View From the Cheap Seats

So here we go – my first column for the newsletter. For those who do not know me, I have worked for Hennepin County since 1993. I have been a Child Support Officer, Adoption Social Worker, Kinship Resource Social Worker, Child Protection Social Worker, and am now in the Front Door Access Unit working as a Screener. I have worked in the social service field since 1966 in a variety of counties and states. I have worked in non-profits, been a participant in the launching of non-profits and have volunteered in my neighborhood and on citizen advisory boards. With Local 34, I have been Recording Secretary, Membership Secretary and Member-at-Large to the Executive Board. I decided to seek the position of Vice President, as viewing the world from the cheap seats has led me to believe that this is the time when we all have to find the time and means to step-up in some way so that our voices will be heard.

I really want to hear from you. I know that it is difficult for many people to come to meetings in the evening. To open a dialogue and explore ways to participate and speak-up, I have decided to have lunch at HSB every second Friday of the month and lunch at the Park Café in the Government Center every fourth Friday of the month from 12:15 to 12:45. If Happy Hour works for you, I will be at the Little Wagon every second Friday and at Hubert’s every fourth Friday starting around 5 p.m. You can email me at and call me at 612-598-7071.

Here are some interesting numbers. According to Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, over the last sixteen years, $300 billion have been transferred from me and from you to a handful of very, very wealthy people. In the last eight years, Wall Street has paid out $180 billion in bonus. An individual who worked for Merrill Lynch from 08/01/08 – 12/31/08 left with a $35 million dollar bonus when Merrill was sold to Bank of America. Today, the USA and China have the largest disparity between rich and poor of all the countries in the world.

Why is this important to workers at Hennepin County? There is not enough money for me and you to do our jobs. We are being re-designed, we get asked to do more, and we may be laid-off. I worry about NIMBY (not in my backyard) at work; please save my job, but yes, it is okay to take my neighbor’s job or my supervisor’s job or a planner’s job, or a manager’s job. It seems as if we are standing in a circle pointing fingers at one another rather than standing together and shining a light on those who got a piece of that $300 billion. They need to give back their ill-gotten gains or at least pay their fair share.  It is not the time to cut services and jobs. We – you and me – need to – and can find ways to – stand up to tell those in charge of the public purse, to do the right thing.  We must value and protect the young, old and vulnerable among us – the people we serve. It is not unreasonable to ask our Elected to be brave and show some leadership by asking Governor Tim to increase revenue. It is only common sense to ask everyone to pay their fair share. It is about the Common Good.

I am looking forward to meeting each of you. I believe we can find ways to shine that light on those who have stolen our money and seem perturbed when asked to pay their fair share.  And this is the view from the cheap seats for this month.

~ Vicki Moore, AFSCME Local 34 Vice President