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Fall 2013

NEWSLETTER

Corrections Officers, Not Security Guards


by Roger Levings, Staff Representative In 2012 a decision was made by the 16th Judicial Circuit of Missouri (Jackson County) to close the McCune Residential Center, a secure residential treatment facility for Juveniles, by the end of the year. This was necessitated by three main factors. First was a declining need for such a confined secure facility, second was declining revenue to operate it and finally the age of the over a century old facility. Unfortunately, no immediate plans were made to secure the abandoned facility after its closing. As a result it did not take long before vandals and thieves began to take advantage of the vacancy and the facility became a magnet for anyone wanting to engage in illegal activity. When Jackson County, Mo. Officials became aware of the vandalism a decision was made to assign security of the facility to the County Department of Corrections. Armed only with an Igloo of iced water and a page of hastily written post orders, a single Corrections Officer per eight hour shift was assigned to guard the abandoned facility. Within hours of the new assignment, concerned staff reached out to Council 72 Staff Representative Roger Levings who immediately drove to the site to gauge the seriousness of the situation. Arriving at shift change both the oncoming and outgoing officers expressed their concern for their safety and well being, not to mention the frustration they felt at being assigned a duty outside of their job description. Concerns over personal safety were so great that an officer refused assignment at the abandoned facility and was sent home on suspension pending termination proceedings. It did not take long for AFSCME Local 1707 (Jackson County Department of Corrections) President Lowell Wreh to call a meeting of his Executive Board who along with Council 72 Staff Representative Levings devised a plan of action to bring an end to the Out of Class, Hazardous Duty assignment. First, calls and visits were made to the Department of Corrections Director Ken Conlee by Local 1707 leaders and Council 72 staff protesting the assignments. A Group Grievance claiming a safety violation and assignment outside of job duties was prepared and signatures of over hundred concerned staff were garnered. Council 72s Legislative Director Josh McCarroll reached out to County Legislators to express concern and a meeting was held with Crystal Williams, County Legislator from the 2nd District at Large. It was made very clear to Ms. Williams that assigning Corrections Officers to guard abandoned buildings was an insult. Not just here in Jackson County, but anywhere in the Country. She was informed that our Union could not and would not stand by and allow this to continue. Ms. Williams who had not been informed of this prior to the meeting was concerned with what she heard and agreed to look into the matter. It was not long after that Staff Rep. Levings received another call from an officer at the abandoned facility. This time it was to report that a private security company was at the McCune site doing a walk through and preparing an estimate of how much it would cost for them to take over guarding the facility. Shortly thereafter Jackson County Corrections Officers returned to the duties that the taxpayers of Jackson County expect of them: taking care of incarcerated individuals at the County Detention Facilities. On a final happy note, after President Lowell Wreh was able to defend the actions of the Officer who had refused assignment, he was returned to full duty with no further action.

Sustaining the Governors Veto of House Bill 253


by Joshua McCarroll, Legislative Director This years legislative session saw more than a handful of bad ideas proposed. Even worse, some of the bad ideas actually made their way onto Gov. Nixons desk. One of these bad ideas was HB 253. It was yet another tax cut for wealthy special interests. It would have taken desperately needed funding away from things like education, veterans homes, and our mental health facilities and given it to corporations in the form of massive tax breaks. In addition, it would have actually raised taxes on seniors prescriptions and textbooks for students. There have been dramatic cuts in the budget since the beginning of the recession, and now that were finally starting to dig ourselves out, some Republicans in the legislature wanted to give corporations another tax cut. They should have been trying to restore the funding cuts that have seriously hurt all of our facilities. Instead they were more interested in giving away more money to the folks who deserve it the least. Gov. Nixon did the right thing and vetoed this terrible idea, but some leaders in the legislature tried to override his veto. Because of your efforts, and the efforts of our coalition partners, we were able to stop this drastic cut to the services we provide. Once again this just proves that when we stand together and let our voices heard, we can win.

Next Steps to Fight Against Bad Tax Policy


by Alexandra Townsend, Political Coordinator With the failure to override HB253, the governor has announced the majority of the $400 million in withholds, including the $500 wage increase for all state employees, will be released immediately. Additionally, the governor has released the 1,000 FTE positions that he had instructed be withheld be released as well, so the governors budget director will not be implementing a plan to lay off 1,000 state workers. While this is excellent news for state workers, we must continue to work against threats to the Missouri budget and the critical services AFSCME members provide which are funded through the state budget. We have already heard that the sponsor of the original dangerous tax cut legislation intends to file similar legislation next year, which, if it is anything like this years failed legislation, would serve only to cripple Missouris ability to fund the vital services public employees provide. The battle has been won, but we must continue to be vigilant and fight back against continued threats with calls, letters, and meetings with legislators and key allies in the community.

A Better Community Project


by Claire Cook, Strategic Alliances Coordinator This June, Council 72 was selected as one of four states to participate in a pilot program through Pres. Saunders office to grow and strengthen our relationships in communities across Missouri. An important aspect of any union is community both inside and outside the facility. We have seen time and time again that we simply cannot accomplish things alone. We need the support and voices of our allies and friends in the community to stand along side us to help move us forward. The ABC Committees at Locals 3509, 2441, 1324 and 876, along with the general membership, are beginning to build these relationships by attending community and organizational meetings like the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, and church groups. We are also participating in volunteer activities such as having a food drive for the local food panty, sponsoring a family at the holidays with an Angel Tree, taking part in church festivals, and assisting with park clean-up days. All of these activities and meetings allow members to meet those in the community and share our stories and educate others on the roles and necessities of a union creating new friends and allies for the future. Then, when unions and public workers are under attack, we can call upon new allies to stand at our sides and fight with us for our rights and livelihoods. To become involved in an ABC Committee, contact Claire at Cook@afscmecouncil72.org or 314.805.1044.

The Three Rs of Keeping Good Financial Books


by Roger Gladden-Kvist, Financial Director The basic fundamentals of keeping good financial records for a local can be summarized as the three Rs of simple bookkeeping: 1. RECEIPTS Keep every original receipt of every transaction made through the locals bank account(s). a. f you disburse money to buy something or pay a bill for the local then make sure you have a receipt from that sale or bill payment that matches and coincides with the amount paid. The receipt should list who was paid, the amount paid, and the date of the payment. All of this information should match the check used to disburse the money and the recording of the transaction in the locals bank book. b. If you deposit money into any of your locals bank accounts then you should keep the deposit receipt from the bank. The amount on the deposit receipt should match the amount deposited and that you record in the locals bank book. 2. RECORD Record every transaction made through the locals bank account(s). The easiest way to do this is in the locals bank book. As stated above make sure every record matches every receipt of every transaction made through the account. 3. RECONCILIATION It is very important that the locals bank book(s) are reconciled with the monthly bank statement each month. This is the best way to track errors that may have been made in your record keeping. Never go more than a month without reconciling your account(s) to avoid overdrafts or missing funds etc. Remember, if you ever have a question or problem with your financial record keeping then I am available to assist you at: gladden-kvist@afscmecouncil72.org or (573) 635-9145.

Why We All Need to Care About Medicaid Expansion


by Jeff Mazur, Executive Director Over the summer, I had the opportunity to serve as a member of the Citizens and Legislators Working Group on Medicaid Reform, a committee created by the Missouri General Assembly to explore the opinions of Missourians across the state on expanding eligibility for health insurance through Medicaid. We held open hearings in six different cities in all corners of the state, from Cameron to Kennett, and heard from dozens of citizens and experts, all but a handful of whom spoke in favor of expanding the states Medicaid program. Why should we, as public employees and union members, care about Medicaid expansion? There are a few big reasons and one that is narrow and specific. One big reason we should care is that, right now, those of us who have health insurance are paying more to cover the healthcare costs of the uninsured. Every time one of the 800,000 Missourians without insurance seeks expensive treatment in an emergency room because she cant afford physician visits, the costs of providing that care are allocated across all of us who do have insurance in the form of higher provider costs which lead to higher premiums. By covering hundreds of thousands more citizens on Medicaid, we will cease subsidizing the costs of their care through our own premiums. Another big reason why we must expand Medicaid is that the Affordable Care Act provides massive financial incentives to the state for doing so. If we expand Medicaid to include individuals who earn up the 138% of the Federal Poverty Level, the federal government will pick up 90% of the costs forever. This means a small investment of state dollars will leverage literally billions of dollars in federal investment. Those dollars will not only pay for insurance for hundreds of thousands who dont currently have it, but will also keep dozens of struggling local hospitals around our state in business. A third big reason for why we need expansion is very simple: justice. Right now, a single mother of two children who earns more than $3,711 per year earns too much money to qualify for Medicaid. Individuals who have no children and are not disabled cannot qualify for Medicaid at all, regardless of their income. It is just plain wrong that people who are very clearly living in abject poverty are viewed by our current system as too wealthy to get basic coverage from our low-income insurance safety net. This must change. And as for the narrow reason? Thousands of our brothers and sisters who work as home care attendants will be directly benefitted by Medicaid expansion. Many members of AFSCMEs Missouri Home Care Union are people who fall through the cracks in the current system. They make more than the current very low eligibility levels allow, but they still live at or below the poverty line. And despite the fact that some of them work near full-time hours or work multiple jobs, they currently dont have access to affordable health insurance Medicaid expansion would give them that life-changing assistance for the first time. Medicaid expansion affects the future affordability of our own insurance. It affects the financial viability of the hospitals and health care providers who bring jobs to our local communities. It affects our union family members who are struggling to survive and get health care coverage for the first time. Medicaid expansion affects us all, and we should all be asking our legislators to make it a reality.