Union Updates

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Local 888 members explore campaign to support affordable housing in Boston

SEIU Local 888 members who work for the City of Boston met with housing advocates and neighborhood organizers on June 30 to discuss shared concerns.  Because of the tough residency requirement and the high cost of housing in Boston, Local 888 members are especially challenged to make ends meet on their city paychecks.

Union members and housing advocates gathered to discuss common concerns – and a potential collaboration.

Union members and housing advocates gathered to discuss common concerns – and a potential collaboration.

Christine Sullivan, a Program Manager at the Dept. of Neighborhood Developments’ Boston Home Center was one of the members who attended the meeting. Her job is to help Boston residents purchase, improve, and keep their homes — so she knows just how hard it is to survive the housing market in Boston.

“The meeting was great,” said Sullivan.  “There are many possible ways we can collaborate.  These neighborhood housing groups are in the trenches all the time, so we learned something from them.  I think getting our union to work more closely with some of these community groups could help Local 888 members. Eviction touches everyone, whether it’s a family member or a union member.  The cost of rent vs some of our member’s low salaries just doesn’t add up.”

Steve Meacham, an organizer with City Life/Vida Urbana who attended the meeting had a similar reaction.  “It was great to have this discussion with union members who are familiar with the serious problems in the city and also experts in housing policy.”

The housing advocates are campaigning for passage of a “Just Cause” eviction law. “It could be something we could get behind,” added Sullivan.  But I think it will require more research. But we can let folks know [about this research] and we offer hope. And with hope, all things are possible.”

“I’m confident this was the first of several brown bag lunch meetings.  Perhaps next time we can focus specifically on the proposed “Just Cause” eviction law so we have a better understanding of the whole bill.”

“There was an interesting political alignment between the advocacy groups and Local 888 members,” said Meacham. “Looking ahead, I think there are excellent opportunities for collaboration and mutual support.”

In addition to City Life/Vida Urbana, representatives from the Boston Tenant Organization and Right to the City also attended the meeting.

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Save Our Public Schools

SEIU leaders attended a briefing and campaign kickoff to oppose lifting the state cap on charter schools.

Keep the CapNearly one quarter of Local 888 members work for public schools. This year charter schools drained public school budgets by more than $400 million.  If the cap on charter schools is lifted, it would take even more funding from public schools.

Secretary-Treasurer Brenda Rodrigues and Local 888 executive board members Jorge Vargas, Charlotte Killam and Mike Kelly attended the "Keep the Cap" briefing.

Secretary-Treasurer Brenda Rodrigues and Local 888 executive board members Jorge Vargas, Charlotte Killam and Mike Kelly attended the “Keep the Cap” briefing.

A measure on the November 2016 ballot seeks to lift the cap on charter schools in Massachusetts.  If this ballot measure passes, up to 12 new charter schools could be added every year forever, taking away billions of dollars from public schools and hurting students.  School employees would lose jobs and vital programs would be eliminated.

Increasing the number of charter schools will:

  • Take precious resources out of local schools, increase class sizes and divert funding for art, science and music programs.
  • Create a separate and unequal school system that underserves English language learners and special needs students.
  • Result in even more high-stakes testing, taking educators and students away from real teaching and learning.

All Local 888 members are urged to get involved in the campaign by visiting: saveourpublicschoolsma.com

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Everything starts with ‘one’

For local 888 member Joan McKenna, the battle against addiction is personal.  The lifelong Somerville resident and mother of four boys has seen the ravages of drug addiction in her family, on her street, and in her community.

911 emergency operator Joan McKenna volunteers in support of drug addiction education and treatment programs.

911 emergency operator Joan McKenna volunteers in support of drug addiction education and treatment programs.

Her close friends, Dave and Kathy Harrington lived across the street and their kids went to school together.  When the Harrington’s lost their son to a drug overdose, they started the Ryan Harrington Foundation to raise money and awareness about the issue. Joan wanted to help too and she pitched in to organize a yearly “corn toss” fundraising event for the foundation at Trum Field. All proceeds benefit Somerville youth groups.

The success of the annual corn toss event led Joan and other leaders of the Harrington Foundation to want to do more. This year they came up with the idea of a road race.

“We decided to call it, ‘Just One Run’ because everything starts with ‘one.’ One person, taking one step; one person getting the help they need; one person making a difference.” The race was in memory of Sean Curtis, who died of an overdose this year.

Joan turned to her co-workers at the Somerville Police Department where she works as a 911 emergency operator to help build the event.  “My department is like an extended family.  They spread the word to their friends and family and it just took off.”

Joan enlisted Local 888 staffers Dave Nagle and Ian Adelman to run and DJ Cronin to volunteer on race day. She also received an endorsement and financial support from Local 888.

“Nearly 400 people participated in the race,” Joan said. “Local businesses donated race gear, t-shirts, food and drinks.  And we raised about $13,000! The support was just wonderful.”

“We need to stop the stigma of addiction and educate people about it.  All walks of life are affected by it.  We need more and better treatment programs.  I’m just one member, but we can all help out with a cause. I’m really glad that my union was part of it.”

Learn more about the Ryan Harrington Foundation at: www.ryanharringtonfoundation.org and don’t miss the corn toss benefit at Trum Field on September 10.  Registration is at 10:00 am.

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Amherst Town Employees win new contract

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.

Jennifer Reynolds“They were actually looking to cut our sick time. Who in their right mind would give up their sick days?” said Reynolds.

The MOU contains the following highlights:

  • All custodial maintenance staff are now considered essential personnel and must report to work when called. In the case of a weather related closure, maintenance personnel who are called in to work early or on time are guaranteed to be paid for their regularly scheduled shift, plus any overtime. They will not also get call in pay. The point here is that they won’t lose any pay by coming in to shovel or clear sidewalks, and they should be given enough work for their entire shift.
  • Sick leave- defines what sick leave can be used for, and provides a waiver process for non-traditional family member outside of the household. Also if an employee runs out of sick leave they have to use other forms of accrued leave before entering no pay status.
  • Overtime pay for working a holiday is limited to the holiday itself, not the day observed if different.
  • Bereavement leave now allows for extension of time off by using accrued personal vacation or comp time in addition to bereavement time.
  • Personal Days for new hires: hired 7/1-10/31 get 3 days for fiscal year; 11/1-2/29 get 2 days for fiscal year, 3/1-6/30- get one day for fiscal year
  • One free Town Center parking permit per employee, upon request. Each additional one =$25
  • Dispatchers will be notified Sept one of each year of availability of clothing to be ordered
  • $125 boot and clothing allowance for Parking Enforcement Officers, Inspectors, maintenance staff, Land Management Assistant, Wetlands Administrator
  • New $25/day training stipend for training new hires using Department Head approved training curricula for APCO certified dispatchers and Lead PEO.
  • $50 per year incremental increase for dispatchers for EMD/Hazmat certification ($150 increase over life of contract)
  • New position created- Lead Inspector in new Level I
  • 3 year contract with 2% COLA each July 1
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Looking to build a stronger union?

A new book, Secrets of a Successful Organizer by three Labor Notes staffers is chalk full of tips in a user-friendly format. The book has 47 “secrets” culled from experienced organizers. It has real life stories and practical tips to help you spot hot issues, map your workplace and inspire your co-workers to take action.

Ready to inspire your co-workers into actionWin a free copy of this new book!  Enter a raffle by emailing rwilson<at>seiu888.org. Put the words “Secrets” in the subject line and include your name, work location/chapter and phone number. Winner will be drawn on August 1.

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Support Mass Defenders!

Would it surprise you if the state legislature denied hundreds of workers the right to collectively bargain in supposedly “liberal” Massachusetts?

MassDefender-LogoYet staff who work for the state’s Committee for Public Counsel Services have been struggling to win a vote for their right to form a union for more than three years. Their legislation for collective bargaining rights is once again stalled in the Senate Ways and Means committee.

Please urge your Senator to support SB.1393 allowing public defenders to form a union.

Use this handy link to send a quick letter to your senator. http://888.seiu.org/page/speakout/support-mass-defenders

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Women members get WILD!

Local 888 members attended the Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) that was held at Bridgewater state university from June 24-26.

Local 888 Executive Board member Charlotte Killam (pictured third from left) attended the annual WILD meeting.

Local 888 Executive Board member Charlotte Killam (pictured third from left) attended the annual WILD meeting.

Charlotte Killam (pictured third from left) said, “WILD trainings are always excellent because they are so well planned. Everyone takes a leadership class. You not only learn from the instructors but from everyone else in the classes. It’s a very relevant learning experience for any steward or chapter chair.  You also build great comradery by talking with others about how they approach problems in the workplace.”

UMass Lowell executive board member Susan Winning also attended. More info at wildlabor.org.

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Coming Attractions

calendarAFL-CIO Political Roundtable
Mass. AFL-CIO monthly Political and Legislative Roundtable Thursday, July 28 at 1:30PM
Plumbers Local 12 Hall
1240 Mass Ave, Dorchester

Last day to register to vote
(and change party enrollment) for the Sept. 8 State Primaries, Friday, August 19, 2016

Bread & Roses logoBread and Roses Labor Day Festival
Lawrence Common,
September 5, 12 to 6 PM.

State Primary Election
September 8

Pioneer Valley AFL-CIO Annual Labor Breakfast
September 9

LaborCAN! Educational Conference
September 24 Taunton, MA

State General Election
Tuesday, November 8, 2016

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Local 888 leaders attend convention

By Mark DelloRusso

A delegation of ten delegates and three alternates attended SEIU’s quadrennial International Convention in Detroit from May 19 – 24.

Kwesi Ablordeppey (pictured on the convention monitor) spoke out against racism and other social injustices at the SEIU convention

Kwesi Ablordeppey (pictured on the convention monitor) spoke out against racism and other social injustices at the SEIU convention

Mary Kay Henry was reelected President along with a slate of seven Executive Vice Presidents and 37 Executive Board members.

Eileen Kirlin, Executive Vice President for Public Services (which includes Local 888) announced her retirement as did current Secretary-Treasurer Mike Fishman.

The convention passed resolutions in support of the Fight for $15, against racial injustice, and alongside AFSCME, in support of protecting members of our unions and those that want to be part of one.

Secretary-Treasurer Brenda Rodrigues did a great job as our “whip” for the Local 888 table.

Kwesi Ablordeppey (Holyoke Soldiers Home) stood up at the microphone and spoke out against racism and other social injustices.  He received a huge applause from the entire convention.

Sue Noel (Dracut) stood with Hillary Clinton on stage while she addressed the convention and got a hug from her afterwards.

Local 888 delegates enjoying a meal while at the SEIU convention.

Local 888 delegates enjoying a meal while at the SEIU convention.

Local 888 got a shout out from Mary Kay Henry for our participation in the Clinton campaign and support of workers on strike at Verizon.

Other members of Local 888’s delegation included: Carolyn Carey (Harwich), Frank Chillemi (Westwood), Jim Corcoran (Mashpee), Mike Kelly (Lottery), Charlotte Killam (Water & Sewer Boston), Dave Reno (BPD Boston), Kelly Shay (DND Boston), Fred Simmons (Haverhill), Jorge Vargas (BPS Boston), alternates Tom McKeever (Lottery) and Jen Springer (staff), and guest Lorna Pleas Heron (DND Boston).

This convention was a huge success and the strong participation by members of the Executive Board made it one of the best conventions I have ever attended.

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CPCS staff push for organizing rights

About forty staff from the Committee for Public Counsel Services (The Public Defender Agency of Massachusetts) spent June 2 at the statehouse to meet with their elected representatives about legislation that would include them in the state’s collective bargaining law.

CPCS Data Analyst David Colarusso met with State Representative Sean Garbally urging passage of House Bill 2374

CPCS Data Analyst David Colarusso met with State Representative Sean Garbally urging passage of House Bill 2374

David Colarusso, a Data Analyst and former Staff Attorney at CPCS met with his state rep. “I found my conversation with State Representative Sean Garbally very worthwhile,” said Colarusso. “I was impressed by how receptive he was to hearing my concerns as a constituent and left the meeting feeling that he better understood our issues and why we need a seat at the table with management.”

“The momentum is really building within the legislature to finally fix this “oversight” in the state’s collective bargaining law,” said Mark DelloRusso, president of Local 888. “It’s simply inexcusable for the state to deny hundreds of state employees their right to bargain collectively for a voice at work.”

An impressive group of CPCS attorneys and employees gathered for today's Lobby Day!

An impressive group of CPCS attorneys and employees gathered for today’s Lobby Day!


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SEIU Votes for “Medicare for All!”

Declaring that healthcare is a “human right, not a commodity,” delegates to the 26th International Convention unanimously passed a resolution that puts SEIU on record in support of national and state single-payer initiatives, often called “Medicare for All.”

Click on this link to take the Pledge to Fight for Single Payer Healthcare!

Click on this picture to take the Pledge to Fight for Single Payer Healthcare!

“Our local union was founded on the principle of quality healthcare for all,” said Diane Sosne, President of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW whose local submitted the resolution. “The resolution we passed shows that SEIU stands alongside the majority of Americans who believe that we need to build a new healthcare system that works for everyone.”

The resolution commits SEIU to support “enacting state-based single payer models and public options and, when politically feasible, will advocate for single payer on a national basis.” It supports the core principles of healthcare justice and the inclusion of everyone, regardless of immigration status, under a single standard of care.

Until recently, SEIU focused most of its attention on defending and implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But, in addition to 1199NW, a number of regional locals have been involved in state single-payer battles. For example 1199 Healthcare Workers East is a key supporter of New York Health, a bill that would establish a publicly financed universal healthcare system to cover all New Yorkers. And SEIU Local 1021 has been a strong supporter of the Campaign for a Healthy California.

“Local 888 is thrilled to have SEIU help lead the fight to win Medicare for All,” said Local 888 Secretary-Treasurer Brenda Rodrigues. “Just as we have helped to change the terms of debate in the ‘Fight for $15’ campaign, we can be a game changer organizing the movement for healthcare for all!”

For more information about Labor support for Medicare for All, visit the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Health Care.

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Member Spotlight: Leader on the job becomes new leader in Local 888

Long time UMass Lowell employee (and former student) Nick Piscitello was recently elected chapter chair for the professional bargaining unit at the university.  The UMass Professionals are one of the largest chapters in Local 888 with over 580 members working in a wide variety of jobs throughout the university.

New UMass union leader Nick Piscitello: "The opportunities I've had at Lowell are just amazing. So many people here shaped my life and helped me to be who I am today. I wanted to give back and help others."

New UMass union leader Nick Piscitello: “The opportunities I’ve had at Lowell are just amazing. So many people here shaped my life and helped me to be who I am today. I wanted to give back and help others.”

Piscitello never expected to be a union leader.  “I dreamed of becoming a computer scientist or engineer like my dad,” he told the Spark.

But first he had to overcome serious learning disabilities that left him unable to read or write in the sixth grade.  Fortunately, his parents fought for the resources that he needed and one teacher made an extraordinary effort to help him overcome his disability.  By the time he got to high school he was a national honors student!

After enrolling as an undergraduate at UMass Lowell, that experience inspired him to become involved as a resident assistant in the resident life program and eventually appointed resident director at Fox Hall.

“The opportunities I’ve had at Lowell are just amazing,” said Piscitello. “So many people here shaped my life and helped me to be who I am today.  I wanted to give back and help others.  That’s why I loved working in the Student Affairs department.”

It inspired him to get his Master’s in Education at UMass Lowell.

It wasn’t long before management recognized Piscitello’s abilities and transferred him to Facilities.  Initially wary of not being in student development, he soon found that he was working with dozens of students in an equally important role.

As his responsibilities in administration expanded, Piscitello decided to pursue a second Masters in Business.  The university made him director of Administrative Services last August.

“I’ve realized that as you move into leadership at the university it’s an opportunity to make great changes – and have fun doing it!” Piscitello emphasized.

“You can make a significant difference in people lives, especially when we find those ‘win-win’ opportunities for synergy and collaboration.”

Piscitello wants to bring that same approach to his new role as chapter chair and to helping his coworkers in the union.  “Our jobs are critical to the success of the university.  By working collaboratively with management we can find many more ‘win-win’ opportunities that help the university while helping members to grow and succeed too.”

Piscitello will be sworn in as a new Executive Board member in September.

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