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Career Service workers win new contract
ometimes winning a new contract takes a lot more than just negotiating with management. Local 888 members at the Valley Works Career Center in Lawrence were frustrated after two tentative agreements were turned down by the Mayor and the City’s Financial Overseer, appointed by the Governor. Meanwhile other city employees began getting raises. “We went four years without a raise,” said Mariah Germosen, a Career Service Advisor. “When that many years go by, you don’t feel appreciated or valued. You’re not keeping up with the cost of living.” “We needed to step up the pressure and start
“We needed to step up the pressure and start making some noise.”
—Cardel Bennet, career service advisor reer Service Advisor is also the union steward at Valley Works. “This was a tough battle and I’m happy with the outcome.” Members won some significant improvements over the previous tentative agreement. Instead of a 3 percent bonus, they got a 3 percent increase in base pay going back to July 1, 2011. Members also won 2.5 percent increase in wages each year for 2013 and 2014 for a total of 5 percent, instead of the original 0 percent with only a promise of a “reopener.” “SEIU Local 888 members and staff were aggressive and we didn’t let up until we won. Our political strategy complimented the bargaining strategy,” said Springer. “It was great to see the leaders at Valley Works step up to make it happen and finally get a contract.” Chapter chair Barbara Begin reported that the contract was ratified 18- 0 on February 12.
SE IU ’s U.S . SE NA TE CA ND ID AT E FO RU M
Local 888 members at the Valley Works Career Center in Lawrence. After going four years without a raise, the group decided it was time for some tactics that went beyond the bargaining table.
Don’t miss SEIU’s U.S. Senate Candidate Forum! “This is a great opportunity to find out where the candidates stand on the issues that you care about,” said Local 888 Head Start member Carla Elder. “I’m going to talk with my co-workers and urge them to attend. You should too!”
making some noise,” said Cardel Bennett who also works as a Career Service Advisor. “That’s why a group from the negotiating committee and Local 888 Field Service Director Jen Springer went to the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. “A good part of our funding is from the state. We told Secretary Joanne Goldstein’s office and the Governor’s office just how frustrated we were and that something had to be done,” said Springer. “After that meeting the ball got rolling with the city!” said Marco Ruiz who in addition to being a Ca-
Join me at the U.S. Senate Candidate Forum on Saturday, March 9!
Dear Sparky: We just had our big membership meeting and maybe five people showed up. And there wasn’t even a snow storm to blame it on! We have a small group of people who volunteer for everything, but beyond that, forget about it. Is there anything we can do to get more folks involved or is it just a lost cause? Signed, Despondent in Dracut Dear Despondent: Did you know that there are people who love going to meetings? While I’ve never come upon a member of this elusive species, they are said to exist... However, there are a few things you can do that might boost attendence at your next meeting, say up to 8 (hey, you’ve got to start somewhere). • Keep it short Often what your colleagues are trying to avoid isn’t a meeting—but a really LONG meeting, with a lot of droning committee reports. (Did I actually fall asleep while typing that???) Instead of one big meeting where you address every topic under the sun, try some mini-meetings where you take up specific issues. • Small is beautiful When a new member does show up, it can be tempting to try to corner him or her into taking on some big task—like running for chapter chair or heading up the bargaining committee. Avoid that temptation at any cost! Instead, start by identifying what your members are good at or like to do and see if you can translate that into something the chapter needs. • Speak like a human person For new members, even the way union leaders talk can seem off-putting. Acronyms and “alphabet soup” can sound like a foreign language to the uninitiated. So be sure to provide translation and speak like a human person whenever possible. • Food and fun Bottom line: meetings just aren’t fun no matter what kind of topping is on the pizza. So why not try bringing your members together for something that is fun? And if all goes well, you can corner the new guy and try to talk him into being a shop steward...
The Bulletin Board
Labor Guild Courses
Looking to learn more about the labor movement? A course at the Labor Guild is a great place to start. Current courses include “The Steward’s Job,” “Collective Bargaining,” and “Coalitions 2.0,” taught by Local 888 communications and policy director Rand Wilson. Coalitions 2.0 explores effective approaches to coalitions to support collective bargaining, recruiting new members and supporting the fight for a just economy. See the entire list of classes and sign up online at: http://laborguild.com/ product/spring-2013-school-of-labor-management/ Note: chapter funds may be used to pay for Labor Guild classes.
Share the Spark
The Spark comes out monthly and is full of interesting stories and useful tips to help make your union stronger. If you’d like extra copies, contact Orvine Ramos, Local 888 administrative coordinator at email@example.com or by calling the union office.
Computers Available for Members
Need to use a computer or access the Internet? Both are available free of charge at the SEIU Local 888 union hall in Charlestown. The hall is open Monday-Friday from 9AM to 5PM. Members can also make arrangements to come in after hours. For more information call 617-241-3300.
Do you have a question for Sparky? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
your suggestions to Brenda Rodrigu es at: Brodrigues@ seiu888.org
More than 25 Local 888 members attended the chapter leadership training in December. Another training session is being planned for April. Where do you think it should be held? Local 888 officers and staff want to hear from members where they think the best place is to have it. Western Mass? Worcester? The Cape? Merrimack Valley ? Send
What Do You Think?
Local 888 Political Action: Your Voice!
Lobby Day for State Revenue: March 12th
oin the Campaign for Our Communities Lobby Day on March 12. Tell legislators we need to increase state revenue in order to invest in public education, health, safety, transportation and other crucial services. We need a strong economy that provides good jobs if we want Massachusetts to be a great place to live, work and raise a family. One of Local 888’s top legislative priorities is the passage of “An Act to Invest in Our Communities” that would increase revenues for cities and towns. Local 888 member Carla Elder has signed up—and has been talking to her colleagues at Head Start about the lobby day. “We provide the essential services that make our communities strong,” says Elder. “Our elected officials need to hear from us that now is the time to increase investment in our communities.” Elder’s own agency, Head Start, is reeling from federal budget cuts, the result of the so-called “sequestration.” This obscure term will likely cause real harm to the children served by the 38 Head Start agencies in Massachusetts. The 15 percent budget cut will result in teacher layoffs and the closure of at least one center, say Head Start officials. Elder will be sharing her story with state lawmakers on March 12th. To join her and other Local 888 members, contact Dan Hoffer at email@example.com.
Jorge Vargas, member of the Committee on Political Action or COPA. Vargas is working to get more members involved in Local 888 political campaigns. “Our members are very concerned about how public policy affects them and their children. The union is a vehicle to affect change and fight for a better future.”
2013 Legislative Priorities
“An Act to Invest in Our Communities” (HD 2261/ SD 1012)
Raising revenue to maintain the services we need and value.
Earned Sick Time Act (SD861/HD504)
A bill allowing private sector employees to earn sick time for hours worked.
U.S. Senate Candidate Forum Saturday, March 9, 10AM–noon 150 Mt. Vernon street, Dorchester, MA Lobby Day for State Revenue Tuesday, March 12, 11AM-1PM Gardner Auditorium, Statehouse COPA Meeting Tuesday, March 26, 6PM Local 888 union hall, Charlestown Statewide Primary Election Tuesday, April 30 Senate Special Election Tuesday, June 25
Act to Provide Safe Workspace for Employees of the Commonwealth – Executive Order and Legislation (HB 1871/SB 710)
A bill to provide OSHA protections to state employees.
For a complete list of this year’s legislative priorities, visit http://www.seiu888.org/copa/2013-legislativepriorities/
Stay in the loop and up-to-date by ‘liking’ Local 888 on Facebook. Find us at: www.facebook.com/ SEIULocal888
Brockton Library Contract Settled
Congratulations to Local 888 members at the Brockton Public Library for settling their contract.The three year agreement includes several provisions that members fought hard for, including the extension of recall rights from two years to three, a wage differential for library staff who work at night or on the weekends, vacation buy back, an increase in longevity for both full-time and part-time employees and an annual increase in money that can be used to help staff obtain degrees. Chapter chair Sue McCormick credits a bargaining team that worked well together. “This was the first contract I’d ever negotiated so having a team of great people around me and assistance from our local was really important,” says McCormick. When negotiations are scheduled to begin again this summer (the new agreement covers the period July 2010-July 2013), McCormick says that she’s hoping to see some new faces on the bargaining team. “It’s good to have new sets of eyes on each contract.”
Concerns Shared in Brockton
Local 888 members who work at the Brockton Housing Authority met recently with officers Mark DelloRusso and Brenda Rodrigues. The members expressed frustration with working “out of title” at higher level jobs without commensurate compensation. Apparently repeated attempts over the years to get management to consider reclassification have been stymied. But after the meeting, word got back to management and the next day they proposed setting up a committee to study job descriptions—which could lead to reclassification! Got issues or problems where you work? Call your rep and set up a meeting for Mark or Brenda to attend!
Local 888 Welcomes New Staff Members
Local 888 is pleased to welcome three new field representatives. Maureen Medeiros, Peter Bala and Mari Cooney. Also joining the team: Karen “Rudy” Renaud, who will serve as the new external organizing director. The new staff will be working directly with chapters: providing assistance with bargaining, Rudy Renaud helping to strengthen chapters and recruit new members. Each brings a wealth of experience to Local 888. Maureen previously worked at AFSCME Council 93, where she served as the chief negotiator for more than 40 collective bargaining agreements. Peter recently completed law school and has worked on issues of fair housing, discrimination and employment law. Maureen Medeiros Mari spent many years in the
Officers Mark DelloRusso and Brenda Rodrigues attend a meeting with Local 888 members at the Brockton Housing Authority.
private sector before joining the staff of State Representative Brian Dempsey, chairman of the Way and Means committee. Rudy comes to Local 888 after more than a decade as a field organizer, lead organizer and staff representative with AFSCME Council 93 and SEIU Locals 1199, Peter Bala 285 and 284. Rudy is also a member of the Greenfield City Council. Welcome aboard! Mari Cooney