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Posted By: Council 93
Members of the Massachusetts House of Representative will be debating their proposed FY2019 budget starting on Monday, April 23.

As part of our ongoing effort to control Group Insurance Commission (GIC) healthcare costs for our members, AFSCME and other public sector unions are seeking to amend the house budget to provide unions with additional representation and stronger voting power on the GIC.

As workers who rely on the GIC for health insurance coverage, AFSCME members know all too well that their out-of-pocket costs have risen steadily over the past several years through drastic increases in co-payments and deductibles. These increases are voted on and approved by the appointed members of the GIC. Unfortunately, the labor representatives on the commission are significantly outnumbered by management representatives, making it extremely difficult for us to stop this continued cost shifting.

Amendment #379 would address this imbalance and give us a fighting chance to stop cost shifting and other potentially harmful initiatives.

We are asking all AFSCME Massachusetts members who receive coverage through the GIC to take some time soon to contact their state representative and ask him or her to co-sponsor and fight for amendment #379.

Members can find the contact information for their state representative by entering their address in this link.

Calls are most effective but those who are not comfortable making a call are encouraged to at least email their representatives.

Please note at this time we asking for calls to state representatives only. We will ask for calls to state senators at a later date.

Below are some suggestions and talking points for making calls and sending emails:

For far too long, the voices of workers and their families have been under-represented on the GIC due to a drastic imbalance between management and labor representatives on the commission.

Amendment #379 would help to address this imbalance by providing labor unions with just two additional seats on the Group Insurance Commission.

The amendment does not add any additional costs to the bottom line of the budget.

I am respectfully urging my state representative to co-sponsor and fight for this amendment.

Close your call/email by sharing how steady increases in co-payments and deductibles have impacted you and your family.

Finally, hold your representative accountable by asking the person you speak with to get back to you to inform you of the representative's position.

Please email any responses you get to Jim Durkin. You can also call Jim anytime with questions or comments at 617-367-6012.

Posted By: Council 93

In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Memphis, TN to express his solidarity with striking AFSCME Local 1733 members. It was there, 50 years ago today, that he was assassinated as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.

On anniversary of his death, we remember the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his dedication to civil, social, and labor rights for all.

Posted By: Council 93
AFSCME Council 93 is accepting registrations for our next Financial Standards Code/Treasurers Training to be held on Saturday, May 5th, 2018 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM at the Crowne Plaza in Nashua, NH. This training provides an excellent introduction to, and overview of, the important financial responsibilities of local union officers.

Local Union Presidents, Treasurers, Trustees and Executive Board members are welcome to attend and newly-elected officers are urged to attend.

The $40.00 per person registration fee includes a lunch buffet.

Click here for more details including a registration form and information on overnight accommodations for those who may wish to stay on Friday evening.

Posted By: John Killoy
Arlington, MA- School custodians in Arlington, MA are now guaranteed exclusive access to overtime shifts thanks to a recent arbitration win by the Council 93 legal team.

The February 14th decision by arbitrator Nancy Peace, ensures that the members of Local 680 will no longer be pushed further down the overtime rotation list by supervisors who have been wrongfully grabbing the valuable extra pay from union members since the year 2000.

Through the hard work and quality representation of their union, only Local 680 members will have access to overtime shifts going forward."Given that the collective bargaining agreement is a contract between the town and AFSCME Local 680, and that AFSCME is recognized as the exclusive representative of the custodians but not their supervisors, the overtime distribution provision must be read as a benefit applying only to AFSCME members and not to supervisors of custodians," the arbitrator wrote in her decision. "By allowing the supervisors to participate equally with the custodians on the overtime list, the town is improperly reducing the value of the overtime benefit for which the union has successfully negotiated."

The case started with a January 2014 class action grievance filed on behalf of the custodians. Local 680 President Mark Murphy lauded the cooperative effort and staying power of the Council and his union. "It was a long hard battle but Local 680 and Council 93 never quit," said Murphy.

Posted By: John Killoy
In this issue we highlight recent AFSCME Council 93 news and events:

  • Privatization victory in New Hampshire
  • New members in Norfolk County
  • Improvements at the GIC
  • Statewide rallies to demand more union jobs
  • New state contract for Unit 2 in Massachusetts
  • Expanding workplace safety provisions
  • A special school in Canton
  • A campus police officer who went above and beyond
  • Some exciting upcoming events
Click HERE to read it!

Posted By: John Killoy
We have good news to report in the ongoing fight to provide a safer work environment for our members.

Governor Baker has signed into law a bill that extends OSHA protections to public employees working in municipalities, public higher education, quasi-public agencies and authorities like the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.

The bill cleared the legislature earlier this month with the strong support of AFSCME Council 93, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, and other public-sector unions. It was signed by Governor Baker on March 9th. However, the new law will not take effect until February 1, 2019.

The legislation, which extends the same workplace safety standards afforded to private sector employees, builds on progress made in 2014 when a law was passed providing these important protections to state executive branch employees.

Under the new law, the Massachusetts Attorney General has enforcement powers and may bring "a civil action for declaratory or injunctive relief to enforce the law."

Council 93 is committed to working with our members to address any and all workplace safety issues. If you believe you are facing hazards on the job due to inadequate or wrongful safety practices, email Council 93 so we can work with you to address the problem.

Posted By: Council 93
A dedicated group of private-sector human services workers are looking forward to a brighter future for themselves, their families, and the people they care for, after taking the courageous step of forming a union with AFSCME Council 93.

The workers, who provide quality, compassionate care for developmentally disabled adults at ARC of South Norfolk facilities in Westwood and West Roxbury, voted for the union after working with Council 93 over the past several months on an intensive organizing campaign.

Leaders of the group first reached out to Council 93 last Fall. Like all human services professionals, their primary concerns were focused not on themselves, but on the welfare and safety of the vulnerable individuals they care for on a daily basis. Their requests were simple. They wanted proper equipment, basic safety precautions, and a clean, safe environment for their medically fragile clients.

Michelle Sola, a program coordinator at ARC, summed things up perfectly for her colleagues during the organizing campaign. "If our voice isn't heard, the program suffers," Sola said. "AFSCME can help to give us that voice, and if our voice is protected, so are the voices of every individual we are honored to serve."

Sola's voice was echoed by her colleague Alicia Russell. "I support the union because I support the idea of standing beside my valued coworkers in hopes of adequately providing services for the remarkable individuals we serve," she said. "I also feel it's important to provide these services in an environment that is fair, comfortable and deemed respectful for direct care staff as well as the individuals we serve."

The voices of Sola and Russell, along with many others, had a resounding impact. Despite strong opposition from management, the group worked with the team at Council 93 to educate their co-workers and convince them that the union was the only pathway towards their goals. It worked. When it came time to vote on February 28th, an overwhelming majority of the group voted for the union.

It wasn't always easy, but AFSCME's organizing team were constantly by their sides. After some initial meetings, AFSCME organizers and attorneys took them step-by-step through the process of forming a union, guiding the workers and helping them refute and rebut the deceptive claims of management.

As a result, the men and women at the ARC of South Norfolk are now a part of the largest and fastest growing public sector union in the country. With over 1.6 million members nationwide, and over 45,000 in Council 93, AFSCME is widely-recognized as one of the most respected and influential labor unions in the country.

"We're honored by the trust that these workers have placed in our union and we look forward to working with them to achieve their goals," said Council 93 Executive Director Frank Moroney. "We have a long and successful track record of fighting and winning in this union. There will be challenges ahead, but I can assure these workers that we will be right by their side every step of the way to meet these challenges head on."

Interested in forming a union with AFSCME? It starts with a confidential conversation. Click here for more information.

Posted By: Council 93
Nashua, NH- The two-and-a-half year battle against privatization of Nashua School Custodian Services ended in a clear and decisive victory this week when the city's newly-elected school board voted to end the district's pursuit of outsourcing.

The February 26th vote by the board was a direct result of our union's active involvement in the most recent school board election and marked the end of a comprehensive campaign that included grassroots community organizing, collective bargaining, legal action, media relations, political action and textbook examples of labor solidarity.

"Anyone who doubts the power and importance of union protection should take a long, hard look at what we accomplished in Nashua," said Council 93 Executive Director Frank Moroney. "We employed every resource we have in this campaign. Our field staff, our political action department, our attorneys, our communications team – everyone was on the job. Most importantly, the members of local 365 worked with us and did everything we asked of them. We're thrilled that this difficult ordeal is finally behind them and we look forward to continuing to work with the members of Local 365 for many years to come."

The union's fight began in September of 2015 when the board of education took a secret 8-1 vote in executive session to outsource the work, with former board member Kim Kleiner casting the lone vote in opposition. The vote, held just days after the deadline for candidates to declare their candidacy for the school board, created an uproar in the city and left many believing it was timed to insulate the board members from voter backlash. But at the first public school board meeting after the secret vote, board members soon realized they were not going to be let off the hook. More than 200 custodians, teachers, students, and parents turned out to criticize the board and oppose privatization, starting one of the most remarkable and unified campaigns against outsourcing in the state.

Since the board took the vote to privatize after the deadline for candidates to run for the school board, AFSCME worked with the staunchly pro-custodian Nashua Teachers Union to recruit a slate of write-in candidates. In less than two weeks' time, there was an extensive public education campaign that garnered 19,000 votes for five write-in candidates. Although it did not swing the majority, it was enough to get the attention of privatization proponents on the board and proved the union would be a force in the next election.

Meanwhile, in the weeks and months following the initial vote by the school board, Local 365 members and Council 93 staff kept a regular presence at weekly school board meetings. Working together, they prepared an extensive list of the many duties and responsibilities of the custodians, which helped to shape the school district's Request for Proposal (RFP) bidding process and resulted in significantly higher minimum bids from private vendors. That, combined with media and public relations strategies employed by the union, generated greater awareness of the value the custodians provided to the school communities and a deeper appreciation for their work.

In December of 2015, Council 93 field staff and attorneys worked to file an unfair labor practice with the state's Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PELRB), in protest of the school board's efforts to negotiate a new contract with non-school custodian members of Local 365. Eight months later, in August of 2016, the PERLB found in favor of the union and ordered the board to begin negotiations with the entire bargaining unit. Later that month, the board voted to simultaneously begin negotiations and appeal the PERLB decision to the state Supreme Court. But by then, support for privatization on the board had eroded significantly. In May of 2016, a motion to abandon privatization and open contract negotiations with the custodians failed by just a 5-4 margin, with then board chair Sandra Ziehm publicly stating she could no longer support privatization.

In a complicated September 2017 ruling, the Supreme Court essentially ruled in favor of the employer's ability to privatize but ordered or "remanded" both parties back to the PERLB to determine the applicability of the contract's evergreen clause, which states provisions of an expired contract remain in effect until a successor agreement is negotiated. Since the expired contract included specific language prohibiting privatization, determination of the validity and applicability of the evergreen clause is essential. The matter of the evergreen clause is still pending.

While the long legal process was difficult on the custodians, the skillful work of the Council 93 field staff and legal team prevented any final action on privatization and provided the union time to prepare for the 2017 school board elections. Building on their efforts from the 2015 write-in campaign, Local 365 worked with the Council's Political Action team to thoroughly vet candidates and make formal endorsements. They then moved into an enthusiastic Get-Out-the-Vote campaign. On Election Day, fifty-seven members, more than half of the unit, joined Council 93 staff members at the polls educating the public on the candidates appearing on the ballot. Their efforts played a key role in defeating pro-privatization candidates and electing a pro-worker majority that cast the 6-1 vote this week.

Posted By: Council 93

The GIC Board of Commissioners met this morning and voted to adopt plan rates for Fiscal Year 2019, which begins on July 1, 2018. Overall, the news is positive for active employees receiving coverage through the GIC. The average increase across all plans is just 0.4 % - well below the market average. However, individual plan cost increases/decreases range from a reduction of 3.9 percent to an increase of 6.9%. Therefore, how individual workers are impacted will depend on what plan they choose during the upcoming open enrollment period. This chart provides information on individual plan premium costs with comparisons to current premiums and the premiums that will be effective July 1, 2018.

We strongly encourage our members to use the upcoming open enrollment period of April 4 to May 2 to thoroughly research their options so they can make an informed decision. We especially encourage attending one of the many healthcare fairs that will be offered around the state, where members can get detailed answers directly from plan providers.

Today's vote comes just three weeks after the GIC voted to reverse its decision to eliminate a number of insurance providers that are currently covering more than half of the people receiving health insurance through the GIC. The intense public and political pressure leveled against the GIC by AFSCME and other public-sector unions was the driving force behind the GIC's vote to reverse their decision and maintain all current providers. No doubt, these efforts also provided the GIC with the motivation needed to do their best to minimize plan cost increases for the upcoming fiscal year. In other words, the strength of our union and the activism of our members has made a big impact. AFSCME Council 93 thanks all of our members who took the time to voice their concerns directly to the GIC and we look forward to continuing to work with our members to make substantive changes at the commission.

Posted By: Council 93

Working People Day of Action Logo20180220134326
America needs union jobs.

On February 26th, thousands of working people across Massachusetts will join a national day of action as we speak out for good, union jobs. The Working People's Day of Action coincides with the Supreme Court hearings on the Janus vs. AFSCME case. That case is part of a well-funded campaign by the wealthy special interests to divide us from our co-workers – and to limit the power in numbers we have together in a union.

Fifty years ago, in February 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. joined striking sanitation workers in Tennessee as they fought for the freedom to join together in a union for dignity and respect on the job. Today working people are rising up to defend the very freedoms for which Dr. King fought and died, including the freedom to join a strong union for a better life.

Learn about an event near you and RSVP here....

- Amherst: 12:00pm, Cape Cod Lounge, Student Union, Umass Amherst 01003

- Boston: 12:00pm, Boston Firehouse, 125 Purchase St, Boston, MA 02110

- Fall River: 12:00pm, 1567 North Main St, Fall River, MA 02720

- Greenfield: 3:30pm, Main Campus Building, Greenfield Community College, 1 College Dr, Greenfield, MA 01301

-Lawrence: 12:00pm, 280 Merrimack Street, Lawrence, MA 01843

- Somerville: 12pm, City Hall, 93 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

- New Bedford: 5:00pm, City Hall, 133 William St, New Bedford, MA 02740

-Springfield: 5pm, 95 Liberty St, Springfield, MA 01103

- Worcester: 5:00pm, Worcester City Hall, 455 Main St, Worcester, MA 01608

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AFSCME Council 93

AFSCME Council 93 represents more than 45,000 state, county and municipal employees in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.

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