dunn, senior
advisor to the Obama campaign issued this response: “Senator Obama understands
that the challenges facing women and families in the 21st century are very different
than the challenges of the past, but John McCain seems stuck in an outdated view of
American families. Senator Obama believes every woman deserves equal pay for
equal work. He has a plan to help working women by guaranteeing seven paid sick
days to the 22 million who currently have none, and by providing child tax credits,
additional after-school programs, and a tax cut for 71 million working women and
eliminating capital gains taxes for 8.7 million women who own small businesses or
start-ups. Senator McCain thinks the Supreme Court was right to make it harder for
women to challenge pay discrimination at work, and he opposed legislation that
Obama co-sponsored to reverse that decision. Senator McCain has suggested that the
reason women don’t have equal pay isn’t discrimination on the job—it’s because they
need more education and training. Senator Obama couldn’t disagree more."
These are the types of issues working women – and men – should begin focusing on
in these weeks before the Election. I hope we’ll hear from Sen. Obama in San
Francisco – I’m looking forward to representing you at the Convention! Issues closer
to home have come up in this month’s Labor-Management Health Care Committee,
HSPHD Meet & Confer and our Local’s GA and E-Board meetings. Turn to pages 2-3
and 8 for summaries of each.
Wes
August 2008
-11-
A Note about the September GA Meeting –
it will be on September 10, not the 3 rd, due to the Republican Convention in the Twin Cities,
with its expected disruptions getting around town the first week of September.
Thank You Letters
Dear AFSCME Local 34,
The $100.00 contribution from your local for the
Minnesota Workers Memorial Garden on the
State Capitol Mall is deeply appreciated. We are
most grateful for your interest in and support of
the long overdue project to pay tribute to the
indispensable role of workers in the building of
our state.
Sincerely,
David Roe, Chair
Russ Fridley, Executive Director
The Minnesota Labor Interpretive Center
AFSCME Local 34,
Thank you so much for the flowers in celebration
of our newborn son. The bouquet was absolutely
beautiful!
Robert & Rachel Tretter
To Local 34:
Thank You! A letter was sent out to all Policy
Committees and Locals requesting monetary
donations and support for our Veterans initiative
program in the State of Minnesota. Your policy
committee or local has answered the call. Thank
you!
Your generous donation will be used to add
comfort in a designated hospitality room in the
Minneapolis Veterans home. This Veterans
initiative program will continue to grow as the
needs of our Veterans across the State of
Minnesota continues to rise. This program
couldn’t grow without the support of the
International, Council 5 and the many locals in
Minnesota. On behalf of all involved, Thank you!
- Tim Henderson, President – Corrections Policy
Committee
- David Meyer, President – Vets Policy Committee
- Mike Keapproth, Vice President – Corrections
Policy Committee
Thank you!
We have gone back to work, but our fight
continues. Thank you for your support during our
strike. You know the true meaning of solidarity.
University of Minnesota AFSCME Locals 3800,
3801, 3937 & 3260
From the June 2008 Treasurer’s Report
May 2008 Full Members
1639 (+54 !!!)
May 2007 Full Members
1585
May 2008 Fair Share
301 (-77 !!!)
May 2007 Fair Share
378
Total Yearly Budget
$152,000.00
Year-to-Date Expenses
$89,045.44 = 59%
Delegate Opportunities
We will elect delegates at the August 6, 2008 General Assembly to represent Local 34
at the Minnesota State AFL-CIO convention and the AFSCME Council 5 convention as
follows:
 5 delegates and 6 alternates (the President is an automatic delegate) to attend
the AFL-CIO convention held September 14 – 16, 2008 in Duluth. The Local will
cover two days lost time, two nights lodging, per diem of $35.00 for three days,
mileage/transportation, parking and registration costs for the six delegates.
Since this is a presidential election year, delegates should be prepared to spend
some time learning about endorsed candidates. We will also hear about the
progress of the newly formed Labor Federations that are a result of the work
done over the past few years to better represent union members where we live,
especially in the political arena.
 34 delegates to attend the Council 5 convention held September 25 – 27, 2008
at the Sheraton Hotel in Bloomington. The Local will cover two days lost time,
per diem of $20.00 for three days, and mileage/ transportation costs. This year
all of the chair officers and members of the Council 5 Executive Board will be up
for election so the first day of the convention will mainly be dedicated to
nominations and elections. We will also have a meeting of the Hennepin County
Policy Committee to elect our representatives to that body. A wide variety of
workshops ranging from preparing for retirement to how to better represent
ourselves are planned. If you are interested in serving the Local as a delegate at
either convention or would like more information, please contact me at 612348-0266 by no later than noon on Wednesday, August 6, 2008.
Dignity & Respect Meet & Confer
Representatives of the Dignity & Respect Committees from the Hennepin County
Library, Taxpayer Services and Century Plaza gave presentations on the work they
have done to date for their respective pilot projects and their future plans. Each
project is at a different phase of the process with plans in place to continue their work.
The Library group stated that they need to work on rolling the project out to the folks
from the newly merged Minneapolis libraries. Taxpayer Services is working on
producing a video of vignettes of healthy and harmful workplace behaviors. Century
Plaza issues an electronic newsletter to update folks about the work of the committee
as well as introduce different work areas to everyone.
After the presentations by the pilots, we had a lively discussion regarding the future of
the Labor/Management Meet & Confer process for Dignity & Respect. Some of the
questions that have been asked are: Is our work done? Since the Diversity, NonDiscrimination and Respectful Workplace Policy is supposed to be an integral part of
our Hennepin County workplace, do we need to continue the work of the committee?
Should the oversight be handed off to a Director? Should Human Resources absorb
the responsibility for maintaining the tool box of resources, tools, etc. that have been
developed by the three pilot groups? We left with an agreement for Labor Relations
to craft a draft proposal which will be sent out to all members of the Meet & Confer
Committee for review. When we meet again on October 2, 2008, we will discuss the
draft document. I am encouraged by the work of the three pilots but know that we
have work areas around the County that could benefit from a similar endeavor and
feel that our work is not done yet.
I, along with Lindsay Schwab, Andrea Lazo-Rice, Chalmers Davis, Wes Volkenant and
Monica Jochmans, will be off to San Francisco to represent you at the AFSCME
Convention the week of July 27 – August 2, and am looking forward to the experience.
You will receive a report of the highlights – the work and the fun – in the September
newsletter.
Jean
Local 34 Banner
August 2008
-12-
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