Union Updates

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Learn how corporations have rigged the tax system

imagesWatch these short videos to learn more about how big corporations have rigged the system and aren’t paying their fair share:

YouTube video: Amazon Paid Zero in Federal Income Taxes

Yahoo Finance, May 30, 2019: Corporations paid $91 billion less in taxes in 2019 under Trump Tax law.

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Local 888 celebrates labor legend

DAVID SICKLER

DAVID SICKLER

Local 888 and Jobs with Justice honored the life of celebrated labor organizer and leader David Sickler at an event marking the release of a new book on his remarkable life and successful, creative union campaigns.

Peter Olney, retired organizing director for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, introduced Sickler at the event, held at the downtown offices of SEIU Local 32BJ. Among other things, Olney praised Sickler for his “courage and vision” as AFL-CIO regional director in California in the 1990s.

The book is “From Coors to California: David Sickler and the New Working Class.” Olney said that “The ‘New’ in New Working Class means new to this country, or in the case of women and people of color, ‘new’ to the ranks of organized labor because of years of exclusion.”

The book follows Sickler from his days as a 19-year-old assembly line worker for Colorado’s Coors Brewery, where he cut his teeth as a union activist and shop steward. In the late 1970s, the right-wing owners of Coors provoked a battle with the brewery union.

It turned into a years-long national battle as the AFL-CIO launched a full-on boycott with Sickler as the organizer. As the book recounts, the boycott “succeeded in putting Coors on trial in the court of public opinion.” The AFL-CIO used the boycott “to protest Coors’ violations of labor and other human rights and the donations by the Coors family and the company to right-wing institutions and politicians threatening those rights.”

After successfully leading the Coors boycott, Sickler went on to work for the AFL-CIO in California. There, he helped revitalize the labor movement, which had been gutted by factory closings and globalization.

The key to this was organizing new immigrants, in particular from Mexico, many in the new workplaces that had sprung up in the Los Angeles area.

“From Coors to California” is published by the UCLA Center for Research and Education. For more info, see https://books.labor.ucla.edu/p/85/sickler.

Photos from the Boston events with David Sickler posted here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/6e2gZg5K6ChgL2dF8

 

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888 dental, vision eyed

TERESA RIORDAN

TERESA RIORDAN

Westwood town employees are signing onto the dental and vision plans offered through Local 888. They will join many other Local 888 members who are already on these plans.

“I’m so excited about getting these new benefits,” said Teresa Riordan, a Local 888 Executive Board member. Her chapter covers about two dozen of the town’s clerical employees. The benefits are so much better than what the town now offers,” said Riordan. The Local 888 plan costs less and has more comprehensive dental coverage — and includes Davis Vision coverage, too.

“It really shows, once again, that being in a union brings many benefits,” she said. In fact, the Delta Dental plan offered through Local 888 covers up to $2,500 per person annually and includes orthodontic work such as braces. The town plan only covers $1,500 annually and does not cover orthodontics

Under Local 888’s Davis Vision plan, there are no co-payments for yearly eye exams, regular lenses and contact lenses. The Davis Vision plan also covers standard “progressive” lenses and some coatings.

Westwood union members were sold on the plan after a presentation from Linda DeLuca, director of Local 888’s health funds. While Westwood does not contribute to workers’ dental and vision plans, in some Local 888 chapters the employer covers the whole cost.

For more about Delta Dental, go to https://www.deltadentalma.com/.

For more info on Local 888 funds, contact Linda DeLuca, director of SEIU Local 888 Affiliated Funds at (617) 241-3367 or email ldeluca.funds@seiu888.org.

 

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Taking the lead in ‘changing times’

Eight Hours graphic
In their one year of service, Local 888’s new elected representatives have increased training for chapter leaders, focused on the major job categories of members, turned to members for increased political activity and faced up to anti-union challenges at the federal level. These achievements are highlighted in a new report posted on the website (www.seiu888.org).

“Our members have stayed united, and almost half the chapters with expiring contracts have new agreements,” said Brenda Rodrigues. Local 888’s president led the Leadership for Changing Times slate sworn in May 2018.

Soon after, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its anti-union

Janus decision, which reversed decades-old precedents regarding dues.

Nonetheless, under the union’s new leadership, more than 2,300 members have recommitted to their union by signing new membership cards. Fewer than 20 individuals have dropped out of the local.

Local 888’s Executive Board has forged a strategic plan aimed at strengthening the union to help members win better contracts. This includes recruiting hundreds of rank-and-file leaders, emphasizing a comprehensive orien-tation for new hires and defining six key industry sectors.

Along those lines, Local 888 is sponsoring a Higher Ed Labor Summit, set for Sat., June 15, 9 a.m., at SEIU Local 32BJ, 26 West St. Boston. Do you know someone who works in higher education as a clerical technical or professional worker? Call 617-241-3317 for more info or email iadelman@seiu888.org.

For a copy of the Local 888 report on “First Year Achievements,” email rwilson@seiu888.org.

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Billerica sews up new contract with better longevity benefit

PUMPED UP: Local 888’s professional and administrative unit has some new leaders eager to sit down with Billerica’s management.

PUMPED UP: Local 888’s professional and administrative unit has some new leaders eager to sit down with Billerica’s management. (File photo.)

Local 888 members in Billerica have inked a one-year contract with the town that includes a 2.8 percent wage increase and improved longevity pay. The agreement for the administrative and professional unit begins in July.

The chapter’s 30 members voted unanimously for the contract, which was then approved by Billerica Town Meeting.

The longevity benefit will help members who stay employed by the town for five years or more, said David Lenzie, the chapter leader.

Lenzie praised the chapter’s negotiating team and board along with the Local 888 staff for helping arrive at a good contract. In the run-up to negotiations, new leaders stepped up to fill vacancies. “It’s great to see a couple younger people get involved – members who can continue our union tradition on into the future,” said Lenzie, a building inpector.

Since taking on Lenzie’s former chapter post of secretary, Joe D’Angelo has already taken part in stewards’ training sponsored by Local 888. Lenzie said that the one-year agreement will give management and Local 888 members time to digest a town study that compares Billerica salaries and benefits with those in similar positions in other towns.

One sad note: Longtime chapter leader Ken Buffum died recently. His position of vice president will be filled during chapter elections in November. Buffum had been Billerica’s director of veterans services for 41 years.

Email myunion@SEIU888.org for guidelines on chapter leadership.

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Leaders beef up their skills

LEANING IN: Local 888 members attend the Labor Notes Troublemakers School on June 1.

LEANING IN: Local 888 members attend the Labor Notes Troublemakers School on June 1.

Local 888 leaders are getting trained on how to build power in the workplace, increase membership participation and win better contracts.

About 25 Local 888 leaders, members and staff attended the Labor Notes Troublemakers School in Worcester on June 1. Members in attendance included leaders from the Chelsea Soldiers Home, Montachusetts Opportunity Council, the town of Westwood, Boston Elderly Commission, Boston Centers for Youth & Families, UMass Lowell and Local 888’s new chapter for the state’s public defenders agency.

In addition, Local 888 is conducting regional trainings, with leaders from 40 chapters attending so far.

“It’s all part of helping our union to get stronger,” said Elmer Arriaza, vice chapter chair at Chelsea Soldiers Home, who attended a Braintree session and the Troublemakers School. “It’s good, too, because you get to meet Local 888 members from different locations.”

Arriaza, a cook at the Soldiers Home, wants to help his fellow Local 888 members because “I have a passion for it.” Going to training sessions is part of learning new ways to do just that.

For Arriaza, it’s also part of building up the labor movement — which includes supporting others’ struggles. He recently walked the Stop & Shop picket line in Everett when the grocery workers were on strike. And he joined Uber and Lyft drivers last month when they protested low pay.

Regional leadership trainings have been held in Marlboro and Scituate and at the Local 888 headquarters in Braintree.

For photos of recent sessions, see the SEIU Local 888 Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SEIULocal888/.

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Members win with MGM trip

SEMDayHero
Local 888’s Committee on Political Action took a “gamble” and organized its first social event for members. The day trip went to the MGM Springfield, the new casino that has slot machines, gaming tables and a poker room.

“We had a really great day exploring the MGM,” said Paul Moriarty, shop steward at the Northern Berkshire Registry of Deeds in Adams, who attended with his wife, Ann.

Another registry employee and Local 888 member, Maryann Fortier, brought a friend along as well.

Moriarty and his wife, Ann, are from Holyoke, and had talked about going to the nearby casino on some trip to the area. The union event gave them the perfect incentive.

“And it was great that the union local had an event out in western Massachusetts,” said Moriarty.

He coordinated his visit with Tom McKeever, Local 888’s political director and the organizer of the MGM social event. So everyone was able to meet up when the bus pulled in and an MGM employee gave them a talk on the casino.

The cost for those coming out from the Boston area was $40 — which included the bus ride, a breakfast sandwich, $20 in casino scrip, and a $10 food credit.

“The trip provided an excellent addition to the other activities organized by COPA,” said McKeever. COPA meetings are being held monthly in various parts of the state.

For more information, contact McKeever at tmckeever@seiu888.org.

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‘Chair City’ book’s unveiling

19June ChairCityCrop
Local 888 member Jonathan Dudley has helped produce a new book of interviews of two former furniture workers who worked for decades in the industry that earned Gardner the nickname of “Chair City.” The Chair City Community Workshop, 306 Central St., downtown Gardner will host a book discussion June 30, Sunday, 2 p.m.

Dudley, a Head Start teacher at the Montachusett Opportunity Council, has also transcribed furniture workers’ interviews for the Chair City Community Workshop.

“Richard and Millie Beauregard’s oral history is an account by two working people about their experience working in the furniture industry and trying to understand why a 150-year-old company shut its doors,” said Dudley. When their company, Nichols & Stone, closed its Gardner plant in 2008 it blamed the Great Recession “along with a flood of low price/low quality imports.” It was the last major furniture manufacturer in Gardner.

Mount Wachusett Community College instructor Tracie Pouliot runs the community workshop, where volunteers hand print and bind books celebrating the stories of the working people in Gardner. The latest book is the ninth in a series on the furniture industry, which in its heyday earned the city the name “Furniture Capital of New England.” For more info, call 865-696-6733, or see https://tinyurl.com/ChairCity.

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Moment of Silence

888 In Memory
The officers of Local 888 extend our deepest sympathies to the family of:
Trina “Peanut” Louise Wilkerson, 45, of Chelsea, who died unexpectedly. The Local 888 member was a youth worker at the Hyde Park Community Center, part of the Boston Centers for Youth & Families

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Fight saves cafeteria jobs

NOT BACKING DOWN: From left, Leslie Colt, Angela Gagne, Jane Cutts, Karen Nardone and Linda Mavilia hold signs April 10 in Groton as part of their successful campaign against outsourcing.

NOT BACKING DOWN: From left, Leslie Colt, Angela Gagne, Jane Cutts, Karen Nardone and Linda Mavilia hold signs April 10 in Groton as part of their successful campaign against outsourcing.

The Groton-Dunstable school cafeteria workers, united in Local 888, turned back the school board’s bid to cut costs by outsourcing their jobs. This would have meant slashing their benefits and hours, if not simply replacing them.

“I feel relieved that both sides came to an agreement, and that the cafeteria workers can continue to serve the schoolchildren safe, healthy and tasty food,” said chapter leader Dorynda Auth. “Local 888 staff, other unions and community supporters did a terrific job coming out to support us.”

In addition, she said, “the community as a whole came to recognize us as trained food service providers, not just lunch ladies.”

As the board’s decision loomed, the cafeteria workers and Local 888 staff leafleted the public. This was capped by an

April 10 rally. “I’m pretty angry that, after 15 years of working for the district, my co-workers and I have to fight to keep our jobs and benefits,” said Auth at the time.

After the rally, cafeteria workers and their supporters, including parents and students, packed a meeting where the board discussed the outsourcing plan.

Soon after, the board pursued serious negotiations and both sides agreed on a new contract.

Auth, who gets health insurance through her job, said that the cafeteria staff’s turnover is low – except for those working less than 4 hours a day. They get no benefits.

The Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee still plans to have Whitsons Culinary Group run the food service operation. But the cafeteria workers get to keep their jobs, benefits and vacation time.

“With community and labor support, the cafeteria workers won a real victory,” said Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues. “Local 888 was glad to rally other unions and the community to fight along with our members — whose jobs were on the line.”

The two-year contract includes no raise for the first year and an option to re-open salary negotiations for the second year. If a union worker leaves their job, however, the vendor will have the option of replacing the person with a Whitsons employee.

The committee goal was to save a pittance at best — perhaps $70,000 in the first year, $90,000 in the third year of the contract — by eliminating health care benefits for most of the workers. A school district report on outsourcing said that, “benefits constitute a significant net cost for the program.”

Altogether the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District has 2,771 students and goes from elementary grades through high school.

On April 10, community members, cafeteria workers and Local 888 leaders made their views known.

The district’s outsourcing proposal “sends a message that people don’t matter, money does,” said Michael Shea, a parent of Groton schoolchildren and a teacher in nearby Chelmsford.

“I care about the children, and I understand their health issues,” said Karen Nardone, a 10-year Groton-Dunstable cafeteria worker. She talked about making sure a boy who had an allergy to peanuts was served the proper food. “That boy should feel safe when he comes to school; these children deserve quality service,” said Nardone.

“My daughter has severe peanut allergies,” Eric McKenzie, a Groton-Dunstable parent, told the school board. “One safe place for her is the school cafeteria.” McKenzie added that one cafeteria worker actually calls him up to make sure new products will be safe for his daughter.

“The cafeteria workers are our neighbors — they’re part of the community,” McKenzie said.

“I’m really heartbroken that I have to be here tonight,” added Groton-Dunstable parent Valerie Edwards. “We shouldn’t have to be fighting for these women’s jobs.”

Thanks to the outpouring of community and labor support, the cafeteria workers won their fight to keep their jobs.

Is privatization a threat where you work? To get resources and tips on how to fight privatization, email rwilson@seiu888.org.

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New leaders step up after Brandeis victory

CONTRACT CELEBRATION: New officers for the Local 888 Brandeis librarians are: Will Lehman, chapter co-chair; Alexis Cooper; Aimee Slater, chapter co-chair; Esther Brandon and Mary Calo.

CONTRACT CELEBRATION: New officers for the Local 888 Brandeis librarians are: Will Lehman, chapter co-chair; Alexis Cooper; Aimee Slater, chapter co-chair; Esther Brandon and Mary Calo.

Local 888 librarians at Brandeis University celebrated the completion of a successful contract campaign with the swearing in of new chapter leaders.

“Our members are definitely energized,” said Aimee Slater, chapter chair. Looking ahead, she said, “we want to make connections with other union chapters and be more involved with the rest of Local 888 so we can be active allies.”

More than previously, she said, her chapter’s members were mobilized during recent contract negotiations. And most members attended a
Dec. 3 lunchtime campus rally where the librarians were joined by more than 50 supporters. In addition, students, alumni and other unions (including the adjunct professors union, SEIU Local 509) delivered letters of support to the administration.

Negotiations had been stalled. But just days after the rally, the Local 888 librarians hammered out their new agreement.

“I think all of these things demonstrated to members that being in a union is about a whole lot more than paying dues,” said Slater. “There’s important work for all members to do.”

Some members will receive up to 15 percent raises over the life of the three-year pact with “market adjustments.” At the swearing-in ceremony, the chapter honored longtime stewards for their service: Thomas Valicenti, 10 years; James Rosenbloom, 40 years; and Alexis Scanzani, four years.

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Dancing, new U.S. rep rock SEIU fest

‘SPRING FLING’: On hand for the April 27 event were Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues and from left, city of Lawrence municipal unit members Carlos Morel, Pedro Ayala and Pablo Garcia.

‘SPRING FLING’: On hand for the April 27 event were Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues and from left, city of Lawrence municipal unit members Carlos Morel, Pedro Ayala and Pablo Garcia.

The SEIU “Spring Fling” was a hopping success as more than 150 SEIU members drawn from around the state got together to promote unity and have some fun. Good food was followed by music and dancing.

“It’s exactly what we wanted to accomplish,” said Harris Gruman, executive director of the SEIU-Massachusetts State Council. The event was sponsored by the council, SEIU Community Action and Locals 888, 1199, 509 and 32BJ. “All the locals were represented,” he added.

The April 27 event put a spotlight on SEIU caucuses – which are a way for union members with similar backgrounds and interests to get together. They include the African-American (AFRAM), Haitian, Latino, Lavender, Asian/Pacific Islander, Women’s and Climate Justice caucuses.

Local 888 leader Lorna Heron, an Eastern Region board member for AFRAM, gave a short presentation on the caucus (see related article). Overall, caucuses can serve as an entry point into union activities and help members become leaders.

Rookie U.S. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley was the featured speaker.

For more information on SEIU caucuses, visit: https://www.seiu.org/members.

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