From the President of Local 645

It’s Your Job!

Posted by prezlocal645 on October 1, 2009

We need to get the message out that this protest scheduled for Sunday afternoon is critical! Citizens for Responsible Government (the right wing group that put Walker in office and brought down Tom Ament’s administration) will host a Town Hall style meeting in support of Scott Walker’s budget and that budget makes no secret it is after the jobs of nearly 500 Milwaukee Co. workers, furloughs, 35 hr work weeks and mass privatization. Although we voted to ratify the tentative agreement with the County that would have provided job security at the expense of 2 yrs worth of raises and hits on healthcare premiums and co-pays, it is not enough for Mr. Walker. He wants more. And the more he wants is our jobs at any cost to show the rest of the State that he wants to lead as governor that he can keep taxes down by privatization and bringing workers to their knees. This is not a joke nor is it an exaggeration. Go to the County website and look under Walker’s budget, not his address, the budget documents, at Org. # 1972. He lays out his full plan for your future there and the picture isn’t pretty if you are employed by the County.

If we cannot show up in force and send a message that we are against this budget and the service cuts to the poor, elderly, mentally ill and youth of this County, then what is the point of fighting for the contract and the protection it offers for your jobs? If you don’t care why should Walker and his friends on the County Board who laid over the agreement on the contract we voted for knowing what he planned to do? As this agreement sits unratified by the County after what we voted to agree to in it, Walker has the right to move forward with all of his plans. At the same time, he has agreed to the Nurses’ contract and you can check out online at the County website what he agreed to for them. The County Board accepted the Attorney’s contract which allows significant wage increases to some of the County’s highest paid employees. What they have said by that move is that the attorneys have value to the County and we can be replaced. This affects every member of Milwaukee County’s largest union AFSCME and yet our members remain the most silent. This is your chance to show that we stand together on the issue of job security and that we are not going down without a fight! Most of what he wants us to give up are subjects of mandatory bargaining. If you allow him to circumvent your rights in this process even once, you give up those rights forever. We cannot let this happen. Worker to worker, ladies and gentlemen, we must be at this protest or we assist Walker in making us an extinct breed, Will the last worker in the County, please turn off the lights?

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Happy Holidays!!

Posted by prezlocal645 on December 15, 2008

We have just about completed another year together and what a year it has been! We have seen history made in the recent Presidential election, saved all 645 jobs that were on the line in the County Budget, won an important arbitration on scope of job duties and have begun bargaining a new contract. We have much to be thankful for in an economy that seems to have set a course to crash and burn. We are still employed and still have benefits. Many workers across the Country do not and many right here in our own county face an uncertain future and a bleak holiday season. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers as we approach the New Year.
Keep our President Elect in your thoughts and prayers also. He is going to need all of the help he can get to straighten out the legacy being left to him by the current administration.
Keep vigilant in the workplace where we still face a County Executive who would privatize our jobs away. You are the eyes and ears of this Local and I cannot fend off his attacks or the attacks of those he has appointed to head departments unless I know what you may hear.
Keep our Chief Steward in your thoughts and prayers. Pat Rogers faithfully defends our contract against attack on a daily basis and she needs your support to keep on fighting the good fight.
Keep our Executive Board in your thoughts and prayers throughout this season. They are the ones who have stepped up to make tough, and sometimes unpopular, decisions that were necessary to keep us moving forward and keep us in the fight. Without their dedication to the Spirit of Unionism, our contract would have little value in protecting your jobs and benefits.
I thank you all for another year that you have allowed me to serve you as President and continue the struggle. There is no greater reward to me than to know that the small services I can render have saved a job, preserved benefits and protected families until we can band together and stop the relentless attacks by Mr. Walker and his administration by taking a step into the Brave new World and electing someone to replace him.
Happy Holidays to One and All from my heart to yours.

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Time For A Recall??

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on September 25, 2008

Time For a Recall??

From President Beth Werve

 

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has ordered a series of belt-tightening moves to offset a projected year-end deficit of nearly $6 million, including a partial hiring freeze and layoffs of temporary workers, supervisors were told today.

Walker also would halt non-essential travel and suspend most overtime.

His budget corrections prompted ire from supervisors at a special meeting of the County Board’s finance committee, who questioned the timing of his moves coming on the heels of large raises Walker approved for some of his top aides.

***********************************************************************

Cynthia Archer, who heads the county Department of Administrative Services, said she didn’t know if Walker had the latest deficit projection when he made those decisions. She said none of the big raises were given to people in departments running in the red.

“The departments involved (in the pay hikes) were able to absorb the increases,” Archer said.”   JSOnline 9/24/08 @ 12:45pm

 

Only in departments who can absorb the increase?!?!?!?  Jack Takarian is the head of DPW  and Director of the department which supervises the facilities and security people at the Courthouse who are in danger of lay off year after year after year!! Not one of these departments whose top man or woman received or is slated to receive a salary bump has filled vacant positions under the Walker Administration and most have employees slated for layoff!  This is obscene and every worker in the County should be screaming to their County Board Supervisor who was elected by the citizens of this County to watchdog the County Exec and Department Director’s. The mechanisms are in place but Mr. Walker, much like Sheriff Dave Clark, has decided they are above the County Ordinances.

 

Not only County workers but the taxpayers in this County should be screaming over any increase in salary for the people Scott Walker has brought into the County system who are already retired from and drawing a pension from the City. They are already receiving pension benefits paid for by our tax dollars.

 

According to Mr. Walker in the daily addition of the Journal there was a legal opinion issued earlier this year that stated he could increase these salaries without bringing them before the County Board. Well, Tom Ament had a legal opinion too and CRG moved immediately to recall him for a waste of tax payer dollars. I don’t really care about the legal opinion; I care that we struggled with the County for a pay increase given in 1% increments and took a hit on healthcare because the County pled poverty. The County held the DPW- Facilities and Security staff hostage until we filed a prohibited practice which would have put some of his people on the witness stand in our court action. Most recently, he had DPW give layoff notices to 3 employees in Fleet because they supposedly had a $330,000 deficit that was not reported to the County Board as required by the County Ordinances! But now they can increase Tarkarian’s salary because they are “running in the red…”, WHAT?!? Maybe it’s time to ask Scott if he can spell “recall”…

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California Here We Come!!

Posted by prezlocal645 on August 13, 2008

Mosocne West Convention Center, San Francisco, CA
For 5 days in July and August the Moscone Center became the home for Local 645’s President and elected delegetes to the AFSCME International Convention. Workshops began daily at 7:30 am and for the first time they were arranged to attract AFSCME members working in the same types of jobs all across the country to the same workshop. This format was to encourage unity and to encourage members to see that people doing the same job everywhere are experiencing the same issues. The format was also designed to give members an opportunity to share ideas on coping with those issues and finding resolutions.
By 8:30 am the convention floor activities which revolved for the most part around numerous resolutions put forward by Councils from sea to shining sea and including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The resolutions can all be found online at the AFSCME Iternational website along with a lot of other information about what happened on the convention floor. There were no lunch breaks, potty breaks or thirst breaks. We were provided water bottles in the convention bag and there were coolers positioned around the room. If you needed something to drink you went while someone spoke on a resolution and scurried back to your seat before the vote was called. Lunch consisted of whatever snacks you had packed into your bag that morning from a 2 block walk to Walgreens before the bus left for the convention center. The convention ended for the day at roughly 4:30 pm each day with much cracking and popping of stiff joints, sighs of relief and excited banter among delegetes and delegations about where to eat, what sites to see and how their evening would be spent.
 A number of Locals scheduled tour bus events of familiar San Francisco sites. While some of the delegetes went to R&R at the hotel some of us put our feet to good use and hiked to, and through, China Town, Little Italy and on to Fisherman’s Wharf much to the distress of unused muscles and joints. Others hiked from Union Square to Haight Ashbury, Golden Gate Park and back or rented bicycles and biked across the Golden Gate Bridge.  San Francisco is designed to promote health and wellness both in the food we found and in it’s famous hills. I wish someone had told me the almost 45 degree angle hike up Powell St. to Chinatown wasn’t necessary because 2 blocks over and 3 blocks down the entrance to Chinatown was built on a gentle slope! We did, however, survive both the long convention days and the long evening hikes better than the 5 hour flight delay to San Francisco that some of of our delegetes experienced and the 5 1/2 hour airplane flight with no ability to stretch out or move.  My jet lag has finally ended after what seemed like forever to get off of Frisco time and back on Milwaukee time but it has finally been accomplished and 8:00 am Central time no longer feels like I am up in the middle of the night.
The AFSCME delegations from across the country went wild when Hillary Clinton showed up to speak to the convention about the critical importance of unity in the coming election. She could not stress enough, nor can any of us, how important it is to move forward as a unified front against Republicans who care nothing for the plight of working families. Her message was brought home with the force of giant sledge hammer when Gov. Schwartzenhagger signed an executive order to reduce the wages of all represented state employees to minimum wage and the salaries of all non-represented state employees to zero in order to fix California’s budget holes. AFSCME rallied against the “Govenator’s” proposal on Wednesday afternoon at one of 2 rallies held that day to call attention to the proposal and to send him our own brand of birthday greetings several thousand voices strong. Wouldn’t it be great to see that kind of response to a rally against Scott Walker’s budget proposal? Like Dr. King, I have a dream….
 

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An Intro From Beth Werve

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on June 18, 2008

It has been an interesting three years since I first took over the Office of President of Local 645 when former President Cecile Purdy resigned for health reasons and then passed away too soon and too young. In some ways our Local has come miles from where we began; in other ways, we are standing still with little movement in the direction I had hoped we would be able to go.

I remain optimistic that we will find a way to reinvigorate our membership, and the AFSCME membership at large, to attend meetings and participate. This is their union and they pay for it. Yet, it is an unfortunate fact that even when their jobs are slated for layoff in budget after budget, they still do not become involved. As County Local Presidents, we need their input and participation to be able to achieve the things they ask us to do. We cannot say that AFSCME is 4000++ members strong in Milwaukee County unless at least a majority, and better yet all members, are active and lend us their voices. A lone voice supporting an issue is like shouting in a hurricane; it is useless except to those who are standing next to them. The County Executive and County Board can ignore a single voice but they begin to stand up and take notice when their are a thousand voices, or 2000, 3000 or more shouting for equality in pay and justice in discipline.

We return to the bargaining table in September and I am hopeful that more than those stalwart members who are always willing to give of their time and work hard for their union brothers and sisters will take an interest in what we should or should not do at the table. The Sheriff’s Union stood strong against the Sheriff and his bargaining team and walked away with a 6% raise over the next 2 years in arbitration. Can we do the same? The decision is in your hands and the hands of your union brothers and sisters. United we stand; divided we fall….

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