Our Members

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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Member Spotlight: Exie Harrington

Exie Harrington: Circulation Assistant for Nashville Public Library.

Exie Harrington: Circulation Assistant for Nashville Public Library.

Exie Harrington may work at a library, but when it comes to union activism, she sure knows how to make some noise!

Exie, a circulation assistant at one of Nashville’s 20 branch libraries, joined SEIU back in 2012 and immediately tried to get more involved to build her union. Whether it was attending meetings or signing up her co-workers, Exie flew the union flag every day on the job—even though her worksite was not a particular “trouble spot” with a lot of employee grievances or issues.

It wasn’t long though, before Exie was directly affected by a new directive from the State of Tennessee. Governor Haslam issued new “navigator rules” as political retaliation against the Affordable Care Act which could have fined library employees, as well as healthcare workers, pastors, volunteers, and other public employees for assisting people who were trying to access information about the ACA. “In theory, if someone came to my library and asked where they could sign up for Obamacare, and I pointed them to information online, I could have gotten a fine,” Exie explained. “We show patrons every day how to sign up for housing and other public assistance and we have never had problems, but when it came to Obamacare… well, lets just say that there were some people who wanted to see it fail and they were willing to bully people to make it happen.” Exie was a co-plaintiff in a complaint made in Federal court against the state in a case known as “Harrington v. Haslam” and ultimately, the Governor’s office was forced to settle with plaintiffs in what was clearly a politically-motivated overreach and Haslam’s new navigator rules were suspended. The case set a national precedent that cleared the way in other states to prevent right-wing governors from blocking access to a lawful federal program.

For her courage, Exie was nominated for and won the 2014 Intellectual Freedom Award from the Tennessee Library Association—an award that salutes leaders in free speech and intellectual freedom. “This was a highlight of my career, but the real honor was making sure that people who need affordable healthcare can get it without interference from immoral legislators.”

Exie also serves as Assistant Chief Steward for the union’s Metro Government chapter and she’s an alternate on the local’s Executive Board.

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Local 205’s “Star Activists” Honored at Dinner in Nashville!

Our "Purple Platinum" activists who attended the 2014 Star Activist Dinner in Nashville.

Our “Purple Platinum” activists who attended the 2014 Star Activist Dinner in Nashville.

The Star Activist program helps our union achieve its goals of activating and mobilizing the membership. The program culminates in an awards dinner each November to recognize our most dedicated members. Star Activists are determined through tracking sign-in sheets and member participation at various union events throughout the year.

We are pleased to announce the slate of 2014 Star Activist members of SEIU Local 205!

SILVER Tier (15 activist points)

John Bell
James Bradley
Lynn Brannon
Ana Brown
James Brown
Julie Burns
Timothy Burns
Kristi Byrge
Fred Carney
Lorenzo Clark
Candy Cox
Maurice Fitten
John Fragans
Maurice Harding
Michelle Hardy
Barbara Hill
Kat Hogan
Timothy Holt
Arlanders Hunter
Forestine Lee
Linda Mabry
Antonio McKissack
Cliffrie Morgan
Nancy Orren
Elaine Owens
Steve Paoletto
Barbie Parman
Ruby Parson
Phyllis Perry
Sam Price
Bridget Radford
Terry Randall
Vanessa Robertson
Lill Russell
Eugene Scruggs
Recco Seay
Marcia Shaw
LaTasha Swanson
Rodney Swanson
Ann Warwick
Donna Watson
Todd Weller
Melissa Wells
John Wier
Jay Wilson
Debra Winston

GOLD Tier (30 points)

Margo Baker
Sondra Bryant
Nat King Cole
Terry Davis
Rosemary Freeman
Francis Garcia
Robert Hart
Robert Ledford
Nancy Nason
Michael Stephens
Alonzo Strickland
Lonnie Winston
Cyndy Workman

PURPLE PLATINUM Tier (50 points)

Pat Baker
Donald Dotson
Kay Golden
Charlie Hall
Aleisha Johnson
Larry Martin
Jeff Massey
Shawn Nevil
Stephen Porter
Sharron Pryor
Brenda Shields
Thomas Slaten
David Walker
Chris Weathers
Stephen West
Mark Witty

Congratulations to all our stars who worked hard to build their union and fight for Tennessee’s working families!

You can see photos from the Star Activist Dinner on Facebook.

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New Local 205 Officers Elected!

We would like to congratulate the following SEIU members who were elected in the Local officer elections on Nov. 25:

Recording Secretary:

KAY GOLDEN (Methodist Medical Center)
STEPHEN WEST (Chattanooga City Gov’t)

Chapter Officers (Nashville Electric Service):
CHARLIE HALL (1st Vice-President)
LARRY MARTIN (Membership Secretary)

Executive Board Alternate (Metro Gov’t chapter):
EXIE HARRINGTON (Nashville Public Library)

Executive Board Alternate (Metro ECC chapter):

Executive Board Delegate (St. Francis chapter):

Executive Board Alternate (St. Francis chapter):

These officers will join Local 205 President Doug Collier and the slate of officers that was elected by acclamation at the Local Convention on Nov. 2. Thanks to all the m

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We Salute Our 2013 Star Activists!

From L-R: Mary Kay Henry, Jeff Massey, Donald Dotson, Kay Golden, Stephen West, Tom Slaten, Doug Collier.

Our “Purple Platinum” star activists. From L-R: SEIU Int’l President Mary Kay Henry, Jeff Massey, Donald Dotson, Kay Golden, Stephen West, Tom Slaten, & Local 205 President Doug Collier.

In keeping with SEIU’s Member Strength program, Local 205’s “Shining Star” awards  were given to members who went above and beyond the call of duty in service of their union in 2013 by putting in the time to help their co-workers.

Whether it was through attending grievance hearings, signing up new members, working on political campaigns, or lobbying elected officials, our Star Activists set the standards for participation and commitment across our union. We proudly commend them for their hard work and their example.

Congratulations to this year’s Shining Stars!

Purple Platinum Tier 


Gold Tier


Silver Tier


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Union Member’s Story Featured in ‘The Tennessean’

Brian Hull, director of the Nashville Public Library's renowned puppet program, Wishing Chair Productions, arranges shadow puppets backstage before a performance at the library. Photo by Steven S. Harman / The Tennessean.

Brian Hull, director of the Nashville Public Library’s renowned puppet program, Wishing Chair Productions, arranges shadow puppets backstage before a performance at the library. Photo by Steven S. Harman / The Tennessean.

SEIU member Brian Hull is featured in a fantastic story by The Tennessean.

Brian is the director of the Nashville Public Library’s Wishing Horse Productions program, which has been called “the top puppetry program of any library in the United States” by the man who created marionettes for the film “Being John Malkovich”.

Congratulations to Brian and his team at the Nashville Public Library!



For Nashville puppeteer, pretty much everything he did led up to dream job

Written by
Tony Gonzalez | The Tennessean
Aug. 1, 2013

He’d already done the puppet show a dozen times to big crowds and rave reviews, but Brian Hull paused a few moments before a recent performance to tinker with one little detail.

The toy train — it had to roll onstage at exactly the right moment.

“It just didn’t feel right,” he said.

A slight change — a difference of a couple seconds — would make for a bigger surprise for the audience, Hull thought. So he made the change.

Whether anyone noticed, well, that’s hard to say.

But getting those little things right is what Hull is all about. And it’s why his job as the director of the Nashville Public Library’s renowned puppet program, Wishing Chair Productions, is just about the perfect place for him to be.

He’d been preparing for this moment in this place for most of his life — without knowing it — by working in animation, theater, songwriting, dance, sculpture and painting.

“He can sing, he can dance, he’s a great artist — a Renaissance man,” said Barbi Bailey-Smith, a regular at the library’s puppet shows. “What I love is, he’s still here. A lot of times, with people with talent like that, they start here (and leave). But it’s like his home.”

Those tools come together in the art of puppetry. But he didn’t know it when he first applied to take the director position for the library’s puppet program in 1997. He had just finished performing a children’s show as a character he called “the Professor” at Opryland theme park.

“When I was doing the Professor at the park I thought, ‘Boy, it would be great if I had a place where I could do this where kids could see it for free.’ It really seemed impossible,” Hull said. “But it’s not impossible, because that’s exactly what it is here. This really is the job — what I do here at the library.”

It has been 16 years since the guy who could do a bit of everything found the job that required it.

“It’s outrageous,” Hull said. “It overwhelms me if I think about it too much — Holy smokes! How did I get here?”

An unexpected turn

Hull can dream up imaginary lands, characters and storylines, but for his own life he hadn’t planned on puppetry. He was interested in cartoon animation. “I just thought that’s what I would do, because it’s all I did, was sit and draw — draw, draw, draw, draw draw draw draw draw draw draw draw — day and night.”

He also counts Ernie Kovacs, an experimental TV actor from the 1950s, among influences for his daring use of camera tricks and animation.

“He tried things that people weren’t trying. He was fearless. It was sort of a no-apologies style of performing. And his attitude was an inspiration,” Hull said. “It’s the same thing with our puppet shows. This is what we do and you don’t have to come in — but people do.”

There’s a bit of Charlie Chaplin in the mix, too, but not for his big on-screen antics. Hull appreciates how Chaplin could handle every aspect of production.

Hull got his first taste of that as the Professor at Opryland, where he “became the one in charge of my own show, starring me,” he said, laughing.

“I am very thankful to Opryland for allowing me to fail, because in the beginning, it was a disaster.”

His challenge, he said, was learning to hold an audience of children while roller coasters, water rides and trains whizzed past.

By the time Hull landed at the library, he’d performed in at least 50 professional theater shows and was flirting with a major TV deal for an animated show of his own.

The library gig would be temporary, he thought. He really wanted to finish the animated show — about a band of bugs trying to make it big in the music industry — and this was way before “A Bug’s Life.”

But he soon found animation and puppetry to be “sister” art forms.

“Because puppetry is animation done in real time,” he said.

And the animated thing? That fell through. But to see Hull’s most recent production — “String City,” a telling of the musical history of Nashville — is to see his range of talents without seeing a whole lot of Hull, who stays mostly backstage above the puppet strings.

The show includes animations on a screen, hand-painted scenery, shadow puppets, delicate marionettes, visual puns and short movies. (“String City” ended its first run at the library and is scheduled to return in late October at the Country Music Hall of Fame.)

One collaborator on “String City,” Phillip Huber — perhaps the nation’s most well-known marionette maker for his work on the film “Being John Malkovich” — called Hull’s work “a cut above” typical puppet shows.

“He has a very rich background in the theatrical arts, which is essential to this art form,” Huber said. “As far as I’m aware of, this is the top puppetry program of any library in the United States. Most of the credit for that strength belongs to Brian.”

Puppetry, Huber said, isn’t particularly lucrative, but “pays you with dividends of the heart.”

Not slowing down

Hull has clearly made it big in that respect, leading a life that’s about as glamorous as it gets for a puppeteer.

And he has seen too much inspiring art to slow down now.

“When I see things that are great, I think, ‘I wish I could do that. I wish I had done that,’ ” he said.

Now, he feels as if he has been given the chance to so something great.

“It is being handed right to you,” he said.

He can feel when he has done things right through the tiny handshakes and fist bumps that kids rush to give him after a show — or before it even begins.

Standing outside the theater doors last week before the performance, Hull saluted a dad he knew, then offered a high-five to a little blond-haired boy. Almost everyone walking through the door knew him.

Standing nearby, library employee Jackie Sims shook his head and smiled.

“He’s the man,” Sims said.

Hull leaned over.

“Well, you know,” he said, lowering his voice for comic effect, “I do the puppet show at the library.”


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Andrea Blackman Receives Leadership Award!


Congratulations to SEIU member Andrea Blackman for winning this year’s Edwina Hefner Award from the Nashville Symphony.

Andrea’s accomplishments were recently highlighted in an article by The Tennessean, which also covered the great work done by the rest of the Special Collections team, including the Civil Rights Room and the 2010 Flood Project. Our congrats to Andrea and all involved!

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SEIU Members Stand Up for Free Speech During “Banned Books Week”

Bryan Jones

Bryan Jones

James McClanahan

James McClanahan

SEIU member and librarian Bryan Jones produced Tennessee’s entry for the American Library Association’s “50 State Salute to Banned Books” while Teen Program Coordinator and SEIU member James McClanahan had an entry in the TLA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee contest.

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the value of free and open access to information.

Congratulations to Bryan, James, and the other SEIU members working at the Nashville Public Library for their advocacy of free speech.

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Member Spotlight: Vanessa Robertson

Vanessa Robertson: Labor & Delivery Technician @ Nashville General Hospital.

Vanessa Robertson: Labor & Delivery Technician @ Nashville General Hospital.

When Vanessa Robertson reports to work every day at Metro General Hospital in Nashville, she isn’t just showing up so she can collect a paycheck. “A job is somewhere you show up every day so that you can have money to pay your bills,” Vanessa says. “This is more than just a job to me. I see it as my ministry. After all, Jesus took care of the sick and the poor and I can do a lot worse than to follow His example.”

Vanessa is a labor and delivery technician at Nashville’s safety net hospital, Metro General at Meharry. She assists doctors and nurses with OB/GYN patients and helps to bring new life into the world every day. It’s this sense of compassion and hope that led Vanessa to SEIU Local 205. She joined the union back in 1994 when she came to General and even though she’s a working mom, she still finds the time to be active in the Union. Vanessa has served as a shop steward since 2000 and has been on the union’s Bargaining Committee since 2003. “I want to be part of an organization that respects the voices of employees and helps them to get the dignity, respect, and justice they deserve at work,” Vanessa says.

As budgets in Washington and here in Tennessee continue to shrink, Vanessa often worries about what will happen to General, which relies heavily on subsidies—but not just because it will affect her own life. “We are so important to the community and we help so many people who can’t afford health insurance and treatment—I pray that Nashville General can weather this storm. In the meantime, I will continue to help my patients and my co-workers to the best of my God-given abilities by participating in my Union.”

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