Union Updates

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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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Local 888 members urged to attend Raise Up Volunteer Leader Convention

All Local 888 members are urged to attend the Raise Up Massachusetts Volunteer Leader Convention to begin work on winning the Earned Sick Time ballot referendum.  The meeting will be on July 26 at 12:00 PM at 150 Mt. Vernon Street, Dorchester, MA.

Earned Sick Time: Good for your health and for your job!

Earned Sick Time: Good for your health and for your job!

A new Earned Sick Time law will allow workers in Massachusetts to earn up to 40 hours of sick time a year to take care of their own health or a family member’s health.

Workers will earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, and can use their sick time only after working for 90 days.

Thousands of hardworking people in Massachusetts are forced to choose between going to work sick or losing a day’s pay — or worse, their jobs.  Some are even forced to send a sick child to school to save their income or job.

Winning Question 4 will save jobs and income, allowing workers to spend more in the local economy, benefiting us all.

Businesses providing sick time find that it reduces employee turnover, increases productivity, and helps their bottom line.

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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

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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Local 888 Members get WILD in the Summer

Eight members of Local 888 attended the 28th Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) Summer Institute on June 20, 21 and 22 on the campus of UMass Dartmouth. WILD is an inspirational educational program that provides women with the leadership vision, confidence and skills to become more effective leaders and organizers in the Massachusetts labor movement. There were sessions on leadership development, understanding racism and a variety of skills-building workshops.

“At the WILD weekend, we were all UNITED sisters reflecting on matters that are holding us back, dragging us down, and preventing us from moving forward,” said Local 888 member Florence Brice.  ”With the group discussions and exercises we were able to see the frustration and feel the pain of one another. We cried, laughed, and worked together in unity. To me that was a beautiful and powerful example that we all can and should bring to our families, friends, and community.”

“The wild weekend was very powerful and informative,” said Local 888 member Carlene Roberts.

The Local 888 participants also had op­portunities to network with other union sisters and have a lot of fun! For more information about WILD visit www.wildlabor.org/


(From left) Carlene Roberts, Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), Susan Winning, UMASS Low-ell; Nathalie Bezil, BPHC; Florence Brice BPHC; Christina Villafranca, Local 888 staff; Bianca Pierre, BPHC; Rosa Matias, Chelsea Soldiers Home. Not pictured: Charlotte Killam, Boston Water and Sewer .

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Stickered up to say, “Low pay is not OK!”

Local 888 members “stickered-up” on June 12 for a Low Wage Worker Day of Action.  Watch a short video from the June 12 Day of Action here.

Chelsea Soldiers Home members Alex Zelaya and Rosa Matias.

Chelsea Soldiers Home members Alex Zelaya and Rosa Matias wearing their “Low Pay is Not OK” stickers.

Head Start teachers from Fitchburg’s Hosmer School. (Left to right) Maribell Crespo, Sheena Palmi, Mary Hernandez, Stephanie Harris, and Debbie Lammi wearing their “Low Pay is Not OK” stickers.

Head Start teachers from Fitchburg’s Hosmer School. (Left to right) Maribell Crespo, Sheena Palmi, Mary Hernandez, Stephanie Harris, and Debbie Lammi wearing their “Low Pay is Not OK” stickers.

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Hero’s Triathlon

Teri Lambert and Karol Grato, both Local 888 members from the Mashpee Police Department, completed the Hero Triathlon on June 22 in Mashpee, taking second place in the female relay. Even more impressive: the duo, with friend Laura Robinson, competed while wearing Local 888 union colors.

From left: Terri Lambert, Laura Robinson and Karol Grato.

From left: Terri Lambert, Laura Robinson and Karol Grato.

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Coming Attractions

calendarCity of Boston Office Hours
Office hours to meet with your union representative for the City of Boston are held every other Thursday from 11:30AM to 2:00PM at Boston City Hall, Room 624A.  The next scheduled date: Thursday July 24th.

Office hours for the Boston Police Department are on the third Tuesday of the month in the 3rd floor hearing room. The next scheduled date is Tuesday, July 15th from 2:30AM to 4:00PM. Any questions, please contact Field Representative Mari Cooney at 617-410-8880 or 617-241-3365.

Women’s Committee/Latino Caucus Joint Potluck
When: Wednesday, July 16, 6PM
Where: Local 888 Union Hall, 52 Roland Street, Boston.

COPA Committee Meetings
Local 888’s COPA committee met in Worcester on June 24 to consider endorsements of a number of candidates running in state elections. The next COPA meetings are:
Central MA COPA Caucus – candidate interviews
Wed, July 16, 6:30PM–7:30PM
Where: Local 888 Central MA Office, 330 Southwest Cutoff, Worcester, MA
July COPA Committee meeting
Thu, July 17, 6:30PM–7:30PM
Local 888 Union Hall

Read about Local 888 endorsed candidates here

Bread & RosesLawrence Bread & Rose Heritage festival
When: Labor Day, September 1, noon-5PM
Where: Lawrence Common, Lawrence, MA

Local 888 staffer Christina Villafranca will be coordinating our union’s participation in events at the Bread & Roses festival. Local 888 will have a tent with info about unions and the labor movement. To get involved or learn more about it, contact Christina at 617 398-0254 or cvillafranca@seiu888.org

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New Contract for Malden Cafeteria Workers

Malden Cafeteria workers overwhelmingly ratified a new four year contract. Many members got significant pay upgrades and everyone will get an additional personal day. Food service workers will receive 1 percent across the board increases on July 1, 2015, again on January 1, 2016 followed by a 2 percent raise on July 1, 2016. Utility workers will get 2 percent on January 1, 2014, 2 percent on July 1, 2014, 1 percent on July 1, 2015, again on January 1, 2016 and a 2 percent raise on July 1, 2016.
Malden cafeteria members met to review and vote on their new contract.

Malden cafeteria members met to review and vote on their new contract.

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Somerville Crossing Guards Agree to New Deal

Crossing guards in Somerville have approved a contract that will extend through 2017. The new deal includes wage increases, inclement weather pay and a provision to provide for uniforms and adequately equip crossing guards. Said Local 888 Field Rep Madeline Garcia: “Our members are proud of the work they do to protect children in Somerville. Our union contract not only provides for better pay and working conditions but also ensures that parents and the city get the highest quality services.”

An article about the settlement (with the picture below) appeared in the Somerville Times
SEIU Local 888 members Joe Lyons (in red shirt), Sylvie Matignetti, Ed Grandmount and Mary White; SEIU Local 888 Representative Madeline Garcia; city Assistant Director of Personnel Candace Cooper; city Director of Personnel Bill Roche; City Chief Labor Counsel Robert Collins; and Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone.

SEIU Local 888 members Joe Lyons (in red shirt), Sylvie Matignetti, Ed Grandmount and Mary White; SEIU Local 888 Representative Madeline Garcia; city Assistant Director of Personnel Candace Cooper; city Director of Personnel Bill Roche; City Chief Labor Counsel Robert Collins; and Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone.

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Tentative agreement ratified for new Unit 2 state contract

Update:  In onsite voting on July 10, Unit Two members ratified the new tentative agreement 1,493 yes to 161 no.  There were 24 challenged ballots.
Click here to read the new tentative agreement for Unit 2 that will be subject to a ratification vote on July 10, 2014 at the 18 locations listed within the agreement.  The Alliance Bargaining Committee recommends ratification.

Local 888 voting locations will include the Chelsea and Holyoke Soldiers Homes and the Local 888 Office in Worcester MA.

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Harris v. Quinn Decision Leaves “Fair Share” Intact—For Now

The Supreme Court issued its decision in Har­ris v. Quinn. In a 5-4 decision, the conservative majority of the Court dealt a blow to the part­nership forged between the State of Illinois and homecare workers through SEIU Health Care Illinois-Indiana. In a closely divided ruling, the Court overruled the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and held that the First Amendment bars Illinois homecare workers from adopting a fair share requirement to ensure that everyone shares in the costs of the bargaining.

supreme-court-scotus-ccThe Court did not go so far as to overrule the 1977 Supreme Court decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. This means that ‘traditional’ public employees can continue to join together in a union and retain the right to negotiate a fair share contract provision. Some legal experts warn, however, that such a chal­lenge is only a matter of time.

The International Union’s press release on the decision is reprinted below:

Home Care Workers Vow to Stand Up for Good Jobs and Quality Home Care in Wake of Harris v. Quinn Ruling

Caregivers to Work with States and Consumers to Ensure a Strong Voice for Care

WASHINGTON, DC – Home care workers and consumers are ready to stand up for quality home care in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Harris v. Quinn today.

“No court case is going to stand in the way of home care workers coming together to have a strong voice for good jobs and quality home care,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry. “At a time when wages remain stagnant and income inequality is out of control, joining together in a union is the only proven way home care workers have of improving their lives and the lives of the people they care for.”

The ruling places at risk a system of consumer-directed home care in Illinois that has proven successful in raising wages, providing affordable health care benefits, and increasing training. The number of elderly Americans will increase dramatically in the coming years. States need to build a stable, qualified workforce to meet the growing need for home care—and having a strong union for home care workers is the only approach that has proven effective.

“I count on my home care provider for so much—I wouldn’t be able to work or get through the day without her,” said Rahnee Patrick, a home care consumer and advocate from ACCESS Living in Chicago.” “I’m worried that I could lose her if her wages and benefits don’t keep up with the cost of living.”

The case was brought by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an extreme anti-worker group whose funders include billionaires like Charles Koch and the Walton family. It is the latest in a decades-long attack on the rights of working people to join together to improve their jobs and the quality of services they provide.

“They are trying to divide us and limit our power, but we won’t stop standing together for our families and our consumers” said Flora Johnson, a home care provider from Chicago. “Before we formed our union, I made less than $6 an hour, but by uniting we are set to make $13 an hour by the end of the year. I know from experience that we are stronger together.”

“For our parents and grandparents to get the care they need to live at home, workers need a strong voice in a union,” Henry said. “I know that Flora Johnson other SEIU members are determined to keep up the fight to end poverty wages and ensure quality care.”

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