Welcome back from the holidays, everyone. Looking forward, 2014 is already shaping up to be a year full of action. I am continually encouraged by all the hard work and creativity of our members and am excited to keep up the energy as we move forward.
The vast majority of our members received a well-deserved 5.5 percent increase that has come at the end of an arduous journey over the past seven years. We endured many delays, uncertainty and sacrifices. Congratulations and thank you as your willingness to sacrifice has helped to rebalance the city and restore it to fiscal solvency. Even with all that has been done, we fully expect the city to take a hard line in our upcoming negotiations.
As you know, our Local will be heading into contract negotiations along with the other members of the Coalition of L.A. City Unions this spring. This will no doubt be a very challenging round of bargaining but we intend to bargain with the City of Los Angeles in good faith, as we always have, and come to an agreement that is beneficial for our members and the city and its people to whom we provide services. Understaffing is a big and continuing problem in just about every city department and will be one of the primary focuses. Input from our members is essential to helping us accomplish the things you need.
In order to have input on the contract and ultimately to vote in the ratification process, you must be a voluntary member. I’m paying, am I not already a member? Not necessarily. A voluntary member has signed a membership card (Payroll Authorization Deduction Card) and the check shows “78 AFSCME Local 3090 dues.” Agency Fees are deducted from anyone who has not signed a deduction card (or if you have signed a card but have been off payroll) and the check shows “A Agency Fee.” Why? Everyone pays because everyone benefits from the contract and is entitled to representation. If you are currently paying Agency Fees, why not sign up and have the full rights of membership? Call the office at 213-487-9887 ext. 340 and Bernice will mail you a membership packet. In addition, we will be mailing a membership card to all Agency Fee payers. Please return the completed card so that our full membership strength can be seen by management. We will need that strength at the bargaining table.
We welcomed some new faces at our first membership meeting of the New Year on January 8th and we hope to see more as the year goes on. Our monthly meeting is the best opportunity to present ideas, ask questions and engage in meaningful discussion with members from other city departments.
Vision Benefits: This is a reminder that through VSP members can get new glasses with no out-of-pocket expenses as long as you stay within the plan covered program. In addition to the regular vision plan, you can get a separate examination and glasses for computer use (VDT). Please take advantage of both. The benefits are good and there is an extensive list of providers. Contact the office for more information.
The Fight Continues: This month we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy of fighting for civil rights, human dignity, economic justice for poor people and for the betterment of workers. Dr. King gave his life advocating for AFSCME sanitation workers who wanted recognition of their union and dignity on the job. As AFSCME members our call should be no less that tirelessly striving to attain the ideals that he stood for. Our challenges pale in comparison to what he faced and because he kept going and worked in unity with others he was able to have some measure of success.
Sisters and brothers, we need unity and strength now more than ever. I hope that you are willing to respond to the call.