Union Updates

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Convention set for Oct. 24

20_888-SEIU Local logo2

The Local 888 Convention will run from 10 a.m. to noon on Sat., Oct. 24 via Zoom.

The union has identified six key industry sectors: early childhood education, public schools, higher education, public authorities and state and municipal workers.

There will be:

  • Breakout sessions on different sectors.
  • A session on the new retiree chapter.
  • Discussion of important political topics.

For more information and to register, see http://www.seiu888.org/convention/.

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Food Service Worker’s Recognition Day

‘THE LABOR OF LUNCH’: This book talk on school cafeterias will feature the author.

‘THE LABOR OF LUNCH’: This book talk on school cafeterias will feature the author.

‘THE LABOR OF LUNCH’: Author Jennifer Gaddis will talk about her new book, which looks at “Why We Need Real Food and Real Jobs in American Public Schools,” via Zoom on Thurs., Sept. 24, 2:30 p.m. The event is in advance of Food Service Worker’s Recognition Day. Here’s the Zoom link:
us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEvcuipqTwtGN1YHDpTBGAuMFJXlcI1vWoD

If needed, cut and paste the link into a web browser in order to register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the celebration.

 

 

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Fall classes at the Labor Guild School

Coming up

LATEST CLASSES AT THE LABOR GUILD SCHOOL: Four-session classes will run via Zoom from the week of Oct. 19 to the week of Nov. 9, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (https://laborguild.com/school-of-labor-management-relations/courses/.) Mondays: Steward Training. Tuesdays: Speaking in Public. Wednesday: Power and Struggle. With approval from their chapter leader(s), members in good standing may use chapter funds for tuition reimbursement.  Local 888 will also provide a limited number of scholarships for members.

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COVID-19 coalition has school plan

SOCIAL DISTANCING: Paraprofessionals in Marlborough are gearing up for the opening of the public schools, which will feature one type of a ‘hybrid’ model, with kindergarteners, for example in school full-time.

SOCIAL DISTANCING: Paraprofessionals in Marlborough are gearing up for the opening of the public schools, which will feature one type of a ‘hybrid’ model, with kindergarteners, for example in school full-time.

A new state coalition that includes Local 888 has laid out 16 health and safety concerns that should be addressed before public schools reopen during the ongoing pandemic.

“It is imperative that state and local governments fully address COVID-19 issues in the schools,” said Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues.

“Our members’ needs must be met. These include putting intensive cleaning practices in place, preserving school staff pay and benefits, providing adequate-sized and well-ventilated rooms, and maintaining socially distanced transportation for our students.”

The new Coalition to Safely Reopen Schools said that: “Ours is a frontline perspective from those who will be ultimately responsible for the health, safety and quality of education that students will receive as a result of these decisions.” The coalition has laid out a plan for reopening schools.

Some of the top issues are: making sure there is proper ventilation and circulation of air, ensuring proper social distancing and providing access to rapid testing — with clear guidelines for contact tracing for those who test positive for COVID-19.
The coalition is made up “of school nurses, teachers, parents, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, librarians, school support staff, janitorial staff, labor, occupational health and community advocates, who came together to provide a  frontline perspective.”

For more on Local 888 chapters in schools, see http://www.seiu888.org/2020/09/16/hybrid-part-of-school-reopenings/.

The American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts (AFT), Massachusetts Nursing Association and the Massachusetts Coalition for Safety and Health (MassCOSH) belong to the coalition as well.

Also on the new coalition’s must-do list: providing needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for all staff and students, identifying alternative spaces for schools in their respective communities and ensuring appropriate school nurse staffing. For more on the coalition, see https://www.massnurses.org/news-and-events/p/openItem/11811.

Local 888 supported #DemandSafeSchools actions on Sept. 2 that involved the AFT, MoveOn and other groups:. For more info, see https://www.facebook.com/SEIULocal888/photos/a.360691577312212/3308690302512310.

MassCOSH, which Local 888 belongs to, has a “COVID-19 Safety Toolkit For Workers: Health and Safety Protections and How To Make Them Happen.” Find it at: https://tinyurl.com/MassCOSHCOVID. It includes sections particularly of interest to Local 888 members, such as childcare providers, school custodians and cafeteria workers.

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Protecting members as economy reopens

COVID_19PPEmask

School cafeteria workers and custodians were well represented at a Local 888 Zoom seminar on “Guidelines and tips for returning to work safely.”

“The most important thing for Local 888, said President Brenda Rodrigues, “is to make sure that our members have their voices heard in the workplace.”

Experts from the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, which Local 888 belongs to, organized the presentation. “We here at MassCOSH want to support the issues and
demands that you have,” said Al Vega, the coalition’s director of policy and programs.

MassCOSH has just published “Dying for Work: Documenting the Pandemic’s Deadly Toll on Massachusetts Workers.” Find it at: https://bit.ly/DyingforWorkPandemic.

MassCOSH has also released a “COVID-19 Tool Kit for Workers: Health and Safety Protections and How to Make Them Happen” (https://tinyurl.com/MassCOSHCOVID.) It includes sections particularly of interest to Local 888 members, such as childcare providers, school custodians and cafeteria workers.

MassCOSH gave Gov. Charlie Baker’s plan failing grades (See: http://www.seiu888.org/2020/05/27/health-coalition-flunks-bakers-reopening-plan/).

Looking ahead, said Vega, “what’s going to happen when we open more schools and businesses?” One key thing missing from Baker’s plan, he added, are “enforceable guidelines.” Beyond that, he said, the state isn’t collecting enough information on people infected with COVID-19 to understand patterns to the disease.

A quick survey of the 35 participants in the Zoom event put ventilation and HVAC systems at the top of the list for return-to-work issues.

Jodi Sugerman-Brozan, MassCOSH’s executive director, said that, getting the proper air circulation and filtration in an area is crucial for fighting off the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

MassCOSH is calling on the state to “set clear health and safety standards that must be met for the gradual return of in-person learning, including:

  • “Indoor air quality and ventilation in school buildings that meet appropriate regulatory and industry standards.
  • “Rapid COVID-19 testing that is accessible, routine, and free to students and staff.
  • “That community and public health benchmarks are established, met, and reported transparently.”

(For the full MassCOSH report card on Baker’s reopening plan, see https://tinyurl.com/888Baker).

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Get-out-the-vote drive pays off

TAKING IT TO STATE HOUSE: SEIU members took part in a recent Boston rally that spotlighted essential workers, who are often black and Latinx, and demanded economic justice for all.

TAKING IT TO STATE HOUSE: SEIU members took part in a recent Boston rally that spotlighted essential workers, who are often black and Latinx, and demanded economic justice for all.

Local 888 was a big winner at the polls on Primary Day, with eight candidates endorsed by the local’s Committee on Political Action winning competitive races. COPA also endorsed six candidates running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

In the weeks leading up to the primary, members staffed Local 888’s virtual phone banks as part of a campaign to get out the vote. Members of the MassDefenders, a Local 888 affiliate, also took part.

Members went all out to support the re-election campaign of state Sen. Mike Brady, a former Local 888 member representing the 2nd Plymouth and Bristol District. Get-out-the-vote calls focused first on the 300 or so Local 888 members in his district.

In addition, Local 888 members focused on the re-election of state Rep. Michelle DuBois, who represents the 10th Plymouth District and previously served as a Brockton City Councilor.

“It is vital for our union to have allies in the Legislature,” said Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues, who made calls along with other 888 members. “That’s even more true in the COVID-19 era — in which we need to have legislators who will voice the concerns and needs of our members.”

The get-out-the-vote drive paid off.

DuBois got 58 percent of the vote against John Lally, a Brockton councilor who ran as a law-and-order candidate. He was supported by a political action committee, the Massachusetts Majority PAC, closely tied to GOP Gov. Charlie Baker.

For his part, Brady got 57 percent of the vote against primary challenger Moises Rodrigues, a Brockton councilor and former mayor, getting 42.8 percent.

The Local 888 Committee on Political Action urges all members to go out and vote in the Tues., Nov. 3, General Election, which will feature the U.S. presidential race. (See below for more details.)

Other Local 888 primary wins include:

  • Erika Uyterhoeven, running for the open 27th Middlesex District seat, received 58 percent of the vote.
  • Gregory Hanley, an incumbent facing a crowded primary for two seats on the Plymouth County Commission, was also endorsed by the Plymouth Bristol Labor Council.
  • Incumbent state Rep. Paul Donato, in the 35th Middlesex District, defeated a challenger with 55.7 percent of the vote.
  • Incumbent state Rep. Christine Barber, 34th Middlesex, who faced a challenger, landed 58.1 percent of the vote.
  • Incumbent state Sen. Nick Collins, 4th Suffolk, handily defeated a weak challenger.
  • Incumbent state Rep., Joseph McGonagle,28th Middlesex, won re-election with 60.8 percent of the vote.

In addition, Local 888 backed these candidate who ran unopposed in the primary:

  • State Sen. Paul Feeney, Bristol and Norfolk.
  • State Rep. Jim Dever, 5th Barnstable.
  • State Rep. Mike Connolly, 26th Middlesex.
  • State Rep. Steve Ultrino, 33rd Middlesex.
  • State Rep. Joan Meschino, 3rd Plymouth.
  • State Sen. Jamie Eldridge, Middlesex and Worcester

To register to vote for the Nov. 3 election, see https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/; the deadline is Oct. 24. There is in-person, mail-in, and online registration (https://www.sec.state.ma.us/OVR/).

To request an actual ballot, see https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepdf/2020-Vote-by-Mail-Application.pdf.

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Longtime leader Riordan retires

APPEAL TO LAWMAKERS: Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues and longtime leader Teresa Riordan hold signs at a Brockton rally warning that deep budget cuts could drive the state into a deeper recession. The Coalition for Social Justice and Raise Up Massachusetts organized the event.

APPEAL TO LAWMAKERS: Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues and longtime leader Teresa Riordan hold signs at a Brockton rally warning that deep budget cuts could drive the state into a deeper recession. The Coalition for Social Justice and Raise Up Massachusetts organized the event.

Outgoing chapter leader and executive board member Teresa Riordan has retired from her Westwood job — and from her 20 years of service to Local 888, including nearly three years on the board.

One of her last actions as chapter chair was to persuade her all-female town employees chapter in Westwood to donate chapter funds to Dove, which works to end domestic violence while offering emergency shelter to those in need.

Riordan said she was looking at possible uses for chapter funds earlier this year. One member suggested Dove. Riordan then pitched the charity to her chapter’s 23, Local 888 members — who agreed. “My union co-workers wanted to be of service to those in need,” said Riordan.

Dove, founded in 1978, provides services such as crisis intervention, counseling, emergency shelter and legal assistance. COVID-19 has affected some services. For more information on Dove, see https://dovema.org/.

Chapter funds can be used for a range of purposes, including donations to charity. See: http://www.seiu888.org/2019/10/30/christmas-often-tis-season-for-spending-chapter-funds/

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Retirees chapter set for takeoff

SUSAN WINNING

SUSAN WINNING

The new retirees chapter of Local 888 has just launched a recruitment campaign and mailing.

“All retirees are welcome to join,” said Susan Winning, the new Local 888 Executive Board member for the chapter. “Among other things, retirees will have a vote and a voice on the executive board — and will be part of the ongoing conversation.”

Chapter members will be on hand at the union’s annual convention, slated for Sat., Oct. 24. A special breakout session for retirees is in the works.

“The new chapter will offer a connection to other SEIU 888 retirees and the broader labor movement,” she said. This will include a subscription to The Spark and the “Member Portal.” And retirees will be able to take part in Local 888’s political activities through its Committee on Political Action.

Winning said that she was eager to remain active in Local 888 after her 2019 retirement. She had been the director of the Labor Education Program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell for 20 years.

She also served both as a Local 888 trustee and executive board member. She was re-elected a trustee in 2018, running on the Leadership for Changing Times slate headed by now-Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues.

At this time, the cost to join the Local 888 retirees chapter is $40 annually. For an application form, click this link. For more info, contact Lidia Calvo at lcalvo@seiu888.org.

Other SEIU locals have retiree chapters, as does the international union. (See: https://www.seiu.org/wuretirees-join). Members of the Local 888 retiree chapter will also get benefits offered by the international.

In addition, Local 888 has begun offering a BCBS Dental Insurance Plan for members of the retiree chapter. Enrollment periods apply. For the newly retired, click this link to get a form. For more info, email Linda Deluca at ldeluca.funds@seiu888.org.

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College Bound vote held up

RALLY, MARCH: About 75 workers and supporters joined a College Bound Dorchester protest.

RALLY, MARCH: About 75 workers and supporters joined a College Bound Dorchester protest.

The August vote count for a union-certification election at the nonprofit College Bound Dorchester/Boston Uncornered was held up after management challenged the eligibility of a sizable number of the participants. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is expected to issue a ruling soon.

Votes were cast via mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Balloting was tied, six to six, for the votes allowed by management, which had run an anti-union campaign. The NLRB staff will review the seven votes that were challenged by management, since a ruling affects the outcome of the election. For more on the organizing effort, see http://www.seiu888.org/2020/07/16/rallys-call-recognize-the-union-now/

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‘Hybrid’ part of school reopenings

‘DEVOTED TO THE KIDS’: Wayne MacLeod said his chapter — custodians, maintenance and cafeteria — are essential workers who have been on the job during the crisis.

‘DEVOTED TO THE KIDS’: Wayne MacLeod said his chapter — custodians, maintenance and cafeteria — are essential workers who have been on the job during the crisis.

With the start of fall looming amidst the ongoing pandemic, Local 888 school staff will face a wide variety of reopening plans — as drawn up by the state’s disparate districts.

Local 888’s Marlborough paraprofessionals returned to school full time and in-person on Aug. 31. A hybrid model for students will start Sept. 21. The students in kindergarten and first, second, 10th and 11th will also be in their schools full time. The rest of the students will cycle in and out of the schools, with part of their learning done “remotely,” meaning online.

The Oxford schools, which have a Local 888 chapter for custodians and cafeteria workers, also has a “hybrid” reopening plan. This means, for example, that elementary school students will be in schools two days per week, with all the pupils online on Wednesday.

The Haverhill schools, which have Local 888 custodian and transportation chapters, had slated to reopen with a type of hybrid model, too. However, The Eagle Tribune of Lawrence reports that the new plan calls for most students in the hybrid program to learn remotely from home until Oct. 5.

The Haverhill schools superintendent said “we’re looking for air to turn over four times per hour in a room.” A consulting firm is now looking at the air quality in the buildings and how effective the ventilation is.

The Watertown schools, with a Local 888 custodian and cafeteria along with a clerical chapter, will open with an all-remote plan. This will continue at least through Oct. 27 for elementary school students, for example. At that time, these schools may change to a hybrid model.

In Brockton, where Local 888 has a cafeteria workers chapter, officials are also starting school “in a fully remote format.” Other large cities, — including Boston, Somerville, Revere, Lynn and Chelsea — will also begin the school year with online teaching.

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Raise Up Mass offering weekly “Know Your Rights” series via Zoom!

SEIU Local 888 is assisting Raise Up Mass with a weekly “Know Your Rights” series via Zoom on Wednesday nights at 6:30 pm.  All chapter leaders and members are all encouraged to participate.  You can register for the sessions here.

Know your rights 1The series will be streamed on social media and will be available over Zoom.
If there is a topic you would like covered you can put in a request in the registration form. The current schedule is as follows: 
  • 7/22: Housing
  • 7/29: Unemployment
  • 8/5: Worker Safety & Health
  • 8/12: Food Assistance
  • 8/19: Voting Rights
  • 8/26: Dealing with the Public
  • 9/2: College Students
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Essential Workers for Black Lives!

On Monday, July 20, SEIU and other union members rallied for essential front-line workers and demanded economic justice to protect Black workers as part of a national day action in 20 cities. We met on the front steps of the State House calling for passage of the HEROES Act by the U.S. Senate to protect those who have been hardest hit by COVID-19. Workers also called for action on racial justice legislation pending at the State House.

strike for black lives

Link to the rally video is here. View rally photos here.
#StrikeForBlackLives

The event was organized by SEIU Local Unions in Massachusetts, including 1199SEIU who represent over 70,000 healthcare and homecare workers; SEIU Local 509, which represents 20,000 human service workers and educators; 32BJ SEIU, which represents 20,000 building service workers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island; SEIU Local 888, which unites more than 8,500 public service workers; and the Committee of Interns and Residents SEIU, which unites and empower resident physicians to have a stronger voice within their hospitals.

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