SEIU 888 announced today that it secured an agreement on a new, three-year contract for members working for the City of Boston.
The proposed contract - which still needs to be ratified by members - includes a 5.5% increase over the term of the contract, two new wellness days for employees, and a $1,000 COVID bonus. Negotiators also secured wage upgrades, anti-harassment language, and increased funding for employee transportation, a Blue Bikes stipend, Juneteenth holiday, increased arbitration deadline time and the city’s agreement to engage in labor management meetings at the unions request with any department allowing members voices to be heard mid contract. In addition, SEIU 888 will remain at the bargaining table to secure a contract before the just-approved one expires later in 2023.
“This agreement is huge for our members now and moving forward,” said SEIU 888 President Tom McKeever. “Not only did we secure cost-of-living and bonus pay in-line with other units, but we were also able to get key concessions that will raise up all of our members that our sister unions did not receive. And importantly, by staying at the table, SEIU 888 will set the standards for the next round of contract negotiations.”
Historically, the union that secures the first contract in a cycle with the City of Boston sets the standard for wage increases for all other unions. That standard-setting is due to a “re-opener clause” in contracts that allows unions to renegotiate their agreements if another union signs a subsequent deal receiving more favorable terms.
In addition to cost-of-living adjustments, SEIU 888 negotiators secured wage scale upgrades for several positions, including custodians and lifeguards. Inequities in pay were identified in a comprehensive wage study commissioned by Local 888 earlier in the year. With that data in hand, the team could highlight several positions being paid below market rate for management. And as a result, the new contract contains a side agreement that elevates the pay scale for specific functions.
“We’ve seen the cost of living, particularly in Boston, skyrocket recently and know that many people at lower steps were struggling to live in the city they love while also serving it every day,” said McKeever. “It is essential that any employee living and working in the City of Boston receive a living wage that meets marketplace standards.
SEIU 888 represents the largest number of union members working for the City of Boston. McKeever says that places a special responsibility on the local.
“We know many members had questions on why this took so long,” McKeever said. “But we achieved something above and beyond what was initially offered and that was accepted by our sister unions. Importantly, we placed ourselves in a leadership role going into the next round of negotiations which will start in the beginning of the new year with the goal of having a contract settled prior to its effective start date. This has not happened at local 888 in decades and it is time for that to change. Local 888 has the largest membership of any union within the confines of the city and I want to be first to the table to set the terms for city workers. This better represents the size of our local and the important roles our members play in the safety, liveability, and economic health of the city.”