January 2017

New Local 205 Union Officers Elected & Sworn In!

Local 205 officers (from L-R): Brad Rayson, Stephen West, Shawn Nevil, James Bradley, Brenda Shields, Lance Wyss, Lilldeus Russell, Aleisha Johnson.

Local 205 officers (from L-R): Brad Rayson, Stephen West, Shawn Nevil, James Bradley, Brenda Shields, Lance Wyss, Lilldeus Russell, Aleisha Johnson.

After a process that kicked off at the Local 205 Convention and the statewide officer elections (both held in November), your union has a slate of leaders who are committed to continuing the fight for our members and for all Tennessee working families.

Brad Rayson (president), James Bradley (executive vice-president), Shawn Nevil (secretary-treasurer), and Brenda Shields (vice-president of organizing) were all nominated and elected by acclamation by the membership at the Convention, while Aleisha Johnson was nominated without opposition to serve as the Local’s new recording secretary. And then, on Nov. 29, after an election that was conducted in our shops all across the state, members elected Stephen West, Lilldeus Russell, and newcomer Lance Wyss to serve as your union’s new trustees.

All officers were officially sworn in at the first meeting of the Executive Board in Nashville on January 28 and they will serve three-year terms.

Congratulations to our new officers, to our Election Committee chairman Keith Brown and his team of volunteers who ensured a smooth election, and to all the SEIU 205 members who participated in our union’s democratic process.

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SEIU Members and MNPS Officials Meet for a “Fresh Start”!

SEIU's Lolita Kinnard and director of schools Dr. Shawn Joseph at the "Fresh Start" meeting.

SEIU’s Lolita Kinnard and director of schools Dr. Shawn Joseph at the “Fresh Start” meeting.

Nearly 100 school support staff came to the SEIU Local 205 union hall on a Saturday morning to meet director of Metro schools Dr. Shawn Joseph and hear his responses from the union’s Workers Committee.

The Workers Committee, made up of union members who work in the school district, welcomed Dr. Joseph and asked him a variety of questions on everything from the pay study that SEIU recently requested to raises, training, snow days, onboarding, and many other issues that have been left unaddressed by the previous MNPS administration – a story that was recently covered by the Nashville Scene.

Elected school board members and other MNPS administrators were there as well and they all saw first-hand the power that workers have when they organize and work together to solve problems and improve our schools. “Hold us accountable,” Dr. Joseph said during a discussion about how to best improve Metro schools. School board chairwoman Anna Shepherd mentioned the positive impact that SEIU leaders had on last year’s search for a new Director of Schools and she encouraged support staff to stay engaged and help lift up Metro schools.

“After 31 years of service with MNPS, I feel that we have finally been heard by someone who cares about support staff,” said Lolita Kinnard, a secretary/bookkeeper who works at Percy Priest Elementary and served on the Workers Committee. “I think that we will begin to see some changes, but we have to continue to be active and keep building our union.”

Melvin Hart Jr., a paraprofessional at Hillsboro High, said “this was a good day and a good show of strength and solidarity by my union brothers and sisters. I’m looking forward to a good year with some positive changes, but we have to keep the momentum going and stay engaged.”

“This was a positive day with quality people who want to make a positive impact on our students and our communities,” said Derek Waller, a furniture shop manager and member of the union’s Workers Committee.

Also in attendance at the meeting to meet SEIU members were MNPS administrators Deborah Story, Chris Henson, and other members of the MNPS school board. All agreed that engagement and cooperation are crucial in making forward progress at the schools and so is dignity and respect for all staff. Plans are already underway for the Workers Committee to begin planning for a follow-up meeting.

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SEIU Endorses Andy Berke for Mayor of Chattanooga!

Members of Local 205 and Chattanooga mayor Andy Berke.

Members of Local 205 and Chattanooga mayor Andy Berke.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 205, the labor organization representing employees in Chattanooga city departments, announced its endorsement of Andy Berke for mayor.

Berke has served four years as Chattanooga’s mayor as the city saw major growth and progress on multiple fronts, including for city employees. Berke was the first mayor to recognize a union for general government employees by signing a memorandum of understanding with SEIU, he’s worked with union members to develop an employee policy manual that is consistent across all city departments, and he has continued to meet in good faith with local labor organizations to ensure equal and fair treatment for all city employees.

“Andy Berke is one of the most pro-worker mayors I’ve seen in a long time and we’re proud to continue supporting him,” said union member Blondel Garner, a Head Start teaching assistant who has worked for the city for over 20 years. “Andy knows how to treat people and he knows how to make our city successful.”

“I respect Andy Berke because he respects people who work for a living,” said Greg Hinton, a building maintenance mechanic. “We are not going to find another candidate for mayor who is as committed to workers and making Chattanooga great as Andy Berke is… he’s already proven it.”

“We look forward to continuing to deepen our relationship with Andy by creating more efficient and productive ways to address employees concerns and issues,” said Brad Rayson, president of SEIU Local 205.

Election Day is on March 7, 2017 and early voting begins on February 15. Complete information on early voting dates and voting locations is available from the Hamilton County Election Commission at 423-493-5100.

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SEIU Local 205 represents thousands of public service and healthcare workers across the state of Tennessee, including employees of the City of Chattanooga.

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