January 2014

Major Changes Coming to Public Healthcare Facilities in Nashville

As reported in The Tennessean, Mayor Karl Dean announced plans regarding future operations of Bordeaux nursing home and the Knowles assisted living facility in Nashville.

Local 205 is in discussions with Metro officials and the owners of the private companies to ensure that jobs, workers rights, and patient care are not put at risk. More information on this as it develops.

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VICTORY! Arbitrator Rules In Favor of Workers at Methodist Medical Center!

Last year, members of Local 205 working at Methodist Medical Center filed a grievance over radical changes to the company’s attendance policy. After initial attempts to find a solution failed, both parties agreed to arbitration to resolve lingering issues.

After hearing all sides, the arbitrator issued a decision on the Local’s grievance at MMC. Here are the major findings:

  1. He agreed with SEIU that Methodist’s drastic cut in the number of occurrences needed to get a first-step verbal warning was unreasonable.
  2. He agreed that MMC’s cut in the number of occurrences needed for progressive discipline was also unreasonable.
  3. He rejected MMC’s claim that it could make these changes as a “management right” and ordered them to rescind these changes and go back to the previous standards.
  4. He also ruled that MMC should not have based any discipline under the new policy on occurrences happening before January 1, 2013 and ordered that those disciplinary actions be removed.

The arbitrator did find that counting a failure to clock in as a tardy was not unreasonable, but he recognized there are exceptions to this that should be handled on a case-by-case basis. He also said that it was not unreasonable to count an absence from a voluntary extra shift as an occurrence.

The arbitrator did find that counting a failure to clock in as a tardy was not unreasonable, but he recognized there are exceptions to this that should be handled on a case-by-case basis. He also said that it was not unreasonable to count an absence from a voluntary extra shift as an occurrence.

“This is a big victory for all workers at Methodist Medical and it shows that when we stand together, workers can win,” says RN Chief Steward Kay Golden, who was a key witness in the arbitration.

“With contract negotiations coming up this year, we know there are challenges ahead, and we need to be strong and united,” says S&T Chief Steward Jeff Massey. “If you are a member… we need you to get more involved and talk to your co-workers who are not members yet. Remind them that this is a major victory that would not have happened without our union.”

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Tennessee Has Top Union Growth in the U.S.

While statistics continue to put Tennessee near the bottom of the list among the fifty states on things like education, health, quality of life and other categories, the Volunteer State finally has something to be proud of.

According to The Tennessean, the Bureau of Labor Statistics discovered that “Tennessee unions quietly added 31,000 members in 2013, representing the largest percentage increase in union membership in the country.” Specifically, Tennessee has experienced a 25% increase in union membership.

While some of the growth can be attributed to jobs spurred on by construction, it is worth noting that Local 205 also saw an increase in membership in 2013 as well.

“Tennesseans are tired of seeing political attacks on their job security, their retirement, their wages, and now their lunch breaks by radicals in the state government and Washington D.C. and they are responding by joining unions,” said Doug Collier, president of SEIU Local 205. “We are committed to making sure this trend continues in 2014 so that working people have a voice in their job and can participate in the American Dream that unions have helped advance over the last century.”

Read the complete story here.

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Proposed “Option” by State Legislator Could Gut Lunch Breaks

Add this one to the “read the fine print” category. State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), filed a bill that he claims “give workers the option of waiving their 30-minute lunch break.” Sounds, OK, right? I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a choice to work through their unpaid lunch break so they could leave work a half-hour early to pick up the kids or get an errand done?

But here’s the rub. Buried in the text of the bill is a provision that “also allows employers the discretion to decide whether they want to continue requiring breaks.” So if the bill passes, you could get your “option” to waive a break, but then again, your boss could take away all of your breaks… permanently. And not just yours, but all your co-workers’ as well.

The moral of this story is that the devil is in the details, especially when you hear that a politician who has always been hostile to workers rights has had a sudden change of heart. But don’t believe us, read the article in The Tennessean, which includes a quote from Local 205 president Doug Collier.

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