Union Updates

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Local 888’s big role in Berkshire race

Deborah Moran

Deborah Moran

Maria Ziemba

Maria Ziemba

Local 888 will be well-represented in the race that is heating up for the Northern Berkshire District Register of Deeds. This fall’s general election could feature two candidates with Local 888 ties facing off against each other.

Longtime union member Deborah Moran of Adams is running for register as an independent. Moran has worked at the Registry of Deeds since 1992 – starting out as a junior clerk and ultimately getting promoted to head administrative clerk.

Two years ago, current Register of Deeds Frances Brooks named Moran first assistant register. Brooks is now retiring.

Longtime Local 888 member Maria Ziemba, also of Adams, is running for register as a Democrat, so far unopposed. Similarly to her potential opponent, Ziemba has worked her way up from being hired as a junior clerk more than 20 years ago.

“This is my time” to run for the register post, Ziemba said.

Both candidates said that, if elected, they would continue computerization projects the office has already begun. After 1985, the registry put its data onto computers. But the office, located in Adams, has about 220,000 index cards with the records of property sales, one set for sellers and the other for buyers. Completing this project would, for the first time, make these sales searchable by computer.

The office, which only has six employees, has so far processed about 10,000 file cards.

The modernization project would bring convenience, but also offer up a bit of history: Some of the records date back to the 1700s.

One goal, Moran said, would be to take some older, deteriorated land surveys to a company that can “repair them” using more high-tech equipment. “There’s a lot of history in the office that I’d like to see preserved.”

Ziemba said that having a few more workers would help speed up the process of scanning and indexing the paper file cards.




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Emerson staff net first pact

GETTING AN EARFUL: Emerson President Lee Pelton, left, and staff member Anna Feder, with sign, listen as staffer Pierre Huberson talks to a luncheon rally for equal pay and a fair wage.

GETTING AN EARFUL: Emerson President Lee Pelton, left, and staff member Anna Feder, with sign, listen as staffer Pierre Huberson talks to a luncheon rally for equal pay and a fair wage.

Members of the Emerson Staff Union voted unanimously to ratify their first collective bargaining agreement with the college—a four-year pact that guarantees across-the-board raises of 14.5 percent over the life of the contract, new commuter benefits, strong “just cause” job protections, a sick bank and a broad parental leave policy.

“I’m proud of the agreement we reached,” said Jacqueline Holland, assistant director of Academic Support, with 18 years of service. “We worked hard to end the favoritism and inequities created by a merit pay system. Instead, we established across-the-board raises that are fair and commensurate with the work we do.”

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. The Emerson Staff Union was formed with support from SEIU Local 888 in 2015. Workers won an NLRB-supervised union representation election in April 2016.

The contract creates stability, predictability and a new standard for employee relations at Emerson College.

During the organizing campaign, staff found that requests for parental leave were being treated on a case-by-case manner that often didn’t cover adoptive parents. “Now we have a fair parental leave policy that covers all parents for 12 weeks, no matter their situation,” said Richelle Devereaux-Murray, Costume Shop supervisor, with 14 years of service. “This allows all staff to focus on big changes in their family life without stressing over how HR will respond to their request for leave.”

Even before the contract was ratified, the staff union won important improvements to their working conditions. When the union exposed that women were paid less to do the same jobs as men in the same department, administrators raised the women’s salaries. At the bargaining table, the union insisted management fulfill its promise to raise pay to the 40th percentile. And it did, for all staff at Emerson, union or not. The administration also moved everyone up from the lowest pay grade and then eliminated it.

“Our members showed their determination to win long-overdue job improvements by protesting at college events, circulating petitions, and staying united on the job,” said Estelle Ticktin, administrative assistant to the chair of Communication Sciences and Disorders, with five years of service. “We enlisted support from our students, other Emerson campus unions, other higher-ed unions, and members of SEIU. That support and solidarity was essential to winning a good contract.”

“Our top college administrators have often said they want to make Emerson the best college to work at,” said Dennis Levine, System Security administrator, with four and a half years of service. “We think this contract is the first tangible step in that direction.”

In addition to staff at Emerson, Local 888 unites higher education employees at Boston University, Brandeis University and UMass Lowell.



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UMass Lowell members OK contract

Nicholas Piscitello

Nicholas Piscitello

Local 888 members at the University of Massachusetts Lowell approved a one-year contract in May – capping a successful campaign that included petitioning the governor and Legislature for fair cost-of-living increases.

Nicholas Piscitello, chapter chair, said he was happy with the agreement, which includes cost-of-living increases of up to 2 percent retroactive to July 17 of last year. The full increase is conditional on the state meeting its revenue targets, meaning tax collections and the like.

“The biggest challenge that is preventing the university and the union from reaching a three-year pact is that the governor is not committing to fund the salary increases over the next three years,” said Piscitello. “The one-year pact allows the university to continue to work with state government officials to ensure the increases for the next two years are funded completely.”

The university will not agree to the future raises at this point, since it may lack needed funding.

The contract also allows “exempt” employees to get compensation time if they are required to report to campus during a closure due to weather. Also, “nonexempt” employees will be paid overtime after working 40 hours in a week after a request is reviewed.

About 580 members are united in the Local 888 Professional Administrative Chapter.

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SEIU locals put focus on U.S. rep. race

Michael Capuano

Michael Capuano

Ayanna Pressley

Ayanna Pressley

SEIU members living in the 7th Congressional District have a big choice to make in September’s Democratic primary. Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano. The seat covers much of Boston, Cambridge and Milton and all of Chelsea, Everett, Randolph and Somerville.

The two spoke and answered audience questions at a candidates forum held at SEIU 1199’s Quincy headquarters.

Before the event, Darrin Howell, a candidate for state representative in the Sixth Suffolk District, said he didn’t see that the two candidates were very different on their stances on the big issues. So Howell said, “I want to learn what approaches to moving the needle forward they present. I want to get residents involved; it’s all about taking their voices to the decision-makers.”

Howell has picked up the endorsement of SEIU Locals 888 and 1199, where he previously worked as a political organizer.

During the candidates forum, SEIU Local 888 Secretary-Treasurer Tom McKeever peppered the two candidates with questions on big statewide campaigns – such as the proposed millionaire’s tax and the Fight For $15 minimum wage campaign.

SEIU 1199 member Smith Lamothe played the role of emcee, calling on audience members to ask questions. Lamothe, who works at Boston Medical Center, said that, “We, the members, are in the driver’s seat. We are the driving force behind this endorsement process.”

Capuano pointed to his numerous union endorsements and “proven track record” in Congress as reasons the state’s SEIU union locals should endorse him. “I’m the one who knows how to stand up to Donald Trump.”

He played up his immigrant family roots, saying it gives him a strong emotional tie to the so-called “Dreamers,” young adults who were brought to the U.S. as children – and who President Obama moved to protect from deportation.

McKeever asked the congressman about his concept of bipartisanship.

“My definition of bipartisanship is beating Republicans,” said Capuano. “Politics is a team sport. Nobody can do it alone.”

“Voting the right way is not enough,” Pressley said, adding that “these times require activist leadership.” Pressley said she personally relates to the issues of addiction and mass incarceration that too many in the congressional district suffer from. Her father landed in prison due to his drug addiction.

Reforms are needed, she said. “The main driver of recidivism is unemployment.”

Beyond that, Pressley said, “I believe you should be the co-pilot in leading your community.” She added that the Trump tax cuts would be at the top of her list of targets if she is elected to Congress.

Should Local 888 endorse a candidate in the 7th Congressional District? Let your voice be heard by going to the link below: https://goo.gl/forms/l2lI4ahmiDkGh00h2


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Throwing hat in ring

Alexcy Vega

Alexcy Vega

“I’m passionate about public service,” said longtime SEIU Local 888 member Alexcy Vega. Now, Lawrence’s chief assessor wants to use his skills to take charge of the Northern Essex Register of Deeds office – and to clean it up.

“We need to get the career politicians out of this office,” said Vega. “It is time to see how an assessment official, a true public servant, can improve on what we have now.”

Vega has served Lawrence as an assessor for 18 years, rising through the ranks. He was the city’s first Hispanic to work as an assessor and would be the first to hold the position of register at the office, which is in Lawrence.

He said that he’d eyed the office of register for years, seeing it as a natural extension of his work as an assessor. ”I know the ins-and-outs of that department. This is a position where I can hit the ground running.”

”I can bring a lot more to the job than the incumbent,” said Vega. He said he wants the office, which has 14 employees, to become a one-stop resource infomation center for homeowners and businesses.

The incumbent, Paul Iannuccillo, is the kind of office holder who makes politicians, if not public servants, look bad. Lawrence’s Eagle-Tribune newspaper conducted an award-winning, six-month investigation of his work habits. The conclusion: He spent less than four hours a day in the Lawrence register’s office while earning a $109,601 salary funded by taxpayers.

For more information on Alexcy Vega, see http://www.vote4vega.com/


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Big vote at Chelsea Home

TALKING SHOP: Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues speaks with members during her recent visit to the Chelsea Soldiers Home.

TALKING SHOP: Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues speaks with members during her recent visit to the Chelsea Soldiers Home.

Two candidates going toe-to-toe in the Local 888 race to become unit chair at the Chelsea Soldiers Home is an outstanding example of union democracy in action. Speandilove Nelson, a certified nursing assistant originally from Ghana, has worked at the facility since 2004. Leonard DiBartolomeo has worked at the Chelsea Home for 2 ½ years and is the campus police chief. The vote will be June 12 and 14.

Both have stepped up to seek leadership at the Chelsea Home in the wake of the recent Local 888 election that ushered in the Leadership for a Changing Times slate. After the election, the Chelsea Home’s previous chapter chair and vice chair resigned.

Newly elected Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues and her slate want members to get involved, build stronger relationships and take more leadership in their workplaces. The Chelsea Home has 223 union members.

Nelson said she wants to bring “Changing Times” to the Chelsea Home. “If we come together as union members, we can affect lasting change.”

DiBartolomeo echoes her call for change. “If we have the right number of stewards and the right stewards we can make a difference.”

Both said that grievances – including their own – have been mishandled, or simply not taken care of, under previous unit leaders.

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Lawyers fight for rights

FOR THE DEFENSE: Public defenders want the same union rights as all other state workers.

FOR THE DEFENSE: Public defenders want the same union rights as all other state workers.

Massachusetts public defenders met after their state agency’s May conference in Worcester – to talk up their ongoing drive to win collective bargaining rights, which all other state workers already have by law.

Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues urged the public defenders to keep up the fight. “Local 888 has supported you from the beginning and will continue to support you.”

The lawyers are calling on the state Legislature to amend the law. MassDefenders and their supporters have rallied across the state in recent months for their rights – holding signs saying “Give us a voice!” and “Support H. 1426.” This refers to the Massachusetts House bill, which has gained support among a huge majority of legislators but gotten stuck in committee.

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Plugged into politics

  • Merrrimack Valley State Legislative Candidate Forum June 16, Sat., 1:30 p.m., sponsored by the SEIU State Council along with Locals 888, 509, 32BJ, 1199 and SEIU Community Action; North Essex Community College, Lawrence.
  • COPA meeting, June 21, Thurs., 6 p.m., , 11 Lawrence St., Lawrence. See http://www.seiu888.org/ for updates.
McKEEVER: Newly elected secretary-treasurer.

McKEEVER: Newly elected secretary-treasurer.

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Coming Attractions

The Local 888 Listening Tour featuring President Brenda Rodrigues and Secretary-Treasurer Tom McKeever comes to Lowell on Tues., June 19, 5:30-7:00 p.m., at the United Teachers of Lowell, 169 Merrimack St. No. 4. For more info., call 617-241-3300

Brenda Rodrigues

Brenda Rodrigues

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Merrimack Valley State Legislative Candidate Forum

State Council Logo

SEIU State Council, in partnership with Locals 509, 32BJ,
1199 UHE, 888, and 3FO, and SEIU Community Action
will be holding a Candidates Forum.

This is your chance to meet the candidates running for state office.

When: Saturday, June 16, 2018

Where: TBD
Lawrence, MA

When: 1:00—3:30 PM

Meet and Assess Candidates running for State Senate and State Representative for Lawrence, Lowell, and Haverhill!

We encourage our members to attend — Let your voices be heard!

This State Legislative Election Forum is open to members only.


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SEIU Candidate Forum with Michael Capuano and Ayanna Pressley

All Local 888 members who live in the 7th Congressional District are urged to attend…

SEIU Candidate Forum  with Michael Capuano and Ayanna Pressley

mike-capuano-dsc_7264_-e1522061584228-221x300When: Wednesday, May 30 6:00pm – 8:30pm
Where: 1199 Head Quarters, 108 Myrtle Street, North Quincy

Make your voice heard on SEIU’s endorsement

 Pressley-headshot-300x300For more info call or email SEIU Local 888  at 617 241-3300 or myunion@seiu888.org

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New officers, board sworn in

The new officers and board members of SEIU Local 888 pledged to “defend the principles of trade unionism” during an inauguration held as the union prepares for the anti-union ruling likely to come from the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I believe in empowering members and helping raise their voices on the issues that concern them,” said newly elected President Brenda Rodrigues in her inauguration speech. Rodrigues, who ran on the Leadership for Changing Times slate, said, “I want to make it clear that without all of you stepping up as a team and helping us achieve success, I would be nothing more than a person with a dream.

“To fulfill my dream of serving our members we must work hard together ‑ as a powerful team – in these difficult times and focus on our members’ needs and the changing environment for unions,” added Rodrigues, who worked for the Brockton Public Library for 42 years.

After the ceremony, new Executive Board member Kevin Nascimento, said that “Brenda is kind of my mentor, so when she asked me to be on her slate, I gladly accepted this new adventure.” Nascimento, a Brockton library worker with a 2-month-old son, is particularly interested in family and medical leave issues.

Damali Simmonds, a Boston Water & Sewer Commission worker, said, “I saw a great opportunity when I was recruited by Brenda, because she believes in change.” Simmonds has spoken out in favor of family and parental leave for the average Boston worker, not just for management.

Kwesi Ablordeppey, who has been on the Executive Board for six years, said he supported.

Rodrigues because, “I like the way she listens. She takes advice when people tell her that something needs to be done.” Ablordeppey who works at the Holyoke Soldiers Home, said, “My biggest goal is to make sure members are treated with respect.”

Rodrigues added that, in the recent election, “the voices of the membership said it all. They wanted change.”

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