Metro General Government

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The Metro General Government (or “Metro”) chapter of SEIU Local 205 is one of the most diverse. It is made up of a combination of blue-collar and white-collar workers who work across dozens of city departments doing skilled and unskilled labor that keeps Tennessee’s capital city running for local residents and the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit Music City every day.

And while the union members in the Metro chapter may come from different backgrounds, have different skills, and work in different kinds of work settings, one thing that SEIU members have learned is how to work together towards common goals: protecting workers’ rights, benefits, improving pay, dignity and respect on the job, and a commitment to excellence and quality public services.

Metro General Government Memorandum of Understanding (pdf) 

Nashville Public Employees Respond to Pew Report on Benefits

Close to 200 Metro employees and SEIU members packed the Howard School Building to hear Pew's proposal for benefit changes for city employees.

Close to 200 Metro employees and SEIU members packed the Howard School Building to hear Pew’s proposal for benefit changes for city employees.

Workers on Public Employee Pension and Health Systems: “It Ain’t Broke… Don’t Fix It”

Hundreds of Nashville firefighters, nurses, law enforcement officers, librarians, water technicians, school employees, and other public service workers and retirees spoke out against a proposal by Pew Charitable Trusts to cut public employee and retiree benefits at a meeting of the Study and Formulating Committee.

Pew issued an interim report that explored a proposal for Metro Nashville to close its existing defined-benefit pension plan and shift future employees into a state pension plan that is a combination – or “hybrid” – of a traditional pension and a 401(k)-type defined-contribution plan. A hybrid proposal would shift more of the costs onto employees, who make on average about $33,000/ year according to a recent compensation study. “A lot of us have to take second jobs to make ends meet and many of us are single moms,” said Vanessa Sanders, a labor and delivery nurse at General Hospital. “After taxes, transportation, health insurance, and all the other necessities, we just cannot afford to have more money come out of our paychecks for a retirement contribution.”

Many questioned the need for any changes after the city conducted a similar study of employee benefits in 2012 in which several key adjustments to the plan were already made. Recently, Metro’s actuaries revealed that the city’s defined benefit plan is 83% funded, putting it in the top tier of public pension funds. CNBC reported that in 2013, the Nashville plan’s investment returns were the fifth highest of all city and state plans in the U.S. In other cities and states that have shifted to a “hybrid” type like the one proposed by Pew, costs to taxpayers increased while benefits for beneficiaries decreased. “If changing the system is actually going to cost the city more money and deliver less of a benefit to workers, why the heck would we do it,” asked Rick Beasley, a 911 dispatcher. “It sounds to me like Pew is creating a “lose-lose” situation that leaves taxpayers and employees paying more and getting less.”

“It ain’t broke, and we don’t need Pew fixing it,” said Jack Byrd, a corrections officer. Pew’s work has been funded by a foundation organized by billionaire John Arnold, a former Enron executive and hedge fund manager. Some have criticized Arnold’s efforts, saying that hedge fund managers like Arnold collect generous sums in fees for managing the funds while workers are left with reduced pension benefits.

The Service Employees International Union, Local 205, which represents thousands of Metro employees across dozens of city departments, agencies, and in Metro schools, made it clear that it opposes any changes to employee benefits. “Pew and their allies are proposing a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist,” said Doug Collier, president of Local 205. “If there are any cuts that need to happen in Nashville, it should be to the tax breaks and corporate welfare being handed out to millionaires.”

Pew officials ultimately admitted in their interim report to the Study & Formulating Committee that Metro’s pension is in “solid financial shape,” but did find significant concerns with the unfunded liability the city has as a result of its retiree medical program. The Committee announced that Pew’s work in ongoing and another report is expected in the coming months to examine some remaining issues. The Committee’s next meeting date has not been announced yet.

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Grievance Victory Exposes Problems in Hiring at Metro Health Department!

Should the Metro Public Health Department hire the most qualified applicants or should they hire whoever gives the best interview—regardless of credentials, experience, or qualifications?

This was only one of the core issues at stake when MPHD decided to hire someone from outside of the Health Department after several qualified internal applicants applied for a job in the STD division.

Charncey Springer, who was headed for unemployment with the demise of the New Life Fatherhood Program, applied for a position that was posted “for MPHD employees only” and was shocked to discover that he and nine other current department employees were passed over in favor of someone from outside of Metro who had little to no experience in this particular job.

Charncey contacted SEIU and filed a grievance. Rather wait until the grievance was resolved, the Health Department hired the outside candidate.

To make matters worse, H.R. did not do a reference check of the new employee until after she was hired and after Charncey’s grievance was filed. The Union’s investigation of the case turned up some shady hiring practices that members of the Board found “concerning,” including the following findings by the Personnel Committee:

  • The hiring practices at MPHD are not transparent.
  • A transparent, objective process for hiring is not currently being utilized.
  • The value of placing current employees facing layoffs in vacancies is not conveyed to hiring supervisors as a value trumping more minor preferences for hiring external candidates.
  • The reference checking process revealed during the hearing of this appeal is concerning. No references provided by the successful applicant were checked prior to hiring. Just as concerning, when, after the grievance at issue was filed, only one reference was obtained.

In the end, the Board of Health ruled that the Department had violated the Civil Service Rules and directed MPHD to appoint Charncey to the position if he still wanted it.

Charncey was represented in his grievance at all stages by SEIU. The union files grievances on behalf of employees when applicable but can only do so for dues-paying members. Congratulations to Charncey on his new position with MPHD! Here’s what Charncey had to say about his experience working with SEIU to address his issue:

“My name is Charncey Springer. I am an employee of the Metro Public Health Department here in Nashville, Tennessee and member of SEIU Local 205. As an affiliate of the local chapter of SEIU, I think it is important to be a part of an organization that always looks out for your best interest as an employee; an organization that goes out of its way to know how your company operates so that you can work in a safe and just environment.

I recently needed the assistance of my local chapter in a situation regarding employee placement. My concerns focused on the health department’s policy behind its hiring practice and what should be done to ensure that the most qualified individual is selected for the position.

Through the cooperation of the health department along with the diligent work and investigation of my SEIU representatives, we were able to discover some errors in the Civil Service guide that were in much need of clarification for the sake of accuracy as well equity toward all employees in a situation such as this. As a result, a grievance was filed and a hearing was conducted by the Board of Health where fact finding took place to ensure that issue was addressed.

In the end, my grievance was up held and the administrative staff of the health department began drawing up provisions to ensure that in the future, the best candidates for employment are selected. I’m almost certain that I would not have been able to do this without the assistance of my local reps Mark Naccarato and SEIU Union attorney Brad Rayson. I encourage anyone who is considering becoming a part of a SEIU to take the plunge and be a part of an organization that will ensure that while working in this great country, you as a worker will receive due process in all matters of employment as well as help protect the integrity of the work place. Thank you.”

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Pew/Arnold Study on Metro Benefits Causes Confusion and Controversy

(Nashville)  Representatives from Pew Charitable Trusts caused confusion and controversy at a meeting of the Study & Formulating Committee when they revealed data about the Metro employee pension fund that conflicted with data presented by the city’s actuaries.

On multiple occasions, members of the Study & Formulating Committee attempted to get a straight answer from Pew representatives on the amount that Metro’s pension plan is funded at – a number which is crucial in determining if any reforms to the retirement system are even necessary. In a memo to the Committee on July 22, Pew/Arnold stated that Metro was funded at 77%, a number that was debunked by representatives from Bryan, Pendleton, Swats & McAllister, the independent actuary that serves Metro Government. According to BPS&M, Nashville’s open pension plan was funded at a healthy 85% (13% higher than the average state-level pension plan) in 2013. “I want to make sure we aren’t sounding alarms that don’t need to be sounded,” said Glenn Farner, one of the members of the Study & Formulating Committee, to the crowd in attendance.

“It is very disappointing to see an organization like Pew risk its reputation with this kind of fuzzy math in order to push an ideological agenda that puts the retirements of thousands of Middle Tennessee working families at risk,” said Doug Collier, President of SEIU Local 205. SEIU represents public employees in Metro government departments as well as Metro schools support staff, nearly all of whom are covered under Metro’s benefits plan.

Despite its credible name, Pew is partnering with the John & Laura Arnold Foundation to push a particularly dangerous plan to cripple public pensions all across the country. The Wall Street Journal identified Texas billionaire and former Enron executive John Arnold as one of the major forces behind efforts to cut worker pensions at the city and state level. Arnold, who was the subject of a Department of Justice investigation related to his work at Enron (including accusations of insider training and his role in wiping out the retirements of thousands of Enron employees) has funneled massive amounts of money to pension-gutting politicians and their super PACs. His foundation has also directed $4.85 billion to Pew Charitable Trusts’ “Public Sector Retirement Systems” project, which has produced anti-pension research used by state lawmakers to justify cutting into public workers’ retirement benefits, often replacing them with more expensive, less reliable and widely-discredited 401(k) plans or their newer cousin, “hybrid pension plans,” which bring with them hefty bank fees and unnecessary risk for seniors.

The Pew/Arnold work has been called “deceptive” by a host of state legislators in Kentucky after the organizations convinced the state of Kentucky to adopt a new “cash balance plan” which the legislators said “will cost taxpayers millions of dollars, will not reduce our state’s unfunded liability, and will diminish retirement security.” Pew also recently dropped into Jacksonville, Florida to provide policy recommendations addressing the city’s retirement challenges. There, Pew provided a flawed actuarial analysis that wildly overstated the Jacksonville police and fire pension fund’s problems. The city ultimately rejected Pew’s advice.

“It seems like everywhere Pew/Arnold goes, their recommendations are the same – to weaken the retirement security of public employees,” Collier said. According to investment research firm Morningstar, Metro Nashville was the seventh-highest ranked public pension fund in the U.S., with an ROI of 18.3% in 2013. “It ain’t broke, so there is no need for Pew/Arnold to try and fix it,” said Collier.

Another controversy plaguing the Study & Formulating Committee is its agenda. The current committee was formed by Mayor Karl Dean at the request of Metro Council members who asked the mayor to appoint a committee “specifically to consider the provision of domestic partner benefits,” according to a letter signed by 26 city council members on Oct. 2, 2013. “It was never the intent of the Council for this committee to be debating and discussing other employee benefits,” said Collier. “The city spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on an exhaustive study like this only two years ago and the changes that needed to be made were made. It is time for this current committee to be dissolved since their work on domestic partner benefits is concluded.”

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The Service Employees International Union is one of the fastest-growing labor unions in the U.S. with over 2.1 million members in North America. In Tennessee, SEIU Local 205 is chartered to represent thousands of public and private sector workers.

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A Tale of Two Libraries: Local 205 Members Take Action!

Some Local 205 members working for Nashville Public Library.

Some Local 205 members working for Nashville Public Library.

SEIU Local 205 members working in public libraries in Nashville and Chattanooga have been organizing to ensure fairness and economic security for them and their co-workers over the last year and have achieved no small amount of success by standing together.

SEIU members working in the Main library in downtown Nashville – who pay over $100/month to park where they work – have been campaigning for nearly a year to address their transportation issues. Union members launched a petition drive and a lobbying campaign of the library director, the board, and city officials. We are happy to report that a free shuttle for employees has been added along with more frequent trips for staff reporting in at different times. “This is a great first step to addressing the parking situation in the main branch,” says Bridget Radford, a shop steward. “The new option has been popular for many staff and we hope to eventually make sure that everyone who wishes to drive to work at the Main library can afford to so.”

Meanwhile, parking reform was also a goal for SEIU members working in the Chattanooga downtown library. Like Nashville, employees had to pay excessive parking fees to park in the lot that their workplace sits on. After workers there passed around a petition with dozens of signatures, SEIU reps raised the issue with city officials and the Mayor’s office. Starting in April, workers now are able to park for free at City Hall only a few blocks away. “Inclement weather presents a challenge sometimes, but I would much rather walk a couple of blocks and save some of my hard-earned money in high parking fees,” says Robert Hart who works in the downtown library.

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Federal Judge Blocks TN’s “Emergency Rules” Regulating the Affordable Care Act

Only days after SEIU Local 205 and two of its members filed a lawsuit in Federal court and held a press conference, a federal judge blocked the state of Tennessee from enforcing part of the “emergency rules” regulating the actions of people seeking to sign up the uninsured for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The state’s new rules could have fined individuals $1,000 per occurrence for basic assistance in learning about and signing up for the Affordable Care Act by classifying them as a “navigator,” even though navigators are clearly defined in the ACA’s federal regulations.

“This is a victory for free speech and the rule of law,” said Exie Harrington, a Nashville Public Library employee who is one of the plaintiffs in Harrington vs. Haslam. “Now I can assist patrons and make sure they are able to find the resources they need to make their own healthcare decisions without fear of being fined.”

“These ‘emergency rules’ were never about protecting people from fraud, this was a political game by the Governor and his allies,” said Doug Collier, President of SEIU Local 205, one of the plaintiffs in the complaint. “We believe it is every American’s right to have access to affordable health care and we are not going to let him play political games with people’s lives.”

The lawsuit alleges that the state’s “emergency rules”:

  • Violate federal and state constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of association because they curtail First Amendment rights due to the threat of being subjected to considerable fines and penalties;
  • Are not valid because family members, friends, neighbors or healthcare workers are not “navigators” as defined by the law;
  • Would prevent people like nurses, doctors or homecare workers like the plaintiffs from assisting people with disabilities without undergoing the state’s onerous registration process, and therefore violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The temporary restraining order will be in place for 14 days. The plaintiffs will seek to extend the court’s order by asking for a preliminary injunction to ensure that non-navigators are not penalized for providing assistance to friends, family members, and neighbors, to name a few.

For more information on this story, get coverage from The Tennessean.

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Local 205 & Members File Federal Lawsuit Defending Free Speech & Affordable Health Care in TN

For Immediate Release:

SEIU Local 205 and two public employees filed a lawsuit in Federal court challenging Tennessee’s issuance of unduly restrictive rules regulating “navigator” activities, which were filed and adopted less than two weeks before the roll out of the Affordable Care Act. The new state requirements put at risk friends, family members, caregivers, church volunteers, and many others who might provide friends and neighbors with information – even informally – about the new, lower-cost healthcare options now available on the new health marketplaces.

Recent polls show the vast majority of Americans do not understand the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and it remains a source of mystery for far too many Tennesseans. Other states have encouraged librarians, educators, doctors and nurses to share the facts about the new marketplaces that opened on October 1 to increase knowledge of the law, but the state’s emergency rules do the exact opposite. It applies an overly broad definition of the term “navigator” – which is a term of art under the law that refers to individuals and organizations that have received government grants to assist in enrollment for healthcare coverage — to anyone who takes part in, or facilitates, public education about the new marketplaces or the insurance plans available. Current state rules require that navigators get fingerprinted, complete a criminal background check, register with a state agency, and limit the kind of assistance they provide to consumers. If a person provides consumer assistance without satisfying these requirements, state officials can fine them up to $1,000 for each violation.

“I already assist my clients on how to enroll for benefit programs like TennCare and S.N.A.P. and I shouldn’t have to be worried about big fines from the state for doing my job,” says Trumeko Foxx, a home care provider for Metro Social Services who is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Exie Harrington, another plaintiff in the suit, is a circulation assistant working for the Nashville Public Library and frequently assists library visitors who need help accessing the internet and locating information on various websites. “Our staff already has rules about what we can and can’t do to help the public access state or federal programs,” Exie says. “These new rules from the state are unnecessary and it isn’t fair to put librarians or anyone else at risk for helping people find a website for a legitimate resource.”

The lawsuit alleges that the current law:

  • Violates federal and state constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of association because it curtails First Amendment rights due to the threat of being subjected to considerable fines and penalties;
  • Is not valid because family members, friends, neighbors or healthcare workers are not “navigators” as defined by the law;
  • Would prevent people like nurses, doctors or homecare workers like the plaintiff, from assisting people with disabilities without undergoing the state’s onerous registration process, and therefore violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“These political games make for good theater in Washington D.C., but here in Tennessee, we are talking about people’s lives,” said Doug Collier, President of SEIU Local 205. “People are fed up with the political stunts over the healthcare law. It is the law of the land and state government needs to get out of the way and allow uninsured Tennesseans to get the information they need to make informed choices about their families’ health and well-being.”

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SEIU Local 205 Members Applaud Metro Council Resolution to Invest in Vital Services

Bill sponsor Erica Gilmore (left), with SEIU members Mary Miller and Joan Parmer.

Bill sponsor Erica Gilmore (left), with SEIU members Mary Miller and Joan Parmer.

SEIU Local 205 members stood together and applauded Nashville’s Metro Council action on RS2013-824, which calls on Congress to end the sequester and balance the federal budget in a way that will create jobs and strengthen our communities.

The resolution is another way citizens and elected officials are coming together to invest in vital services, like Head Start, which took a $400 million cut this year due to the sequester. The Chattanooga City Council approved a similar resolution a week earlier.

“Cuts to Head Start, Meals On Wheels, and job education programs are hurting our community,” said Linda Epps, an employee of Metro Action Commission working in the Head Start program. “These days, Congress doesn’t do anything unless we force them to. We thank the Nashville Metro Council for taking a stand for our children and seniors.”

In March of this year, $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts went into effect. These cuts, known as “The Sequester”…

  • Cut Head Start by $400 million in FY2013, which will result in 1,200 fewer Tennessee children served. Nationwide, tens of thousands of Head Start employees could either lose their jobs or rely on cash-strapped states and localities to pick up their salaries instead.
  • Cut employment services, which connect job seekers with employment opportunities and job training. With cuts totaling more than $37 million, some 830,000 fewer job seekers will receive employment assistance.
  • Threaten the loss of 750,000 American jobs according to the Congressional Budget Office, leaving many middle class Americans vulnerable.
  • Cuts 2 percent from Medicare, which would cost 212,000 jobs in the healthcare industry alone, according to the Congressional Research Service.

“Congress needs to do more to make sure the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share of taxes,” said Doug Collier, president of SEIU Local 205. “A fair budget agreement should raise more revenue from wealthy Americans and big corporations. There are hundreds of billions in tax loopholes used by big business and the wealthy to allow them to avoid taxes that could give us more revenue and prevent cuts to the vital services our communities need.”

This story got media attention from NBC News and from The Nashville Scene.

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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!

 

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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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Former Exec. Director of Local 205 Passes Away

Clyde Smith

Clyde Smith

Our union brother Clyde Smith, who worked at Metro Water Services, died after an extended illness on July 15 in Nashville. Clyde served as the Executive Director of Local 205 before there was an elected president and he also served as the employee representative of the Metro Employee Benefit Board.

Clyde was a knowledgeable and tireless advocate for workers rights and unionism for decades and our sympathies and prayers go out to Clyde’s family during this difficult time.

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SEIU Members @ Downtown Library Campaign for Parking Relief!

Because of a complicated arrangement between Metro Government and several private entities, Nashville Public Library employees who work in the Main branch have to pay nearly $1300 a year to park at the building they work in. No other employees working for NPL face this expense.

The issue of parking in the Main branch was brought to NPL Library Director Kent Oliver by the Union as soon as he arrived in Nashville and he was immediately supportive. Mr. Oliver included employee parking in his budget memo to the Finance Dept. prior to the Mayor’s budget hearings in March.

During that budget hearing, NPL board member Margaret Ann Robinson spoke in favor of parking relief and several SEIU members in the Main branch wrote her a letter of thanks for her advocacy.

A Campaign Committee of SEIU members in the Main branch began a petition drive to get free or reduced parking, gathering signatures from 99% of the library staff in Main.

The petitions were presented at the May board meeting by Union members and the Board agreed to support efforts to give parking relief. In June, Mr. Oliver delivered the petitions to the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Finance.

Union members brought the issue of parking relief to the attention of the Metro Council at several lobbying events organized by SEIU and questions were asked by Metro Council members at the library department’s budget hearing in May. Unfortunately, parking relief was not addressed in the final budget that was passed by the Metro Council.

The Campaign Committee is investigating other options and welcomes input from employees on how best to proceed. A special thanks goes out to the Parking Campaign Committee members Bryan Jones, James McClanahan, Bridget Radford, Julie Burns, and James Staub for all the hard work they have done and to all NPL employees who have signed the petition and have lent us their support.

Stay tuned to www.seiu205.org for updates…

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