Holyoke holds organizing meetups by phone

Erin Saykin

Erin Saykin

Chapter leaders at the Holyoke Soldiers Home are plugged into 21st century tools. They are using a conference-call setup to stay in touch, because members work around the clock.

“The goal is to improve teamwork and promote unity,” said Erin Saykin, a Holyoke Home CNA and steward. “The conference calls have aided communications between our stewards and officers, especially when we are not physically able to attend meetings.”

The conference calls require dialing into a phone line and using a secure pin number. “The result is that we are able to discuss any ideas, concerns, or issues that are currently going on at the Holyoke Soldiers Home and work on bringing about needed changes.”

Local 888 members at the Holyoke and Chelsea Soldiers Homes are campaigning to improve working conditions and maintain excellent care for the veterans.

In particular, members at the Holyoke Home blame management for the high staff turnover. The causes include: understaffing, poor use of existing staff, excessive forced overtime and a hostile and retaliatory work environment generating a pileup of grievances.

In December, SEIU Local 888 and 509 members from the veterans facilities took their grievances to a whole new level. They met with Marylou Sudders, the state’s secretary of health and human services. Sudders said she would look into understaffing and other issues and meet regularly with Local 888 leaders.

Previously, union leaders had met with Francisco Urena, the head of the state’s veterans services.

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