When employees working for the city of Chattanooga contacted SEIU Local 205 back in 2006, they made it clear that they wanted to see the unfair treatment of city employees end and they wanted to have their voices heard in the halls of power.
Eight years later – only days before the historic vote to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga – a new Memorandum of Understanding (also known as an “M.O.U.”) was signed by Mayor Andy Berke and officials at Local 205. The new labor agreement, among other things, gives workers a seat at the table on everything from department policies to budgets to a fair appeals process for employees.
“It’s important that the rank-and-file get a seat at the table because we know what works and what doesn’t,” said Alonzo Strickland, an equipment operator for the Public Works department. “This has been a long time coming and I’m glad to be a part of this union.”
“The new M.O.U. means that workers have the right to good representation and things won’t be one-sided like they sometimes were in the past,” said Sharron Pryor, a rec center employee for the Parks & Recreation department. “What we need now are more people signing up for the union and joining together so that we have more strength and can make more improvements to our pay and benefits.”
The M.O.U. is in effect until 2017 and was signed in a small ceremony attended by SEIU members, Mayor Berke, and city council members. Details of the labor agreement were reported on by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.