First Time Negotiator: Opening Remarks

By Sarah Sosa, Steward, Executive Board 2822, Council 5 E-Board, HSPHD, Sabathani

Today (August 10, 2015) was our first day of negotiations. I got there early and sat next to my fellow local member. Ready with my coffee and my favorite AFSCME green accessories, I wondered what the day would hold. This is my first time on the team and I am glad I agreed to take on the new experience. As the room started to fill in I looked around at our team and felt honored that our local president Lynn Stetler asked me to represent so many workers who could not be at the table. My hope is to talk to my coworkers at my worksite, Sabathani Community Center, as well as my former coworkers at the Maple Grove Library and let them know that we are working hard to improve their contract. We need everyone’s support to make this happen. Even something as simple as wearing GREEN ON TUESDAYS.

We started the meeting with both teams introducing themselves. We met the new Labor Relations director Kathy Megarry who comes to the County most recently from Macy’s. It was refreshing to have so many new folks on both sides of the table. During this meeting management did not respond to our proposal but instead their team’s head negotiators asked for clarity on some of our proposal pieces. The whole thing went rather smoothly and quickly but I guess that is pretty typical for the opening meeting. Management now has a couple weeks to prepare a response to our proposal when we meet on August 24th. To read our whole opening proposal, please visit our website

The following are our Field Representative Alison Kelly’s opening remarks to Hennepin County:

“As we share our opening proposal with you we are optimistic to be engaging in productive and collaborative collective bargaining. Our interests lie in improving the wages, benefits and working conditions of all Hennepin County Workers. Our members strive to meet the Hennepin County mission statement of enhancing the health, safety and quality of life of our residents and communities in a respectful, efficient and fiscally responsible way. Our members have worked hard to achieve the mission, even to the point of sacrificing their own health and quality of life to do so. Insufficient staffing levels have left workers stressed and morale low. The time has come to rebuild the workforce by providing livable wages, support, maintaining honest department budgets and responsible staffing.

"Hennepin county workers deserve the respect and resources to continue to model the mission of Hennepin County.”

Stay tuned to find out what they will come back to the table with…