Union Updates

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Too Many Families Left Out of New Boston Family Leave Policy

When City of Boston employee Damali Simmonds encouraged city councilors to extend paid family leave to more city workers, she offered her own story as proof of why such a policy is needed. Simmonds, who gave birth to a baby girl in April, told councilors at their April 22 meeting that she’d already exhausted her paid time off and has only six unpaid weeks of leave left under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Local 888 member Damali Simmonds urges Boston City Councilors to extend paid leave to additional city work-ers like her. Simmonds recently had a baby and has already exhausted her paid leave.

Local 888 member Damali Simmonds urges Boston City Councilors to extend paid leave to additional city work-ers like her. Simmonds recently had a baby and has already exhausted her paid leave.

Despite strong support for extending the family leave benefit to Simmonds and all members from city councilors, the ordinance passed at the April 29 City Council meeting will only apply to 635 city employees who are currently not covered by collective bargaining agreements. The new policy excludes 7,152 union members who work for the city and 6,721 members who work for the Boston Public Schools. According to a doctor who testified, the new policy could end up widening disparities between classes of city workers.

Local 888 union leaders applauded the new policy, however the union has asserted that, “with regard to parental leave, our contract with the city simply indicates that the parties will follow whatever the city policy is” and “should apply immediately to all of our members…consistent with the language and intent of our contract.” If the city disagrees with that interpretation, “then we respectfully request to meet immediately to execute a Memorandum of Understanding” so that “paid parental leave can be implemented for the members of SEIU Local 888 upon its passage by the City Council.”

The city’s Office of Labor Relations responded to union concerns by asserting that “municipal ordinances do not supersede conflicting provisions in collective bargaining agreements.  …Therefore, to the extent there are differences or conflicts between the ordinance and the collective bargaining agreement, the City will continue to comply with the negotiated provisions in the parties’ collective bargaining agreement.”

Strong support from the Boston City Council
At the City Council vote, Councilor Tito Jackson rose to remind the council that the new policy did not cover unionized workers saying, “This inequity should be short lived.”

Councilor Michelle Wu reminded the council of Damali Simmonds situation and said, “It’s our time and our challenge to do the right thing and cover all of the city’s employees.”

Councilor Ayana Presley said, “We need to quickly revisit [this policy] to extend it to all employees in order to make it equitable.”

Councilor Charles Yancey also weighed in to say that he, “Hoped the city and the unions could come together to make it a reality for all city employees. ”

Local 888 General Council Jen Springer said, “City personnel officials have used our union contracts as a shield with statements like, ‘We will negotiate the family leave benefit when union contracts expire.’ However, waiting for expiration would delay implementation of the benefit by several years while women like Damali Simmonds and many other city workers need it now.”

“We are ready to pursue any and every available means to achieve a quick resolution to this problem and equal treatment for our members,” Springer added.

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Three Bargaining Units, All Standing Together

Local 888 members in Tyngsborough faced a challenge. Divided between three different units, and covered by three different collective bargaining agreements, clerical, highway and mid-managers seemed to have little in common. But Chris Dery, who heads the mid-managers unit, and his fellow chairs, Gloria Clancy, clerical, and Josh Clancy, town highway department, have been working to change that.

Chris Dery, Tyngsborough Town Middle Management, and the leaders of the town’s two other Local 888 chapters have been working together to build solidarity.

Chris Dery, Tyngsborough Town Middle Management, and the leaders of the town’s two other Local 888 chapters have been working together to build solidarity.

“We’ve been trying to identify common interests and really hang together as a group,” says Dery. “That’s not the easiest thing in the world.” After bargaining wrapped up for the three units last year, the leaders resolved to stand together if town administrators made unilateral changes to any of their contracts. They soon had an opportunity when the town attempted to impose a new vehicle use policy. “It was a really poorly thought out change, and by working together we were able to make the town revisit the issue and bargain with us over it,” says Dery.

The experience confirmed what the three leaders believed: that if they join forces, they have far more power than if each unit deals with town administrators on its own. “What happens to any of our bargaining units will eventually happen to all of them,” says Dery. “If everyone sticks together, we can help each other out regardless of the immediate benefit. Eventually it will benefit you.”

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Local 888 Election Results

The election for Local 888′s three Officers, eighteen Executive Board Members and three Trustees has concluded. President Mark DelloRusso, Secretary-Treasurer Brenda Rodrigues and Recording Secretary Anita Christon were re-elected unopposed.
President Mark DelloRusso administered the oath of office to the new executive board and trustees at an April 25 swearing in ceremony.  Congrats to all!

President Mark DelloRusso administered the oath of office to the new executive board and trustees at an April 25 swearing in ceremony.  Congrats to all!

To qualify for the ballot, all candidates had to submit nomination petitions by February 20, 2015. Because there were no contested seats for any of the positions, all qualified candidates were therefore elected and it was unnecessary to hold an election.

Worcester Housing Authority member Al Zenkus and City of Boston member David Reno were newly elected to the Executive Board.

With the election concluded, there are four vacancies on the Executive Board and one vacant Trustee position that will be filled now that the newly-elected executive board and trustees are sworn in.
Local 888 would like to thank the Election Committee chair Lori Moran, and members Jamie Smith and Enio Lopez for their work overseeing the process.
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Local 888 Members Join Fight for $15 Actions

On April 14 fast food and other low wage workers walked off the job in 230 cities, staging the largest-ever strike in their movement aimed at a $15 minimum wage and the right to form a union.

Jonathan Dudley, a member from the Montachusetts Opportunity Council came all the way from Gardner to attend the April 14 Fight for $15 rally

Jonathan Dudley, a member from the Montachusetts
Opportunity Council came all the way from Gardner to attend the April 14 Fight for $15 rally

The movement began with a single strike in New York City at the end of 2012 but has grown increasingly larger as the Fight for $15 movement has staged nine other days of coordinated strikes since then. April’s actions even went global, with strikes in Italy and New Zealand.

Dozens of members from various City of Boston departments, the Lottery, Somerville Crossing Guards, Chelsea City Hall and Chelsea Soldiers Home joined thousands of underpaid workers frustrated by low wages at the Boston rally in Forsyth Park, calling for higher wages and protesting growing wage inequality. Public Defenders who are seeking to form a union with Local 888 also joined the rally and carried their own banner.  Click here to see pictures from April 14 march and rally.

On April 14, members in many Local 888 chapters wore stickers on the job to show their support.

On April 14, members in many Local 888 chapters wore stickers on the job to show their support.

“This is important for the families we serve,” said Jonathan Dudley, a Local 888 member from the Montachusett Opportunity Council who traveled all the way from Gardner to attend the rally. “Winning $15 an hour would make such a big difference in the lives of so many working families.”

Meanwhile, members in many chapters wore stickers on the job to show their support. In Fitchburg, Local 888 members from several chapters stood out with signs on the Upper Common to publicly promote $15 and a union.  Click here to see pictures from April 14 march and rally.

Local 888’s Fitchburg members stood out on the Upper Common to promote $15 and a union. Left to right are Patrick Mettler, Health Inspector; Roberta Phelan, Fitchburg Cafeteria Chapter Chair; Vincent Prendergast, Fitchburg Waste Water; Jennifer Fortin, Cook at Fitchburg Schools; Jill Mahoney and Carol Fulgiht.

Local 888’s Fitchburg members stood out on the Upper Common to promote $15 and a union. Left to right are Patrick Mettler, Health Inspector; Roberta Phelan, Fitchburg Cafeteria Chapter Chair; Vincent Prendergast, Fitchburg Waste Water; Jennifer Fortin, Cook at Fitchburg Schools; Jill Mahoney and Carol Fulgiht.

A recent Brookings Institution study shows that Boston is the third most inequitable city in the nation, with the top five percent of households earning 15 times what the bottom twenty make.

“Massive income disparity is hurting the state’s economy,” said Mark DelloRusso. “The Fight for $15 is an important movement addressing the growing wage inequality crisis.”

Legislative efforts underway
Local 888 and the SEIU State Council are supporting three groundbreaking pieces of legislation intended to lift up low wage workers in Massachusetts.

Home care workers bill
o Provides $15 an hour to nearly 20,000 workers who provide home care to seniors and people with disabilities through “agency” home care employers.
o Requires annual cost reporting from home care agencies, including detailed financial disclosures of executive compensation and overhead costs.

Fast food and big box retail workers bill
o Requires big box retail and fast food corporations to pay their employees at least $15 an hour by 2018.
o Applies to hourly wage workers at corporate fast food chains and Big Box stores over 25,000 square feet and with 200 or more employees in Massachusetts.

Tipped wage bill
o Gradually eliminates the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.
o Mandates that after 2022, tipped employees would have the same hourly minimum wage as workers in all other industries in Massachusetts.

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Tyngsborough Highway Workers Recognized for Snow Removal

On April 27 the Tyngsborough Board of Selectman honored Local 888’s Tyngsborough Town Highway Department in recognition of its collective snow removal efforts during this historic winter season. Chairman Robert Jackson and the

The Tyngsborough Board of Selectman honored Local 888’s Highway Department members in recognition of their snow removal efforts during the 2014-2015 winter season.

The Tyngsborough Board of Selectman honored Local 888’s Highway Department members in recognition of their snow removal efforts during the 2014-2015 winter season.

Tyngsborough Board of Selectman commented on the Highway Department’s efforts and presented them with a plaque of recognition.

Local 888 Secretary-Treasurer Brenda Rodrigues was on hand to witness the presentation. Chairman Jackson elaborated on the efforts demonstrated by the Highway Department for reporting to duty at all hours of the night. Jackson further commented on the long shifts required and the Highway Department’s ability to perform their duties professionally even if they are fatigued.

Member Jim Hustins said that Highway Department workers were very pleased to be recognized for their efforts. “These workers are conscientious and understand that they must be good representatives of the town while working alongside the plows that remove snow by contract. Our members work hard and lead by example for these contractors because generally damaged property will soon become their responsibility of repair when the weather breaks,” said Hustins.

Local 888 congratulates the members of the Tyngsborough Highway Department for this recognition and all highway department members across the state who worked so hard this winter.

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Local 888 COPA Committee Holds Meetings Across State

SEIU Local 888’s Committee on Political Action has been meeting with members across the state to talk about what matters most to them and how political action by members can increase dignity and respect on the job.

Marching for the Rights of Immigrants:  Elmer Arriaza, a steward at the Chelsea Soldiers Home and Enio Lopez, Chelsea Soldiers Home marching in the May 1 parade. Not shown is Rosa Matias from Chelsea City Hall.

The April 23 COPA meeting in Worcester was attended by Khystian King, a Local 509 member and Worcester City Council candidate who spoke about his vision to improve the city’s educational system, the importance of safe neighborhoods, and continuing to support working families. The committee voted to endorse him and is proud to support such a strong, pro-union candidate.

The committee also discussed the positive progress of the campaign to increase unrestricted Local Aid by five percent. SEIU Local 888 has distributed over 500 postcards for members to send to their elected officials urging them to support funding for cities and towns. As a union, we have the power to stand together and effect positive change in the legislature!

The COPA meetings will continue to rotate across the state in order to involve more members. Our next meeting will be on May 21 at 6PM in Local 888’s Springfield office, 1275 Elm Street, West Springfield, MA 01089. The meeting is open to all Local 888 members. See you there!

Do you want post cards urging the legislature to increase local aid? Contact Local 888 Political Director Dan Hoffer at dhoffer@seiu888.org or call 617 642-3588.

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Coming Attractions

Merrimack Valley CLC Annual Legislative Breakfast
When: Friday, May 15, 8AM
calendarWhere:United Teen Equality Center, 34 Hurd Street in Lowell
Join the Merrimack Valley Central Labor Council on May 15th for our Annual Legislative Breakfast. Doors open at 8AM and we will have several guest speakers and elected officials in attendance. The breakfast is being held at the United Teen Equality Center located at 34 Hurd Street in Lowell. For more info: contact Tom Raiche at 978-441-1939.

National Lawyers Guild 2015 Annual Dinner
When: Friday, May 15, 6PM-9PM
Where: Dante Alighieri Cultural Center in Kendall Sq., Cambridge
Local 888’s Karen “Rudy” Renaud will receive the Lawyers Guild annual Legal Worker award. For details, visit http://www.nlgmass.org/

Grassroots Campaign Organizing
When May 16-17, 9AM-5:30PM both days
Where 1199SEIU, 150 Mount Vernon Street, Dorchester, MA
Training for activists, candidates, canvassers, etc.
The Local 888 Political Department will pay for the first 5 members who want to attend. For more information, contact Suzanne Schlossberg at suzanne@massalliance.org or visit www.massalliance.org.

COPA Committee Meeting
When: May 21, 6PM
Where: Local 888’s Springfield office, 1275 Elm Street, West Springfield, MA.

Making Our Victories Count: Organizing Beyond Legislation
Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) 29th Annual Summer Institute
When: June 29, 20 and 21
Where: UMass Amherst.
Join a diverse group of women for an inspirational education program that provides them with the confidence and vision to become effective leaders in their unions, workplaces and community organizations.
For more information visit http://wildlabor.org/
Scholarships are available

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‘I’m Fighting for $15… How About You?’

Jason George will be there—will you? On April 14, fast food workers, retail workers, PCAs, adjuncts and part time faculty, and thousands of union members are going to stand up for good jobs that pay enough for a secure future. The Boston event will kick off rallies across the country and around the world.

Local 888 member Jason George say that he’s planning on attending the April 14th Fight for $15 rally in Boston because “you can’t live on the minimum wage.” Will you be there?

Local 888 member Jason George say that he’s planning on attending the April 14th Fight for $15 rally in Boston because “you can’t live on the minimum wage.” Will you be there?

George learned about the event at a recent Local 888 steward’s training and says that he’s been spreading the word ever since.

“So many people barely make $15 an hour. That’s why this march is so important. You can’t live on the minimum wage. Even working for the City of Boston, I have to work two jobs to survive,” says George, who was recently promoted from a counselor to an assistant coordinator at the Boston Public Health Commission’s Woods-Mullen Shelter in the South End.

George says that he has been dropping off fliers at fast food restaurants all over Dorchester and Mattapan. “I’ve also given them to many of my friends in low wage jobs,” says George.

The march and rally will begin at 4:00 PM at Forsyth Park (at the intersection of Huntington Ave. and Forsyth Way) near Ruggles and Northeastern MBTA Stops.

It will end at approximately 6:00 PM near the Boston Common.

“We’re encouraging Local 888 members to attend and to bring as many of their co-workers as possible,” says Local 888 Secretary-Treasurer Brenda Rodrigues.

She says that by joining forces with low-wage workers who are fighting for $15 an hour and a union, union members will ultimately strengthen their own hand at the bargaining table. “Wherever the Fight for $15 succeeds, it puts more money back into our communities — which in turn creates more good jobs.” Members are also encouraged to bring their families and friends, especially if they make less than $15.

Can’t make it into Boston for the big event? Wear a sticker on-the-job that day to show your solidarity with the event and raise awareness about the importance of the Fight for $15 for all of our members. To order stickers, call your union representative.

Need a ride to the rally? For information on bus transportation to the rally, visit Local 888’s website at www.seiu888.org or call (617) 241-3300.

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Officer and Executive Board Swearing In Ceremony

Election results

All Members are invited to attend the Local 888 Officer and Executive Board Swearing In Ceremony

When: Saturday, April 25, 10AM-noon
Where: Local 888 union hall,
52 Roland Street,
Charlestown, MA, 02129
Please RSVP for the event by clicking here or call (617) 241-3300.

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Spring 2015 Scholarship Winners

Emily Drury with her father Dana Drury, a staff engineer at UMass Lowell.

Emily Drury with her
father Dana Drury,
a staff engineer at UMass
Lowell.

Congratulations to three Local 888 members whose children have been awarded $500 union scholarships. This year’s winners are: Emily Drury, whose father Dana Drury works at UMass Lowell; Angelica Rocco, whose mother Laurie Rocco is a member of Unit 2, Department of Agricultural Resources; Patrick Scannell, whose mother Maryanne Carty works at Westwood Town Hall.

Patrick Scannell with his mother Maryanne Carty, who works at Westwood Town Hall.

SEIU Local 888 offers college scholarships for members and their immediate families to attend any post-secondary school of their choosing. For information about the next opportunity to apply, visit http://www.seiu888.org/888members/benefits/
scholarships/

Angelica Rocco with mother Lauri Rocco, who is a member of Unit 2 DAR.

Angelica Rocco with
mother Lauri Rocco,
who is a member of
Unit 2 DAR.

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Report Finds Tax Fairness an Answer to Budget Woes

A new report from Keystone Research Center and Good Jobs First finds that taxing top incomes at the same rate as the middle class could fund critical state priorities, including education, infrastructure and public pensions. The report finds that states could generate large amounts of additional revenue to meet public needs by fixing inequities in state tax codes.

20150217_UStaxfairnessThe study shows that surging inequality has skewed huge amounts of income to the one percent, who pay far lower tax rates than the middle class, squeezing state budgets unnecessarily. Making tax codes fairer is shaping up to be a political priority for organizations that advocate for working people, including here in Massachusetts, where some groups are considering proposing a constitutional amendment.

To read the full report visit http://keystoneresearch.org/taxfairness.

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Teaming Up in the Valley

SEIU Local 888 leaders and staff recently met with the Merrimack Valley Project to discuss ways of working together. MVP conducts campaigns aimed at improving the lives of working people throughout the Merrimack Valley, including fighting plant closings and addressing the explosive growth of the temporary labor industry, which employs more than 15,000 Valley residents. MVP also creates democratic economic institutions like the tenant-owned Amesbury Gardens in Lawrence. Local 888 members living or working in the Merrimack Valley who would like to be part of this effort should contact Lisa Field at lfield <at> seiu888.org.

Local 888 Field Director Lisa Field at a meeting with Merrimack Valley staff in the union's Lowell office.

Local 888 Field Director Lisa Field and Executive Board member Susan Winning at a meeting with Merrimack Valley staff in the union’s Lowell office.

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