Union Updates

For press inquires or to share your story please contact media@seiu888.org

Public Defenders Celebrate, Gain Notice

More than 100 public defenders and staff attended a union reception immediately after their statewide conference at the DCU conference center in Worcester on May 15. The Committee for Public Council Services (CPCS) staff gathered to hear

More than 100 public defenders and staff attended a union reception immediately after their statewide conference at the DCU conference center in Worcester on May 15.

More than 100 public defenders and staff attended a union reception immediately after their statewide conference at the DCU conference center in Worcester on May 15.

from their co-workers on the status of the organizing campaign and to celebrate the progress made so far with SEIU Local 888.

“In a short time we have connected CPCS employees from Pittsfield to Hyannis and moved forward with our legislation to enable collective bargaining,” Ben Evans, a public defender from Fall River, told his coworkers. “But our work is far from over. Every single CPCS worker must have their voice heard. We are the union. We decide what we fight for and we decide what our union is all about. We are truly all in this together!”

The public defenders, whose starting salaries are among the lowest in the country, were recently featured in a hard-hitting column by Boston Globe writer Yvonne Abraham.

Leave a comment

Special Screening of Citizen Koch

Local 888 is sponsoring a special screening of this year’s must-see, all-too-true political thriller: Citizen Koch.

CK_Boston_FBYou’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll commiserate with co-workers as you watch this searing exposé on the state of American democracy and the impact of unlimited election spending by corporations and billionaires.

Citizen Koch film screenings
The Brattle Theatre • 40 Brattle St., Cambridge MA 02138 • Harvard Square • 617 876-6837 • info@brattlefilm.org
June 20 – 25 • See the trailer and get tickets at www.citizenkoch.com

Leave a comment

Coming Attractions

Low Wage Worker Day of Action
When: Thursday, June 12, 2014, 4PM-6PM

calendarBoston: Rally at Copley Square, followed by downtown march and rolling protests (Buses to Boston event departing from Dorchester, Chelsea, Hyannis, Lawrence, Lynn, and Westport)
Worcester: Protest at Wal-Mart, 25 Tobias Boland Way, Worcester, MA
Springfield: Rally at Mt. Calvary Church, 17 John Street, followed by protest at McDonald’s.

People’s Fiesta to celebrate participation of Latinos at Democratic Convention
When: Friday, June 13, 9PM-11PM.
Where: Club Venue, 336 Main Street, Worcester, MA

Labor Health Care Forum on Affordable Care Act
When: Friday, June 20, 9AM-1PM
IBEW Local 103, Freeport Street, Boston, MA
RSVP at http://laborguild.com/product/aca2014/ or call 781-340-7887.

Inequality For All – Documentary Film Screening
When: Saturday, June 21, 4PM-7PM
SEIU Local 888 Lowell Office, 104 University Avenue, Lowell, MA
Please RSVP with John Murphy at http://www.meetup.com/DFSlowell/events/175967982

Local 888 cafeteria workers’ summit meeting
When: Saturday, June 28, 9:30AM–1:30PM
SEIU Local 888 Union Hall
For more information email or call Lisa Field at: lfield@seiu888.org or (617) 435-8837

Save the Date: 2014 Local 888 Convention
When: October 4,11AM-3PM
Where: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 5400 Computer Drive, Westborough, Mass.

Leave a comment

Malden City Council votes to transfer custodians from School Dept. to city’s Public Facilities Dept.

Malden’s school custodians and their community supporters rallied for better services and local jobs on June 3 — and then attended a crowded city council meeting where a veto-proof majority of councillors voted to transfer oversight of their jobs from the School Dept. to the Public Facilities Dept.

Councillor Neil Kinnon spoke at the rally.  "You're not to blame for the schools not being properly cleaned," said Kinnon.  "The current budget isn't in line with the cost to get the job done right."

Councillor Neil Kinnon spoke at the rally. “You’re not to blame for the schools not being properly cleaned,” said Kinnon. “The current budget isn’t in line with the cost to get the job done right.”

Before the vote on the transfer could take place, councillors voted on a motion to change the order of the council’s agenda and then on Councillor Ultrino’s motion to reconsider the proposal made by Councillor Neil Kinnon which lost by a 5 to 6 vote at the May 27 council meeting.

Once those motions both passed, city councilors made their case for and against Councillor Kinnon’s proposal.  Then Councillor Ultrino suggested that school custodian and Local 888 member Steven Krzywicki be allowed to address the council.

“Two years ago we agreed that the custodians should be managed by the school system because historically they had been mismanaged on the city side,” said Krzywicki.  “We agreed to the move, and as a part of that agreement the Malden school committee agreed to hire day and night supervisors and do regular evaluations to ensure accountability and school cleanliness. We welcomed this chance to be judged on the merits of our work.”

School custodian and Local 888 member Steven Krzywicki addressed the council. Given the School Department's insistence on outsourcing more custodial jobs and their budget constraints, we feel the city would be a better home for custodial services as long as there is proper supervision and regular evaluations."

School custodian and Local 888 member Steven Krzywicki addressed the council. Given the School Department’s insistence on outsourcing more custodial jobs and their budget constraints, we feel the city would be a better home for custodial services as long as there is proper supervision and regular evaluations.”

“Unfortunately, no supervisors were hired and not one single evaluation was done,” Krzywicki continued.  “The school system’s total failure to track any performance and cleanliness measures in any quantifiable way is a breach of faith, a breach of contract and wholly unfair to us.  Given the School Department’s insistence on outsourcing more custodial jobs and their budget constraints, we feel the city would be a better home for custodial services as long as there is proper supervision and regular evaluations.”

The motion to transfer “oversight and control” of the custodians from the School Dept. to the Public Facilities Dept. passed 8 to 3.  Then two motions to reduce the School Dept. budget by $1,371,285 (an amount equivalent to the total allocation for school custodial services) and increase the appropriation to Public Facilities by $1,371,285 to allow for oversight of the school custodians passed 9 to 2.

“Winning the vote was an important step in the right direction towards improving school cleanliness and keeping good jobs in the community,” said Mark DelloRusso, president of SEIU Local 888.  “It gives the custodians momentum for additional funding and better management to get the job done right.  We’re looking forward to working with Mayor Christenson and the council to finish the budget process and begin a new chapter in Malden.”

Pictures from the rally and the city council meeting are available by emailing rwilson@seiu888.org.  

Leave a comment

Highlights from the May 2014 Executive Board meeting

The Local 888 Executive Board met on May 21 at the union hall in Charlestown.  Local President Mark DelloRusso introduced two new prospective board members.

Anita Christon and Janet King take their oath of office and are sworn in as new officers by President Mark DelloRusso.

Anita Christon and Janet King take their oath of office and are sworn in as new officers by President Mark DelloRusso.

Anita Christon — nominated to replace Tina Swift as Recording Secretary — has worked for the City of Boston Dept. of Neighborhood Development for 27 years.  She was a former Local 888 board member and active in our predecessor Local 285 for many years.

Janet King — nominated for a seat on the Executive Board — has worked at UMass Lowell since 1985.  Janet is currently chapter chair for the professional unit and is leading contract negotiations there now.

Anita and Janet were unanimously elected to their respective new positions by the Executive Board.

Mark reported on the continuing struggle by the Malden custodians to stop the School Dept. from outsourcing their jobs.  Another rally is planned for June 3.

Mark notified the board that an Election Committee must be formed to supervise Local 888’s officer and executive board elections next April.  A bylaws’ committee has been meeting to recommend some changes to help prevent some of the confusion that occurred in 2012.   Lori Moran has volunteered to resign from the Executive Board and serve on the Election Committee.

A scholarship has been created in honor of recently deceased member Greg King and a memorial service is planned for June 7.

Mark reminded the board that the Local 888 convention will be on October 4 from 11 AM – 3 PM at the DoubleTree in Westborough.

Secretary-Treasurer Brenda Rodrigues provided the board with an overview comparing Local 888’s projected budget with actual revenue and expenses for the first quarter of 2014.  Total Year to Date income for the first quarter was $1,270,306.  Total expenditures were $1,264,069.  Members interested in learning more about Local 888’s budget and finances can email myunion@seiu888.org for a quarterly financial statement.

Director of Field Operations Lisa Field reported on progress with the new regional committees and Local 888’s collaboration with MassCOSH to develop a new Safety Council for union members.  A training for members on building stronger health and safety committees will take place on June 7 from 8:30 AM – 2:30 PM at Fitchburg State University. 

Fight for $15's Toya Chester (in red t-shirt) led a spirited discussion with the Executive Board on winning $15 an hour for all workers in Massachusetts.

Fight for $15’s Toya Chester (in red t-shirt) led a spirited discussion with the Executive Board on winning $15 an hour for all workers in Massachusetts.

All members that work for school cafeterias are invited to a Local 888-wide meeting to discuss building health and safety committees and fighting privatization.  The meeting will be on Saturday June 28 from 9:30 AM -1:30 PM. 

The featured speaker at the meeting was the Fight for $15s Toya Chester who is spearheading a campaign to win $15 an hour for all workers in Massachusetts.  Toya described campaigns that are underway in Seattle and San Francisco to win $15 an hour for workers.  Many unions, including the Transit Workers, Mass Teachers and AFSCME have endorsed the campaign.

In Massachusetts the labor movement is gearing up for a June 12 Day of Action for Low Wage Workers.  All members are urged to attend rallies from 4-6 PM in Boston, Worcester and Springfield.  For more information visit wageaction.org

No matter what your hourly pay, show your support for the Fight for $15 by wearing this sticker on June 12. Order stickers at: myunion@seiu888.org

No matter what your hourly pay, show your support for the Fight for $15 by wearing this sticker on June 12. Order stickers at: myunion@seiu888.org

Members of Local 888 who make less than $15 an hour are urged to wear special “Low Pay is Not OK” stickers on the job that day.  To get stickers for you and your co-workers contact your Local 888 Field Rep. or email myunion@seiu888.org

Organizing Director Rudy Renaud reported that since the beginning of the year, the Organizing Department has been busy organizing with potential members in residual bargaining units within the cities and towns where Local 888 already has members.  Organizing staff are also continuing to work with the over 800 employees of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, (Mass Defenders) who are seeking to pass legislation enabling them to organize.  The Mass Defenders now have a very special song of their own called “Stand With Us,” written and performed by Erin Mckeown.

Educational Collaboratives  are quasi-state agencies that deliver special educational services to multiple school districts.  Workers at several of the collaboratives in Central Massachusetts have been interested in forming a union and are considering beginning more active campaigns.

Do you know someone who would like to join a union?  Contact Rudy at (413) 475-0895 or krenaud@seiu888.org.

At last March’s Executive Board meeting, the Executive Board heard a presentation on Senate Bill 1225 which would divest fossil fuel investments from the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Trust (PRIM) over the next five years.  Right now 2.6% of state investments are in companies defined as “fossil fuel” companies.  The bill would call for the state to divest from these companies from over the next 5 years — 20% of the fossil fuel investment each year.  The Executive Board voted 13 to 4 (with 4 abstentions) to urge the Massachusetts legislature to enact Senate Bill 1225.  Click here for more info about the divestment campaign.

Political Director Dan Hoffer distributed Raise Up Massachusetts signature gathering kits to the board to increase the minimum wage and win earned sick time.  Local 888 has pledged to gather 500 signatures for the campaign.  Overall 60,000 signatures are needed to qualify for the ballot by June 13.  Members who want to help gather signatures should contact Dan at dhoffer@seiu888.org or (617) 642-3588.

Leave a comment

Resources on Outsourcing

Supporters of outsourcing almost always argue that it is necessary for cost savings. But a recent University of Colorado study, “The Decision to Contract Out: Understanding the Full Economic and Social Impacts,” finds that any savings of outsourcing varies widely and often diminish over time. The study also concludes that contracting out undermines our democratic principles by leading to corruption and less control over public funds.

For a copy of the report, click on the link above or contact Rand Wilson at rwilson@seiu888.org or 617-241-3300 x3368.

Leave a comment

Public Defenders Say: “Jobs Not Jails”

When hundreds of people rallied on the Boston Common recently calling for “Jobs NOT Jails,” public defender Aida Fitzgerald knew she had to be there.

“As a public defender, I see how my clients struggle with getting their lives back on track after being convicted of a crime,” said Fitzgerald, a trial attorney at the Roxbury District court office.

Public defenders supporting Jobs NOT Jails: Makis Antzoulatos, Christian Williams, Ben Evens, Aida Fitzgerald, Eleni Kalfus, Barusch, Chris Consalves, Carl Williams (ACLU), Josh Raisler-Cohn and Nashwa Gewaily (ACLU).

Public defenders supporting Jobs NOT Jails: Makis Antzoulatos, Christian Williams, Ben Evens, Aida Fitzgerald, Eleni Kalfus, Barusch, Chris Consalves, Carl Williams (ACLU), Josh Raisler-Cohn and Nashwa Gewaily (ACLU).

The Patrick Administration has estimated that, if current criminal justice policies are not changed dramatically, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will spend $2 billion in the next seven years, to build 10,000 new prison units, and $150 million more each year to fill them.

Fitzgerald and others also say that it’s time to eliminate the barriers that make it so difficult for former prisoners to re-enter society. “It’s past time we stopped creating more obstacles and started creating more opportunities for the people I serve. As one of the speakers said, ‘Lift them up, don’t lock them up,'” said Fitzgerald.

SEIU Local 888 is proud to sponsor Jobs NOT Jails

Leave a comment

Ask Sparky

SparkyDear Sparky: I want to play devil’s advocate here for a minute. I understand that we want public services and good jobs and all of that, but we have to think about the taxpayer too. I just saw a study about how out of control the costs of MBTA buses are. Wouldn’t it make sense to go with a private company if they can provide the same quality of service for less?Signed, Devil’s Advocate

Dear Devil: Have you ever seen a dog sniffing around in the grass? It’s amazing but a single smell can tell us so much about who’s been in that grass. Same thing when it comes to reports like the one you mentioned: the latest goody to drop from Pioneer Institute, a free-market “think tank” that has never met a public service it didn’t want to privatize. And this particular specimen was a gem, even by Pioneer’s standards. Take their claim that MBTA buses are among the most expensive in the country to maintain. They reached that conclusion by comparing Boston’s transit system to systems in places like Houston, St. Petersburg and San Diego—all places where it doesn’t snow. In other words, when you come across a claim that sounds either too bad or too good to be believed, give it a good long sniff.
Sparky

For more information on outsourcing, read  The Decision to Contract Out: Understanding the Full Economic and Social Impacts

Leave a comment

Down the Cape

Cape Cod Regional meetingSixteen members attended a Cape Cod regional meeting in Hyannis on April 30. Local 888 Regional Committees, open to all members, are forming throughout the state to build solidarity among members within Local 888 and improve our standing in the cities and towns where we live and work. Upcoming events include a meeting with representatives from the Retirement Board, discussion of proposed cuts in retiree health benefits and some social events. To attend the next regional committee meeting near you, contact myunion@seiu888.org.

Leave a comment

MAY DAY

Members of the Local 888 Latino Caucus participated in the annual International Workers' Day march and rally in Chelsea. Pictured here, from left: Christina Villafranca, Enio Lopez, Margarita Hernandez and Rosa Matias.  Marchers were demanding respect for all workers, and a stop to the detention, deportation and separation of families.

Pictured here, from left: Christina Villafranca, Enio Lopez, Margarita Franco and Rosa Matias. Marchers were demanding respect for all workers, and a stop to the detention, deportation and separation of families.

Members of the Local 888 Latino Caucus participated in the annual International Workers’ Day march and rally in Chelsea.

Leave a comment

Time to “Raise Up Massachusetts”

With the help of more than 150 community organizations, faith groups and unions, including Local 888, Raise Up Massachusetts collected over 285,000 signatures for two ballot initiatives: raising the minimum wage and guaranteeing earned sick time for all workers. While both chambers of the Massachusetts legislature have passed different bills that would Raise Up Mass logoincrease the minimum wage, there is no guarantee they will compromise to pass a bill that makes it to Governor Patrick’s desk. That means that Raise Up will need to collect another 60,000 signatures from May 10th through June 18th to ensure the two questions qualify for a place on the 2014 ballot.

Members who would like to help gather signatures in their communities should contact Dan Hoffer at dhoffer@seiu888.org or 617-241-3300 x3367.

Leave a comment

Watertown Public Workers to be Honored for Service, Bravery

Entering WatertwonLocal 888 members in the Watertown Public Works department played a key role during the search for Boston Marathon bombing suspects. Now their essential service is being recognized. The American Public Works Association announced it will present Watertown with the Exceptional Performance Award in Adversity at its annual conference in Toronto in August. The Department’s “behind-the-scenes” role included rapidly closing off streets and guiding police and other emergency personnel with lights. Congratulations to all for your exceptional performance.

Leave a comment