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Speakers tout range of Local 888 victories

September 23, 2021

Recent Local 888 wins take in Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, Springfield contract, Boston negotiations

This month’s meeting of Local 888’s board was a time for change and upbeat reports on the latest union activities.
“There’s no time like the present to build up Local 888, said President Tom McKeever. He noted that the union had not grown in years. Now, however, he said the labor movement is on an upswing — and in Joe Biden has a pro-union U.S. president.
Recent Local 888 successes include the settlement of the state’s “Unit 2” contract, which covers the Holyoke and Chelsea Soldiers’ Homes. Key parts were:
• A COVID-19 crisis bonus worth 1.5 percent of a worker’s pay, or a minimum of $1,000, in recognition of service.
• A hazardous duty bonus of $2,000 for full-time workers and $1,000 for part-timers.
• A 2.5 percent raise— which is being paid retroactively and is larger than the state originally proposed.
In addition, a coalition of unions at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home won an agreement with the state that will provide mental health services through June 30 of next year. The Holyoke Home had one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the nation.
Local 888 also successfully negotiated with acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey to allow some members to work from home past the return-to-work date she had tried to impose on members.
In addition, Local 888 leaders and negotiators have won hazard pay — of up to $5,000 — for Springfield’s civil engineers. (See other story this issue, or
Also at the Executive Board meeting, Hersch Rothmel introduced himself as a new organizing director for the union. Rothmel, who has been with the Local 888 for five years, played a key role in helping organize librarians at Brandeis University for a successful contract campaign.
For more on Holyoke, see