Despite the COVID-19 crisis, Local 888 is moving ahead with the formation of a chapter for retirees, with a membership cost of $40 per year. For a form, click this link.
Through this new chapter, Local 888 began offering dental coverage this month. The annual Open Enrollment period for the BCBS Dental Plan runs through the end of the month. For a form, click this link.
For more info, email Linda Deluca at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“OSHA Has Been AWOL,” said the headline on The New York Times editorial recently. That’s exactly the problem that a recent Local 888 “Know Your Rights” seminar (via Zoom) took on — with an eye toward giving members some of the tools they need to return to the workplace as Massachusetts gradually reopens.
“Your power is in the union to get management to clean up unsafe workplace conditions,” said Nancy Lessin, an advisor for the National Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health. “And the union is your members — that’s who has the power.”
It’s often advisable to start small, when mobilizing a given workplace, she said, and then build up to working on the bigger issues.
However, in the COVID-19 era, concern over health and safety issues has been heightened. And the virus could pose an imminent hazard requiring urgent action.
For its part, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has failed to give employers clear rules to follow. Instead, it has pointed to general “guidelines” put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are no penalties if employers ignore the threat of the coronavirus.
Nonetheless, said Lessin, “OSHA complaints can be a piece of an overall strategy; you could consider filing OSHA complaints signed by many workers — like a petition.”
The federal agency does have a catchall “General Duty Clause” — meaning that employers are generally required to have a workplace “free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.” That would include workers’ rights to bathroom and handwashing breaks and to personal protective equipment. The coronavirus has pushed the issue of on-the-job masks and sanitizing to the fore.
A Massachusetts law that went into effect last year makes federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations the minimum standard for all municipal, public authority, higher education and state employees. For more info, see http://www.seiu888.org/2019/02/01/law-spotlights-health-safety/.
Lessin used to be the director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, which Local 888 belongs to. For a YouTube video of her workshop, follow this link.
As reported by The Spark, MassCOSH has given Gov. Charlie Baker’s plan for reopening the economy failing grades (http://www.seiu888.org/2020/05/27/health-coalition-flunks-bakers-reopening-plan/).
MassCOSH has released a “COVID-19 Tool Kit for Essential Workers: Health and Safety Protections and How to Make Them Happen” (Click here to view.) It includes sections particularly of interest for Local 888 members such as custodians, childcare providers and restaurant and healthcare workers.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Trump administration failed to provide “a reasoned explanation” for ending the “Dreamers” program. So, for now, the nearly 800,000 young immigrants it covers remain free from the threat of deportation.
For Local 888 activist Jonathan Dudley, the issue is personal. One of the Dreamers is Dudley’s brother-in-law, Jonathan Vargas, an intensive-care nurse who works with COVID-19 patients in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Dudley, a Head Start teacher with the Montachusetts Opportunity Council, said he was “so thankful” for the court ruling, “which will make a huge difference in the lives of people I love.”
President Obama set up DACA — or the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program — in 2012 as Congress failed to act on immigration reform. These “Dreamers” were brought up in the U.S. — which is their home.
But the Trump administration may act again to end DACA. Dudley, therefore, is urging people to sign a petition calling on Congress to OK the Dream Act — (https://tinyurl.com/888Dreamer) a congressional proposal that would cement Obama’s program into law. Dudley acknowledges that, for this to happen, there would have be new president and a changed Congress.
To find your congressional representative or U.S. senators, go to: https://ballotpedia.org/United_States_Congress
DACA allowed hard-working young adults like Vargas to get work papers and attend college, while shielding them from deportation if they had a clean criminal record.
Vargas came to this country with his family from a small town in Mexico when he as 12. He has worked in intensive care for four years — along with his wife, who is Dudley’s sister, and a brother.
DACA targets young adults who were, through no fault of their own, brought to the country as children.
Massachusetts Employers/SEIU Local 888 Health and Welfare Fund is excited to announce that we will be offering dental coverage for Retiree’s effective 7/1/2020. This is to notify you that the Annual Open Enrollment period for the BCBS Dental Plan will run from July 1, 2020 through July 31, 2020. Open Enrollment is the only opportunity to enroll in coverage or make a change to your current coverage without a qualifying event for 2020. Click here for more details
|Dental Blue Freedom – Plan B|
|$1,250 Calendar Year Max (in & out of network combined)|
Out of Network
|Preventive||100% Coverage||80% Coverage|
|Basic||80% Coverage||65% Coverage|
|Major||80% Coverage||65% Coverage|
|Ortho||Not Covered||Not Covered|
Retiree Monthly Rates
Employee + One
The following statement was adopted by a majority vote of the SEIU Local 888 Executive Board on June 19, 2020:
The members of SEIU Local 888 join working people across the country to demand change.
We condemn police brutality, and the murder of Black, indigenous, and people of color. We call for justice. For George Floyd, for Ahmaud Arbery, and for Breonna Taylor—for the innumerable black and brown people who have died at the hands of racists, and due to racist policies—we call for justice. To the loved ones whose lives have been stolen: we grieve with you.
In recent weeks, several tragic, criminal incidents have been perpetrated against people of color due to their race. These events are outward, visible examples of the systemic racism that is deeply embedded in the fabric of our society and economic system.
COVID19 has shone a spotlight on many of the inequities in our nation: black people are dying of the pandemic at more than twice the rate of white people, “essential workers” are being treated as disposable while suffering the greatest economic devastation, and black, brown, and working people are being sacrificed as “stock” in the name of “reopening the economy.”
We can’t seem to escape these horrors, and averting our eyes only makes it worse. Staying silent is compliance and solidarity with the wrong side of the fight for equity. Recent events show us that our uncollected voices of despair are not enough. We need our collected voices to scream with outrage at injustice, and we need action. As a union, that means fighting for strong anti-racist language in our contracts and taking action to oppose racism in our workplace and our union. An injury to one is an injury to all!
Unions lift up the oppressed and exploited and bring about equity through meaningful and positive change in the world around us. Unions are not meant to be a protective shield to keep crimes hidden. Our union is united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide and is dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just, economically prosperous and humane society.
We call on law enforcement agencies and their workers’ unions, to take positive action. We call on them to stop being bystanders when they see injustice. We remind them of their oaths: to serve and protect, without qualification. We ask law enforcement officers and their unions to pledge to serve with honor and impartiality; to never betray their badges, integrity, character, or the public trust; to do the right thing in the face of wrongdoing; to be accountable and responsible for their actions and to hold other officers accountable for their actions; to vow to serve their community by never allowing injustice.
For current and future generations, we demand better. We do not want to return to what we had before this week or before this pandemic—we seek to change. We commit ourselves to work against injustice and for a more equitable social and economic commonwealth. We will partner with community organizations and allies to press for accountability and systemic changes across the criminal justice system, as well as living wage work, universal and affordable healthcare, the right to join together in a union, and the dignity and respect that we all deserve, no matter the color of our skin or where we are from.
More information about SEIU’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement and increased police accountabilit, visit SEIU’s page: https://www.seiu.org/blacklivesmatter