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Split Decision: Members Divided Over Lynch, Markey; No Endorsement
record number of Local 888 members attended a packed forum with over 500 other SEIU members from across Massachusetts to ask questions and listen to the two Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate on March 9. Congressmen Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch fielded questions on immigration reform, health care, the federal budget and other issues important to SEIU members. The candidates for the Republican nomination, Dan Winslow, Gabriel Gomez, and Michael Sullivan, declined invitations to attend the forum. When it was over, members filled out scorecards on the candidates to guide the SEIU State Council endorsement process. “Local 888 members were about evenly split for each candidate,” said Mark DelloRusso, president of SEIU Local 888. “That’s why we voted for ‘no endorsement,’ when the State Council met the following week. But the other SEIU locals favored Rep. Markey.” As a result, SEIU Locals 509, 615 and 1199 will urge their members to support Markey, but Local 888 will remain neutral until after the primary. “Both candidates are strong and no matter who wins
the primary, they are people who we can work with,” said DelloRusso. “They understand what our members are going through with this economy and either one will do a good job in the U.S. Senate.”
No matter who you support, be sure to vote in the primary on April 30th.
Local 888 members joined hundreds of SEIU members from across the state for a forum with Senate candidates Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch.
Framingham Professionals Win First Contract
group of more than 20 professionals who work for the town of Framingham were frustrated when they received no raises for three years. They realized that they needed a union and collective bargaining to get raises and address many other concerns they had. They formed their union in 2011 and it took a resolute bargaining committee nearly two years to win their first contract. Finally on March 22 the team reached a three-year contract with the town’s top management.
Bargaining committee member Kitty Mahoney says that the team is thrilled with the outcome. “Our first contract represents the best interests of our workforce, with solid employment protections through articles which serve us all as a collective; cooperatively and with solidarity. It was an honor to work with the members of this committee. I am humbled by the process and thankful for the opportunity. All the work was worth it!”
Congratulations to the Framingham Professionals who recently won a first contract, the culmination of a two-year effort. Pictured: Local 888’s Lisa Field and negotiating committee members Kitty Mahoney, Mike McCarthy, Jim Murphy, Ed Hicks. Not pictured, Alan Holt.
Dear Sparky: I’m what you’d call a “good” employee. I’ve never had a problem with my boss and I don’t expect to. This description fits pretty much everyone I work with except for one guy—let’s call him “Bad Apple.” Here’s my issue: we all pay union dues and I’m guessing that the vast majority of our money goes to pay for one coworker’s grievances—and I do mean grievances. Questioning in Quincy Dear Questioning: Geez—other than that, how do you feel about Mr. Apple? Look: it’s an unpleasant reality of working for a living that there’s a “Bad Apple” in every bushel. Sounds like you have some great coworkers, though, and as a group, especially a group that has the good fortune to be part of a union, you can actually do something to help this situation. First step: become a leader in your chapter and convince your coworkers to do the same. The more leaders in your chapter the faster and easier it is to fix things before they ever reach the grievance stage and cost anybody a dime. But don’t forget: these protections exist for a reason. Filing grievances is the mechanism you and your colleagues have for enforcing your contract. In other words: “use it or lose it.” Unfortunately, another reality of working for a living is that there are a bazillion bad bosses out there and you could end up with one tomorrow, in which case your union contract will be your new best friend.
Rally and March for Immigration Reform with a Path to Citizenship
When: Saturday, April 6, 11AM Where: Faneuil Hall, Boston MA For questions or more information, please call 617-878-7499
Just Cause: A Union Guide to Winning Discipline Cases
When: Wednesday, April 10, 6-9PM Where: UMass Lowell, North Campus, Kitson 309 Cost: $12 A training led by labor lawyer Robert Schwartz, author of several books on workplace rights including The Legal Rights of Union Stewards. For more information, or to register, contact Sue D’Amore @ 978-934-3256 or email: Susan_Damore@uml.edu
Workers’ Memorial Day Commemoration and Rally
When: Thursday, April 25, noon-1:15PM Where: In front of the Massachusetts State House For more information call MassCOSH at 617-825SAFE (7233) or visit www.masscosh.org.
Chapter Leadership Training Initiative
When: Saturday, April 27, 8AM-3:30PM Where: Leominster Elks, 134 N Main St. Strategies and tips to build a more effective organization, including: • Enlisting more member activists • Social/economic context of unions today • One-on-one organizing • Running effective and productive meetings Minimum of 2 leaders per chapter. To register call 617-241-3300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have a question for Sparky? Send it to email@example.com.
in Western Attention SEIU Local 888 members and Central Massachusetts:
Membership Caucus Meetings
other chapters in Interested in meeting members from ts or build comyour area? Want to compare contrac 888’s Assistant Direcmunity support? Lisa Field, Local eduling Western tor of Field Operations will be sch ip caucus meetings Mass. and Central Mass. membersh firstname.lastname@example.org. soon. Interested? Contact Lisa at
SEIU Local 888 Executive Board meeting
When: Wednesday, May 15, 10AM–5PM Where: 52 Roland Street, Charlestown, MA
Why I Support Investing in Our Communities
By Tina Swift , SEIU Local 888 Executive Board Member
recently attended a Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) event. The guest speaker was Lynn Hatch who teaches at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. She gave us a short course on taxes which, in 55 minutes, was the most I’ve ever learned about taxes! • Historically, cutting taxes has not made our economy grow; lower taxes do not promote economic growth. • Between 1960 and 2004, the people who have benefitted from tax cuts have been the 1% of the very, very rich. • While productivity has tripled in the US, wages remain the same. We also learned that taxes can be flat, regressive, or progressive: • Flat taxes: Everyone pays the same rate, BUT it is really regressive due to the fact that not everyone pays the same taxes (exemptions, loopholes, etc.) • Regressive taxes: Lower income people pay a higher share of their income than higher income people. For instance if you earn $20,000 and have to pay $2,000 in sales tax, you are paying a lot more of your income than someone who earns $200,000 and pays $2,000 in sales tax. . • Progressive taxes: If your income goes up, your payment of taxes goes up. The real thrust of the meeting was to build support for The Act to Invest In Our Communities, which would make the Massachusetts income tax more progressive. The Act to Invest In Our Communities: If you earn $50,000 or more, your state income tax will go up a bit. At the same time, the sales tax would be rolled back from 6.25% to 5% (where it was for years). These measures would raise $1.37 BILLION! (We currently have a budget deficit of $3 Billion.) Of course, cuts will have to be made to make up the remainder of the $3 Billion deficit. However, think of $1.37 billion cuts in jobs and services that will not be made. We could then begin repairing bridges, transportation, etc. That sounds like people working to me! By law, the Governor must submit a balanced budget. Let’s enable many of us to keep working and perhaps even save some money from what we earn. How can YOU help? Call your representative and tell them (or their voice mail) that you support a PROGRESSIVE
Local 888 member Tiffany Skogstrom at the WILD in the Winter leadership training. WILD works to strengthen the number, influence and diversity of women at all levels of leadership in the Massachusetts labor movement and beyond.
Massachusetts Income tax and The Act to Invest in Our Communities. If you don’t know who your state representatives are, ask any public reference librarian.
Tina Swift works for the Town of Amherst.
ACTION FACTION—Latino activists, including Local 888 members, met at the union hall on March 23 to ensure the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s platform reflects the concerns of Latinos across the Commonwealth. Nearly 100 people made recommendations for the party platform.The draft platform will be debated and approved by delegates to the party’s convention in Lowell next July. Check out the current party platform at www. massdems.org/platform. Pictured from left: Rosa Matias, Chelseal Solders’ Home, Margarita Franco, Chelsea City Hall, Enio Lopez, Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, and Jorge Vargas, Boston Public Schools Planning and Engineering.
New Contract for Steamship Authority
How often do you have to go to mediation after two negotiating sessions? Not too often—but Local 888 did in the case of the Steamship Authority. Parity between contracts was management’s answer to almost every proposal until it came to wages, then it was a different story. The team held firm on some proposals and ended up with a three year contract with raises of 2.75%, 2.75% and 2.5%, “super seniority” for the steward in the event of layoffs, as well as an additional day for travel in excess of 200 miles. All in all, not a bad contract in this economy. Thanks to Donna St. John, Ruth Grundhoefer, Pat Jette, Beth Rowe, Camille Carter and Shari Duncan for their hard work.
New Stewards Chosen at Chelsea Soldiers Home
Local 888 members at the Chelsea Soldiers Home held steward elections on March 20. Enio Lopez, Mary Sullivan , Elmer Arriaza, Chris Callinan, Nelly Sageth and Norma Martinez were elected. Congratulations to all and thank you for your service.
Jesus Sanchez casts his vote for steward during a recent election at the Chelsea Soldiers Home.
“Just Cause” Standard Helps Reinstate Billerica Town Hall Member
Steamship Authority chapter members (from left) Beth Rowe, Ruth Grundhoefer, Donna St. John and Pat Jette.
Cohasset Clerical Workers Hang Tough
A Local 888 member in Billerica recently won his job back after the union fought for his reinstatement. The town accused the member of habitually leaving work early and terminated him. He filed a grievance because he believed he was terminated without just cause. The town forced the grievance to arbitration. The union argued that he should be returned to work because there was no history of progressive discipline and no attempt at counseling. In the February 11 decision, the arbitrators wrote, “It is the opinion of the arbitrator that the Town did not have just cause to discharge the grievant…” If you’d like to learn more about Just Cause, consider attending an event with labor lawyer Robert Schwartz. For details, see the calendar on page 2.
It was a year-long battle of give and take—and a lot of trying to take—but the Town of Cohasset Clerical Association stood strong and recently reached an agreement. The three-year contract includes wage increases of 2%, 2% and 2.5%. Sick time and vacation time for new hires bore the brunt of management’s “taking” in Cohasset, but thanks to a tough negotiating team, no holidays were lost. Hats off to chapter members Ellen Warner and Mary Snow for leading the charge.
The Spark wants to hear from you. Send chapter reports or story ideas to Local 888 communications and policy director, Rand Wilson at email@example.com.
Stay in the loop and up-to-date by ‘liking’ Local 888 on Facebook. Find us at: www.facebook.com/ SEIULocal888
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