June 2017

String of Victories @ Lincoln Thanks to Strength In Numbers!

Lincoln_Classroom-2016In Nashville, Lincoln College of Technology’s union membership is currently above 90% density and because of that solidarity, when the union files a grievance or requests a meeting, Management has little choice but to comply.

Several recent grievances, two of which had to do with workplace safety, were won by the union in fairly short order and as a result, both instructors and students are in a safer environment.

In another instance, the union filed a grievance on behalf of all instructors when Lincoln refused to pay them for on-line training they had taken. The contract said that instructors would get $35 per course, but Lincoln said they had changed the program and would not pay. The union contract required Management to meet with the union before making any changes to the program, which the college had not done. After the union requested arbitration, Lincoln settled the grievance. Some instructors received over $400 in what was dubbed “Operation Christmas Bonus.”

“We have been able to win some grievances that put over $20,000 in members pockets,” said Lyman Parsell, Lincoln’s chief union steward.

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Major Raises & Other Improvements @ MNPS Thanks to Members Taking Action!

SEIU members like Lolita Kinnard (right) take the concerns of secretary/bookkeepers to the Metro School Board.

SEIU members like Lolita Kinnard (right) take the concerns of secretary/bookkeepers to the Metro School Board.

SEIU members working in Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) banded together on the “Fresh Start” campaign to push for a new relationship between workers and administrators. In the first year of that effort, the hard work has paid off.

Thanks to a long-term strategy, high participation by our members, and a record number of new members joining the union, the results for support staff have been incredible. Here’s the highlights of what happens when workers stick together through their union:

Big Raises for All Support Staff!  Thanks to the relationships our leaders have built over the years with school board and council members, the city passed the largest raises support staff have received in a decade. A 3% across-the-board raise went into effect, as did the step raises (approx. 2% for those eligible) that were frozen for years.

Increases for Secretary/Bookkeepers!  When the school district announced it was going to change the duties for secretary/bookkeepers, test them, and have them re-apply for their jobs, SEIU members took a stand. They spoke out at the School Board about problems with the testing procedures and other landmines that could sabotage their careers. The administration promised to address the problems that union members brought to them and by the end of the review, none of our members lost their jobs, the position was reclassified, and secretary/bookkeepers received a raise of between 10-12%!

More Hours for Food Service Staff!  Thanks in part to a steady drumbeat by SEIU members over the last several years, Metro Nashville Public Schools has finally offered full-time cafeteria employees seven hours of work per day instead of six. This allows proper prep time for nutritious meals that students deserve and the opportunity for workers to take home more money.

Tuition Assistance!  One of the other issues brought up in SEIU’s Town Hall Meeting with Dr. Joseph was a request for paraprofessionals to receive some kind of tuition assistance to help further their education and work skills to help Metro Schools. This was put into the budget and approved.

Union leaders at MNPS are looking forward to another year of growth and progress for support staff in 2017-2018.

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Union-Strong NES Members Dominate Another “Lineman Rodeo”

NES_LinemanRodeo-2017For the second year in a row, Nashville Electric Service (NES) crews brought home first and second place wins from the Tennessee Valley “Lineman Rodeo” in Huntsville, AL.

Along with the team competition, two NES linemen outshined everyone else during their solo events. SEIU member Tommy Barksdale won first place as an individual journey lineman out of 40 participants and member Michael Shannon won first overall as an apprentice lineman out of 102 competing.

“It makes me proud to know that I can stand with the best from across the state and say that I won,” said Barksdale. “During practice we strive to think outside the box to come up with different strategies to give us the edge. We watch and compete with other linemen from NES during practice to try and push ourselves to the next level both on the job and in competition.” “It takes time and skill to perfect the art of climbing and being able to work efficiently,” said Shannon. “I’ve had the privilege to be pushed by the guys on the team which helped me excel, and I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to achieve such an honor.”

Twenty teams demonstrated their skills and knowledge by competing in events that simulate real-life situations. NES’ team members also include Cody Roberts, Josh Fuller, Timmy Sanford, Derek Pennington, Josh Jones, and Adam Harris—all of whom are SEIU members.

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Metro Government Employees Win Raises, New Pay Plan, & New Benefits!

IMG_2728.JPGSEIU members from dozens of city departments filled the seats during the Metro Council’s Public Hearing on the city budget to make the case that public services and the people who provide them are vital to Nashville’s future.

“Having growth means nothing if regular folks can’t afford to raise a family and take part in the American Dream,” said union steward Tyrone Jolley. “Those are the priorities we need to keep focused on.”

Despite some controversy over the budget request for Nashville General Hospital, the Council voted overwhelmingly to pass the operating budget, pay plan, and other ordinances related to employees that Local 205 supported.


2017-2018 Budget Highlights:
  • 2% cost of living raise
  • Maintain step raises (2% for those eligible)
  • Shift differential increase (70¢/hr for evening shift, 80¢/hr for night shift)
  • Fund open-range raises
  • Three -year pay plan (2%, 3%, 3%).
  • Longevity pay distributed earlier (Nov. 15)
  • No cuts to department budgets, several new programs implemented

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Vanderbilt Non-Tenured Faculty Vote on Union!

The Vanderbilt University Organizing Committee (Feb, 2017)

The Vanderbilt University Organizing Committee (Feb, 2017)

After a mail-ballot vote, non-tenured teaching faculty at Vanderbilt University in Nashville voted on whether to become a part of SEIU Local 205. Votes were counted at the NLRB office on June 6 and there were challenged ballots on both sides. Final election results are still indeterminate, but the majority of faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences remained positive and expected their new union to be made official after all challenges to the vote have been resolved.

“With the vote count today, faculty from the Vanderbilt College of Arts & Sciences achieved a major milestone,” said Terrie Spetalnick, a Lecturer in Sociology. “After the challenges to our vote are resolved, we will celebrate and begin advocating for improvements for our students and our profession with a stronger voice.”

Until all challenges are settled, Vanderbilt faculty are determined to keep building their union, and will continue to organize to raise standards on campus.

“Over the past several months, many Vanderbilt non-tenure-eligible faculty members worked very hard to build a real voice for non-tenure-eligible faculty, and to join thousands of others around the country who are uniting in SEIU Faculty Forward,” said M.L. Sandoz, a Senior Lecturer in Communication Studies. “The results are not yet known, but that doesn’t change the course we are on. We’ll keep fighting and build our union. We’re resolved to change the status quo by working with other faculty to raise standards across the area and the nation.”

Faculty across Nashville and the nation are continuing to rally around the fast-growing union movement that is dramatically changing the higher education landscape. Faculty at 46 colleges and universities across the country have formed unions with SEIU in the last three years, including full and part-time contingent faculty at Northwestern University, Loyola University of Chicago, the University of Southern California, Saint Louis University and Boston University.

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