Workers at the Central Mass Special Education Collaborative formed their union in 2014 because of concerns about pay equity, safety and favoritism. After nearly 24 months and dozens of tough bargaining sessions, they reached a tentative agreement with management on their first contract.
“We made significant progress on many of the priority issues, although not all of our objectives were achieved,” said Christian Lamoureux, an instructional assistant in the Thrive Program. “Without a contract spelling out our pay scale, no one knew where they stood. Now, with this agreement, we have a new wage grid that is equitable and transparent. There are 18 steps with 2.5% between each step. This is a major achievement. It allows us to know where we are headed and should cut down on turnover.”
“This agreement gives us “just cause” job protections, a grievance procedure with arbitration rights, and the fairness and respect provided by a union contract,” said Ross Lapetina, an instructional assistant at the Hartwell School. “We love our jobs and the kids we work with. But we are really underpaid for the work we do. We will be back at the negotiating table in no time, to continue making progress. I voted yes for this contract because it gives us a voice in our future.”
“I’ve worked here for 14 years, yet I was making less than some others for the same work,” said Kimberly Wellington, another instructional assistant Hartwell. “That was so unfair to me and I wasn’t the only one.”
“In the past management played favorites with our raises. With the union contract we’ve eliminated the inequities and for the first time everyone will be treated the same. I’m not going to see a huge increase in my pay, but with the union we can team up and support each other.”
Members ratified their contract 29 – 13 on Sept. 8.
SEIU Local 32BJ unites 13,000 janitors across Massachusetts and Rhode Island. On September 30, their current contract will expire. SEIU Local 32BJ janitors are fighting for adequate staffing, just wages, and benefits such as medical insurance. They need public support to win.
Four years ago, community organizations like Jobs with Justice, many elected officials and the entire labor movement rallied to help SEIU janitors win a good contract. Our commitment made a difference four years ago, and we can make a difference again.
These workers maintain office buildings in Boston including the John Hancock, Prudential Tower, Vertex and Biogen buildings. They provide services to the pharmaceutical, finance, tech, transportation and higher education industries — all key pillars of the Massachusetts economy. The mostly immigrant janitorial workforce has contributed greatly to our strong local economy.
With a commercial real estate industry enjoying low vacancies and sky-high rents, cleaners at the bargaining table are calling for a new contract that expands opportunities for full-time employment and ensures raises that keep up with the cost of living in one of the most expensive metropolitan areas in the country.
It’s time for our SEIU community to come together again to preserve and advance our hard-fought victories. Join our SEIU sisters and brothers and Local 32BJ members on Saturday, September 10th at 1:00 PM for a major mobilization to Raise Up America with Good Jobs!
Find our event on Facebook here. All Local 888 members should let your union know if you will be attending or have any questions by contacting us at: email@example.com.
Chapter Chair Jennifer Reynolds reports that Amherst Town Employees settled a new 3-year contract for 68 members. Workers won 2% each year, raised their Hazmat/EMD stipend, increased the boot allowance, expanded sick time to nontraditional household members, and many more gains.
The MOU contains the following highlights:
Congratulations to the Fitchburg Registry of Deeds bargaining team for negotiating a contract that members unanimously ratified. The agreement includes a nine percent raise over three years, additional monies into the dental plan and an attendance policy related to inclement weather. Members are looking forward to upcoming Labor/ Management meetings within the next few months.
Custodians at the Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School ratified a new contract on July 15, 2014. Highlights of the new agreement include language protecting against layoffs, cost of living increases of 2% each year of the three year contract, an increase in vacation to five weeks after 17 years, and shift differential eligibility for part-time employees who fill in for full time employees for two weeks or more.
Local 888 voting locations will include the Chelsea and Holyoke Soldiers Homes and the Local 888 Office in Worcester MA.
A group of more than 20 professionals who work for the town of Framingham were frustrated when they received no raises for three years. They realized that they needed a union and collective bargaining to get raises and address many other concerns they had.
They formed their union in 2011 and it took a resolute bargaining committee nearly two years to win their first contract. Finally on March 22 the team reached a three-year contract with the town’s top management.
Bargaining committee member Kitty Mahoney says that the team is thrilled with the outcome. “Our first contract represents the best interests of our workforce, with solid employment protections through articles which serve us all as a collective; cooperatively and with solidarity. It was an honor to work with the members of this committee. I am humbled by the process and thankful for the opportunity. All the work was worth it!”
How often do you have to go to mediation after two negotiating sessions? Not too often—but Local 888 did in the case of the Steamship Authority. Parity between contracts was management’s answer to almost every proposal until it came to wages, then it was a different story. The team held firm on some proposals and ended up with a three year contract with raises of 2.75%, 2.75% and 2.5%, “super seniority” for the steward in the event of layoffs, as well as an additional day for travel in excess of 200 miles. All in all, not a bad contract in this economy. Thanks to Donna St. John, Ruth Grundhoefer, Pat Jette, Beth Rowe, Camille Carter and Shari Duncan for their hard work.
Sometimes winning a new contract takes a lot more than just negotiating with management.
Local 888 members at the Valley Works Career Center in Lawrence were frustrated after two tentative agreements were turned down by the Mayor and the City’s Financial Overseer, appointed by the Governor. Meanwhile other city employees began getting raises.
“We went four years without a raise,” said Mariah Germosen, a Career Service Advisor. “When that many years go by, you don’t feel appreciated or valued. You’re not keeping up with the cost of living.”
“We needed to step up the pressure and start making some noise,” said Cardel Bennett who also works as a Career Service Advisor.
“That’s why a group from the negotiating committee and Local 888 Field Service Director Jen Springer went to the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. “A good part of our funding is from the state. We told Secretary Joanne Goldstein’s office and the Governor’s office just how frustrated we were and that something had to be done,” said Springer.
“After that meeting the ball got rolling with the city!” said Marco Ruiz who in addition to being a Career Service Advisor is also the union steward at Valley Works. “This was a tough battle and I’m happy with the outcome.”
Members won some significant improvements over the previous tentative agreement. Instead of a 3 percent bonus, they got a 3 percent increase in base pay going back to July 1, 2011. Members also won 2.5 percent increase in wages each year for 2013 and 2014 for a total of 5 percent, instead of the original 0 percent with only a promise of a “reopener.”
“SEIU Local 888 members and staff were aggressive and we didn’t let up until we won. Our political strategy complimented the bargaining strategy,” said Springer. “It was great to see the leaders at Valley Works step up to make it happen and finally get a contract.”
Chapter chair Barbara Begin reported that the contract was ratified 18- 0 on February 12.