Union is Lifesaver, Cost Saver for Mother and Daughter

AFSCME member Jenny Foster
AFSCME member Jenny Foster

Working union means living better.  Jenny Foster, president of Local 3141 at the Minnesota Department of Revenue, serves on the State Master Negotiating Team.  She helped win a tentative agreement on a new state contract, which includes a diabetes pilot program for 6,000 state workers and their adult dependents – including Foster and her 20-year-old daughter.  The program will improve care and reduce member out-of-pocket costs associated with diabetes, including office visits, lab fees and prescription drugs.  

“It’s going to save me $2,000 a year just for her because she has Type 1 diabetes.  It’s not cheap.  For me, with Type 2, it’s probably going to save me $600 or $700.  I was so excited, you have no idea.

To know that my daughter won’t have to struggle, we won’t have to struggle as a family to make sure she has money to pay for her medication or go to the doctor, it’s just amazing. To know this can last until she turns 26 or has a fulltime job, how do you even explain how happy you can be?

I was talking to a few gals at work who have diabetes who were hospitalized.  These are frontline workers who are making at the max $18 an hour.  Just to know somebody with a chronic illness or disease isn’t going to have to choose between the medications they need and if they’re going to pay the light bill this month – that is huge.

I have been with the Department of Revenue for 11 years.  I correct errors on tax returns.  Before, I worked at Newport Cold Storage.  I checked the drivers in and out and processed orders.  I got laid off.

I started at the state making 20 cents an hour less than the job I’d had.  Knowing I’d have the benefits, knowing I’d have the job security made it worth it.  At the state, if you do good work, you’re guaranteed to get a raise.  All the other jobs I’d had, it was up to the boss whether you got a raise or not.  This is really sad, but a lot of people don’t understand that.

I knew about unions my whole life.  I grew up in a union household.  I had never held a union job.  That was very important to me.

I don’t have to worry about getting a 15-cent raise anymore or worry my benefits are going to be taken away from me because I’m at the whim of someone who can do whatever they want.  Having a union job, I’ve got many other people watching my back.  We’ve got each other.

My daughter is going to be a paramedic.  She is going into public service, and knowing she most likely will have a union makes me feel very good.  My son, he works as a 911 dispatcher, he’s unionized and has full benefits and a pension started.  It makes me very happy and very proud knowing they won’t have to struggle.  As a parent, you never want to see your kids struggle.”

AFSCME’s master bargaining team is unanimously recommending ratification of the tentative agreement.  Their recommendation first goes to the elected Delegate Assembly on July 28.  Members then will vote on the contract proposal from Aug. 7 to 11.  Watch www.afscmemn.org for voting times and locations.

The proposed contract covers 15,504 AFSCME workers in Unit 2 (craft and maintenance), Unit 3 (service), Unit 4 (health care), Unit 6 (clerical) and Unit 7 (technical) of the executive branch.  The health insurance covers 18,337 AFSCME workers, including Units 8 (corrections) and 25 (radio communications).