consultants are sandburs

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wes Volkenant said...

Wes Volkenant is an active DFL supporter in Anoka County, and in a comment to an earlier post he submitted the following text, as quoted below. I am taking the liberty of leaving the comment intact while elevating the content to this separate post. I believe it important for people to read and deliberate over his commentary.

I'm a public employee, and I am a member of a public employee union - AFSCME - which represents many state, county and local government workers here in Minnesota and across the nation. I have been an elected leader of my own unit of about 2000 employees and I have been elected as a representative of county workers across the State. I didn't get paid to represent statewide fellow working-class people, and my own unit chooses - by our own Constitution - to pay its leaders monthly stipends to cover costs we incur to do union work, in hours outside our own 40-hour work week. All of our members have a right to attend our meetings, vote in our elections, choose to seek opportunities to go to our conventions and conferences, and run for office in our union - and we hold elections every year. My union is very open and democratic for its members. We don't have corruption within our union.

So how might a union be corrupt in the eyes of right-wing zealots like our 'friend' Anon charges? Some call us corrupt because we take active roles in elections with our endorsements, our money and our manpower. Why do we do so? We demand a say on who gets elected in this State - we do the work, and we want elected leaders who take positions to help our state, our counties, our cities and schools, and to improve this state. We not only want good government - because we do believe in what we do, the programs we provide for our communities and all the various aspects of government, from safety to public assistance to parks and roads - but we also want good bosses who respect us and yes, provide with fair, even good in some years, contracts.

Some call us corrupt because our organization collects dues and a fair share fee from everyone the union represents. Hogwash! We won the right to represent all these employees in our 'Local' units. No one deserves a free ride - meaning no one being represented should get the benefits of the Union without any cost. Fair share fee payers are required by Court rulings to receive union assistance throughout the full grievance process - what's called the duty of fair representation. Without participating in the process, fair share fee payers receive wage increases and benefits negotiated in the contract process. Are unions wrong in expecting all those covered by that contract to pay in each month? I say NO!

Fair share fee payers DO NOT contribute against their will to political candidates they oppose. If they prefer anti-union Republicans, they will be on the wrong side in the Union. Our unions support Democrats - and some Republicans - who will support unions and most of the political principles our membership has voiced its support for through our conventions - and our delegates represent every 'Local" at the state level and every 'Council' at the national level. If more than 15% of our expenses go to things outside the regular business of the union, the next year, the amount of the fair share fee is reduced accordingly. My Local will not spend any funds on politics in 2015. Our Council and national units will spend on politics. Much of that money is raised outside of our dues - the AFSCME PEOPLE fund. I, myself, put in an additional $8 a pay period above my dues, specifically to help my Union elect good candidates who generally support what I support in the next election.

Meanwhile my dues make sure that our members are well-represented, that our contract process gives our members due process, and that later this year, we fight a good contract campaign with the managers hired to represent the peoples' elected officials in my county - the County Board.

Not a word changed, shaded, or altered. Any equally thoughtful analysis opposed to Wes' views, if submitted, will be comparably posted. This is an equal opportunity offer. However, it is an offer with a caveat. The following childish crap will not cut it, as a threshold of minimal thoughtfulness WILL be imposed.

Anonymous said...

Its time to stomp on all of the corrupt public sector unions! Scott Walker gets it. Its insane that the money that I pay in taxes finances the democrat party that is corrupt to the core!

It is very hard to have patience with that level of naught-but-conclusory discourse. Little time, little thought, both on the part of the commenter are clearly apparent. That was an earlier comment to the earlier post to which Wes commented, and it probably in some large measure earned the extended rebuttal from Wes.

Sometimes ill-posed comments lead to good outcomes.

All readers are urged to carefully read what Wes took time to write. It will be pivotal thought in the upcoming union busting efforts sprung from ALEC but being readied by some here in Minnesota. Expect to hear the terms "right to work" and the rebuttal term "right to work [for less]."

UPDATE - Wes also left a follow-up comment which is published as a comment in the original post and comment thread. I leave it there. Interested readers are expected to easily identify the thread, without my needing to link. It is a bit of a surprise that the paticular initial post generated extended commentary.


Anonymous said...

Nice to hear from your union thug friends..Should I be in fear for my life? are my kneecaps going to be broken? Corruption? what corruption? You guys are the greatest asset the tax payer has.

eric zaetsch said...

Anon - Intelligent commentary seems the hallmark of those putting their names to their thoughts. On the other hand ...

Wes Volkenant said...

Well thank you, Mr/Ms Anon - it's nice to be recognized as the taxpayers' greatest asset. Your comment, "You guys are the greatest asset the tax payer has." is mightily appreciated.

Whether or not that was your intention... it's nice that your, perhaps unintended, compliment was delivered.

I'll expect that it was given with only the best intentions in mind, and simply say thank you.

And Eric, thank you for your choice to share my comments about AFSCME and public employee unions in this way.