Massachusetts Employers/SEIU Local 888 Health and Welfare Fund is excited to announce that we will be offering dental coverage for Retiree’s effective 7/1/2020. This is to notify you that the Annual Open Enrollment period for the BCBS Dental Plan will run from July 1, 2020 through July 31, 2020. Open Enrollment is the only opportunity to enroll in coverage or make a change to your current coverage without a qualifying event for 2020. Click here for more details
|Dental Blue Freedom – Plan B|
|$1,250 Calendar Year Max (in & out of network combined)|
Out of Network
|Preventive||100% Coverage||80% Coverage|
|Basic||80% Coverage||65% Coverage|
|Major||80% Coverage||65% Coverage|
|Ortho||Not Covered||Not Covered|
Retiree Monthly Rates
Employee + One
The following statement was adopted by a majority vote of the SEIU Local 888 Executive Board on June 19, 2020:
The members of SEIU Local 888 join working people across the country to demand change.
We condemn police brutality, and the murder of Black, indigenous, and people of color. We call for justice. For George Floyd, for Ahmaud Arbery, and for Breonna Taylor—for the innumerable black and brown people who have died at the hands of racists, and due to racist policies—we call for justice. To the loved ones whose lives have been stolen: we grieve with you.
In recent weeks, several tragic, criminal incidents have been perpetrated against people of color due to their race. These events are outward, visible examples of the systemic racism that is deeply embedded in the fabric of our society and economic system.
COVID19 has shone a spotlight on many of the inequities in our nation: black people are dying of the pandemic at more than twice the rate of white people, “essential workers” are being treated as disposable while suffering the greatest economic devastation, and black, brown, and working people are being sacrificed as “stock” in the name of “reopening the economy.”
We can’t seem to escape these horrors, and averting our eyes only makes it worse. Staying silent is compliance and solidarity with the wrong side of the fight for equity. Recent events show us that our uncollected voices of despair are not enough. We need our collected voices to scream with outrage at injustice, and we need action. As a union, that means fighting for strong anti-racist language in our contracts and taking action to oppose racism in our workplace and our union. An injury to one is an injury to all!
Unions lift up the oppressed and exploited and bring about equity through meaningful and positive change in the world around us. Unions are not meant to be a protective shield to keep crimes hidden. Our union is united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide and is dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just, economically prosperous and humane society.
We call on law enforcement agencies and their workers’ unions, to take positive action. We call on them to stop being bystanders when they see injustice. We remind them of their oaths: to serve and protect, without qualification. We ask law enforcement officers and their unions to pledge to serve with honor and impartiality; to never betray their badges, integrity, character, or the public trust; to do the right thing in the face of wrongdoing; to be accountable and responsible for their actions and to hold other officers accountable for their actions; to vow to serve their community by never allowing injustice.
For current and future generations, we demand better. We do not want to return to what we had before this week or before this pandemic—we seek to change. We commit ourselves to work against injustice and for a more equitable social and economic commonwealth. We will partner with community organizations and allies to press for accountability and systemic changes across the criminal justice system, as well as living wage work, universal and affordable healthcare, the right to join together in a union, and the dignity and respect that we all deserve, no matter the color of our skin or where we are from.
More information about SEIU’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement and increased police accountabilit, visit SEIU’s page: https://www.seiu.org/blacklivesmatter
By Kwesi Ablordeppey, a CNA at Holyoke Soldiers Home and member of SEIU Local 888.
The disastrous impact of the pandemic has been unfolding in Massachusetts for weeks, with daily stories of the toll it’s taking on working people, our families and services we provide in our communities. As a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and member of SEIU Local 888, working at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home for 20 years–where at least 76 veterans have died of COVID-19 –I have never seen anything like this.
The demands of caring for hundreds of veterans who are either sick with coronavirus–or vulnerable to it–have often pushed staff beyond our limits. Mandatory overtime has meant that many staff members get little to no sleep between shifts. The resulting exhaustion puts staff members–many of whom are also vulnerable to the virus–and the veterans we care for at greater risk. Already, 83 staff members have tested positive and the possibility of contracting COVID-19 is a nightmare because, as a single parent, I’m the only one my three children have.
Although I’m putting my family at risk, I show up everyday because I love what I do, despite the fact that I’ve already had to put two of the veterans I care for in a body bag. And I’m not alone. My coworkers are making the same tough decisions because we know that we will only get through this if we all pull together. Now we need Congress and the President to do their part to protect all workers so we can continue to do our jobs. Congress passed the CARES Act and it did some good but it’s nowhere near enough.
If coronavirus is exposing anything, it’s that we’re all in this together. Black, brown, Asian, or white. Rich or poor. Protecting everyone’s health requires protecting the health of each of us. But we aren’t as prepared as we should be–and that’s been a long time coming.
It’s true that the Trump administration has been perilously slow to act to help states respond to the coronavirus. But the fact of the matter is that the healthcare providers I work with and veterans I care for have been deprived of the resources we need for decades because of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. At the Soldiers’ Home we were already working with the bare minimum before coronavirus struck–we didn’t even have enough PPE to protect ourselves.
It shouldn’t have taken a pandemic to win increased staffing and pay for people like me who care for our veterans–and we still don’t have enough. The reality is, public employees across the country are doing the best we can with what we have. We do incredibly important work–though many of us work behind the scenes without recognition.
Without federal aid, states will have to start cutting this work–even services like healthcare and public safety–or increase taxes. Cuts like these add more people to the ranks of the unemployed and make it harder for the people in Massachusetts to recover–physically and economically–from the coronavirus. We have to do better by our communities and the people who are putting our lives on the line. That means protecting all workers affected by this crisis with universal healthcare, paid sick days, clean water and air–and good union jobs.
We also need the private sector to step up and support the people on the frontlines and the communities whose work they depend upon. Corporations need to pay their employees and ensure they have healthcare and paid leave. At the same time, they should pay their fair share for the critical services that are getting our communities through this.
This pandemic should serve as a stark reminder that failing to invest in the services we need has dire consequences when disaster strikes. Working people on the frontlines are doing our part. Many state and local government leaders have moved into action. Now Congress and President Trump need to do their parts by passing the HEROES Act and injecting $1 trillion into state and local governments so our communities can provide essential services and protect all workers affected by this pandemic.
As a nation, we must pay for—and protect—the things we value so they are there for all of us, all the time. That’s how we’ll get through this and get our economy going again.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped Local 888’s essential work of pursuing collective bargaining agreements and having them voted on. The union has been forging ahead with the help of technology.
Local 888 members in both the Grafton Public Schools and Lawrence Public Library have ratified new agreements using OpaVote, an online voting system.
In addition, Local 888 members at Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development voted for bargaining committee members using OpaVote.
OpaVote’s website says the company maintains voter privacy: “Voter emails are using only for your election.” The company says it uses encryption to “provide top-notch security and reliability.”
For more info, go to https://www.opavote.com/.
Abusive bosses, arbitrary discipline and unjust firings are all-too common in American workplaces. On the other hand, union agreements typically contain contract language that calls for “just cause” in workplace disciplinary actions. So, how do you get justice in the context of a workplace, which after all is not a democracy?
Well-known labor lawyer Bob Schwartz recently gave a 30-minute “Know Your Rights” talk for Local 888 members that focused on one of his books, “Just Cause: A Union Guide to Winning Discipline Cases.” He told the Local 888 leaders and staff in attendance (via Zoom) that “there’s probably been about 100,000 printed labor arbitrations over the years, and gradually there’s been a consensus around certain principles, that unions have fought for, on the issue of ‘just cause’.”
One of those, he said, is that — when it comes to employee discipline — the “employer has an obligation to point out a rule, along with the possible penalties for disobeying the rule.”
Schwartz warned: “If a member has not read the handbook or read the contract, that’s not going to work as a defense.” A valid defense, he said, could be to show that a rule has not been enforced for months — or even years. In that case, he said, “an employee may reasonably conclude that the rule no longer applies.”
Writing for Labor Notes, Charles Borchert said that “Just Cause,” like all of Schwartz’s books, “is easy to read and understand. He writes not in the tone or language of an attorney (which he is), but with an easy writing style (https://labornotes.org/blogs/2012/10/just-cause-union-guide-winning-discipline-cases).”
“Before reading this book,” added Borchert, “I thought that I knew all about “just cause” for discipline. … I quickly saw that I still had much to learn from the specific examples Schwartz gave.”
In addition to “Fair Notice,” Schwartz’s talk for Local 888 also covered:
Schwartz advised that the best time to intervene in a case is before the employer is “locked into” a decision.
Members can request a summary of Schwartz’s, “Seven Basic Principles of Just Cause” by emailing email@example.com
Local 888 activist Jonathan Dudley is taking action to help DACA recipients, known as “Dreamers,” who President Trump is threatening with deportation. One of them, Jonathan Vargas, is Dudley’s brother-in-law — an intensive-care nurse who works with COVID-19 patients in Winston-Salem, N.C.
President Obama set up DACA — the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program — in 2012 as Congress failed to act on immigration reform. These “Dreamers” were brought up in the U.S., and have known no other home. DACA allowed young adults like Vargas to get work papers and attend college, while shielding them from deportation if they had a clean criminal record.
Dudley, a Head Start teacher with Montachusetts Opportunity Council, urges people to sign a petition calling on Congress to OK the Dream Act (https://tinyurl.com/888Dreamer). Also: Call congressmen to ask them to vote for the Dream Act.
He allowed that the Massachusetts congressional delegation is on board with the Dreamers. Nonetheless, Dudley said, “it’s a good time to remind members of Congress that this issue is important to us.”
In addition, the presidential race may ultimately decide the issue, given Trump’s previous actions.
Vargas came to this country with his family from a small town in Mexico when he as 12. He has worked in intensive care for four years — along with his wife, who is Dudley’s sister, and a brother.
DACA targets hard-working young adults who were, through no fault of their own, brought to the country as children. Nearly 800,000 people are in the program.
In 2017, Trump decided to end DACA, pulling the rug out from under people who had signed up for the program in good faith, while revealing they were undocumented. Trump’s decision was appealed on various grounds, including that it was unlawful. U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing several such cases and is expected to issue rulings next month.
Vargas told the BBC: “”I try not to think about it, because if I think about it for too long I get tired … I’ve basically had to zone it out for my own health.”