Union Updates

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Early childhood educators at Lowell Day Nursery launch social media campaign to win better contract

Sixteen early childhood educators and staff at the Lowell Day Nursery (LDN) have not received raises to keep up with the cost of living or the increase in their health insurance in years.  Staff members’ health insurance premiums have risen from about $30 a week in 2008 to more than $55 in 2014.  Meanwhile, the only raises staff have received averaged .27 cents in 2008 and .32 cents in 2012.  In other words, pay for these hard working and highly qualified educators has actually been reduced!

Local 888 members are pictured on Facebook holding signs with short statements about why they teach at LDN.

Local 888 members are pictured on Facebook holding signs with short statements about why they teach at LDN.

Local 888 member Scott Larmand set up a Facebook page for the group that features his co-workers holding signs with short statements about why they teach at LDN.  In just two weeks, the page got more than 150 “likes” and some very supportive comments from parents of children who attend LDN.

Now the group has launched an online petition to LDN’s board of directors saying, “It’s time for respect and a real raise!”

Local 888 member and UMass Professional Darcie Boyer made a little flyer for the teachers that says "Super Sid supports his teachers at LDN."

Local 888 member and UMass Professional Darcie Boyer made a little flyer for the teachers that says “Super Sid supports his teachers at LDN.”

Darcie Boyer, a Center Manager at UMass Lowell whose son Sidney attends LDN posted a picture of him in a superhero costume, with a purple cape that said “Super Heroes for Fair Pay.”  Boyer made little flyer for the teachers that says “Super Sid supports his teachers at LDN.”  Boyer said, “Cute kids, and acts of solidarity, do get people’s attention. I was hoping that the teachers could use his picture to help the cause!

Local 888 members can support the LDN campaign by ‘liking’ their Facebook page at  and signing their online petition to the board of directors.  

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A Most Unusual Victory at Market Basket

After plenty of last minute negotiations, a settlement of the Market Basket dispute was finally reached, bringing to a close one of the most dramatic and inspiring labor struggles in the United States in many a year.  The settlement was not immediately about wages or benefits or job security language. These employees don’t even have a union! The settlement was about who would be their CEO. In a highly unusual management-led action, they paralyzed the company’s 71 stores and promoted a devastating consumer boycott to get previously fired CEO Arthur T. Demoulas back.   And they won!

Local 888 member Carolina Romero, who works at the Chelsea Soldiers Home, took a "selfie" with Arthur T. celebrating Labor Day at the Chelsea Market Basket.  She is an active member of the Local 888 Latino Caucus.

Local 888 member Carolina Romero, who works at the Chelsea Soldiers Home, took a “selfie” with Arthur T. celebrating Labor Day at the Chelsea Market Basket. She is an active member of the Local 888 Latino Caucus.

Most of the 25,000 workers have already returned to work. In fact, during the dispute, many of the checkers and in-store personnel worked, converting their stores and parking lots into protest platforms where the few remaining customers were engaged in intense discussions about the dispute.  Where once the walls of a store were adorned with promotional ads, now they were decked-out with signs extolling the virtues of “Arthur T.” and their desire to maintain his business model over his cousin Arthur S.

The strike was a strategic one by a combination of key workers in trucking and warehousing and top and middle managers whose industrial actions prevented any perishables from reaching the stores. Market Basket became nothing but a big dry goods chain.

Threats of firing and numerous “drop dead” days for employees to return to work came and went, virtually ignored by the workforce that was out. The power of a united and strategic workforce acting forcefully with broad consumer support rocked the whole of Eastern Massachusetts and its 30 stores in New Hampshire and Maine.

Following this monumental struggle, Market Basket and its workers will never be the same.  To reach a settlement, Arthur T. enlisted the notorious private equity firm, Blackstone Group to buy one third of the company.  As a result, the Market Basket culture and its manager’s paternalistic practices may significantly change.  Meanwhile, Market Basket’s workers expectations have never been higher and the sense of their power – even without the managers’ support – can’t be denied.

The vast majority of workers are part-time and low paid.  The UFCW is actively reaching out to enlist support.  Stay tuned because there is undoubtedly much more to come!

A longer version of this article first appeared on the Stansbury Forum.  Read an earlier posting about Local 888 support for the Market Basket workers here

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New Local 888 report outlines hazards of working in public works departments

Kim Sawyer and Rossmary Marquez, summer interns from the National Occupational Health Internship Program (OHIP), worked with SEIU Local 888 over the summer to study the health and safety conditions of DPW workers in Massachusetts.  Their work helped Local 888 develop member education and training materials for members.

From left to right: MassCOSH staffer Rick Rabin, Local 888 summer interns Rossmary Marquez and Kim Sawyer and Local 888’s Lisa Field.

From left to right: MassCOSH staffer Rick Rabin, Local 888 summer interns Rossmary Marquez and Kim Sawyer and Local 888’s Lisa Field.

Municipal workers are about 40% more likely to sustain an injury or illness on the job than private workers. An average of 28 municipal workers are seriously injured each week in Massachusetts.  Municipal workers are not covered by the recent extension of federal OSHA laws to some state employees.

Marquez and Sawyer surveyed six DPW departments on hazards, injuries, and health outcomes.  They found many commonalities between different DPW units.  They organized their data and interviews to write up stories for future efforts to improve working conditions.  Below is a summary of their findings:

Common Health Hazards and Problems
Back pain/injury
Exposure to sun and extreme temps
Headaches
Tiredness
Joint problems/pain

Common Themes
Culture of unsafe practices
Town management issues

Major Challenges
Unable to visit worksites
Little time to talk to units as a group
Pushback from some managers
Concern/lack of interest from some workers

Accomplishments
24 worker surveys completed in Orange, Westborough, Shrewsbury and Marlborough.
Workers had an outlet for their concerns.
New health & safety hazards sheet and final report.

Recommendations
Continue to survey more DPW members.
Build relationships with union members.
More 1:1 time with workers.

Acknowledgements
SEIU Local 888 staff: Lisa Field, Neal O’Brian, Bill Storella
MassCOSH staff: Rick Rabin, Marcy Gelb and Craig Slatin (Site Coordinator)
Local 888 DPW members, AOEC/OHIP, NIOSH

If you are interested in helping to improve conditions where you work or would like a copy of the OHIP interns’ report, contact Lisa Field at lfield@seiu888.org

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Ask Sparky

SparkyDear Sparky: I’m curious to get your take on this whole dispute over teacher tenure. My sister-inlaw is a teacher and I always hear her talking about how hard she works, but on the other hand, nobody has a job for life these days, especially one with summers off. What do you think?
Signed, Of Two Minds

Dear Two Minds: Happy you asked. You see, I once attended obedience school so I have some “first paw” experience with our nation’s education system. Let’s just say it didn’t end well!

Golden BoneBefore we take a good sniff at the battles over teacher tenure, let’s get some vocabulary straight. When people talk about “tenure,” they mean due process. So if a teacher like your sister-in-law survives her provisional period—which in Massachusetts lasts three years—she can’t be fired just because her principal doesn’t like her. The other thing you should probably know is that in the schools that teach the poorest and neediest students, the problem isn’t that teachers stick around too long it’s that they don’t stay. Taking away job protections from teachers who are already under incredible pressure will probably make the teacher turnover problem even worse.

So what’s this really all about then? It’s time to play a little game I like to call “the golden bone.” You see, everyone and his hedge fund brother seems to have an idea about how to “fix” our public schools these days. Put these ideas to a “smell test” though and you’ll notice something interesting. All of these ideas just happen to involve paying teachers like your sister-in-law a whole lot less, from ending tenure to expanding charter schools to replacing teachers with technology.

By the way: while teachers maybe the ones with targets on their backs now, the “visionaries” behind the plans to shake up our schools think that all public employees, including you, earn too much and have too many rights.
Sparky

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Labor Day 2014—a Celebration

Local 888 members and leaders celebrated the accomplishments of the labor movement on Labor Day. Members and staff attended the annual Labor Day breakfast at the Park Plaza. Afterwards many turned out to support nearly 100 members of our sister SEIU local who rallied to keep MBTA stations safe and clean.

Local 888 also had an informational tent at the 30th Annual Bread and Roses Heritage Festival on Labor Day on the Lawrence Common. Members of the Latino Caucus performed on the main stage at the festival and CPCS staff members spoke about their campaign to form a new union at the History Tent.

Members of Local 888's Latino Caucus join other SEIU members for a skit on the main stage at the Bread & Roses Festival in Lawrence.

Members of Local 888′s Latino Caucus join other SEIU members for a skit on the main stage at the Bread & Roses Festival in Lawrence.

 

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh addresses the annual GBLC Labor Day breakfast

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh addresses the annual GBLC Labor Day breakfast

SEIU Local 32 BJ members and supporters rally for good jobs on the Boston Common

SEIU Local 32 BJ members and supporters rally for good jobs on the Boston Common

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New Contracts at Registry of Deeds and Bay Path Regional

Registry of Deeds members unanimously ratify new contract

Pictured above are Gerald Fleming, Labor Liaison for the Sec. of State, Registry of Deeds SEIU bargaining team member Marcia Boudreau, Sec. of State Atty Michael Pagones, Sec. of State General Council Laurie Flynn and Registry of Deeds SEIU bargaining team member Donna Regan.

Pictured above are Gerald Fleming, Labor Liaison for the Sec. of State, Registry of Deeds SEIU bargaining team member Marcia Boudreau, Sec. of State Atty Michael Pagones, Sec. of State General Council Laurie Flynn and Registry of Deeds SEIU bargaining team member Donna Regan.

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.

New Contract for Baypath Custodians

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.

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Lottery workers wrap up new contract

Local 888 members at the Massachusetts Lottery overwhelming ratified a new contract in August and held a “signing ceremony” with Treasurer Steven Grossman, Lottery Executive Director Beth Bresnahan and Local 888 President Mark DelloRusso on September 3.

Local 888 Lottery steward team gathers with Treasurer Steven Grossman, Lottery Executive Director Beth Bresnahan and Local 888 President Mark DelloRusso to sign the new three year agreement on September 3.

Local 888 Lottery steward team gathers with Treasurer Steven Grossman, Lottery Executive Director Beth Bresnahan and Local 888 President Mark DelloRusso to sign the new three year agreement on September 3.

Gordon Luciano led the Lottery steward team through the negotiations with assistance from Local 888 attorney Maureen Medeiros.

Treasurer Grossman could barely contain his excitement about concluding a timely agreement with a minimum of acrimony or disagreements.

“I’ve embraced unions and collective bargaining my whole life [in the private sector] and I’ve never been prouder than I am now of the two strong teams that came together to get to ‘yes’ with this contract,” said Grossman. “It’s a win – win that comes with the mutual respect we’ve established here at the Lottery.”

DelloRusso praised all the stewards for getting the contract done in a timely fashion and particularly thanked those who travelled long distances from the regional offices for the long negotiations with management.

Reflecting back on the bargaining process, Luciano said, “We wanted to focus on some of the ambiguities in the contract and strengthen some of our language.  Our bargaining team felt it was especially important to have additional protections for our job security.”

“As result we won new language that is clearer on employee protections such as bumping rights and leave time,” Luciano concluded.

The contract has wage increases of 1.5 % every six months for 3 years.

The ratification vote the highest in recent memory with members voting 234 to 5 to accept the contract.

The Local 888 negotiation team.

The Local 888 negotiation team.

DelloRusso thanked Gordy Luciano and the rest of the Local 888 team: Greg Barry, Jim Harrington, Mike Kelly, Joe Poppalardo, Joseph Ravino, Rob Stephen, Kevin Wilder, and Chris Willis.

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Apply for Local 888 Scholarships Before Sept. 13

SEIU Local 888 Education Scholarships!

Graduation cap diploma andSEIU Local 888 offers post-secondary educational scholarships for members and their immediate families.

Local 888 will award one Greg King Memorial Scholarship of $1,000 (by lottery) and two $500 scholarships (by lottery) to enable members (or family) to attend any post-secondary school of their choosing.

Local 888 will also award scholarships of up to $500 for approved labor study programs or courses (information on a few Labor Studies programs is below).

Completed applications are due by Sept. 13, 2014 for Fall scholarship awards.  Applications will be screened by the Scholarship Committee and the lottery will be held at the Sept. 17 Executive Board meeting.  Scholarship winners are expected to attend the Oct. 4 membership convention to receive their award.

Scholarships applications are available at the Local 888 union hall or by clicking here:

Labor study programsLabor Guild logoLabor Guild Classes

The course listing for the Fall 2014 Guild School

http://laborguild.com/product/fall-2014-school-labor-management-relations

Fall Location: SEIU-1199, 150 Mt. Vernon St. Dorchester, MA 02125
Classes start Monday, September 15 through graduation November 10, 2014

Local 888 Communications and Policy Director, Rand Wilson will be teaching a Labor Guild class: “Crisis in the Labor Movement: Which Way Forward for Workers and Their Unions?

Learn more and register online at www.laborguild.com, or call 781-340-7887.

UMassUMass Labor Studies Programs:

Amherst           www.umass.edu/lrrc
Boston              www.umb.edu/lrc/labor_studies
Dartmouth       www.umassd.edu/labored
Lowell              www.uml.edu/FAHSS/WLS/default.aspx

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Local 888 stands in Solidarity with Market Basket workers

Local 888 and the Massachusetts labor movement are standing with and supporting Market Basket workers.  Local 888 Communications & Policy director Rand Wilson was interviewed on WGBH’s Greater Boston news program about the dispute at Market Basket and about the final settlement.

Wilson also had a letter about Market Basket printed in the Boston Globe.

Local 888 President Mark DelloRusso was also interviewed for a WGBH radio story on Market Basket.

Somerville Market Basket workers picketing on Sunday Aug. 10, 2014.  These part timers received layoff notices on Monday.

Somerville Market Basket workers picketing on Sunday Aug. 10, 2014. These part timers received layoff notices on Monday.

Somerville Police Dispatcher and Local 888 chapter chair Terri Maderios was part of a letter from the Somerville Labor Coalition in support of the Market Basket workers.

Visit Jobs with Justice and UFCW Local 1445 to learn more about supporting the workers at Market Basket.  Take action to support the workers here.

 

Usually this parking lot is jammed to capacity on a Sunday!

Usually this parking lot is jammed to capacity on a Sunday!

Sign says it all!

Sign says it all!

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Massachusetts SEIU Endorses Sept. 20-21 People’s Climate March

Citing a long history of support for the environmental movement, delegates to the SEIU Massachusetts State Council voted unanimously to support the upcoming People’s Climate March in New York City on September 20-21, 2014.

People's Climate MarchHeads of state will be in New York that weekend for a historic United Nations summit on climate change.

“With our children’s future on the line, we urge all union members and their families to take a weekend in New York and use it to help bend the course of history,” said Cliff Cohn, of Local 509 who serves as president of the state council.  With leaders from around the world there, as well as the attention of global media, the anticipated march and rally in New York City is expected to be to be unprecedented.

“We’re proud to join with hundreds of other union, community and environmental groups to demand long overdue action to create a world with an economy that works for people and the planet – now,” said Cohn. “We want a world safe from the ravages of climate change.  It’s time to organize, to build power, to confront the power of fossil fuels, and to shift power to a just, safe, peaceful world.”

More info about the People’s Climate March is at: peoplesclimate.org

Uniting nearly 85,000 health care and human service workers, educators, municipal and state employees, security officers, janitors and others across the Bay State, the SEIU Massachusetts State Council is a representative body of leaders who have been democratically elected by the membership to represent their local and workers in their respective industries. The council includes SEIU Locals 1199, 32BJ, 509, 888, Chapter 3FO and the Committee of Interns & Residents.

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Minimum Wage Victory—Next Up: “Earned Sick Time”

The Raise Up coalition that sought an increase in the state’s minimum wage ended its bid to put a question on the November ballot after the state legislature approved a bill increasing the $8-per-hour minimum wage to $11 by 2017.

Raise Up collected enough signatures to qualify a ballot question calling for a minimum wage hike to $10.50 per hour within two years and to tie future increases to inflation.  In response, the state legislature passed the Minimum Wage bill and it was signed by Governor Deval Patrick on June 26.

“This is a big victory for hard-working low-wage earners,” said Mark DelloRusso, President of Local 888.  “Over 600,000 low-wage earners in Massachusetts will get wage increases totaling over $1.1 billion. That increase will not only help these workers, it will also be a boost to many of our members and the state’s economy.”

Governor Deval Patrick signs a minimum wage bill that passed largely as a result of the work of grassroots activists including many Local 888 members.

Governor Deval Patrick signs a minimum wage bill that passed largely as a result of the work of grassroots activists including many Local 888 members.

At $11 an hour, Massachusetts will have the high­est state minimum wage law in the country. The only reason it passed was because thousands of grassroots activists from hundreds of congregations, community organizations and labor unions worked together to collect over 360,000 signatures to qualify raising the minimum wage (and earned sick time) for the ballot. House Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Mur­ray publicly stated that they had to take up the issue because Raise Up had the signatures to place it on the ballot.

“Now we have to turn our attention to winning the ballot initiative for earned sick time,” said Lew Fin­fer, one of the co-chairs of Raise UP Massachusetts.

Over one million workers in Massachusetts are unable to earn paid sick time at their jobs. As a result, they are often forced to go to work sick in order to keep their job, or risk their financial stability to tend to an illness. The Earned Sick Time ballot initiative will ensure that all workers in Massachusetts can earn time to take care of themselves, the health of their children and close family members without losing critical wages or their job.

For more details about how the law would work visit http://raiseupma.org/earned-sick-time.

 

 

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Legislature Extends Safety Protections to State Employees, New H&S Interns at Local 888

The passage of a bill to increase the minimum wage also gave a big boost to the safety of the state’s workforce. The bill included a measure that will extend Occupational Safety and Health Administra­tion (OSHA) protections to executive branch employ­ees.

“This is a huge step forward for the Common­wealth,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, Executive Director of the workplace safety group, the Massachusetts Co­alition for Occupational Safety & Health (MassCOSH).  “By instituting health and safety measures that are known to prevent injury and death, we will protect the well-being of our state’s employees and save the taxpayers costly workers compensation costs.”

To learn more about the new safety provisions for state employees, visit www.masscosh.org.

Kim Sawyer and Rossmary Marquez

Kim Sawyer and Rossmary Marquez

HEALTH AND SAFETY INTERNS ON THE CASE
Kim Sawyer and Rossmary Marquez are summer interns from the National Occupational Health Internship Pro­gram (OHIP) working with SEIU Local 888 on a study of the health and safety conditions of Massachusetts mu­nicipal workers. The study will help Local 888 develop member education and training about health and safety and to build a new Safety Council within Local 888. The interns will be here until mid-August. If you have a health and safety concern, contact your union rep.

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