November 2015

Local 205 On the Road: Battleground California

 

From L-R: Sharron Pryor, Steve West, Kate Sheets, Brenda Shields.

From L-R: Sharron Pryor, Steve West, Kate Sheets, Brenda Shields.

(This story was written by Local 205 members Brenda Shields & Sharron Pryor.)

For the last two weeks in October, four of us traveled to Los Angeles for a membership drive. We joined SEIU members from across the country to help sign up workers for the union. We were assigned to Local 99, which represents school workers in Los Angeles Unified School District across Los Angeles County.

This journey was a wonderful experience of seeing how a very large union works and functions. Local 99 was the first local to negotiate a contract that guarantees all of their workers make $15 an hour. Workers in Los Angeles County know that the only way to fix our economy is to raise the floor on wages. Low wages keep our entire economy down and when there are no good jobs in an area, workers are forced to work two or more jobs just to make ends meet. This creates instability within the family structure and stress for everyone.

We are proud of the work that Local 205 contributed to this campaign and we met a lot of great people. The member organizers in Local 99 were especially great. Many helped with the training for the blitz and with a variety of jobs at the local. In the future, we hope that members of Local 205 get more active, get more training and have more opportunities to engage with other members.

Over the course of blitz, we collectively signed up over 10,000 new union members. This was an amazing experience and along with fellow 205ers Steve West and Kate Sheets, we were honored to participate and represent for the Volunteer State!

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SEIU Endorses Hillary Clinton for President

SEIUforHillaryClintonFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

SEIU Endorses Hillary Clinton for President

SEIU Local 205 members: Clinton supports our movement to build a better future for working families

(Nashville)—After members conducted a rigorous endorsement process for the past several months, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) today endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, calling her a leader who will stand up for the working moms and dads building a movement to secure a better future for their families.

“Hillary Clinton supports working people by supporting raising the minimum wage, expanding and strengthening overtime rules, and protecting our retirements,” said Rosa Lee of Nashville and a Local 205 board member. “She stands with us on the issues that matter to our families the most.”

“The members of 205 are proud to support Hillary Clinton for president,” said local President Doug Collier. “Hillary Clinton will continue to support the bargaining rights of union workers.  She has proven her support of union workers by being a co-sponsor of Employee Free Choice Act.  She will work the raise the income for hardworking Tennesseans and close the gap of income inequality.  We cannot afford four years of policies that will hurt working families while lining the pockets of big corporations.”

SEIU’s national months-long member engagement process included a 1,200-member conference in March, three national tele-town hall meetings in which more than 80,000 members participated, three national member polls from the fall of 2014 through the fall of 2015 and more than 200 local executive board debates and discussions with thousands of local union officers and elected member-leaders.

VIDEO: Watch SEIU members speak about why they support Hillary Clinton

“Hillary Clinton has proven she will fight, deliver and win for working families,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. “SEIU members and working families across America are part of a growing movement to build a better future for their families, and Hillary Clinton will support and stand with them. This movement for economic, racial, immigrant and social justice is poised to turn out to vote in November with their families and communities and keep pushing elected officials to deliver once in office.”

SEIU’s 2 million members will join hands with community partners in a broad movement for economic, social, immigrant and racial justice. Along with the 64 million people who work at jobs paying poverty-level wages, they will be a powerful force during the 2016 elections. Hundreds of thousands of face-to-face and door-to-door contacts, millions of phone calls, robust digital engagement and other activities to get out the vote will counteract the efforts of billionaires and corporations to elect leaders who would answer only to the wealthy few.

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The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) unites 2 million diverse members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. SEIU members working in the healthcare industry, in the public sector and in property services believe in the power of joining together on the job to win higher wages and benefits and to create better communities while fighting for a more just society and an economy that works for all of us, not just corporations and the wealthy.

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Member Wins “Employee of the Month” at Methodist Medical!

Gary Hughes, unit secretary at Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge, TN.

Gary Hughes, unit secretary at Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge, TN.

Gary Hughes, a unit secretary for the oncology unit at Methodist Medical Center was named “MMCer Of the Month” in August.

Gary, who lives in Oak Ridge, served in the United States Navy for ten years and is a member of the Ridge Church. He has been with Methodist Medical Center since 2012 and has been a member of SEIU Local 205 since he started working there.As a unit secretary, Gary provides assistance to hospital visitors, patients, and staff as well as handling administrative duties for the oncology unit.

Gary is described by manager Sherry Barnett as “a delight to work with.” “Gary comes to work early and ready to work,” Sherry says. “He has a smile on his face, a can-do attitude, and I hear compliments about his work ethic from other departments. He goes above and beyond every day and you can count on him.”

The employee who nominated Gary says, “he is an asset to this hospital and in particular oncology. He anticipates problems prior to them becoming an issue and not only brings it to management’s attention, he also brings a potential solution.”

“The nurses really love him,” Sherry added. Another co-worker pointed out one of Gary’s other endearing attributes, “you can hear him smile on the phone.”

When asked about receiving the employee of the month award from Methodist, Gary was thrilled. “I’m extremely proud to work on Four West at Methodist,” he said. “And I’m honored to work with such excellent co-workers!”

 

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SEIU Local 205’s “Star Activists” of 2015!

Each year, SEIU Local 205 recognizes its most dedicated members at the Star Activist awards dinner.

Star Activists are determined by members’ participation at various SEIU activities throughout the year. The awards recognize three levels of activism based on a point system: the Silver tier, the Gold tier, and the Purple Platinum tier.

This year, the Star Activist dinner was held following the SPARK! Conference in Nashville. Take a look at this video honoring the union’s Star Activists for 2015:

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Member Spotlight: Gia Normille

Gia Normille, health unit coordinator at Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge, TN.

Gia Normille, health unit coordinator at Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge, TN.

We all know that sometimes bad things happen to good people. For the employees at Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, it’s a good thing they have a Gia.

Gia Normille is a HUC (Health Unit Coordinator) on the pulmonary floor at MMC. She has been at Methodist since 2010, and her duties include answering call lights, gathering and organizing patient charts, and facilitating communication and flow for the doctors and staff. But Gia can always be found doing much more, little things that make a huge difference to the patients and their families. At any given time, she can be seen carrying a cup of coffee or a warm blanket to someone who maybe isn’t feeling well.

When Gia finds out that one of her union brothers or sisters is having a hardship, she spearheads a fundraiser to get help when it is needed the most. Employees from every corner of the hospital respond by bringing in food, from professionally decorated cupcakes, or up to 10 gallons of chili, carloads of chips and cheese, and many other mouth watering items. Then the employees come together for lunch, make a donation, and finer food can’t be found anywhere in the South.

When asked why she works so hard to organize these fundraisers, Gia simply says “People need help. I hope that if I ever need help, someone would do the same for me.”

Gia is married to husband Michael, and they have three children. She used to work at another hospital, but moved to Oak Ridge and transferred to MMC. One of the deciding factors in coming here was because of the Union. “I didn’t have the support at the other hospital like I have here,” Gia says. “The members of SEIU 205 are like family – I know they have my back and we support each other.”

In addition to all she does on the job and for her family, Gia also does her best to educate her co-workers about the benefits of joining the union. “I know many new employees really don’t know much about what the Union does,” she says. “I have been talking to them and explaining that we wouldn’t have the benefits that we have without a union contract. And I love that we have stewards everywhere, looking out for us. I recently had a conversation with a new RN, and signed her up! It was my first time getting a new member, and I loved it!”

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SPARK! Conference Ignites Union Members & Activists Across TN!

SEIU Local 205 members travelled from Memphis, Chattanooga, and East Tennessee to gather in Nashville for SPARK! – the union’s annual leadership training conference.

Union members, along with local community partners and officials from the international union gathered for a day of education, activism, and leadership training to help build the labor movement in Tennessee and fight for the middle class.

After a video featuring some of the Local’s highlights for 2015, there were some opening remarks by local president Doug Collier as he welcomed several visitors from out of state, including SEIU international vice-president, Eileen Kirlin. Eileen spoke about the rampant income inequality that is decimating the middle class in America and revealed SEIU’s bold plan to address it in a presentation called “Strategic Framework for the Future: A 21st Century Blueprint”.

Eileen Kirlin, executive vice-president of SEIU, presents at SPARK 2015 in Nashville.

Eileen Kirlin, executive vice-president of SEIU, presents at SPARK 2015 in Nashville.

After lunch, attendees broke out into two workshops. One, called the “Nitro” workshop, was led by a discussion by chief stewards Antonio McKissack (Metro Government) and Nat King Cole (MDHA) about the wave of corporate welfare being handed out to wealthy corporations in Nashville and across the state and the impact that could have on quality public services that citizens rely on. Also in Nitro, we heard a touching story from a home care worker named Mary, who struggles to provide for her own family because of low wages in Tennessee. These perspectives “sparked” those in attendance to remember SEIU’s core values of fighting for economic justice, dignity, and empowerment for all workers.

Antonio McKissack (Metro Water Services) presents at SPARK 2015.

Antonio McKissack (Metro Water Services) presents at SPARK 2015.

Meanwhile, in the “TNT” workshop, members were “sparked” into helping build the labor movement by honing their listening and organizing skills. Thanks to an inspiring presentation by Mike Hodge of the NOAH community organization, members paired off into teams and practiced how to talk to their co-workers about the purpose and value of joining the union. This year, SPARK! introduced the concept of using union members as our workshop facilitators, rather than relying on union staff or professional organizers. The results were spectacular as the active listening and roleplaying sessions were more realistic and productive than ever and members committed to using these new skills to build union membership in their workplaces.

Workshop facilitators debrief after a "TNT" session at SPARK 2015.

Workshop facilitators debrief after a “TNT” session at SPARK 2015.

Between sessions, members enjoyed visits to the SEIU photo booth and telling stories about what they liked about their jobs and why they joined the union. Recharged by a great lunch, a popcorn snack, and a bag full of awesome purple SEIU swag, members closed out the SPARK! Conference energized and ready to ignite change across the great state of Tennessee!

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