It’s a clear case of office politics in the race for the Northern Berkshire District Register of Deeds.
Longtime Local 888 member Deborah Moran of Adams is running for register as an independent. Moran has worked at the Registry of Deeds since 1992. Two years ago, current Register of Deeds Frances Brooks named Moran first assistant register. Brooks is now retiring.
For her part, longtime Local 888 member Maria Ziemba, also
of Adams, is running for register as a Democrat. Similar to her Local 888-linked opponent, Ziemba worked her way up from being hired as a junior clerk – more than 20 years ago.
Local 888 members at Convention 2018 adopted four resolutions, including one that sets up benchmarks to ensure “Local 888 will continue to win the good wages and benefits, and ‘just cause’ protections our members need.”
Other resolutions called for increasing member participation in electoral politics, organizing more workers and setting all future wage proposals at no less than 5 percent per year.
The “Resolution on Benchmarks that Define Local 888’s Success” takes aim at the new “open shop” for public sector workers resulting from the U.S. Supreme Court’s anti-union Janus decision. The resolution notes that Local 888’s Executive Board has set the following benchmarks:
For the full text of the convention’s resolutions, see http://www.seiu888.org/resolutions/
The officers and staff of Local 888 extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Lisa Hayden at Holyoke Soldiers Home. Her mother, Marilyn Laramee, 83, of Granby died in October
The Holyoke Soldiers Home workers’ campaign against chronic understaffing and management’s harsh culture of intimidation has heated up – with
a petition drive and a meeting with the state’s boss of veterans affairs.
The new vice chair of the Local 888 chapter, Joe Ramirez, along with stewards Erin Saykin and Theresa King represented fellow members at a meeting with Francisco Urena, secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Services.
As a result of the meeting, Urena made commitments to have further meetings with our union and to fix the grievance backlog at the Holyoke Home.
Also as part of the chapter’s campaign, 120 members signed a petition to management saying they had no confidence in the leadership of both the director and assistant director of nursing at Holyoke Home. On Oct. 16, they presented the petition to management and sent a copy to Urena.
Local 888 members – including Executive Board members Fred Simmons and Darcie Boyer – joined the Haverhill Education Association for its “March For Respect.” The march was to address issues of inequities between the city’s schools, inadequate teachers’ pay and the high turnover rate for teachers.
Simmons, a leader of the custodians union, said he joined the march to “show respect for what teachers do and support their demands for a better contract.” Also, he said, “the goal is to gain the respect of the wider community, so that they understand that we’re just people like them seeking better working conditions.”
Beyond that, Simmons said, “Unions should help other unions. After all, we’re not only looking after ourselves but want to help others out, too.”
According to the teachers union, one out of four Haverhill teachers leave the district at the end of each year due to low wages
“Your job as leaders is to give members the opportunity to experience the power of unions,” said Barbara Madeloni, keynote speaker at the Local 888 Convention 2018. “That’s how you transform yourselves” to face the challenges ahead, she added.
Madeloni, former head of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, said a key problem for public workers is “the scarcity mindset. Austerity budgets have limited your opportunity to be paid a fair wage.” Ordinary workers have been left out of the country’s vast increase in wealth, she said. Instead, it’s going to Wall Street and health insurers and their CEOs.
How to change that equation?
“Our power is at the work site. It’s in the movement that we build,” she said.
One example of increasing that power came during the campaign to defeat the 2016 ballot question that would have lifted the Massachusetts cap on charter schools, she said. “It was part of the right-wing agenda to undermine public schools and the teachers unions.”
Millions of dollars to support the charter school question poured in from out-of-state, billionaires.
To defeat this behemoth, the MTA built a coalition of community groups, parents and students. “We knew that by creating a coalition that cared about public education, even if we lost, we would win,” she said.
While early polling showed the charter school ballot question winning, in the end it lost by a vote of 62 percent to 38 percent. “We crushed them because we tapped into a shared belief in the common good,” said Madeloni.
This year, teachers strikes in Washington state won teachers big raises as the legislature there was forced by the courts to address the chronic underfunding of public schools. Washington’s teachers, thus, followed in the footsteps of teachers in West Virginia and other states in successfully demanding long-overdue raises.
Such victories all start from small beginnings, said Madeloni – whether it be conversations in school halls or having union members wear the same T-shirt on a given day.
“Nobody ever starts out talking about going on strike,” she said. “Instead, union members must experience the power they have at the workplace. A power that transforms.”
On Wednesday October 3, Marriott workers walked off the job at the seven Boston hotels managed by the Marriott Corporation. The Boston hospitality industry is booming and Marriott is enjoying record profits. We need to demonstrate solidarity for this critical struggle.