President’s Corner Jan. 2022
Happy New Year! I’m sending best wishes to everyone for a healthy, happy and peaceful 2022. I hope you were able to relax and spend time with family and friends and recharge a bit over the holidays.
We will need that newfound energy over the coming year because it will be a busy one for our union. Our top legislative priority this year will be the passage of our 2021-2023 contract. MAPE members have stepped up time and time again to keep Minnesotans safe and state government running during a pandemic.
We had months of hard-fought negotiations with Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) and arrived at a fair contract. We secured major victories for members including strong wage increases, added significant benefits like 3D mammograms to our health insurance with no major changes in out-of-pocket expenses or share of premium costs, added Juneteenth as a holiday and more.
Instead of our traditional Day on the Hill in-person meetings with elected officials at the Capitol, we’ll be holding our first-ever virtual Lobby Week March 7-11. We had amazing member participation during contract negotiations and we need to see this level of involvement again to ensure passage of our contract in the Legislature. We will have more details to share soon.
2022 is an election year so we’ll also be in touch about what we all can do to help elect pro-labor lawmakers from governor to state senators and representatives to school board members.
While we will be seeing new political faces later this year, there are new MAPE leaders and staff to introduce today. Michael Crider is MAPE’s new Statewide Secretary. Before serving as Secretary, Michael was Local 1202 President and served as co-chair of the President’s Committee. He is a financial aid specialist with Minnesota State at Dakota County Technical College (DCTC) and Inver Hills Community College. At DCTC he also coordinates the student employment project (work study) and certifies veterans benefits for veterans. He's a great addition to our Board of Directors and you can read more about him here.
I’m also pleased to welcome Ted Snaza, Dept. of Revenue, to the Board as Region 4 Director.
Maureen Dunaway was elected Speaker and Kristine Moody Vice Speaker of the Meet and Confer (M&C) Committee. Maureen chairs the Dept. of Employment and Economic Development M&C and Kristine chairs the M&C Committee at the Dept. of Revenue.
We are pleased to give a warm welcome to some new members of the MAPE staff team. After 32 years with the Minnesota Lottery and several years as MAPE’s Statewide Treasurer, Todd Maki will soon become MAPE’s new Operations Director. Paul Schweizer, current Operations Director, will be retiring next month. Suzanne Al-Kayali has joined MAPE as our Executive Assistant. Suzanne has worked in development and operations for various non-profit organizations for more than eight years. Stay tuned for news of new business agents joining the team.
They all bring strong skills to their new positions and I am confident you’ll be impressed when you have the opportunity to interact with them in the office, on the telephone or over Zoom.
We’re turning the corner on MAPE’s strategic plan and starting to finalize it. We’ve completed the member outreach portion and are exploring various topics including career paths; professional development; equity, diversity and inclusion; enforcement; contract enforcement; political engagement; crisis fund investment and member representation.
We’ve also been looking over past mission statements and discussing what’s important and what’s missing from our mission, vision and values statements. We haven’t had a uniting direction in a long time and it’s time to update them. We all bring different perspectives and that’s a strength of our union. It’s part of our North Star and I’m excited to see these documents finally being completed. The strategic plan will help us bring in new leaders with fair accountability.
Even though we have turned the calendar over to a new year, in many ways it still seems like it’s 2020 and hard to believe it is just shy of two years that Gov. Walz issued his first executive order for Minnesotans to stay at home because of COVID-19. During this time we have fought the alpha, delta and now the omicron variant of the virus. We’re told each variant is more contagious and dangerous than the last. Minnesota COVID-19 cases are increasing and more Minnesota cities are beginning to require vaccine proof or negative test for many activities.
We’re still trying to find grace to allow ourselves not to be perfect all of the time. This time in our history is also allowing us to find time to focus on the things we really care about and, to me, that’s the strength of our union.
As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day on Monday, let’s vow to work even harder to fulfill his dream of an equal and just society for all people. Dr. King was – and remains – an immense hero not only in the United States but worldwide. He was an eloquent writer and speaker and his words, including his “I Have a Dream” speech, still reverberate today. But it is one of his simplest and most powerful quotes that my husband and I try to instill in our young children, “The time is always right to do what’s right.”
It’s not bad advice for us “older” children, either.