AFGE, Local 3937 - Local Business Meeting
March 13, 2019
ATSC, Auburn WA
Present were: Melanie Broady, John Pfannenstein, Laura Novakoski, Steffen Pleiness, Jackie Walton, Dina Lovenstein, Nicole Carrier-Theulen, Carrie Kitchin-Kofahl, Steve Kofahl and Jacob Marrero-Torres.
The meeting was called to order at 5:00pm, chaired by Melanie Broady, Local President.
Our current bank balance is $69,168.88, which has increased from the $57,414.22 from a year ago. The good news is that we are finally getting financially stable after an extended period with too much being taken out in dues by AFGE National.
Our Treasurer, Jackie, provided an update on the issue of incorrect dues. We have been gradually recovering, as National has made incremental corrections based on information we provided them. She has removed all of the people from National's list that are no longer having dues deducted, and has contacted them about other discrepancies. We have around 500 members currently. We are also still in talks with District 11 and National about a refund for incorrect billing over the past year.
The COLA increase has not yet been announced in detail by OPM and SSA, so we have no final figures yet (including locality) for the 1.9% increase that was passed by Congress for 2019. When we have that information, we will send the annual bill to retirees and an announcement to currently employed members. We are still paying dues for retirees, so they are still members in good standing.
One of our local representatives, Chanan Suarez, contacted us to request that we support his candidacy for Bellingham City Council. The request reached us just prior to January’s meeting, so we reached out to him for more details for further discussion tonight. We couldn’t find this information online and didn’t receive anything more, so as a Local we can’t take an official stance.
There are upcoming Idaho AFL-CIO and Idaho Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA) conventions 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. Carrie made a motion that the Local fund her attendance at the 4-day convention in Pocatello to include registration expenses for both events, per diem, women’s lunch, annual banquet and transportation costs that may apply. We are also willing to fund a ½ page ad for our Local in the event booklet. Andrea did not specify an exact budget request, but the total cost should not exceed $1500.00; motion seconded by Laura. Andrea has brought our voices and issues to her local AFL-CIO for years, and has our full support. Motion passed.
We received a request from AFGE Legislative Action Fund (LAF) for an annual suggested contribution. We pay into this fund annually, which is used to educate members on legislative issues that affect employees. This year, as Social Security and Medicare benefits are again at risk of major cuts, it is more important than ever. No LAF funds are ever contributed to any federal candidate. Melanie made a motion that we contribute $2280 based on a $5 per person rate for our current membership numbers; John seconded. Motion passed.
We discussed the idea of creating Local 3937 T-shirts that we could provide to local representatives, so that we have a more visible presence in our offices. We could encourage them to wear the shirts on days when they do Union business or have Union meetings, or on a certain day of the week for solidarity. We considered using shirts that were designed by Council 220, but weren’t sure the design and cost were right for us. Melanie made a motion that the Local fund the order and purchase of T-shirts for Local reps and Executive Board members at a cost not to exceed $1000; Carrie seconded. Dina will look into designs, and research the Union printer we’ve utilized recently. Motion passed.
Steve, our District Retiree Coordinator, requested that we name a Local Retiree Coordinator who can assist with receiving and disseminating information about the AFGE retiree program. This person could pass along information about our program to newly retired employees, and would be provided training on things like the mechanics of how retirees sign up, and how they can be referred to other activities per their interests (such as legislative actions). It is often a responsibility of the Treasurer, though another person could assist or be named as a follow up contact.
AFGE Council 220 recently announced that their long-time past President, Witold Skwierczynski, would be named as President Emeritus. We think this is a wonderful idea, and Melanie introduced the motion that our Local should name Steve Kofahl as lifetime President Emeritus for Local 3937. Even after his retirement, he has continued to be very available to the Local and to our officers with his experience and his mentoring energy. This is primarily an honorary designation, and he will continue to pay his own dues, but we will fund at least the cost of his participation in one retiree event of his choosing annually, to include transportation, meals and incidentals, hotel and registration costs. John seconded. Motion passed.
On January 30-31st this year, John, Steffen and Jackie attended the WA State Labor Council (WSLC) Legislative and lobbying conference in Olympia. They were paired with representatives of other unions for state congressional visits, and they attended meetings with the legislators to bring up issues about unions in general, and also issues specific to Social Security and our employees.
In February, Nicole, John, Laura and Monica Rodgers (retired) attended the AFGE Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. They scheduled two full days of meetings on Capitol Hill to educate our congressional representatives, senators and staff about issues like our contract negotiations, including a request to send a letter to Commissioner Nancy Berryhill about bringing the bargaining team back to the table. We provided them a template that many agreed to send. Nicole shadowed John, Laura and Monica and they all attended District and Council classes and meetings that week. Legislators seemed receptive hearing about Social Security staffing shortages and the need for pay raises for our hard working employees. We were able to attend a publicity event where Senator Bernie Sanders and others introduced the Social Security 2100 Act.
Laura made a motion that we accept the minutes as written and read; Jackie seconded. Motion passed.
Laura moved to adjourn; Steffen seconded. Motion passed.
Minutes written and submitted by Laura Novakoski, Secretary.