Union Updates

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2020 convention hosts college scholarship raffle

JOHN DEVANE, left, and his mom Tracey Monti.

JOHN DEVANE, left, and his mom Tracey Monti.

ABIGAIL LEIGH SOUKUP, left, and her mom, Lynne.

ABIGAIL LEIGH SOUKUP, left, and her mom, Lynne.

JAMEEKA SULPH, right, and her father, Lenroy.

JAMEEKA SULPH, right, and her father, Lenroy.

PALESA COCHRAN-ALLEN

PALESA COCHRAN-ALLEN

BOUND FOR COLLEGE: Local 888 held a raffle for college scholarships at its recent online convention on Zoom. The $1,000 award went to John Devane  and his mother, Tracey Monti, Blue Hills Regional clerical chapter. $500 awards went to: Abigail Leigh Soukup and her mother, Lynne, Westborough town clerical chapter; and Lenroy Sulph, Boston Centers for Youth & Families chapter, and his daughter Jameeka; and Palesa Cochran-Allen, of the Boston Admin Guild.

 

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Pulling together in COVID-19 times

NASCIMENTO

KEVIN NASCIMENTO: Local 888 secretary-treasurer.

“During the global pandemic, our union’s top priority has been protecting the health of our members and getting them the safety equipment that they need,” said Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues. “Nowhere was this more evident than at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.”

Rodrigues said: “I’ve never been so proud of our union, our staff and our members as I was during the crisis there. I’m proud of how our leaders stood up for the vets and for their co-workers.”

The local’s president spoke about Holyoke and the state of the union during the recent Local 888 Convention. Over 150 members participated in the online event.

In contrast to the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, Rodrigues said, “management at most employers has been a good partner — working with our chapter leaders to ensure access to PPE and safe workplaces.”

In fact, the two top officials in charge of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home during the COVID-19 outbreak have been arraigned on criminal neglect charges related to the deaths of at least 76 veterans. (See related article, below.)

“It was Local 888 that gathered the evidence of gross mismanagement and first brought it to the attention of the governor,” added Rodrigues.

Ultimately, the state took a number of measures to stabilize the situation, including bringing in the National Guard (For a full report, see http://www.seiu888.org/2020/07/16/weve-been-vindicated/.)

Fittingly for the COVID-19 era, the convention keynote speaker was Carlene Pavlos, executive director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association.

Local 888 Executive Board member and Emerson College chapter leader Shaylin Walsh-Hogan introduced Pavlos, who promoted the State Action for Public Health Excellence bill in the Legislature. It would reform the state’s fragmented public health system.

Executive board member and Holyoke Soldiers’ Home chapter leader Kwesi Ablordeppey introduced a resolution in support of the legislation that members voted to adopt overwhelmingly.

That was the first of three convention resolutions, which were all supported by the executive board and the convention as a whole. (For the full text of the resolutions adopted by the convention, see http://www.seiu888.org/convention.)

Jonathan Dudley, chapter member at the Montachusett Opportunity Council, introduced a resolution to “Protect the Vote, Protect the Results.” The measure was in support of members taking action should one of the presidential candidates refuse “to concede if the results are clear.”

On behalf of the Latino Caucus, Boston Public School’s member Jorge Vargas introduced a resolution calling on Local 888 to draw up a “Membership Bill of Health Rights” necessitated by the pandemic.

Seven elected leaders and candidates for state office briefly attended the convention to recite a pledge to support Local 888 members and working families.

In addition, Local 888’s new secretary-treasurer, Kevin Nascimento, gave his first report on the union’s budget.

While much of the convention’s work was serious, there was time for levity. Executive board member and town of Harwich chapter leader Carolyn Carey was the MC for rolling out door prizes and calling the names of raffle winners. She also served as parliamentarian.

The new chapter for Local 888 retirees had its public unveiling with a workshop, with its executive board member, Susan Winning, as host.

Conference workshops were geared to Local 888’s key industry sectors and job categories, covering: early childhood education, higher ed, school employees, as well as state and municipal workers. There was a separate session for the city of Boston, which has 1,800 Local 888 members covered by 12 contracts.

Workshop leaders were:

  • School employees: Rebecca Blackand Diana Umina, Hopkinton paraprofessionals chapter.
  • Early childhood: Jonathan Dudley, Montachusett Opportunity Council.
  • Higher education: Shaylin Walsh-Hogan, Emerson College, and Esther Brandon, Brandeis University library professionals chapter shop steward.
  • Municipal: Chris Dery, president, Tyngsboro mid-managers chapter.
  • City of Boston: Sean Murphy, Boston Police Department (BPD)
  • State Workers (Unit 2): Michael Slaterand Butch Polarra.

For a convention slide show and the updated resolutions, see http://www.seiu888.org/convention/.

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Members urged to protect 2020 election results

Protect the Results

President Trump prematurely declared re-election victory — and, falsely, claimed that votes counted after Election Day were somehow invalid. Mailed-in ballots, for example, are routinely counted after Election Day.

In anticipation of this, the Service Employees International Union linked up with other groups in the Protect the Results coalition. In fact, Joe Biden has now been declared president-elect.

In a letter to Local 888 members, Rodrigues said “Every voter has a right to cast a ballot, every vote counts, and every ballot must be counted and respected, whether cast by a Democrat, a Republican or anyone else.”

She added: “The labor movement must respond with nonviolent action to defend democracy, the Constitution and an orderly transfer of power that is one of the historic hallmarks of American democracy.”

For more from Local 888’s president, go to http://www.seiu888.org/2020/11/04/all-members-urged-to-help-protect-the-results/. To find an event to Protect the Results, if Trump further undermines the 2020 election results, go to: https://protecttheresults.com/. For a statement from SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, see https://www.seiu.org/2020/11/seiu-president-mary-kay-henry-demands-every-vote-is-counted.

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Local 888 signs up voters, nets victories at ballot box

ERIKA UYTERHOEVEN, a political newcomer, was elected as a state representative in the 27th Middlesex District this November.

ERIKA UYTERHOEVEN, a political newcomer, was elected as a state representative in the 27th Middlesex District this November.

In a remarkably successful election effort, Local 888 and its Committee On Political Action (COPA) helped register 489 members— contributing to a historic turnout in Massachusetts in the middle of a pandemic.

Local 888 Executive Board member Emmanuel Marsh said COPA is key to gaining and maintaining allies up at the Massachusetts State House. Thus the importance, he said, of having more than 400 Local 888 members making voluntary contributions to support COPA.

Looking ahead, this means fighting for fairer pensions for members, including the Boston Police dispatchers, and the rights of public workers to unite with Local 888 and other unions for collective bargaining.

The state Legislature has failed to act on a bill that would extend this basic human right to the workers in the Massachusetts public-defenders office, for example. About 750 attorneys, social service advocates, investigators, secretaries and other professionals work for the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS). They work on behalf of poor people in criminal cases, juvenile cases, child and family cases, and mental health and other civil commitment cases.

The Local 888 COPA endorsed a number of candidates this election cycle — and most of them won. They included Gregory Hanley, an incumbent who faced a crowded primary for two seats on the Plymouth County Commission.

Winning candidates who Local 888 endorsed for the Massachusetts House:

  • Jerry Parisella, 6th Essex District.
  • Tram Nguyen, 18th Essex.
  • Mike Connolly, 26th Middlesex
  • Political newcomer Erika Uyterhoeven, 27th Middlesex.
  • Joseph McGonagle, 28th Middlesex.
  • Steve Ultrino, 33rd Middlesex.
  • Christine Barber, 34th Middlesex.
  • Paul Donato, 35th Middlesex District.
  • Joan Meschino, 3rd Plymouth.
  • Emmanuel Dockter, 5th Plymouth.
  • Michelle DuBois, 10th Plymouth.
  • Natalie Higgins (4th Worcester).

Winning candidates who Local 888 endorsed for the state Senate:

  • Paul Feeney, Bristol and Norfolk District.
  • Mike Brady, a former Local 888 member, 2nd Plymouth and Bristol.
  • Jamie Eldridge, Middlesex and Worcester.
  • Nick Collins, 4th Suffolk.
  • Rebecca Rausch, Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex.

The four candidates who Local 888 endorsed and fell short in their primary races were Dennis Guifoyle who ran for Norfolk County Commissioner; Gretchen Van Ness, who ran for the 14 Suffolk representative seat; Marianela Rivera, who ran in the 17th Essex representative race; and Jesse Mermell, who ran for U.S. House in Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District.

Jim Dever, who ran for the 5th Barnstable representative seat, won in the primary race, but lost in the general election, as did Christine Crean, running for state Senate in the Worcester and Norfolk district.

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Holyoke Home’s ex-honchos in spotlight

MISMANAGED FOR YEARS: Local 888 members and leaders kept trying to curb  understaffing and unfair practices at Holyoke Soldiers' Home right up to the point when COVID-19 tragedy struck.

MISMANAGED FOR YEARS: Local 888 members and leaders kept trying to curb understaffing and unfair practices at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home right up to the point when COVID-19 tragedy struck.

JOE RAMIREZ

JOE RAMIREZ

KWESI ABLORDEPPEY

KWESI ABLORDEPPEY

The state is still grappling with the fallout from the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Local 888, which first exposed the crisis there, is looking to the future — and ways to keep frontline workers safe and prevent dangerous conditions in the workplace.

Local 888 passed a resolution at its recent convention saying employers should ensure that front-line workers are provided a healthy work environment. (See www.seiu888.org for more on the convention.)

Kwesi Ablordeppey, chapter president and a CNA, and Joseph Ramirez, chapter vice president and a CNA, and others testified at the State House in last month on the outrageous actions of management and the grief over the sudden loss of so many veterans.

In addition, family members of residents of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home testified on the various hardships, outrages and grief that they have dealt with during the pandemic.

In a developing legal case, the two top officials in charge of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home during the COVID-19 outbreak were arraigned in Hampden County Superior Court early this month on charges related to the deaths of at least 76 residents. They pled not guilty and were released without bail.

Former superintendent, Bennett Walsh and former medical director David Clinton had been indicted by a grand jury on criminal neglect charges for their roles in the Holyoke disaster. The state’s attorney general said they violated Massachusetts laws dealing with “caretakers who wantonly or recklessly” permit the abuse, neglect or mistreatment of an elderly or disabled person — or allow or cause them to be injured.

An independent investigation conducted for the governor showed that a recipe for failure had been baked into the chaotic situation at the Holyoke Home by its neglectful and authoritarian leadership. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, there was failure right from the first case (see http://www.seiu888.org/2020/07/16/weve-been-vindicated/).

The report spotlighted the understaffing and poor management that had gone on at the Holyoke Home for years — which Local 888 members played an important part in exposing .

“Much of what we had been complaining about has now come to light,” Ablordeppey, said at the time. “We’ve been vindicated.”

In August 2018, members wore buttons and circulated petitions protesting forced overtime and understaffing. The union campaign was accompanied by a membership education program to strengthen union leadership at the home.

The report said that “some of management’s decisions during the crisis “were utterly baffling from an infection-control perspective, and were inconsistent with the Home’s mission to treat its veterans with honor and dignity.”

The average age of the veterans at the facility was 85 years. The Holyoke Home and its sister facility in Chelsea are run by the state.

“We began this investigation on behalf of the families who lost loved ones under tragic circumstances and to honor these men who bravely served our country,” said Maura Healey, Massachusetts attorney general. “We allege that the actions of these defendants during the COVID-19 outbreak at the facility put veterans at higher risk of infection and death and warrant criminal charges.”

“The prosecution is principally focused on a March 27, 2020 decision to consolidate two dementia units into one, which resulted in the placement of symptomatic residents, including confirmed COVID-19-positive residents” and those who were displaying no symptoms, “within feet of each other,” the release said.

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Higher education workers fired up

SPEAKING UP: Local 888 leader Shaylin Walsh-Hogan, from the Emerson College chapter, is shown on Zoom.

SPEAKING UP: Local 888 leader Shaylin Walsh-Hogan, from the Emerson College chapter, is shown on Zoom.

Higher education workers have continued organizing — both in their own Local 888 chapters and in not-yet-union workplaces — right through the pandemic. This has included having higher-ed workers meetings held on Zoom, hosting a workshop at the Local 888 convention and participating in a recent summit organized by the union.

During the convention, “members shared examples of successful alliances they have built on their campuses” said Esther Brandon, a steward for the Brandeis University library. And they shared an exercise on power mapping, which is used to identify individuals who could be persuaded to promote social change.

And of course, given the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, people also talked about the difficulties of communicating and working with allies during the pandemic, she said.

Brandon organized the “Brick by Brick: Building Alliances to Strengthen Your Union”workshop with the help of Local 888 staff and Shaylin Walsh-Hogan, a Local 888 Executive Board member and Emerson College chapter leader.

The Brandeis librarians won an impressive new contract last year with a key assist from the wider college community. A student group, the Brandeis Labor Coalition played a prominent role in the chapter’s rallies for a fair contract. The result is that some Local 888 members will receive up to 15 percent raises over the life of the three-year pact.

Similarly, the Emerson chapter won their first-ever contract in 2018 after organizing a May Day rally outside the main administrative building — with support from the college’s wider community.

Local 888’s Christine Morgan is hosting Zoom meetings for higher ed workers. For more info, email her at cmorganj@seiu888.org.

Racism at colleges was a key topic at Local’s 888’s second annual Higher Education Labor Summit. Local 888 leaders took note of the history of racism in higher education, along with the success that Local 888 chapters have had in fixing wage scales riddled with bias.

“One of the things I’m most grateful for is that the Local 888 staff went to bat” for a longtime librarian, a person of color, who was one of the lowest paid, said Kate Silfen, a Boston University librarian chapter leader. The BU librarians’ latest contract paves the way for a more just workplace — curbing such bias by limiting “merit pay.” Previously, librarians’ yearly salary raises had been completely merit-based.

At Emerson College, “the pay scale was tilted dramatically in favor of white people and white women,” Shaylin Hogan, Local 888 chapter vice president. The complete picture only came out during bargaining for the chapter’s first union contract, ratified in 2018. The contract covers about 170 clerical, technical and professional employees at Emerson College who perform a variety of jobs critical to the success of the college.

During the summit, held via Zoom, a presentation on “Combating Racism in Higher Education” took a look at both the history of such institutions and more present-day situations.

The presentation noted that it wasn’t till 2016 that Harvard University began acknowledging the role of slavery in the university’s history. For one, the university put up a plaque honoring four slaves who worked at Wadsworth House, where Colonial-era university presidents lived.

As reported by The Boston Globe, the university president said at a ceremony that there probably were other slaves who worked on the Harvard campus. However, those names are not known.

The move comes as Harvard reexamines its role regarding slavery

The presentation also touched on Stephen Jay Gould’s 1981 book “The Mismeasurement of Man,” which critiqued the scientists who, over the course of a couple centuries, set out to prove that some groups of people were inferior to others.

Brandeis University chapter leader Esther Brandon pointed to more-recent history. She noted that the school had fired its men’s basketball coach in 2018 over complaints that he engaged in racially biased harassment and discriminatory behavior. Ultimately, as part of the scandal, a Brandeis vice president resigned and two administrators were put on probation, according to the Globe.

For more on the Local’s 888’s second annual Higher Education Labor Summit, see http://www.seiu888.org/2020/07/16/higher-ed-summit-tackles-race-covid-19/.

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BPD dispatchers seek fairer pensions

SEAN MURPHY: Shown on Zoom at the Local 888 2020 Convention.

SEAN MURPHY: Shown on Zoom at the Local 888 2020 Convention.

One of the top issues for the Boston Police Department’s dispatchers is getting their pension status upgraded to fit more in line with their stressful jobs. For several sessions of the Massachusetts Legislature, members have been pushing for such a bill.

“We thought we had a good shot at getting the bill passed this year,” said Sean Murphy, a city dispatcher and Local 888 chapter leader. “But then COVID-19 hit, and the bill kind of died.”

The dispatchers are currently in the Group 1 level in the state pension fund — which is a classification for general employees, such as clerical workers. Under the Group 2 level, dispatchers could retire five years earlier and at a higher rate of pay than otherwise.

“This would mean that dispatchers could retire and enjoy the fruits of their labor,” said Murphy. A key issue for dispatchers, he added, is on-the-job stress.

Murphy said that the first time he went to testify at the State House, “I found it a little intimidating. I’d never been to a legislative committee before.”

He went with another dispatcher, Darlene Osbourne. “We spoke from our hearts, said Murphy. She had worked as a dispatcher for several decades. “She wanted to go,” said Murphy. “She wanted to retire. She had health issues related to the stress of our jobs,” he added. The rules were against her.

Murphy talked up the BPD dispatchers push for improved pensions during a workshop at Local 888’s 2020 Convention.

Other Local 888 members are fighting for pension upgrades, too. These include LPNs and nursing assistants at the now-notorious Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, who are currently classified as Group 1 as well.

Since his first introduction to the State House, Murphy said, he’s seen more of how things work up there. There’s the traditional modes of talking up lawmakers or their aides — calling up or dropping by the office.

Murphy said he was surprised that a newer approach, Facebook and its messaging setup, had turned into a great way to have a back-and-forth talk with a lawmaker.

Overall he said, persistence is what’s needed to get legislation adopted.

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‘Pledge for Working Families’ unveiled

MIKE BRADY

MIKE BRADY: Is a former Local 888 member.

In the run-up to the 2020 election, Local 888 asked state lawmakers to sign a “Pledge for Working Families.”:

“I pledge to support workers’ rights to collectively bargain, I will use the power of my office to uplift working families, including Local 888 members, as well as people who are not. I also pledge to recruit my colleagues, friends, and family to do the same so that we can reclaim our democracy and build an economy that works for us all!”

A number of them were on hand to officially take the pledge at Local 888’s Convention 2020. Among those signing the pledge were Rep.-Elect Erika Uyterhoeven (27th Middlesex), who Local 888 backed in her Democratic primary race.

State lawmakers who signed onto the pledge are:

  • Emmanuel Dockter (5th Plymouth)
  • Jerry Parisella, (6th Essex)
  • Michelle Du Bois (10th Plymouth)
  • Mike Connolly (26th Middlesex)
  • Paul Donato (35th Middlesex)
  • Joseph McGonagle (28th Middlesex)
  • Christine Barber (34th Middlesex)
  • Joan Meschino (3rd Plymouth)
  • Tram Nguyen (18th Essex)
  • Natalie Higgins (4th Worcester)
  • Mike Brady (2nd Plymouth and Bristol)
  • Paul Feeney (Bristol and Norfolk)
  • Nick Collins (4th Suffolk)
  • Jamie Eldridge (Middlesex and Worcester District.)
  • Becca Rausch (Norfolk, Bristol, Middlesex)

In addition, Plymouth County Commissioner Greg Hanley signed the pledge.

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New treasurer scrutinizes Local 888 budget

The value of union dues

NASCIMENTO

NASCIMENTO

“As this bizarre year ends, Local 888 will keep a focused eye on our assets and closely monitor our profits or losses,” said the local’s new secretary-treasurer, Kevin Nascimento. He said that work of drawing up next year’s budget “is being approached from a conservative standpoint” with an eye toward “financial sustainability.”

Some of the financial challenges facing Local 888 “can be directly attributed to COVID-19,” he said. “For example, with schools being out, our dues revenue took a hit. Things are rebounding and schools are opening back up. We will be watching closely to see how our finances develop for the remainder of the year.”

The new secretary-treasurer took office recently after being nominated by President Brenda Rodrigues and approved by the executive board, which he was a member of. Nascimento presented the.financial report at Local 888’s 2020 Convention. Nascimento has been treasurer of his Local 888 chapter for the Brockton Public Library. He started out working for Brockton in 2006, when just a high-schooler, putting books back on the shelves as a library page.

He noted that union dues amount to 1.6 percent of a member’s base salary. Such forms of compensation like overtime, shift differentials, longevity or bonuses are excluded.

Local 888 will be using about half of its budget, 54 cents on the dollar, for representation and legal services. This may include contract negotiations, legal work and arbitration fees.

The union will also be spending about 21 cents on the dollar for organization and affiliation dues. The most important one of these is being part of the Service Employees International Union.

About 16 cents on the dollar goes to cover administration and operating expenses. That’s the basics for Local 888: staff, office space and information technology.

The remainder of Local 888’s budget goes to member communications, research and educational activities.

“Growing revenue is a surefire way” to move off the cost-cutting trend Local 888 is currently on, he concluded.

In 2019, Local 888 spent about $5.2 million. This left a small surplus of almost $50,000. That has turned into a big plus in 2020 — when the COVID-19 crisis hit.

Due to the pandemic, Local 888’s revenues have dropped somewhat, but leaders and staff have worked to cut spending as well.

For a rough breakdown on “My Union Dues at Work,” see http://www.seiu888.org/888members/uniondues/.

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Election Night Message from President Brenda Rodrigues

Dear Local 888 members,

Local 888 unites members of every race and background. As union members, our votes send a clear message to the politicians: respect us, protect us, pay us.

We have turned out in record numbers for this election and our union worked hard to register new voters and bring them to the polls.

No politician, and especially not the President, should pick and choose how votes will be counted. And we won’t let them.

That’s why at our October 24 Local 888 Convention, members overwhelming passed a resolution to Protect the Vote, Protect the Results.

Our nation has always held elections and upheld the results, even in times of great crisis. We held successful presidential elections during the Civil War, the Great Depression, and both World Wars. Now it’s our turn to show that nothing—not this pandemic or this president—will stand in our way of protecting our democracy.

Please stay tuned for updates as the election results come in and the democratic process unfolds. 

In Solidarity,

Brenda Rodrigues, President
SEIU Local 888

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Oct. 24 convention highlights Local 888 victories during pandemic 

LOCAL 888'S UNCONVENTIONAL CONVENTION: Over 150 members participated in the union's online Zoom event, with its focus on the health and safety in the workplace and in the community.

LOCAL 888’S UNCONVENTIONAL CONVENTION: Over 150 members participated in the union’s online Zoom event, with its focus on health and safety in the workplace and in the community.

Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues spoke on Zoom at the recent convention about the pandemic and the state of the union. (File photo from 2018 convention.)

 

During the global pandemic, our unions top priority has been protecting the health of our members and getting them the safety equipment that they need, said Local 888 President Brenda RodriguesNowhere was this more evident than at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. 

Rodrigues said: Ive never been so proud of our union, our staff and our members as I was during the crisis there. Im proud of how our leaders stood up for the vets and for their co-workers. 

The locals president spoke about Holyoke and the state of the union during the recent Local 888 Convention. Over 150 members participated in the online event. 

In contrast to the Holyoke Soldiers Home, Rodrigues saidmanagement at most employers has been a good partner — working with our chapter leaders to ensure access to PPE and safe workplaces. 

In fact, the two top officials in charge of the Holyoke Soldiers Home during the COVID-19 outbreak have been indicted on criminal neglect charges related to the deaths of at least 76 veterans.  

It was Local 888 that gathered the evidence of gross mismanagement and first brought it to the attention of the governor, added Rodrigues. Ultimately, the state took a number of measures to stabilize the situation, including bringing in the National Guard (For an in-depth report, see http://www.seiu888.org/2020/07/16/weve-been-vindicated/.) 

Fittingly for the COVID-19 era, the convention keynote speaker was Carlene Pavlos, executive director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association 

Local 888 Executive Board member and Emerson College chapter leader Shaylin Walsh-Hogan introduced Pavlos, who promoted the State Action for Public Health Excellence bill in the Legislature. It would reform the states fragmented public health system. 

Executive board member and Holyoke Soldiers Home chapter leader Kwesi Ablordeppey introduced a resolution in support of the legislation that members voted to adopoverwhelmingly 

That was the first of three convention resolutions, which were all supported by the executive board and the convention as a whole. (To read the three resolutions adopted by the membership and see the convention “slide show,” see http://www.seiu888.org/convention)

Jonathan Dudley, chapter member at the Montachusett Opportunity Council, introduced a resolution to Protect the Vote, Protect the Results. The measure was in support of members taking action should one of the presidential candidates refuse to concede if the results are clear. 

On behalf of the Latino Caucus, Boston Public School’s member Jorge Vargas introduced a resolution calling on Local 888 to draw up Membership Bill of Health Rights necessitated by the pandemic.  

Executive board member and State Lottery leader Emmanuel Marsh shared report about the importance of the Local 888 Committee on Political Action — and of having allies at the State House to achieve Local 888s goals. Seven elected leaders and candidates for state office briefly attended the convention to recite a pledge to support Local 888 members and working families.   

In addition, Local 888s new secretary-treasurer, Kevin Nascimento, gave his first report on the union’s budget. 

While much of the conventions work was serious, there was time for levity. Executive board member and town of Harwich chapter leader Carolyn Carey was the MC for rolling out door prizes and calling the names of raffle winners. She also served as parliamentarian. 

The new chapter for Local 888 retirees had its public unveiling with a workshop, with its executive board member, Susan Winning, as host. 

Conference workshops were geared to Local 888s key industry sectors and job categories, covering: early childhood education, higher ed, school employees, as well as state and municipal workers. There was a separate session for the city of Boston, which has 1,800 Local 888 members covered by 12 contracts.  

Workshop leaders were:

  • School employees: Rebecca Black and Diana Umina, Hopkinton paraprofessionals chapter.
  • Early childhood: Jonathan Dudley, Montachusett Opportunity Council.
  • Higher education: Shaylin Walsh-Hogan, Emerson College, and Esther Brandon, Brandeis University library professionals chapter shop steward.
  • Municipal: Chris Dery, president, Tyngsboro mid-managers chapter.
  • City of Boston: Sean Murphy, Boston Police Department (BPD)
  • State Workers (Unit 2): Michael Slaterand Butch Polarra.

For a convention slide show and the updated resolutions, see http://www.seiu888.org/convention/.

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Moving forward during COVID-19 crisis

THAT WAS THEN: Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues gives out a prize to a member at the 2019 Leadership Conference. To register for the Oct. 24 Local 888 Convention and be eligible for a special door prize, see http://www.seiu888.org/convention/.

THAT WAS THEN: Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues, right, gives out a prize to a member at the 2019 Leadership Conference. To register for the Oct. 24 Local 888 Convention and be eligible for a special door prize, see http://www.seiu888.org/convention/.

Work on the 2020 convention is heating up as the clock ticks down to Oct. 24, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The COVID-19 pandemic has required Local 888 to schedule the event on Zoom. Members are urged to register early and be eligible for a special door prize (see http://www.seiu888.org/convention/).

“In these pandemic times, our union has persevered and creatively tackled the problems at hand — and kept moving forward,” said Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues. “We’ve adapted to the coronavirus crisis by holding health and safety and union rights workshops online and having our executive board and staff continue to meet all the while.”

“I look forward to connecting with our fellow members and talking about how COVID-19 has impacted their lives, professionally and personally,” said Kevin Nascimento, the local’s. new secretary-treasurer. “These are trying times that require displays of solidarity and understanding in order to help each other cope so we can solve issues and get each other through the day.”

Susan Winning said she was “excited to kick off the formation of Local 888’s new retiree chapter “It will be great to have the opportunity to work with other retirees to begin planning how to build the chapter,” added Winning, the new executive board member for retirees.

Local 888 has identified six key industry sectors that members work in: early childhood education, public schools, higher education, public authorities and state and municipal workers. There will be breakout sessions for members to meet with workers in their sector to compare their working conditions and experiences.

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