When it comes to public safety, strength in numbers and solidarity can literally mean the difference between life and death. That lesson is not lost on both the uniformed officers and the civilians working at the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office (“DCSO”) as both new recruits and long-time veterans have been joining SEIU over the last several months thanks in no small part to Robert Gilmer, a Sheriff’s Deputy who has brought new energy to the DCSO. Over the last several months, Gilmer has worked with SEIU organizers to cultivate a new wave of union activism that has resulted in dozens of new members and some hard-earned union victories.
In addition to the recent victory on seniority rights we reported on, the union was able to get three officer suspensions waived. “The employees are seeing first-hand how the Union can get things done if we are strong, united, and vigilant,” Gilmer says. “I am proud of what we have accomplished at DCSO in 2010 and expect to see even bigger gains for the members in 2011”.
The Union won a crucial victory that protects R.N.’s, patient safety, and the union contract at Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge.
The core issue had to do with an interpretation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Local 205 and Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge. The grievance addressed procedures for registered nurses who were required to work mandatory shifts of four, eight, or twelve hours beyond their regular schedules. Management attempted to say that the contract language, which was proposed by them in 2002, was “ambiguous” while the Union contended that the language was clear and unambiguous. An impartial arbitrator ultimately ruled in favor of the Union and the Hospital was directed to “credit employees called off a mandatory shift with a number of hours equivalent to the length of that called-off shift, toward their 12-hour mandatory shift limit” moving forward.
Inclement weather affected our brothers and sisters in the private sector at Medical Action Industries in West Tennessee. When a supervisor told employees that they had to use paid time off (PTO) after a snowstorm, the workers wanted to have the right to choose between PTO, vacation leave, or unpaid leave. Union stewards heard the workers complaints and delivered the concerns to Management. The next day, the policy was reversed.
The day after SEIU hosted a positive Community Meeting with Metro Schools food service workers and community supporters of healthy food initiatives, administrators urgently sent out an email across the district about privatization in the MNPS food service department. Here’s the most important part:
“Rumors have been circulating regarding the outsourcing of Food Service in Metro Schools. This may have roots in the fact that custodial service was outsourced last year and we recently had a visit from the Council of Great City Schools to provide us a management study of our department. Metro Schools is NOT outsourcing Food Service.”
Even though these “rumors” happened in part because administrator Fred Carr said that the district was “looking at all options” when asked about outsourcing at an in-service meeting, we are nonetheless thankful for this great news. We see it as a sign that the district is being more thoughtful before implementing major changes. It’s a shame that the custodians were not given this consideration, but at least one group of MNPS employees has something to be thankful for in the new year.
When two union members at the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office realized that their shifts and days off were going to be affected by an order from their supervisor, they called their Union.
Turns out the supervisor was not following seniority rules and the departmental policies that had been put in place. Soon, the two officers were made whole and the problem was resolved. “One of the reasons we have a union is to make sure that Management is held accountable to the rules and regulations, just like the rank-and-file are,” says Robert Gilmer, shop steward. “Seniority matters to our members and we have to make sure Management takes it seriously too”.