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The National Labor Relations Board conducted an election on March 2 to determine if a majority of staff at Suffolk University wanted the right to collective bargaining with management.
Suffolk employees have worked for months to build majority support for forming a union to, “Give us a voice and a contract to create stability and predictability,” said Michelle Archer da Silva, a staff assistant in the Law School.
After the workers petitioned the NLRB for an election, management began using the infamous Chicago union-busting law firm Seyfarth Shaw (their average hourly pay rate is over $610 an hour!).
With Seyfarth’s help, management cut the originally proposed bargaining unit in half, excluding many of the union’s strongest supporters. Then management used anti-union tactics like holding intimidating “one-on-one” meetings with workers, disparaging Local 888, and suggesting that by forming a union, workers could actually end up worse off.
When workers went to vote, management challenged the eligibility of 49 workers, many of whom were members of the organizing committee! Four workers were challenged by NLRB and three by Local 888.
The vote for SEIU Local 888 was 71 to 80 for no union. However, because the 56 uncounted ballots could determine the outcome of the election, the challenges must be resolved before workers will know the final result.
“I’m confident that a majority of the uncounted ballots were cast by folks who support forming a union at Suffolk,” said Liz McGovern, an office coordinator for the Strategy and International Business program. “The challenged ballots included members of the organizing committee and many staff members openly supportive of the union.”
While Suffolk is a private university, it survives because of the enormous support it receives from tax subsidies, government financing for tuition and other public support.
If Suffolk management continues with its expensive obstruction, the results of the election could take months to sort out.
However, regardless of the result, workers at Suffolk are determined to move forward. They are designing a survey that will allow everyone an opportunity to provide input on their bargaining priorities once all the votes are counted and their union is certified.
The SEIU Local 888-backed bill to win union rights for staff at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is off to a strong start in this legislative session. Bipartisan support now includes 139 members of the legislature (113 out of 160 members in the House, and 26 out of 40 in the Senate).
With so many co-sponsors, the organizing rights bill is in a strong position to pass. However, winning will require a strong showing for the MassDefender’s lobby day. All Local 888 members, public defenders, investigators, and administrative staff are invited to the State House to have face-to-face conversations with their elected representatives in support of the bill.
The lobby day is Wednesday, April 19 from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM at the Massachusetts State House. Whether you’re available in the morning or the afternoon, we will be meeting with Representatives and Senators all day.
Our lobby day is crucial to keeping the pressure on our legislators and winning more support. Click here to RSVP.
Save the Date for the Next Lobby Day, April 19th at the State House.
Under the new public records law, each town must appoint a “Records Access Officer” to coordinate and manage the municipalities’ response to public records requests. These additional duties may impact some Local 888 members who are assigned additional responsibilities.
Read more about the new public records law here: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/pre/prenotice.htm
The new requirements went into effect the first of the year and must be fully implemented by July 2017.
As a member, have you encountered new responsibilities as a result of the law? As a leader, are you bargaining over changes to job descriptions related to it? Have you won members more money for the extra responsibilities?
Send reports from your workplace to Local 888 Assistant Director of Field Services Maureen Medeiros, firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Local 888 resolution that was adopted at the 2016 membership convention on calling on the state and municipalities to “Fix Massachusetts Schools Now!,” anticipated a City of Boston report that more than half of Boston’s schools are plagued by poor or deficient air quality, which studies have linked to low student achievement and high rates of asthma.
The report’s findings, released on March 2, are based on an examination of schools’ ventilation systems or the lack of them, and other factors that can affect air quality, including the inability to open windows.
Local 888 members at the Boston Public Schools’ Planning & Engineering Dept. take great pride in their work, but are frustrated by bureaucratic and budget constraints that impede their jobs. They will be looking at creative ways to proactively bring Boston Schools into compliance with state and federal standards.
Malden School Clericals
Malden School Clericals negotiated a new three- year contract with a salary increase of 6 percent over three years with $150 across the board increase to longevity. Twelve member’s positions were upgraded and bereavement leave was increased from 3 to 5 days.
Winchester School Custodians
Winchester School Custodians negotiated a new three-year contract with a salary increase of 7.25 percent over three years! Members also won paid lunch periods, an increase in longevity after 25 years, a $25 increase on sick time buyback, an increase in their clothing allowance and position upgrades.
SEIU Field Rep. David Nagle assisted with the above contract settlements.
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