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.
“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:
For a convention slide show and the updated resolutions, see http://www.seiu888.org/convention/.
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.
“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/.
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.
Brenda Rodrigues, President
SEIU Local 888