Union Updates

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Local 888 at Unions for All Summit

TOGETHER WE RISE: Local 888 leaders were on hand with SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, third from right, for the international’s Unions for All Summit in Los Angeles. From left are Local 888 Executive Board members Emmanuel Marsh, Teresa Riordan, Kevin Nascimento, President Brenda Rodrigues and LaToya Weaver. For summit highlights, see video: https://youtu.be/Mq6yq4_tTw8.

TOGETHER WE RISE: Local 888 leaders were on hand with SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, third from right, for the international’s Unions for All Summit in Los Angeles. From left are Local 888 Executive Board members Emmanuel Marsh, Teresa Riordan, Kevin Nascimento, President Brenda Rodrigues and LaToya Weaver. For summit highlights, see video: https://youtu.be/Mq6yq4_tTw8.

Several Local 888 Executive Board members and President Brenda Rodrigues were among the 1,000 SEIU members — and workers fighting for a union — who joined together in Los Angeles for the Unions for All Summit. Many of the top 2020 candidates for president addressed the conference.

Rodrigues said the goal of the summit was “to inspire attendees to work together and turn this country around. All people should have the opportunity to join in union, no matter where they are from, what color they are, or where they work.”

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry called on presidential candidates to support the Unions for All agenda. To download or print a copy of SEIU’s “Unions For All: Building Power To Win” booklet, in English or in Spanish, click here.

The “Unions For All” theme promotes:

  • The right to join a union as the best way to raise wages, improve working conditions, and begin to fix our rigged economy.
  • Guaranteed access to quality, affordable health care and long-term care.
  • A welcoming and safe America for immigrant families.
  • Bold action on climate change that holds corporations accountable for greenhouse gas pollution and creates good, union jobs with a just transition to a green economy.
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State senator talks of union roots

LABOR BACKGROUND: State Sen. Paul Feeney (D-Foxboro) thanked Local 888 for its support, at the 2019 Leadership Conference.

LABOR BACKGROUND: At Local 888’s 2019 Leadership Conference, state Sen. Paul Feeney (D-Foxboro) thanked the union for its support.

State Sen. Paul Feeney (D-Foxboro) thanked Local 888 for its support, adding that union backing was crucial to his special election win two years ago.

Before his election to the state Senate, Feeney worked as a central office technician at Verizon and legislative director of IBEW Local 2222. He credits the labor movement not only for his election, but for his successes in life in general.

“In 1989, when I was just a little guy, 11 years old, I watched my dad go out on strike,” said Feeney. He said that he couldn’t understand what his dad was doing, at the time.

The cost of health insurance was the top issue then, as almost 60,000 telephone workers went on strike for 15 weeks — and won.

Feeney said it was not until years later — when he worked at the telephone company himself — that he fully understood the reason for the strike. When his young family needed health insurance, it was there for them.

“The excellent medical insurance wasn’t there because the company gave us anything. It was there because folks like my dad went on strike for it and made sacrifices for it,” said Feeney.

The state senator said he keeps his union card with his pass for getting into the Massachusetts Capitol — to help remind himself of his roots. His goal: “To make sure working-class people have a voice in the Massachusetts Senate.”

Feeney was the keynote speaker at Local 888’s 2019 Leadership Conference. The local also endorsed Feeney for his re-election campaign last year. For more on 2018 endorsements, see: http://www.seiu888.org/2019/09/09/local-888-looks-to-election-as-leaders-gear-up-for-races/

More pictures from the Local 888 conference are posted here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/9M1HMxap6xW1KHcZ9

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Massachusetts SEIU sponsors U.S. Senate forum

U.S._Capitol_BldgCrop

Local 888 co-sponsored an SEIU candidates forum with the U.S. Senate rivals.

“We need labor-friendly advocates in the Senate who are willing to fight for our issues,” said Local 888 Secretary-Treasurer Tom McKeever, commenting on the need for a forum.

The candidates in the 2020 Democratic U.S. Senate Primary: U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy and attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan.

The forum featured a round-robin setup. SEIU members — and the three candidates — were split up into separate rooms, allowing for more informal questioning.

The candidates in the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary:

  • U.S. Sen Ed Markey, who served as the U.S. representative for Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District before winning the special election vote to the Senate in 2013.
  • U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy, who served as a Massachusetts assistant district attorney before his election victory in the state’s 4th Congressional District in 2012.
  • Shannon Liss-Riordan, a lawyer who has won class-action suits for workers against major companies, including ride-hailing giant Uber.
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Coming Attractions

Coming up

UMASS LOWELL HOCKEY GAME NIGHT: Set for Sat., Dec. 7, 6 to 9 p.m. See the university’s River Hawks play in this popular Local 888 outing. Be on the lookout for more info on the event at the “Member Portal,” http://www.seiu888.org/.

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Cafeteria members eye fairness

‘SOMETHING MUST BE DONE’: Local 888 organized a public hearing with state officials in which cafeteria workers called attention to their grievances, including chronically low pay.

‘SOMETHING MUST BE DONE’: Local 888 organized a public hearing with state officials in which cafeteria workers called attention to their grievances, including chronically low pay.

More than 75 food service workers attended a public hearing in Brockton, on Oct. 17, to spotlight their job concerns — especially the need for more pay and increased dignity and respect for the work they do.

In addition to testimony by food service workers, Local 888 leaders released an analysis by the UMass Amherst Labor Center of a survey showing that 75 percent of respondents make $18 an hour or less. Local 888’s food service membership is 87 percent female — pointing to significant gender pay inequity. The public hearing, at the West Middle School, was part of Food Service Workers’ Recognition Week.

“For far too long, the work done by ‘lunch ladies’ has gone unrecognized,” said Karen Warren, president of SEIU Local 888’s Brockton cafeteria chapter. “Our work is essential for students to perform well in the classroom, and it is now a career for most of us.”

During Food Service Workers’ Recognition Week, Local 888 leaders put up banners in their school cafeterias, displayed lawn signs on roads and driveways leading to schools, and gave out “Food Is Love” coffee mugs to participating members who work in food service occupations.

“In terms of pay and benefits, we’re going backwards — and something must be done!” said Celeste Cignarella, a Brockton food service worker. “I know we’re told that life is unfair, but I’m asking our elected officials to take control and bring about some fairness for us.”

“We love our jobs,” added Morgan Mathena, a food service worker at Brockton’s Davis Middle School. “But we do need to be fairly compensated for our work.”

“All this week, principals, teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians — and most importantly — students showed appreciation for our work,” said Warren. “In many cases people brought us lunch, chocolates, flowers, and school spirit wear. We really do feel better appreciated thanks to our union’s program.”

For a full report or for a video on the public hearing, along with Gov. Charlie Baker’s proclamation on Food Service Workers’ Recognition Week, visit: http://www.seiu888.org/cafe/.

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Leaders look ahead, celebrate ’19 wins

'LUNCH LADY SQUAD': Lisa Mather at Brockton's Angelo Elementary School wears a special T-shirt to celebrate Food Service Workers' Recognition Week.

‘LUNCH LADY SQUAD‘: Lisa Mather at Brockton’s Angelo Elementary School wears a special T-shirt to celebrate Food Service Workers’ Recognition Week. Mather attended the 2019 Leadership Conference.

“Let’s make sure we keep on pushing forward — and keep building on our successes,” Local 888 President Brenda Rodrigues told members and staff at the union’s 2019 Leadership Conference.

“Just two days ago, food service workers had the opportunity to have their voices heard at a public hearing in Brockton,” Rodrigues added. The hearing, with state lawmakers, capped Food Service Workers’ Recognition Week, which was launched by the local. “They say that ‘food is love’ — and our members serve it every day.”

Rodrigues added: “Our contract campaign on behalf of the Groton-Dunstable cafeteria workers saved them their hard-earned benefits and working conditions.” The Local 888 campaign turned back the school district’s plan, — which was to cut costs by outsourcing members’ jobs and slashing their benefits and hours, if not simply replacing them.

“Launching successful contract campaigns and building up Local 888 all comes down to strong chapter leaders like you,” she told the 75 leaders at the conference (See related article.) “You meet the challenges, give generously of your time and make it all possible,” Rodrigues added.

Rodrigues pointed out that, “One goal of our strategic plan for 2019 is to have one leader for every 10 members.” Leaders are working on 2020 strategic plan as part of an ongoing effort to sustain and strengthen Local 888 in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s anti-union Janus decision.

Local 888’s strategic plan for 2019 identified six key industry sectors: early education, public schools, higher education and public authorities along with state and municipal workforces. The plan also looked at top job categories for Local 888, which include cafeteria workers and custodians.

This fall, Local 888 wrapped up a study on the health and safety issues facing custodians. For and in-depth report, see http://www.seiu888.org/2019/09/09/custodians-eye-on-job-hazards/

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Big longevity pay boost in Woburn

Food is Love logo 9-16-19

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a contract with so many gains,” said Mary Cirone, chapter chair of the Woburn cafeteria workers. “It’s great.”

Her Local 888 chapter agreed — and voted unanimously for the new agreement, which includes 2 percent cost-of-living increases every year in the contract.

The biggest improvement in the contract was in longevity pay. The old contract called for $300 per year to be paid after a worker was there for six years. Now, on the six-year anniversary date, the worker will get 6 percent of her annual pay — as much as $2,500. Cirone notes that she’s only been there for several years, so won’t be able to collect that bonus for a while. “You have to put in your time,” she said.

Meanwhile, one woman who has worked there since 1987 will get a bonus of 21 percent.

Another big change: For those who are there four hours a day, they will get a 15-minute break for the first time. Those working six or more hours per day will  also get a 15-minute break on top of a lunch break. While this may seem only reasonable, nonetheless food service managers disputed these union gains. “I had to make a screen shot of that part of the new contract and send it to them,” said Cirone.

The problem, she said, is that school enrollment is up and workers “are so busy, they’re lucky if they can even take a full lunch break.” Her own manager hasn’t been taking a lunch break.

Local 888 organizer Larry Higgins was “a huge help” in getting major improvements to the contract, said Cirone, who works at the Joyce Middle School.

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SEIU members seek office

ENIO LOPEZ

ENIO LOPEZ

The Local 888 Committee on Political Action has endorsed four SEIU members in their bids for elective office. These endorsements are part of COPA’s activities for the fall election.

“I am running for Waltham City Council because I love this city and want to share a new vision for what’s possible,” said Local 888 organizer Jonathan Paz, who is running in the city’s Ward 9. Paz said the city is at a turning point, with traffic up and rents rising. “I want to increase our affordable housing options, invest in renewable energy and address the needs of our youth and seniors.”

“The only way to solve difficult problems is to bring people together and build a movement for real change,” said Marianne Walles, a longtime social worker and Local 509 leader. She points to affordable housing, quality public schools, government accountability and creating a greener Somerville as top issues.

As a member of the Chelsea City Council, Enio Lopez has supported community members working to improve the city. Lopez backed the council’s bid to ban single-use plastic bags, noting that they are bad for the environment and an all-too-common ingredient of litter.

Lopez is a Local 888 leader at the Chelsea Soldiers Home and Local 888 Executive Board member.

Fred Simmons, a Local 888 Executive Board member and Haverhill custodians union leader, is running for one of the hotly-contested City Council seats there. The lack of affordable housing is a key issue for him.

  • In Boston’s City Council race, Local 888’s COPA is backing at-large incumbents Michael Flaherty and Michelle Wu. Also endorsed for City Council:
  • Lydia Edwards, District 1, which covers Charlestown and East Boston.
  • Ed Flynn, District 2, which covers South Boston and Chinatown.
  • Andrea Campbell, District 4, which covers Mattapan and parts of Dorchester.
  • Kim Janey, District 7, which covers Roxbury and parts of Dorchester and the South End.
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Harwich compares pay; members come out ahead

CAROLYN CAREY

CAROLYN CAREY

Local 888 chapter leaders in Harwich mobilized members to get prepared for contract negotiations with the town. No. 1 on the list: Conduct salary comparison research. This research paid off at the bargaining table.

“We got members involved, did some legwork leading up to contract talks, and it had a really positive impact,” said John Rendon, chapter president and town harbormaster. “Our payment scales needed to be adjusted upward, when we compared our salaries to those in other towns.”

Most of the 18 middle managers in the chapter got their salary scales increased, in particular at the low and high ends of the step scales. On top of that, the three-year contract includes 2 percent raises in each year.

“The town administration was helpful, agreed to the salary survey, — which took place over several years — and worked along with us,” said Rendon. “Every year, our members solicited information from their counterparts in other towns. We then did an analysis, and we presented it to the town.”

The result? “It’s a very positive contract for our members,” said Rendon. In addition, Local 888 members will be able to get compensation time if they have to attend night meetings, such as with the Board of Selectmen. And under certain circumstances, as approved by the town manager, some may be able to work remotely, meaning from home.

Members work as treasurer, assessor and community center director — a post held by Local 888 Executive Board member Carolyn Carey.

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Chelsea Home leaders fight for fair staffing

STEPPING UP: Chelsea Soldiers Home workers at the 2019 Leadership conference include, from left, activist Helen Farraher, Speandilove Nelson, chapter president; and Chrissy Wilson.

STEPPING UP: Chelsea Soldiers Home workers at the 2019 Leadership conference include, from left, activist Helen Farraher, Speandilove Nelson, chapter president; and Chrissy Wilson.

Chelsea Soldiers’ Home leaders have made headway with getting management to deal with chronic understaffing. But leaders have also stepped up to make sure that positions are filled fairly – and that Local 888 members have clear opportunities to get the assignments that meet their needs.

“Members were very happy with the results,” said Speandilove Nelson, chapter president. “Members who wanted to work 40 hours a week, rather than part time, were able to do that.”

All told, seven members secured reassignments to the jobs and shifts they wanted. Left to its own devices, management had planned to use a job fair to fill vacant positions, including those with hours or schedules that members wanted.

Union leaders made sure that positions were posted clearly and Local 888 members got a first crack at them. To let workers keep up with these and other developments at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, leaders put out a newsletter.

Nelson and other Chelsea chapter leaders had the chance to share their experiences at Local 888’s 2019 Leadership Conference. Elmer Arriaza, chapter vice president, was a facilitator for a workshop on “Effective communications to build unity at work.”

All told, the workshop was broad in scope and looked at the many forms that this can take — one-on-one, group meetings, e-mail, Facebook and newsletters.

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Christmas often ’tis season for spending chapter funds

LEADING LIGHTS: Participants in the chapter funds workshop show Local 888 pride at the 2019 Leadership Conference.

LEADING LIGHTS: Participants in the chapter funds workshop show Local 888 pride at the 2019 Leadership Conference.

When’s a good time for a chapter to order out for pizza — and when might it be better to pony up the funds for a party? Those were some of the topics in the workshop on “Using chapter funds to build members’ power” at Local 888’s 2019 Leadership Conference.

The Boston City Hall clerks and techs chapter has organized a Christmas party at a downtown restaurant the last couple years. “It was a good use of chapter funds, and members had a chance to relax and socialize away from the building,” said Keturah Trusty, chapter president of the clerks and techs unit.

Before that, the chapter had tried a lunchtime winter holiday event. However, it did not build up a sense of community and solidarity. “People were worried about getting back to their desks,” Trusty said. They tended to take the lunch, and then go back to their offices.

On the other hand, providing lunch is a good way to encourage attendance at union meetings, said Anita Christon, Local 888 recording secretary. Pizza is always popular.

Chapter funds can also be used for such things as bereavement donations (such as flowers or fruit baskets). For more on the use of chapter funds, see http://www.seiu888.org/chapters/.

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Serving up love every day

Food is Love logo 9-16-19

Local 888 cafeteria chapters are gearing up for Food Service Workers’ Recognition Week from Oct. 15 to 18. Local 888 leaders held a press conference Sept. 30 at the State House to kick off events. A public hearing with state legislators is set for Thurs., Oct. 17, 6 p.m., at the West Brockton Middle School, 271 West St., Brockton.

Local 888 is currently conducting a survey of its food service members about their work and job satisfaction. A summary of survey results will be shared with elected officials, school and community leaders and the general public during Food Service Workers’ Recognition Week. The survey is at: https://tinyurl.com/888survey.

For the full report on Food Service Workers’ Week, see www.seiu888.org.

To see a copy of the governor’s Food Service Workers’ Recognition Week, visit: http://www.seiu888.org/cafe/ .

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