September 2015

Election 2015: A New Day for Nashville Thanks In Part to SEIU Members!

PoliticalAction_bannerNow that the dust has settled over the Metro Government elections in Nashville, we are happy to report that candidates endorsed by SEIU Local 205 have been victorious.

First and foremost, Megan Barry, who Local 205 endorsed in the Sept. 10 election for Mayor, won in a landslide over hedge fund millionaire David Fox.

In addition to the Mayor’s race, SEIU’s endorsed candidate David Briley was elected vice-mayor.

In the county-wide “at-large” races, all 7 of the candidates the Local supported made it to the runoff election and in the end, 3 of the 5 candidates we supported for at-large won on Sept. 10.

The charter amendment on local hiring for Metro construction projects, which SEIU strongly supported, passed with overwhelming support from the public by garnering 57% of the vote.

In the individual Metro Council districts, our candidates won across the county. SEIU endorsed in 15 council districts and we won 10 out of the 15 races on Aug. 6 and then in the Sept. 10 runoff, we only lost in two districts.

The candidates who the Local endorsed and won are:

Megan Barry

Vice Mayor
David Briley

Council (At-Large)
John Cooper
Jim Shulman
Erica Gilmore

Council (Districts)

1 – Loniel Greene
7 – Anthony Davis
8 – Nancy VanReece
17 – Colby Sledge
20 – Mary Carolyn Roberts
21 – Ed Kindall
23 – Mina Johnson
24 – Kathleen Murphy
26- Jeremy Elrod
28 – Tanaka Vercher
29 – Karen Johnson
32 – Jacobia Dowell
35 – Dave Rosenberg

Unlike many other organizations that endorse candidates in Nashville’s local elections, SEIU’s endorsement comes with manpower. Our members, many of whom were volunteering on candidates’ campaigns, ended up knocking on 5,318 doors and they made 108,452 phone calls. Mail pieces also went out to our members and the union’s political committee made contributions to the candidates’ campaign committees.

“Our members actively participated in this election first by voting for worker-friendly candidates,” said Freda Player, the political director for Local 205. “Secondly, our members did the hard work of phone banking  and door knocking to help ensure we have a city government that supports workers rights and quality public services.”

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SEIU Helps Create Consistent, Fair Policies for Chattanooga City Employees In Historic Partnership!

Employees and administrators discuss the new policies being proposed for employees of the City of Chattanooga.

Employees and administrators discuss the new policies being proposed for employees of the City of Chattanooga.

Beginning in September, Chattanooga city employees will have a new set of policies and procedures that were developed in partnership between city officials and SEIU Local 205. This is the first time that workers in all departments will have universal rules to follow and the administration will have a clear and consistent process to handle a variety of situations. This is an historic moment for organized labor in Chattanooga in which city employees were able to participate in their conditions of labor and is a testament to the strength and persistence of SEIU members.

The first draft of the new policy and procedures manual was nearly 200 pages and was divided into three sections. Union members sat on each of the subcommittees to represent workers across the departments including Sharron Pryor, Steve West, Alonzo Strickland, Jeff Templin, Nancy Nason, Cyndy Workman, Terry Davis, and Robert Ledford. There were also a handful of other diligent and dedicated union members who spent time with the document and added their input and perspective to the process. Each of these people spent hours reading and responding to all of the issues in the document.

After an eighteen-month discussion process with multiple meetings with the subcommittees and administration, the handbook went to the city council for a vote. During the hearing process, a few points were changed and many of the subcommittee members were present to testify on several points that workers had concerns with. Then SEIU local president Doug Collier came to Chattanooga to discuss the points with the administration. All parties agreed that workers will continue to meet with the administration over the next six months with the intent of changing the current language, and then return to the city council with amendments.

Major Improvements from the Policy Committee:

  • On-Call Pay for workers who take call.
  • Call-Back Pay for workers who come in when called.
  • Clear light duty policy for workers injured on the job.
  • Mandatory 5-day posting time for internal and external jobs.
  • Option to mediate before Administrative Law Judge in disciplinary hearings.
  • With supervisor approval, workers can combine their lunch and break periods.
  • Additional step in discipline cases, and institution of worker improvement plans with an emphasis on training instead of discipline.
  • Anti-harassment policy for all city workers in line with new ordinance.


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Solidarity & Persistence Pays Off for Workers in Shelby County Schools!

SEIU members celebrate the passage of a resolution by the Shelby County School Board recognizing their union rights.

SEIU members celebrate the passage of a resolution by the Shelby County School Board recognizing their union rights.

About four years ago in an unexpected and unprecedented move, the Memphis city school board surrendered their charter, leaving the Shelby County school district with the responsibility for managing the school system.

The dissolution of the Memphis City School board rendered all of the union agreements (including the one with SEIU) invalid. Almost overnight, thousands of public employees working in a large urban school system found themselves without the rights and benefits they had carefully negotiated for years. Local 205 led the effort to partner up with the other unions in the Memphis schools and present a unified front to the new Shelby County Unified school district, which had little experience or interest in working with labor unions.

After a tense six-month effort of discussions and lobbying, the labor coalition finally received recognition. Since then, SEIU has been able to get a grievance procedure put into policy for support employees. Last year, the union got the cafeteria managers paid for two inclement weather days, which led to a new inclement weather policy that Local 205 helped craft with administrators. “It’s been a tough road, but we stuck together and were able to not only keep our union, but even make a few improvements,” said Donna Watson, a food service supervisor who serves on the Local’s bargaining committee.

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Union Member’s Son Wins $10,000 Scholarship from SEIU Local 205!

Addison-and-Catherine-Pond-Margaret Pond, a paraprofessional working in the Metro Nashville Public Schools, was pleasantly surprised to say the least to find out that her son Addison was the winner of a $10,000 scholarship from Local 205.

Addison is beginning his senior year at Christian Brothers University in Memphis where he is pursuing a degree in Sports Management. He was a public school student in Metro and graduated with honors from Hume-Fogg magnet school.

In addition to participating in a work study job in his college’s sports information office, Addison interned over the summer in the Vanderbilt University athletic department. He has a 3.8 GPA and has made the Dean’s List every semester he’s been in college.

The $10,000 scholarship was a one-time special gift from Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, a labor law firm based in Nashville.

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Union-Sponsored Golfers Raise Money for Special Olympics!


From L-R: James Bradley, David Jackson, Rob Rice, Ledford Owens.

SEIU was proud to sponsor a golf team led by Metro Water Services employee (and Local 205 vice-president) James Bradley in the 2015 Special Olympics Golf Tournament.

The tournament was held at Hermitage Golf Course in Nashville on June 11 and was a fundraiser for the Special Olympics. The SEIU team won second place in their bracket.

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