AFGE, Local 3937
Local Business Meeting
March 14, 2018
ATSC, Auburn, WA
Present were: Melanie Broady, Laura Novakoski, John Pfannenstein, Ivan Weich, Cassandra Butler, Tammy Peebles, Corina Smith and Steffen Pleiness.
The meeting was called to order at 5:02pm, chaired by Melanie Broady, Local President.
Tammy is working on creating a new template for the monthly budget. We currently have about $61,000 in our Sound Credit Union account.
There is an upcoming Idaho AFL-CIO convention in June, and our former Legislative Coordinator for that state, Andrea Wassner, is interested in attending. She’s the Local delegate for AFGE and also holds a position on their Executive Board. Laura made a motion that the Local fund her attendance at the 3-day convention in Boise to include registration expenses, per diem, and transportation costs that may apply. She would also like to fund an ad in the Convention Program for our Local. The total cost would not exceed $500.00; motion seconded by Cassandra. Andrea has brought our voices and issues to her local AFL-CIO for years, and has our full support. We discussed the value or benefit to our Local of having an ad in the program, and decided that a half-page ad would bring visibility for AFGE and who and what we represent. Motion passed.
At our last Local meeting, we agreed to send and fully fund 4 of our allotted 6 delegates to attend the National AFGE convention in August. There are many concerns federally before us, including attacks on unions, so there would be a benefit to having as much of a presence as possible, especially for SSA interests. Our other delegates in some cases are retired officers or prior reps with the Local and do have voting rights there. They have a wealth of experience in current legislative and convention issues that would be of great benefit to the Local. Although we can’t afford to fully fund additional people, Melanie made a motion that the Local would fund the registration cost only, if up to an additional 2 delegates are interested in going (who would cover the rest of the costs themselves) at a cost not to exceed $425 apiece; Cassandra seconded. Discussion followed, and motion passed.
At our January Executive Board meeting, we discussed several issues related to the transition from Ana to Melanie as Local President. The AFGE laptop that Ana originally used was purchased by the Local in 2013, which is 5 years ago. Since that time, she bought her own model with personal funds that works better, and the AFGE laptop currently has no Windows program or virus protection. Laura also still has in storage the laptop that was purchased by the Local for her in 2011 for her secretarial duties, that was replaced with a newer model in 2017. Ivan made a motion that both Ana and Laura may go ahead and scrub all confidential Union records from the hard drive(s) and then recycle or use them for other purposes, since the equipment is old enough to have zero value for the Local based on age. Tammy seconded. This is the same decision we made for prior obsolete laptops (when Steve and Carrie left the Executive Board). We did a Google search showing that laptops generally become obsolete or can be valued at zero about 3-5 years after purchase. They could alternatively choose to mail them back to the Seattle Union office for storage. Motion passed.
Ivan reports that today Governor Insley signed “ban the box” legislation into law for Washington State public and private employers, that allows persons convicted of a felony a better chance to get a job. This includes DDS offices. Prospective employers could not ask about criminal background until the employee has been properly vetted and interviewed. Along the same lines, at the WSLC conference Ivan and Cassandra recently attended, legislative items or goals for the year were announced that include protections for healthcare worker safety and incentives to keep businesses in the state.
John and Laura attended the annual AFGE Legislative Conference in Washington, DC last month. They participated in plenary sessions including presentations by National President J. David Cox and other members of the board. Some members of Congress spoke, who are aware of and care about AFGE employees’ issues, most notably Tim Kane. They were able to meet with most of the targeted representatives or their staff for Oregon and Washington, and dropped off informational packets to everyone they didn’t meet with in person (for all four states we represent). We met directly with Senator Patty Murray, Rep Derek Kilmer, Rep Suzan DelBene, Rep Earl Blumenauer and Senator Jeff Merkley. We discussed our concerns with SSA budget and staffing losses, service delays and wait times at PSCs, TSCs and FOs, the 1.1 million case backlog at ODAR and ever-growing online fraud. We directly asked for $14.2 billion for SSA for the 2018 budget, which includes a set aside of $440 million solely for re-staffing and IT upgrades; we also requested a 3% overall adjustment in pay rates to keep pace with inflation.
Tammy and Melanie attended national LEAD training in San Diego last week, specifically to take advantage of the financial officer training. They learned that contract negotiations at several federal agencies make it clear that unions are under attack, with one agency that was still in ground rule discussions being handed a supposedly final “contract” without any bargaining even taking place. SSA and AFGE are just beginning our own bargaining process, so we are very concerned.
In relation to our difficult budget issues lately, we want to recognize that the Bellingham field office, headed by our local rep Chanan Suarez, did a fantastic job organizing a lunchtime informational action just before the most recent continuing resolution ended. He and other employees, including past Local President Steve Kofahl and other community supporters handed out fliers and information to the public, in conjunction with many other AFGE events coordinated in the same week around the country.
We discussed the ongoing online fraud problem, demonstrated in large part by the flood of anomalous claims the agency continues to receive and process. There are some individual members of the public who have been victims of this identity theft up to 6 and 7 times; the WSU in our region has dealt with up to 2,500 cases just between July and November. It’s a massive number and takes an enormous amount of work hours to resolve, just for the cases we identify. AFGE at local and national levels continues to push SSA to address the issue instead of hiding it, and they have so far been resistant; this is partly why we highlighted the problem in our recent visits to members of Congress.
Ivan made a motion that we accept the minutes as written and read; John seconded. Motion passed.
Laura moved to adjourn; Ivan seconded. Motion passed.
Minutes written and submitted by Laura Novakoski, Secretary.