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President’s Message, First Quarter of 2010

It’s hard to believe that my first year as MEA President has already passed. Our union family has experienced a lot of obstacles and trials this past year, but we pulled together and made sound decisions that only strengthened our resolve and prepared us for future fights.

Looking back on 2009, there were numerous accomplishments that our union should be very proud of. However, there were several triumphs that I am especially proud of and would like to highlight and acknowledge the individuals who made it happen.

This past year has been financially challenging for us all. MEA sought to assuage some of the financial strain by trimming its own budget in order to reduce the cost of member dues. MEA scrutinized all of its costs and aggressively eliminated all expenses that were not absolutely crucial to the daily functions of the office. In doing so, MEA cut $325,000 from its annual budget, resulting in members saving an average of 11% in dues.

Coming off a year where we did not have a signed contract with the City, and the same old song coming out of City Hall that “We have no money for employees” blues, we knew it would be challenging to even maintain the benefits we had previously fought so hard for. We all experienced the sting when the City asked employees to cut 6% from their pay checks. Through long and arduous negotiations with the City, a two year agreement was reached in which MEA members, not the City, were able to choose how the 6% reduction would be assessed while preserving other important benefits that the City proposed to take.

Though it had not been done in more than 20 years, the Board took on the challenge of hiring a new general manager. The Board was very aware that this leadership position would affect the shape and goals of MEA for years to come. With the gravity of such an important decision in mind, a nation-wide search was conducted which yielded an array of well-qualified candidates. After a three month search and interviewing process, the Board agreed that Michael Zucchet had the best qualifications, experience and motivation to implement the vision and policies adopted by the Board of Directors. We are so fortunate to have Mike working for us and know we’ll continue to successfully fight the good fight with him at the helm.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our amazing MEA Officers and Executive Committee. These individuals have come together with the collective goal of working for, and on behalf of, our MEA family. They have done an outstanding job and I look forward to working with them in 2010.