Tuesday, February 19, 2008

To Clarify

We understand Ms. Swanson sent an email to all staff today enclosing a copy of the letter in the last post. We welcome an open dialogue with Attorney General Swanson. There are, however, several statements in her letter to employees that do not square with fact. In addition, we are concerned that AG Swanson has scheduled meetings with attorneys under circumstances that are not, in the least, conducive to open and honest dialogue. We offer the following comments regarding AG Swanson's email, the letter and other issues:

The letter to Ms. Swanson was hand delivered to 102 State Capitol Building on Thursday, February 14, at 8:21 AM. The Attorney General's receptionist signed an acknowledgement of receipt of the letter. Therefore, Ms. Swanson had two full working days to review the letter and formulate a response before the posting was made. We also understand that Ms. Swanson appeared to be in good health at a luncheon date with a select group of new AAGs on Friday.

In addition, the letter was posted only as a means to update other AAGs. We did not distribute the letter to the media or host a press conference. We have not ambushed or made anyone a victim. In fact, we have made every effort to take the high road at every turn. We hope that AAG's see the blog as a source of information, and a forum in which they can safely discuss their concerns. We will continue to use the blog as a positive forum, and hardly agree that the posting of concerns about a taxpayer funded office, accountable to the citizenry of this state, is embarrassing or detrimental to the institution. Indeed, this effort is about supporting the proud tradition of independence and solid legal work of the office, for which its attorneys and staff are primarily responsible.

For the last year, we have stated repeatedly why we believe the AGO staff should be allowed to form a labor union. The question now is why doesn't Ms. Swanson believe the AGO staff should be allowed to make this decision?

If the AG is supportive of Labor, she should embrace our efforts and help us get PELRA language modified. If she is ambivalent, then she should step aside while we work with the legislature to modify the PELRA. And if she is opposed, she should explain her reasoning.

While we don't believe it's fair to put staff in the position of revealing to the boss their personal opinon about the union, we expect that any tallying or gauging of the positions of current staff members on the union effort be done in a lawful, democratic and fair manner. We expect that staff's privacy and personal boundaries be respected. We expect that any further meetings regarding this issue be attended or conducted by a neutral third party.


Anonymous said...

I am not happy about what happened today. I was among those who felt intimidated into stating that I did not agree with the views expressed in the letter, when I feel just the opposite. My family depends on me. I cannot afford to lose my job.

Anonymous said...

Seriously? How can you feel "intimidated" into an making a vote you didn't agree with when it was ANONYMOUS! You really think Lori is going to bring in a handwriting analyst to try to identify your check mark? Grow up and live in the real world!

It is my belief that anyone who thinks we have it so bad in the office has never worked in the private sector, and anyone in favor of unionization has never belonged to a labor union. Talk to the support staff and see if they think it's so great. Most of them will tell you the union takes their money (yes, there are dues, and they are not insubstantial) and does nothing for them. Most of the support staff that I have talked to that belong to AFSCME are laughing at your foolishness. What does that tell you?

I am getting pretty tired of listening to you union advocates whine about Lori. I think it's pretty disingenuous that, on the one hand, you claim that she is running the office with a political agenda, and on the other hand, complain that she is not living up to her political promises of being pro-labor. You can't have it both ways.

If you truly represent the "will" of the majority of the office, you don't need her to form a union. Do you think that the labor unions formed in the 30's, 40's and 50's were the result of management "assistance"? Hardly!
The FLRA was CREATED to allow people like yourselves to unionize despite management opposition. Either use the law available to you, and proceed, or shut up and go away (my personal preference). If you do succeed and make the AG0 a closed shop (I bet a lot of you pro-union folk don't even know what that means), make sure there is a "fair share" option for people like me who don't want much to do with people like you.

If you think for a hot second that the public feels sorry for you, you are sorely mistaken. You are attorneys, for god's sake! Start acting like them!

Anonymous said...

I think it's cowardly that you have "comment moderation" enabled! Either this blog is for people to voice their opinions, or it's not.

minnesota said...

Thanks for your feedback (both posts) early riser. We have published everything that has been posted thus far. No exceptions.

We'll let other posters respond to your tyrade if they care to, but one thing we'd like to make clear is that we firmly believe the "vote" was an utter sham and was not becoming of the state's top law office.

Anonymous said...

Putting aside personal anecdotes, look at the objective picture--in any other law office (or any company, for that matter), if there was as much turnover as at the AG's office (about 1/3 of the staff leaving within a 12 month period), it would not only be recognized that there was a serious problem, but that office would also be headed for financial ruin. It's only because the AG's office is funded by the State that it continues to be able to exist, despite the total lack of rationale management and correspondingly high turnover rate.

Additionally, many of the attorneys who have left actually came from the private sector, and went BACK to it. So there goes that theory.

Clearly, staff are voting with their feet. If I were a betting person, I'd say they'll continue to do so, especially if the union effort fails.

Anonymous said...

Any smart manager in the private sector, when faced with the rate of highly skilled, well paid professional employees leaving in droves would have tried to ascertain why people were leaving. Ms. Swanson is the manager of a publicly employed workforce that costs the taxpayers more than 20 million a year. Why has she not conducted meaningful exit interviews to detect what issues have caused these public employees to search for other employment? The loss of experience is enormous. Figuring out how to retain attorneys who have a passion for working in a public law office for more modest pay than what they might otherwise receive seems to be a no-brainer.