The Local 888 Convention will run from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sat., Oct. 24, via Zoom.
The union has identified six key industry sectors that members work in: early childhood education, public schools, higher education, public authorities and state and municipal workers.
There will be breakout sessions for members to meet with workers in their sector to compare their working conditions and union experiences.
To register and be eligible for a door prize, see http://www.seiu888.org/convention/.
There is a growing movement across the United States to improve the freshness and quality of school cafeteria food — while improving the quality of the jobs and ensuring better wages and benefits.
“Cafeteria workers are typically left out of the public conversation” on school lunch programs, said Jennifer Gaddis, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor. She spoke with Local 888 members on a special Zoom call to celebrate National Food Service Worker’s Day.
Gaddis said the coronavirus pandemic has only increased the importance of engaging cafeteria workers who are now widely praised as “essential.” There needs to be a move toward “improving labor conditions, providing hazard pay and guaranteeing sick days” to cafeteria workers, she added.
In 2019, Local 888 along with union and community allies successfully fought to save cafeteria jobs in the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District (See: http://www.seiu888.org/2019/05/07/fight-saves-cafeteria-jobs/.) The school board was out to save money by eliminating workers’ health insurance and other benefits, such as vacation time.
Even before this latest wave of school cafeteria outsourcing, many school districts across the U.S. had been persuaded to cut costs by outsourcing preparation work and jobs. Cooking food from scratch has fallen by the wayside in many school cafeterias.
Gaddis spoke about her book, “The Labor of Lunch: Why We Need Real Food and Real Jobs in American Public Schools.” She provide an analysis of how large food companies and chains “have largely replaced the nation’s school cooks by supplying cafeterias with cheap, precooked hamburger patties and chicken nuggets.”
Over time, said Gaddis, “heat-and-serve meals have become more common.” What this has done, she said, is to cut the number of 30- and 40-hour-per-week jobs, including better-paid cooking jobs. That has left the remaining workers with shorter hours that often fail to deliver benefits.
She said she has spoken with older cafeteria workers who recall having such facilities as an onsite bakery — and longer hours when more cooking was done by scratch.
Minneapolis offers a model for adding healthy, local food to school menus, Gaddis said. “They started investing in on-site cooking and created a lot more full-time jobs.”
Gaddis also suggested that school cafeterias could expand their mission in the community to include feeding the homeless and those in need of a good meal.
For more from Gaddis, see her website at http://www.jenniferelainegaddis.com/. For a recent article by her on the topic, see https://tinyurl.com/888Gaddis. For more on Minnesota, see https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/02/28/school-lunch-healthy-local-food-minnesota.
SEIU Local 888 has taken on the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis by innovating — such as by using Zoom to host union orientation programs for members, new ones in particular.
One recent evening session featured new members in the North Shore Regional 911 Center, Boston Public Schools and the Boston Water and Sewer Commission.
“I take great pride in being a union member — and in speaking up and making sure our voices are heard,” said Brenda Rodrigues, Local 888’s elected president, kicking off the Zoom event. She noted that, early in her working life at the Brockton Public Library, she became an active member of her union. Rodrigues emphasized that “the union is the chapter’s members in the workplace. It’s about how we work together to have a safe and healthy workplace.”
The main service Local 888 provides members is internal organizers, who assist with collective bargaining and contract enforcement. Rodrigues compared belonging to a union to being a member of a gym. If you don’t show up at the gym to exercise, you won’t build up muscles.
Building up your union’s strength means: knowing your contract, showing up at union meetings and supporting your co-workers on the negotiating team. It also means representing your union in the community or with elected officials.
See http://www.seiu888.org/2020/01/07/voter-choice-set-for-ballot/ in The Spark.
Voter Choice Massachusetts is leading the charge for Ranked Choice Voting, see https://www.yeson2rcv.com/about/.
Local 888 is organizing a forum with candidate for U.S. Congress Jake Auchincloss on Wed., Oct. 21 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Zoom. See www.seiu888.org for updates.
The Local 888 Convention will run from 10 a.m. to noon on Sat., Oct. 24 via Zoom.
The union has identified six key industry sectors: early childhood education, public schools, higher education, public authorities and state and municipal workers.
There will be:
For more information and to register, see http://www.seiu888.org/convention/.
‘THE LABOR OF LUNCH’: Author Jennifer Gaddis will talk about her new book, which looks at “Why We Need Real Food and Real Jobs in American Public Schools,” via Zoom on Thurs., Sept. 24, 2:30 p.m. The event is in advance of Food Service Worker’s Recognition Day. Here’s the Zoom link:
If needed, cut and paste the link into a web browser in order to register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the celebration.
LATEST CLASSES AT THE LABOR GUILD SCHOOL: Four-session classes will run via Zoom from the week of Oct. 19 to the week of Nov. 9, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (https://laborguild.com/school-of-labor-management-relations/courses/.) Mondays: Steward Training. Tuesdays: Speaking in Public. Wednesday: Power and Struggle. With approval from their chapter leader(s), members in good standing may use chapter funds for tuition reimbursement. Local 888 will also provide a limited number of scholarships for members.