SEIU Local 888 members who work for the City of Boston met with housing advocates and neighborhood organizers on June 30 to discuss shared concerns. Because of the tough residency requirement and the high cost of housing in Boston, Local 888 members are especially challenged to make ends meet on their city paychecks.
Christine Sullivan, a Program Manager at the Dept. of Neighborhood Developments’ Boston Home Center was one of the members who attended the meeting. Her job is to help Boston residents purchase, improve, and keep their homes — so she knows just how hard it is to survive the housing market in Boston.
“The meeting was great,” said Sullivan. “There are many possible ways we can collaborate. These neighborhood housing groups are in the trenches all the time, so we learned something from them. I think getting our union to work more closely with some of these community groups could help Local 888 members. Eviction touches everyone, whether it’s a family member or a union member. The cost of rent vs some of our member’s low salaries just doesn’t add up.”
Steve Meacham, an organizer with City Life/Vida Urbana who attended the meeting had a similar reaction. “It was great to have this discussion with union members who are familiar with the serious problems in the city and also experts in housing policy.”
The housing advocates are campaigning for passage of a “Just Cause” eviction law. “It could be something we could get behind,” added Sullivan. But I think it will require more research. But we can let folks know [about this research] and we offer hope. And with hope, all things are possible.”
“I’m confident this was the first of several brown bag lunch meetings. Perhaps next time we can focus specifically on the proposed “Just Cause” eviction law so we have a better understanding of the whole bill.”
“There was an interesting political alignment between the advocacy groups and Local 888 members,” said Meacham. “Looking ahead, I think there are excellent opportunities for collaboration and mutual support.”
In addition to City Life/Vida Urbana, representatives from the Boston Tenant Organization and Right to the City also attended the meeting.
Chapter Chair Jennifer Reynolds reports that Amherst Town Employees settled a new 3-year contract for 68 members. Workers won 2% each year, raised their Hazmat/EMD stipend, increased the boot allowance, expanded sick time to nontraditional household members, and many more gains.
The MOU contains the following highlights:
Would it surprise you if the state legislature denied hundreds of workers the right to collectively bargain in supposedly “liberal” Massachusetts?
Yet staff who work for the state’s Committee for Public Counsel Services have been struggling to win a vote for their right to form a union for more than three years. Their legislation for collective bargaining rights is once again stalled in the Senate Ways and Means committee.
Please urge your Senator to support SB.1393 allowing public defenders to form a union.
Use this handy link to send a quick letter to your senator. http://888.seiu.org/page/speakout/support-mass-defenders
Local 888 members attended the Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) that was held at Bridgewater state university from June 24-26.
Charlotte Killam (pictured third from left) said, “WILD trainings are always excellent because they are so well planned. Everyone takes a leadership class. You not only learn from the instructors but from everyone else in the classes. It’s a very relevant learning experience for any steward or chapter chair. You also build great comradery by talking with others about how they approach problems in the workplace.”
UMass Lowell executive board member Susan Winning also attended. More info at wildlabor.org.
AFL-CIO Political Roundtable
Mass. AFL-CIO monthly Political and Legislative Roundtable Thursday, July 28 at 1:30PM
Plumbers Local 12 Hall
1240 Mass Ave, Dorchester
Last day to register to vote
(and change party enrollment) for the Sept. 8 State Primaries, Friday, August 19, 2016
Bread and Roses Labor Day Festival
September 5, 12 to 6 PM.
State Primary Election
Pioneer Valley AFL-CIO Annual Labor Breakfast
LaborCAN! Educational Conference
September 24 Taunton, MA
State General Election
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
About forty staff from the Committee for Public Counsel Services (The Public Defender Agency of Massachusetts) spent June 2 at the statehouse to meet with their elected representatives about legislation that would include them in the state’s collective bargaining law.
David Colarusso, a Data Analyst and former Staff Attorney at CPCS met with his state rep. “I found my conversation with State Representative Sean Garbally very worthwhile,” said Colarusso. “I was impressed by how receptive he was to hearing my concerns as a constituent and left the meeting feeling that he better understood our issues and why we need a seat at the table with management.”
“The momentum is really building within the legislature to finally fix this “oversight” in the state’s collective bargaining law,” said Mark DelloRusso, president of Local 888. “It’s simply inexcusable for the state to deny hundreds of state employees their right to bargain collectively for a voice at work.”
Declaring that healthcare is a “human right, not a commodity,” delegates to the 26th International Convention unanimously passed a resolution that puts SEIU on record in support of national and state single-payer initiatives, often called “Medicare for All.”
“Our local union was founded on the principle of quality healthcare for all,” said Diane Sosne, President of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW whose local submitted the resolution. “The resolution we passed shows that SEIU stands alongside the majority of Americans who believe that we need to build a new healthcare system that works for everyone.”
The resolution commits SEIU to support “enacting state-based single payer models and public options and, when politically feasible, will advocate for single payer on a national basis.” It supports the core principles of healthcare justice and the inclusion of everyone, regardless of immigration status, under a single standard of care.
Until recently, SEIU focused most of its attention on defending and implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But, in addition to 1199NW, a number of regional locals have been involved in state single-payer battles. For example 1199 Healthcare Workers East is a key supporter of New York Health, a bill that would establish a publicly financed universal healthcare system to cover all New Yorkers. And SEIU Local 1021 has been a strong supporter of the Campaign for a Healthy California.
“Local 888 is thrilled to have SEIU help lead the fight to win Medicare for All,” said Local 888 Secretary-Treasurer Brenda Rodrigues. “Just as we have helped to change the terms of debate in the ‘Fight for $15’ campaign, we can be a game changer organizing the movement for healthcare for all!”
For more information about Labor support for Medicare for All, visit the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Health Care.