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SEIU Local 888 Spark, November 2012

SEIU Local 888 Spark, November 2012

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Published by Rand Wilson
Union newsletter for members of SEIU Local 888
Union newsletter for members of SEIU Local 888

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Published by: Rand Wilson on Dec 11, 2012
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12/12/2012

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Local 888 Members Plan for Future
In this issue:
Brockton unions in historic coalition
Latino caucus is on the move
Save the date: New leader training
Local 888 member recognized forservice
November, 2012
H
undreds of SEIU Local 888 members and guestscame together for last month’s membershipconvention—the largest gathering since Local 888was formed in 2003. Members attended from acrossthe state, representing chapters large and small.“The convention was a testament to the membersof Local 888,” says President Mark DelloRusso. “Thecommitment to building our union was truly aninspiration for us all.”Key note speaker Tom Woodruff, SEIU ExecutiveVice President, spoke about the attacks on publicsector employees, and urged delegates to get in-volved in order to fight for a better future. “The onepercent has one clear goal: keeping working peoplefrom standing up and fighting back collectively,”Woodruff warned the crowd. “We need to changethe debate. We have to get more of our membersinvolved than ever before.”In a presentation to delegates on the proposedDues Equality measure, which places all memberson the same 1.6 percent dues structure, Secretary-Treasurer Brenda Rodrigues explained that ade-quate resources are key to building a stronger, moreeffective union. In recent months, Rodrigues, Del-loRusso and other Local 888 leaders visited dozensof chapters across the state and heard a commonrefrain. “We heard that chapters need more helpand resources to be stronger. Dues Equality is thecritical step we have to take to reach that goal,” saidRodrigues.Members took to the floor to speak and askquestions about the proposed dues measure formore than an hour. Mashpee Department of PublicWorks employee Jim Corcoran spoke to the issue of fairness. “Unions are about treating everyone fairly.Treat everyone fairly and we can be a strongerunion.”Others talked about their hopesfor a better union and said that they are encouraged by Local 888’s new direction. “A lot of things are chang-ing for the better,” said Lori Moran of the Watertown Town Hall Associates.“I like the idea that as a small chapterwe can be stronger.”The resolution for Dues Equality passed by more than a 3 to 1 marginin a secret ballot vote. The new duesstructure will be phased in beginningin January 2013.In addition to the Dues Equal-ity measure, members also passeda resolution urging resistance toemployer efforts to shift insurance costs to workersand strongly supporting reforms that build on thenational Medicare program as a model to containhealth care costs and the best way to achieve asingle high standard of health care for everyone in America.
Continued on back page 
STRONGER TOGETHER—SEIU Local 888 President Mark DelloRusso withunion members and leaders at the bi-annual membership convention.
 
Staff Profile: Regional Representative Lisa Field
L
isa Field, who became the regional representativefor Local 888 back in August, knows a thing or twoabout a rebuilding a union. Field was working in thelibrary at Fitchburg State University when the schoolannounced the coming layoffs of twenty employees.Concerned that FSU management was ignoring thecontract and were likely to pick and choose who they wanted to lay off, Field decided to step up and getinvolved. She became the steward, a position she heldfor four years, before running for president of her AFSCME local that represents 3,000 state and com-munity college employees across Massachusetts. “Ourgoal was to get as many people involved as we couldand really revitalize the local,” says Field.Field would go on to work for AFSCME Council 93as a staff representative for three years, working with2,800 members in public education and in 22 citiesand towns. These days Field spends most of her timeassisting Local 888 members, primarily in WorcesterCounty. Field says that she’s particularly excited by theopportunity to help rebuild and reinvigorate a union.“The way SEIU is organized, the members have a lot of say. The leadership is held accountable by the mem-bers—that’s significant,” says Field.While Field’s days as a campus library worker may be in the past, she continues to advocate for publichigher education and sits on the board of PHENOM,the Public Higher Education Network of Massachu-setts. Says Field: “As a child of an a immigrant, afford-able public higher education has enabled me to livethe American dream. I want those same opportuni-ties not only for my kids but for all kids in Massachu-setts.”
CHANGE AGENT—Lisa Field (left)with friend Jody Boudreault at their25th reunion atTaunton’s Coyle-Cassidy HighSchool. Field, who joined the staff of Local 888 in August, is also anadvocate for publichigher education inMassachusetts.
The Spark November 2012 www.seiu888.org“By agreeing to uphold the right of unionsto bargain over health insurance, the city council put their differences aside and theunions proved that a lot can be accom-plished when people sit down and workthrough problems like this together.
Brockton Unions JoinForces on Health Care
 A
 
coalition of public service unions in Brock-ton, including SEIU Local 888, has reachedan agreement that will ultimately save the city an estimated $28 million in employee and retireehealth insurance costs. The agreement preservesthe right of service workers in Brockton to negoti-ate over their benefits while generating significantsavings that will be split between the city and itshealth plan subscribers.Until recently, every public employee union inBrockton negotiated over health insurance ben-efits individually, either with the City or the SchoolCommittee. Last summer, local unions, includ-ing Local 888, which represents city departmentheads, library personnel, school cafeteria workersand administrative personnel, began working to-gether in an effort to find a solution to soaring city health insurance costs.“By coalition bargaining with employees fromdifferent unions and retirees as equal partners,Brockton has demonstrated historic leadershipfor the people who provide services in that city and showing that unions will work to protectthe health care of their members,” said BrendaRodrigues, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 888. “By agreeing to uphold the right of unions to bargainover health insurance, the city council put theirdifferences aside and the unions proved that a lotcan be accomplished when people sit down andwork through problems like this together.”
If you are interested in forming a coalition of unions in your city or town, contact Jen Springer at  jspringer@seiu888.org 
 
Local 888 Latino Caucus is on the Move
L
atino members of Local 888have wanted to start their owncaucus for years. Now, thanks tothe hard work of Jorge Vargas,Margarita Franco, Enio Lopes, RosaMatias, Norma Martinez and others,the vision is becoming a reality.Christina Villafranca, a Local 888organizer, and a force behind thenew caucus, explains that the goalis to reach Latino and Haitian mem-bers of the union and encouragethem to get involved. “We wantto bring everyone together as onecommunity and start to educateeach other about what it means tobe part of a union,” says Villafranca.Villafranca notes that the group’s model for a forceful Latino Caucus comes from Local 721 in California, whichhas a caucus hundreds strong. The Local 888 group, which has been meeting regularly, also hopes to join forceswith the SEIU International Latino Caucus.In the meantime, caucus members are reaching out to Latino andHaitian workers. “We want workers to come to us with workplace issues and work together to find a solution.”Caucus members are also creating a fund that will help members who need emergency assistance, including helpwith rent or food.
For more information about the Latino caucus, contact Christina Villafranca at cvillafranca@seiu888.org. Meetings are on the first Wednesday of every month at the SEIU Local 888 union hall in Charlestown.
The Spark November 2012 www.seiu888.org
ONE COMMUNITY—Members of Local 888’s new Latino caucus. The groupseeks to get Latino and Hatian union members more involved.
Local 888 Caucus Update
In addition to the new Latino Caucus, Local 888members are also invited to be part of the Laven-dar Caucus and the African American Caucus, or AFRAM.
 AFRAM Caucus
 AFRAM Caucus members kicked off the school year by donating new school supplies to hun-dreds of local students at a fundraiser hosted by the MW Hiram Grand Lodge and Baystate GrandLodge A.F. & A.M., Inc. Members are now gearingup for 2013 AFRAM National Conference in Los Angeles in April. For more information contactLorna Pleas at 617.792.8853 or Anita Christian at617.513.9684.
Lavender Caucus
The Lavendar Caucus is composed of gay men,lesbians, bisexuals, transgender individuals andtheir friends/supporters who are members ingood standing of SEIU. For more information con-tact Tony Fernandez at 617.924.8509.
New Leader Training
 Attention chapter chairs, presidents and new leaders. SEIU Local 888 is holding a LeadershipTraining Initiative that will focus on: 
•
Fundamentals of chapter administration
•
Strategies and tips to build a more effectiveorganization
•
Enlisting more member activists
•
Tactics for gaining strength in collectivebargaining
•
Running effective and productive meetings
When
: Sat, December 1, 8:30am – 5:00pm
Where
: SEIU Local 888 Union Hall - 52 RolandStreet, CharlestownFor more information, call 617.241.3300 or emailrsvp@seiu888.org.

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