Union Updates

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COVID-19 Resources Page


Dear SEIU Local 888 members,

We are all struggling with the unprecedented and rapidly changing challenges presented by COVID-19. There are new questions arising everyday. While we don’t always have answers, I know that we will find them together.

We have created a COVID-19 resources page with links to useful information about the coronavirus. This resource will be updated as more information becomes available from our state and federal agency partners, like the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Many of you are also concerned about the people you serve and workloads. Union leaders have begun conversations to make sure that any emergency or mitigation funding developed by the state Legislature are shared in a responsible manner.

We are all doing things differently now. In accordance with directives from Governor Baker, non-essential businesses are closed and meetings are restricted until April 7.  All Local 888 workshops, trainings, and meetings are being conducted via video and telephone conferencing.

Finally, while we know that social isolation is prescribed as the best protective factor now. We want to explore together alternative ways of delivering our essential services in the absence of the human touch and community that is so much a part of our work. Send your ideas, experience and successes with Local 888 at myunion@seiu888.org and we will share them.

Thank you for all you are doing under the most difficult of circumstances. Please let us know how we can support you, and your community.

In Solidarity,

Brenda Rodrigues

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Members to staff Boston Housing Expo

2020 Housing Expo Flyer

Local 888 members with Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development will be on hand on Sat., March 14, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Reggie Lewis Center, 1350 Tremont St., Roxbury, for the Boston Home Center’s Housing Expo.

Local 888 members will educate and counsel home buyers and homeowners on a variety of issues, including foreclosure prevention and housing lotteries.

Visit the Exhibit Hall from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and/or take a class! Meet with Lenders, real estate agents, city departments and home repair experts.

  • Learn About the New One+ Boston Mortgage & The Enhanced BHC Financial Assistance Program: 9:00-10:15 a.m. & 11:45a.m.-1:00 m.
  • Be A Credit Cruncher! Learn About Getting and Keeping a Strong Credit Score: 9:00-10:15 a.m.
  • Protect Yourself When Selling Your Home: 9:00-10:15 a.m.
  • How to Assemble Your Home-buying Team: 9:00-10:15 a.m.
  • Money for Your Home: Deleading, Making Repairs, Building an Additional Dwelling Unit: 9:00-10:15 a.m.
  • Learn How to “Greenovate” Your Home – Using Environmentally Friendly Materials: 11:45 a.m.-1:00 m.
  • Homebuying 100: Introduction to Homeownership: 11:45a.m.-1:00 m.
  • Make Your Home Accessible and Age-Friendly: 11:45a.m.-1:00 m.

For more information or to register for the Boston Home Center’s Housing Expo, call 617-635-HOME (4663) or see: https://www.boston.gov/calendar/2020-housing-expo.

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Focus on young workers

LaborGuild logo

The Labor Guild and its youth caucus are sponsoring a free, four-part “Young Worker Workshop Series” starting with a Feb. 11 event featuring Local 888’s chief of staff, Rand Wilson, and former director of field operations, Lisa Field.

“This series of talks is a great opportunity to meet other members and leaders from a variety of unions,” said Wilson. “I’m going to focus on the overall picture of what you need to know to be a good union leader. I’ll highlight how the Labor Guild’s classes are a great resource — and how they can be built upon.”

The Young Worker Series will be:

  • Feb 11: “Where To Go from Here—What You Can Do with Your Labor Education,” featuring Wilson and Field.
  • Feb 18: “Internal Organizing,” featuring Mike Vartabedian, International Association of Machinists Local 264, and Darlene Lombos, secretary treasurer, Greater Boston Labor Council
  • Feb 25: “Building Coalitions.”
  • Mar 3: “Anti-racism,” featuring state Rep. Liz Miranda and others.

Workshops will be held at Teamsters Local 25 in Charlestown from 5 to 8 p.m. Food will be provided. For more information on the series, visit http://laborguild.com/youthcaucus/.


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Get to ‘Know Your Rights’

SEIU Local 888 logo

Local 888 will offer a series of trainings for members and leaders this spring. The “Know Your Rights Training” shows members how to exercise their workplace rights and support each other on the shop floor.

“Workers’ rights an essential cornerstone of workplace fairness,” said Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues. “The first step in exercising those rights, for an individual or a chapter, is to educate ourselves about the law and court rulings.”

These include: The right to have a union steward present if you are called into an interview by management that could result in discipline. But you must ask for a steward if you want one.

This right to have a steward is part of what has become known as Weingarten Rights, after a 1975 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The first two “Know Your Rights Trainings” will take place:

  • , March 11, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 1240 Massachusetts Ave, Plumbers & Gasfitters Local 12, Dorchester.
  • , April 15, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Scituate Library, 85 Branch St., Scituate

A combined “Leadership & Know Your Rights Training” will be:

  • , March 21, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., SEIU Local 888 office, 25 Braintree Hill Park, No. 306, Braintree.

To register or learn about other trainings, go to www.seiu888.org or call 617-241-3300.

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Custodians make big leap





A new three-year contract for Winchester custodians will significantly boost pay for Local 888 members — now and into the future.

“Doing our homework, and really being prepared, made all the difference, said Dan Medwar, chapter vice president. Medwar said that he and Seth Parsons, chapter president, ran for office with an eye toward striving for change. For years, members only received cost-of-living raises.

Medwar and Parsons found out through research that Winchester’s school custodians were underpaid by as much as $10,000 a year. “We knew we were on the low end in terms of pay, but it was worse than we thought,” said Medwar.

The old contract had only three steps. The new contract has eight steps; each carries a 2 percent pay hike.

And new hires will start at a significantly higher rate than under the old contract.

In addition, the pact creates a night-shift differential of 75 cents per hour. And cost-of-living raises are 1.5 percent over the first and second year of the contract and 2 percent in the last year.

The result will be increases of about 11 to 14 percent over three years. In addition to that, the step raises created under the revamped pay scale will boost workers’ wages even further over time.

“I want to give a big shout-out” to Parsons and Local 888 organizer Josh Clancy for all they did to bargain a better contract, said Medwar. He said that the town manager was very receptive to the Local 888 leaders’ research, and that he worked with the union negotiators to hammer out a new agreement.

The Local 888 recognizes custodians as one of 10 key job titles of the union’s members.

“The custodian department is one of the most important in the town,” said Medwar. “A lot of people think cleaners just clean. But we take on a community role. We’re a member of the building. We serve as role models. We have to know the physical side of the job. But we have to have a social side, too.”

Medwar works at Winchester’s Lynch School, which has over 500 students.



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Hopkinton members’ unity stops benefit cuts

FOOD SERVICE WORKERS HONORED: Pegge Minkle, left, chapter president, and June Iadorola held a “Food Is Love” banner last fall. Both of them served on the negotiating team for the Local 888 cafeteria chapter in Hopkinton.

FOOD SERVICE WORKERS HONORED: Pegge Minkle, left, chapter president, and June Iadorola held a “Food Is Love” banner last fall. Both of them served on the negotiating team for the Local 888 cafeteria chapter in Hopkinton.

Hopkinton cafeterias’ management came to the bargaining table seeking to eliminate benefits for most Local 888 members. But members stuck together and refused to go along with the plan. Ultimately, they forced management to back down.

It was a difficult process that took almost a year. At one point, “negotiations were almost at impasse,” said Pegge Minkle, chapter president and steward.

Then, Local 888 internal organizer Darlene Archibald presented management with statistics showing that the lower-paid Hopkinton workers were underpaid compared to comparable communities. In addition, research showing that Hopkinton’s school cafeteria workers were not receiving equal pay for comparable work helped sway management’s negotiators, said Archibald.

But management still wanted to cut benefits. Ultimately, Minkle and the negotiation team called a chapter meeting to listen to what members could accept. “We had a full room,” said Minkle, a cook and kitchen manager.

“The message came in loud and clear: We do not want to lose any benefits at all,” said Minkle. “People really cared about this. After that, everybody came together.”

The negotiation team went back to the bargaining table. “I told management our members were just not going to accept the elimination of benefits,” said Minkle.

Finally, management relented. “We’re very pleased with the contract,” said Minkle. Now, union members will be getting raises, other adjustments in compensation and months of retroactive pay.

This contract success comes in the wake of Local 888’s Food Service Workers’ Recognition Week — which spotlighted demands for pay equity. Hopkinton members took part in the “Food Is Love” celebrations.

The general workers will get 3 percent raises in each of the contract’s three years. The assistant cook and bakers will get 2 percent, 2 percent and 1.5 percent. The cook/managers will get 1 percent, 1 percent and 1.5 percent.

Hopkinton, a growing community, has five school buildings with almost 4,000 students. Nonetheless, most Local 888 members are not offered health insurance from the district. The current schedule has 15 of the 25 members working a maximum of 3.95 hours per day, as “general workers.”

Local 888 did a survey that supported cafeteria workers’ demands for more pay and increased respect for the work they do (http://www.seiu888.org/cafe/).

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Bump up in pay for City Hall members

RATIFICATION CELEBRATION! Members of the Chelsea City Hall negotiation team take a break after a successful vote for a new contract. They are, from left: Paulette Velastegui, Richard Zullo, Naomi Libran and Scott Bridges.

RATIFICATION CELEBRATION! Members of the Chelsea City Hall negotiation team take a break after a successful vote for a new contract. They are, from left: Paulette Velastegui, Richard Zullo, Naomi Libran and Scott Bridges.

Local 888’s Chelsea City Hall members have taken a giant “step” toward improving their salaries.

The recently ratified three-year contract includes cost-of-living increases of 8.5 percent over three years. In addition, there is a 1 percent bump for steps 6 and 7 of the contract.

That means that workers at the top of the pay scale got an additional 2 percent increase on top of the cost-of-living raises.

“More than half of our members got that 2 percent jump right away, along with retro pay,” said Richard Zullo, chapter president and a member of the bargaining committee. “Overall, the members are very happy with it.”

In addition, there were improvements with the new contract, including an increase in the uniform allowance for the animal control officer and the car allowance for inspectors.

“We’ve been fortunate; the city has money,” he added. “It’s not like the bad old days in the 1990s, when the state put Chelsea into receivership.” The chapter, with about 38 members, includes clerks, office managers, inspectors and building and grounds workers.

While he is proud of the new contract, Zullo said that, next time around he’d like to do more for the younger workers who are lower on the pay scale.  “I’d like to fight for the kids who just came on.”


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Chelsea Soldiers’ Home one of ‘best’ in state



U.S. News & World Report rated the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home as one of the best in Massachusetts. The magazine gave Chelsea a “highest overall rating” of five out of five and designated it a “U.S. News Best Nursing Home.”

“This rating verifies the excellent care and dedication that our members and other Chelsea Home staff deliver,” said Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues. “At the same time, our members deserve the on-the-job respect and dignity their service has earned them. Our members deserve clear opportunities to get the assignments they want.”

U.S. News said that there are 388 nursing homes in Massachusetts. The Chelsea Home, where about 300 members are united in Local 888, was one of only 38 that received an overall rating of 5 out of 5. The state-run facility has 88 beds.

Among its conclusions, U.S. News rated the Chelsea Home as performing above average on such categories as preventing patient visits to emergency rooms: “Fewer hospitalizations is indicative of quality of care and patient safety.”

Also, the report said that the Chelsea Home did a superb job at limiting the use of “anti-anxiety and hypnotic drugs.” Regarding this issue, the report said: “High levels of use of these drugs can indicate inappropriate use for behavior control rather than for medical treatment.”

For more on the U.S. News ratings of nursing homes, see https://health.usnews.com/best-nursing-homes.

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Head Start workers OK pact

HEALTHY AGREEMENT: Michelle DaSilva, left, CAAS Head Start employee and union leader, and internal organizer Madeline Soto celebrate the ratification of a new contract.

HEALTHY AGREEMENT: Michelle DaSilva, left, CAAS Head Start employee and union leader, and internal organizer Madeline Soto celebrate the ratification of a new contract.

Workers at the Community Action Agency of Somerville (CAAS) overwhelmingly approved a new contract that boosts wages while maintaining a comprehensive health insurance plan at a low cost.

The biggest stumbling block in negotiations was the health plan. Management was looking to cut costs by making workers pay a higher percentage of the costs and get less-comprehensive coverage. Also, CAAS wanted workers to pay, retroactively, for the increased cost of premiums. The contract covers about 47 Local 888 members.

“Our negotiating committee stayed strong and united,” said Michelle DaSilva, a 20-year CAAS employee and union leader. “Having the expertise of Local 888 staff gave us the support we needed to keep our excellent health benefits.”

Union members contribute 11 percent of the cost of insurance premiums, while the employer covers the rest of the Local 888-administrated plan. One reason negotiations moved forward: The union was able to find a new insurance provider. Premiums will only go up 4 percent, but CAAS will continue to cover 89 percent of the overall cost.

Union members at CAAS, which runs Head Start in Cambridge and Somerville, are daycare teachers, family advocates and housing advocates.

“Having a union contract is good for our entire agency,” said CAAS Director David Gibbs. “Our wages and benefits allow us to have one of the very best staff retention rates. Given the strong commitment and high-quality services our staff provide, they are still seriously underpaid. Unfortunately, we can’t fix that without more state and federal funding for programs like Head Start.”

Members will receive a 1.7 percent cost of living increase in the first year, with a scheduled “wage re-opener” to consider increases in future years.

The Somerville-based CAAS Head Start program serves about 275 low-income children, ages 3 to 5, and their families each year. Head Start is a federally-funded national program.

If you or your co-workers are interested in learning about the SEIU Local 888 Affiliated Funds — which include health, dental and vision plans — call Linda DeLuca at 617-241-3367 or email ldeluca.funds@seiu888.org.


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Moments of Silence

888 In Memory

The officers and staff of Local 888 extend our deepest sympathies to the families of:

  • Michael Moran, 33. Scituate. He was the son of Michelle Moran, chapter president of the Scituate school secretaries.
  • Algird “Al” A. Zenkus, 67, of Worcester, a Local 888 retiree who served as a dedicated shop steward and executive board member. He was an electrician for the Worcester Housing Authority for 32 years prior to his retirement.
  • Clarence “Jeep” Jones, 86, father of Meta Jones, an employee at Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development and a member of Local 888. He served as deputy mayor under Mayor Kevin White before being appointed to the BRA board, from which he retired in 2013. A park off Boston’s Malcolm X Boulevard bears his name.
  • Charles “Chuck” Henry Turner, 79, of Roxbury, died at home following a long battle with cancer. He served as a Boston city councilor and was a longtime activist with such groups as the Boston Jobs Coalition.
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Coming Attractions

Coming up

LOCAL 888 LEADERS MEET: The SEIU Local 888 Executive Board meets Wed, Feb. 12, 10:00 a.m. at the union’s conference room at 25 Braintree Hill Office Park, in Braintree. The executive board is the governing body of Local 888.


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Mass DOT Contract Updates

SEIU Local 888 has been negotiating a successor Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) as part of the Coalition of Mass DOT Unions. The other unions in the Coalition are the Teamsters, Steelworkers, and AFSCME.

On January 17, the Coalition reached a tentative agreement. We completed our review of the final version of the proposed CBA and related documents, and now it’s ready to be circulated and signed.

The CBA now needs to be ratified. After all this time, it may seem odd to have to “hurry up,” but the Coalition member unions would all like to notify the employer of a ratified contract by Friday, Feb. 7, in order to have acceptance of the new CBA on the agenda for the MassDOT Board of Directors meeting scheduled for Feb. 10.  As soon as the Board votes to accept, the Employer can submit a request for funding of the CBA cost items to the Governor.

SEIU Local 888 MassDOT Contract Documents*

*Any changes to these documents will be updated ASAP and will only be technical corrections, the nature of the agreement will not change.

1. Contract Salary Increases: All members of Unit B will receive a six percent increase over the life of the three-year contract running from July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2020. (2% retroactive to year one; 2% retroactive to year two and another 2% retroactive to year three)

2. Top Step Increase: Effective June 30, 2020, Step 12 in the Unit B salary scale shall be increased by seven hundred dollars ($700) for all employees at that step or who later move to that step.

3. Compressed Workweek: Effective April 1, 2020, MassDOT may implement a compressed workweek consisting of either three (13.34 hours per day) or four day (10 hours per day) workweeks. This work opportunity will first be offered to volunteers in the order of seniority. If further employees are needed, temporary employees will be mandated first, and then regular full-time employees will be mandated in the order of reverse seniority, provided that the top 20% of the senior employees in Units B and C will be exempt from such requirement if they chose to exercise that option.

4. Compressed Workweek Differential: Employees who work a compressed workweek that includes both Saturday and Sunday shall be paid an additional differential for all hours worked in their compressed workweek at the rate of $1.25 per hour.

5. Sick Time Option for Overtime Worked: Employees who use sick time during a workweek in which he/she works either emergency or mandatory overtime may use up to three such days for purposes of calculating overtime pay earned provided that the sick time is used before notification of overtime work requirement.


1. Classification Study Upgrades: For certain members of the bargaining unit whose titles were recommended by the outside expert for upgrades, those upgrades will be effective retroactive to July of 2016.

2. Upgrades/RECLASSIFICATIONS Other Than Through the Classification Study: A number of job titles will be upgraded or reclassified to higher paying titles as a result of market adjustments implemented through agreement between the Union and MassDOT. These upgrades/reclassifications will become effective on the date of ratification by Unit B.

3. Transfers to Unit C: Units B and C will undergo a reorganization under which some Unit B employees will be transferred to Unit C and some Unit C employees will be transferred to Unit B.

4. Appeals: Any employee who filed a JAQ during the time table for doing so under the Classification Study and who is disappointed with the failure to be awarded and upgrade may be eligible for an appeal to an outside arbitrator. If you fit in this category, and wish to file an appeal, it is important to let union leadership know of this immediately so that steps can be taken to initiate that appeal.

5. Confirmation of Retroactive Pay Calculations: For employees who have received upgrades under paragraph 1 and 2 above, MassDOT will provide worksheets showing pay growth and retroactive pay amounts to each of you. You will then be able to review those calculations and have 30 days to dispute them. If you feel that these calculations are inaccurate, please contact your union leadership for assistance in challenging them.


The ratification vote will ask whether you “accept” or “reject” the proposed CBA. The other documents will go into effect once the CBA is ratified by a majority of Unit B members who vote.

As you will hopefully all have access to all the documents electronically, and in light of the target date of Feb. 7 or earlier for counting the ratification vote, we are going to conduct it electronically as well. This notice may be the only “hard copy” material you receive. If you would prefer a “hard copy” of the documents, please email Local 888’s Senior Internal Organizer Larry Higgins at lhiggins@seiu888.org or call him at 617-241-3329.

If you access the materials electronically, but still prefer to vote via hard copy, you can complete the enclosed ballot and mail it to SEIU Local 888, 25 Braintree Hill Office Park, Suite 306, Braintree, MA 02184.  If you choose this option, please put your completed ballot in the “ballot” envelope and seal it inside the return postage-paid envelope. You must put your name and return address on the outside of the return envelope. Your vote will be confidential inside the ballot envelope.

If you vote electronically, either scan and email the completed ballot to Larry Higgins at lhiggins@seiu888.org, or just send him an email indicating “Yes” or “No” as to whether or not to accept the CBA. SEIU Local 888 will keep your vote confidential.

Whether you vote electronically or via hard copy, please keep the Feb. 7 deadline in mind. The earlier you vote, the better.

The links to which we direct you have explanatory material regarding the posted documents, as well as full copies of the documents themselves.

If you have any questions about the CBA or any related material, please call or email Larry Higgins at lhiggins@seiu888.org.

Thank you for your patience and prompt response.  If you have not yet sent your personal email address to SEIU Local 888, please send it ASAP to Larry Higgins at lhiggins@seiu888.org.

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