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Local 888 members, SEIU help Walsh win
Other endorsed candidates fare well
ueled by support from union members and their families throughout Boston, Martin Walsh bested City Councilor John Connolly to become the first new Mayor-elect of Boston in almost 20 years. Walsh’s victory marks the first page of a new chapter for working families around the city. First as a laborer and union president, then as a State Representative and now as Mayor-elect of Boston, Walsh’s continued commitment to fight for working families has time and again set him apart. Walsh’s compassion and strong history of standing up for working families was affirmed by the thousands of union-affiliated volunteers and leaders who donated their time during this contentious race, including hundreds of SEIU members. Support for Walsh at SEIU Local 888 was evidenced by the strong enthusiasm from members at an October 10 forum that both candidates were invited to. The union’s Committee on Political Action voted overwhelming to endorse Walsh immediately after the forum. Local 888 members and our team of member political organizers actively promoted Walsh’s candidacy by canvassing in members’ neighborhoods through Election Day to help get out the vote. For more election news, go to: www.seiu888. org/category/union-updates/
Local 888 organizer Christina Villafranca gathered signatures on election day for the Raise Up Massachusetts campaign in Malden. She’s shown here with victorious Malden City Council candidate Debbie DeMaria.
Retiree Health Bill Goes Too Far
undreds of union members crowded into Gardner Auditorium on Oct. 31 for a hearing on Gov. Patrick’s proposal to raise the age and years of service required to be eligible for health care coverage in retirement. In written testimony submitted to the Public Service Committee, Local 888 President Mark DelloRusso said that while House Bill 59 addresses real problems, it goes too far. Said DelloRusso: “make no mistake; the solution to retiree health care costs should not come exclusively off the backs of retirees on fixed incomes.” House Bill 59 is an attempt to address the very real problem of unfunded retiree health care liabilities, which threaten the long-term stability of state and local government finances. Most of the unions for state and municipal workers, including Local 888 have been very engaged with the GoverLocal 888 and Local 509 members at a nor and the recent hearing on the future of retiree Legislature health insurance. to work on the issue and be part of the solution. The major challenge is to address the problems of long-term stability, affordability, security, and the availability of this benefit for retirees now and into the future.
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In this issue:
• Play Crazy 8’s and win a gift card • Member spotlight: Patrick Meade
Dear Sparky: I never thought I’d be writing a letter to a dog before but I’ve got something on my mind and I’m hoping you can advise. We just got a new contract where I work and, no offense, but it’s a dog. Not only did it take forever to reach a deal but we have to start all over next year. I’m starting to wonder what the whole point of this exercise is. Got any thoughts? Signed, Frustrated in Franklin Dear Frustrated: Hows about you give me Mr. (or Mrs.) Bossperson’s address and I growl at them until you get a better deal? Seriously: you put your paw on a big issue. Bargaining takes work—and not just by a few people who are on the official bargaining committee. In fact the key to getting a decent contract takes organizing. When you and your co-workers put your demands forward, management needs to know that you’re barking—I mean speaking—on behalf of everyone. There’s a reason why strong locals get the best contracts. They go into bargaining with a wellorganized plan, including a strategy of what to do if trouble arises at the table. You might start by setting up a contract action team or CAT—bosses hate cats. And if that fails, give me a jingle. I’m grrrrrrrrrrrrreat at the table, especially when there’s a little something to munch on. Sparky
AFRAM Meeting: Understanding Your Contract
When: Tuesday, November 12, 5:30PM Where: Boston City Hall Light Refreshments will be served For more information, contact Lorna at (857) 251-7792 Please RSVP to email@example.com as soon as possible .
Steward Training in SE Mass.
When: Tuesday, November 12 and 19, 6-8PM Where: Greater Southeastern Mass Labor Council office , 556 Pleasant St., New Bedford Light Refreshments will be served COST: $75.00. Note: Local 888 chapter funds may be used for training! For more info, contact Kim Wilson Venancio at 508-999-8781 or firstname.lastname@example.org
When: Wednesday, November 13, 6-8:00PM Where: Local 888 union hall, 52 Roland Street, Charlestown
Raise Up Mass Signature Drive
When: Nov. 16 - 17; Where: Statewide Help the final push to gather signatures to raise the minimum wage and win earned sick time on the ballot in 2014. More info at: http://raiseupma.org. For petitions, contact the union hall at 617.241.3300.
Local 888 Executive Board Meeting
When: Wednesday, November 20, 10:00AM Where: Local 888 union hall.
Play our Crazy 8’s game and you could win one of three gift cards worth $25, $50 or $75. Here’s how it works: whenever you see the number 8 in this edition of the Spark, make a note. Add up the sum of the 8s and mail or fax your answer back to Local 888. All correct answers will be entered into a drawing to be held next month. Mail your entry by November 30th to SEIU Local 888 , 52 Roland Street, Charlestown, MA , 02129 or fax to 617.241.5150. Be sure to include your name, chapter or workplace and email add ress and/or phone number. Only members in good standing are eligible to win. Good luck!
Win a $75 Gift Card
More than 20 members stopped by to celebrate the opening of the new Merrimack Valley Local 888 union office in Lowell. The new office is located at 104 University Ave, Lowell, MA 01854. The office is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM or by appointment. SEIU Local 888 members are united in more than 20 chapters in the Merrimack Valley.
Health Bill Goes Too Far
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Talk to Patrick Meade about the rights of workers to join a union and the conversation quickly turns passionate. “Unions are vital to workers. We need solidarity and to be organized to deal with the management if they treat us unfairly, “ says Meade, who works in the City Hall Registry in Boston. When Meade saw that a shop steward position was vacant he decided to go for it in order to become more active in Local 888. He says that his decision was inspired in part by watching last year’s high-profile teachers strike in Chicago. His interest in union-related activism has only grown since then. In September Meade joined other Local 888 members in Washington DC for a march commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. While Meade wasn’t sure what to expect with his new position as shop steward, he’s had some help getting adjusted. He won a contest on the Local 888 website, taking home Bob Schwartz’s book, The Legal Rights of Union Stewards. That’s been a big help, says Meade, but he’s not done learning yet. “The more I know, the more I can help other workers know their rights.”
Do you know a member who should be featured in the Spark? Write to spark@ seiu888.org.
Municipalities spent about $800 million on health care for retirees last year. Retiree healthcare costs are projected to grow to more than $1 billion within five years and to nearly $1.5 billion in 10 years. Both pension and retiree health care costs are growing faster than municipal revenue, complicated by Proposition 2½ which restricts the amount communities can levy in taxes. Patrick’s legislation proposes raising the number of years public employees work before they are eligible for retiree health benefits from 10 to 20 years. It would also increase the minimum eligibility age by five years for each employee group. For most employees, it would go to age 60, 55 for specified hazardous duty employees and 50 for public safety employees.If approved by the Legislature, the changes would be applied to current employees, with exemptions for those close to retirement. Gail Silva, who works for the IT Dept. in the Town of Westborough attended the statehouse hearing and was impressed, “Some of the committee members were very thoughtful and actually seemed to be interested in what people were saying,” said Silva. “I hope they don’t decide to pass the cost on to future retirees. Why wasn’t government properly funding these retiree plans? And why are they talking about burdening us instead of challenging the outrageous costs of health care. That was the elephant in the room.”
For a copy of Mark DelloRusso’s testimony contact Rand Wilson at email@example.com or call 617.241.3300.
Everett Nurses Unite in Local 888
About 15 nurses chose SEIU Local 888 when they wanted a strong voice in their work and careers in the Everett Schools. “We take care of the kids -- and the staff – in all of the Everett schools,” said Christen Piscatelli, one of the more active RNs. “We need to have a voice at work and Local 888 was the right fit.” The group won union recognition with “majority sign up” and is now preparing for negotiations. They met on Oct. 30 at the union hall to discuss their priorities and make plans to win a good first contract. “We looked at other contracts in Everett and for school nurses elsewhere,” said RN Angela Ciaramaglia.
Agreement reached between City and Springfield Bus Monitors
When the City of Springfield unilateraly changed its agreements with bus monitors, requiring them to report to the bus depot rather than being picked up at their residence, the monitors fought back. The monitors filed a grievance, arguing that the change to their working conditions made it impossible for some members to do their jobs. That grievance was recently settled and monitors will once again be picked up and dropped off at their place of residence. Shop steward Germaine Murchison says she’s thrilled with the outcome, but that the fight isn’t over.
Brockton Food Service Workers
Brockton School food service workers ratified a new three year contract on October 29 with cost of living raises of 2%, 1% and 1%. Members also won a new 10-year step, which gives workers who’ve been on the job for ten years an additional 4% raise. “We’ve been fighting for years to win a new step,” said negotiating committee member Lorraine Monroe. Most lead workers and primary cooks are now seven hour positions with the three cooks getting pay bumps. The evaluation period was reduced from six to two weeks for bid transfers.
Everett school nurses—and new Local 888 members— Angela Ciaramaglia and Christen Piscatelli.
Brockton Librarians win on educational incentive pay
Librarians in Brockton recently negotiated increases to their incentive pay for advanced degrees. However management there believed that the language of the contract meant that they could pay members their incentives in 2014. The members believed otherwise and filed a grievance to get their pay in 2013. There was as much as $12,000 at stake. On October 24 the union and management settled the grievance in favor of the members.
Randolph Town Hall
Randolph members won a new three year agreement that addresses new evening hours for the Town Hall. Members will get comp time for staying late on Monday nights. Members will see their pay increase up to 4% (and no less than 2.5%) in the first year. In other years, raises will depend on local tax receipts (but will not be less than .5 %). Members also won a $100 increase in their longevity.
Brockton Food Service negotiating committee members Jean Roy, Linda Machnig, Diane Matta, Laurie Healy, (not pictured, Lorraine Monroe).
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