Metro Nashville Public Schools

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MNPS Support Staff Have A New Union Agreement!

MNPS_PayStudy-Petition_1213In January, Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph and his leadership team finished their review of the new Memorandum Of Understanding (“M.O.U.”) presented by SEIU Local 205 and have agreed to its terms.

The new M.O.U. between MNPS and SEIU includes language covering workers’ right to representation, the right to meet-and-confer over wages, benefits, working conditions, and other issues that matter to all support staff. Other articles of the M.O.U. clarify how the union and the school district interact with each other.

The agreement is the end result of the union’s “Fresh Start” campaign—a sustained effort by rank-and-file members to affect local politics and community initiatives which built an environment of trust and cooperation between both organizations. SEIU members worked on political campaigns, attended community events, participated in the search for a new Director of Schools, and hosted positive meetings that brought support staff and administrators together to find common ground and to unite around key principles that emphasized listening, respect, and the best interests of our public schools.

“This new agreement shows what happens when there is mutual respect between SEIU and MNPS,” said Brad Rayson, president of Local 205. “Dr. Joseph’s administration has shown both the support staff and our Union that respect. It benefits everyone if SEIU and MNPS are working together to improve our public schools and we are glad to be partners in helping the district strive for excellence.”

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Union Steward Wins $7,500 Scholarship!

Local 205 president Brad Rayson and scholarship winner Recco Seay.

Local 205 president Brad Rayson and scholarship winner Recco Seay.

Long-time SEIU member, steward, and union officer Recco Seay Sr. was the recipient of this year’s Cecil D. Branstetter Memorial Scholarship, awarded by Nashville law firm Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings.

The scholarship is for $7,500 and Recco plans to use it to complete his doctorate. Recco’s dream is to graduate at the same time as his son, who is also attending college.

 

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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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Edna Jones Wins Re-Election to MEBB!

SEIU_for_EdnaJones_promo201We are proud to report that Edna Jones was handily re-elected in the Metro Employee Benefit Board election which was held on May 25.

According to the unofficial results, Edna won with nearly 60% of the vote in a field of six candidates. She won all but one of the six voting precincts spread across Davidson County.

Edna would like to thank all of the members of Local 205 who campaigned for her and those who voted. “I am honored to have another three year term, an opportunity to protect and preserve our benefits, and to insure that your service pension is viable and available when you are ready to retire,” Edna said.

The Metro Employee Benefit Board, manages and administers city employee benefit plans as well as the retirement plans. They also hear reviews and appeals of injured-on-duty cases, disability cases, they oversee the structure and rates for employee and retiree health insurance plans, and they are a forum for any changes or adjustments to employee benefit programs including the pension. There are ten MEBB members. Half are appointed by the mayor and the other half are elected by the group of employees they represent. Edna is one of two representatives for General Government and MNPS employees.

Edna has the distinction of serving as chair of the MEBB for the most consecutive terms. Her current term takes effect once the election results are certified and accepted by the Civil Service Commission. She was elected to a three-year term which begins on July 1, 2017.

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Local 205 Endorses Edna Jones for Metro Benefit Board Election on 5/25!

SEIU_for_EdnaJones_promo201SEIU Local 205 is proud to endorse Edna Jones for re-election to the Metro Employee Benefit Board!

Edna, a Metro employee for over 32 years, has served as a General Government representative on the Metro Employee Benefit Board since 2005 and as chairperson of the Board since 2009. She remains committed to promoting the best interests of all Metro employees and will continue to work to insure the best benefits and pension plans are provided. Edna believes experience matters and uses her experience to understand and connect with all Metro Government employees.  She will make no idle promises which cannot be kept but will always be available to answer questions from all employees and research to find the correct answer if it is not readily available.

The Benefit Board election will be conducted by machine vote on Thursday, May 25, 2017. Hours vary by location so see the chart below. Employees will only need a photo ID in order to vote – a paycheck stub is no longer required. This election is only open to current, non-retired Metro Government employees (excluding Police and Fire employees) who are enrolled in at least one Metro Benefit plan (note: Hospital Authority employees are eligible to vote if they were hired before November 2010). 

 Location Time
Ben West Building: Lobby
100 James Robertson Parkway
8:00-4:30
Lentz Public Health Center: Centennial Room C
2500 Charlotte Ave.
8:00-4:30
Lindsley Hall: Entrance Lobby
730 2nd Ave. South
8:00-4:30
Metro Southeast: Break Room
1417 Murfreesboro Pike (Genesco Park)
8:00-4:30
Public Works: Roll Call Room (Operations Bldg)
740 South 5th Street
7:00-4:00
Water Services: 2nd floor Training Rm (Admin. Bldg)
1600 2nd Ave. North
7:00-4:00

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The MNPS Budget Includes Raises and Pay Study Recommended by SEIU Thanks to Members Taking Action!

Dozens of SEIU members working in Metro schools ask the district to do a pay study for school support staff. The union presented over 1,200 signatures from MNPS workers.

The union presented over 1,200 signatures from MNPS workers asking for a pay study for support staff.

The 2017-2018 operating budget for Metro Schools includes the major priorities which SEIU members have communicated to the school board and Dr. Joseph since the beginning of the school year.

Thanks to the efforts of SEIU members, this year’s proposed schools budget includes:
  • 3% across the board raise
  • Step increases for eligible staff
  • Maintain benefits
  • A compensation study for support staff

Getting the pay study included in the budget happened after over 1,200 support employees all across the county signed petitions and then turned out in droves to present the petitions to the school board.

Cost-of-living and step raises were just a few of the major issues that union members raised with Dr. Joseph, his administration, and the school board at a town hall meeting at the SEIU hall. That meeting also brought forward issues like tuition assistance, hiring more staff, and coming up with more ways for support employees to build a career in MNPS. Those issues have also been included in the budget proposal.

“Because our members have been so pro-active since the search for a new director of schools, the district is starting to get the message that support staff are critical to improving public education in Nashville,” said Brad Rayson, president of SEIU Local 205. “This school year, we’ve had a record number of paraprofessionals, educational assistants, secretaries, bookkeepers, ISS monitors, campus supervisors, maintenance and cafeteria staff joining (or re-joining) the union and getting engaged in their workplace and it is making a difference.”

The MNPS budget will be presented to the Metro Council followed by a series of committee meetings and hearings in May and June, followed by a vote by the Council to accept a final budget to be signed by Mayor Barry.

For up-to-date information on the budget and all other issues that are important to MNPS employees, follow SEIU Local 205’s Facebook page or contact SEIU Local 205.

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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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School Support Staff Request Study to Fix Pay Inequality in Nashville!

Dozens of SEIU members working in Metro schools ask the district to do a pay study for school support staff. The union presented over 1,200 signatures from MNPS workers.

Dozens of SEIU members working in Metro schools ask the district to do a pay study for school support staff. The union presented over 1,200 signatures from MNPS workers.

Food service workers, paraprofessionals, secretaries, and dozens of Metro Nashville Public Schools support employees crowded into the December school board meeting to urge the board to commission a pay study for support employees.

SEIU Local 205 gathered over 1,200 petition signatures from support staff working in schools all over Davidson County. The petition requests that a pay study be conducted to compare MNPS support staff’s wages and benefits to their counterparts in peer cities and updating the pay scale where appropriate. There has not been a pay study conducted for support employees in Metro Schools since 1996.

“We appreciate Dr. Joseph’s willingness to review school operations from top to bottom and make changes that are needed,” said Lilldeus Russell, a paraprofessional who works with special needs students. “One of the changes we think is necessary is to take a hard look at employee pay and whether it is keeping pace with the cost of living in Nashville.”

James Brown, an IT technician who was part of the petition drive, has noticed a slow trickle of quality employees out of MNPS. “We have seen good people with years of experience leave the district because they can’t make ends meet,” Brown said. “That’s a major loss – not just to the school district but to the kids who rely on us every day.”

“Since the last pay study, so much has changed,” said Brad Rayson, president of SEIU Local 205.”The cost of living has gone up, job expectations have grown, and student needs have increased.”

Rayson urged the school board to immediately commission a pay study to compare support staff wages to their counterparts in similar-sized cities like Louisville and Charlotte. “We need an apples-to-apples view of where MNPS stacks up and take action to make improvements as quickly as possible,” Rayson said. “Our members love their work and find it very rewarding, but some struggle financially. Many have second jobs and others have to consider leaving a job they love for one that simply pays the bills.”

SEIU has had preliminary discussions about low pay for support staff with Dr. Joseph and plans to address the topic with him in more detail in January.

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A Clean Sweep for SEIU’s Candidates in Local Nashville Elections!

Local 205 activists with school board candidates Frogge, Pinkston, & Speering.

Local 205 activists with school board candidates Frogge, Pinkston, & Speering.

We are thrilled to report that after the votes were counted, ALL of the candidates endorsed by Local 205 in Nashville’s local races won their elections!

In the Metro school board races, our endorsed candidates Jill Speering, Christiane Buggs, and Amy Frogge won by huge margins while Will Pinkston held on to his seat by a slim margin of only 36 votes!

The school board races were unusual in that national political organizations had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in “dark money” to try and change the makeup of the board to become more pro-charter – an effort that failed miserably. “These special-interest groups who tried to come in and hijack our school board learned an expensive lesson thanks in no small part to the efforts of union members who live and vote in the school district,” said Freda Player, Local 205’s political director. “The most important issues to our members who work in Metro schools are pay, morale, and their rights on the job and the candidates we supported have repeatedly shown that all of these are crucial to getting Metro schools back on track.”

Even before the election campaigns ramped up, SEIU members in MNPS had been very pro-active in school affairs. They attended all of the interviews during the search for a new director of schools, they supported the hiring of Dr. Shawn Joseph, and they persuaded the school board to pass a policy laying out guidelines for how the new director should interact with employees and their organizations like SEIU. The union also has a representative on Dr. Joseph’s transition team and have been bringing employee issues to his attention. “Our school leaders have been very strategic over the last year and that is starting to pay off,” Player said. “We are all looking forward to deepening our relationship with Dr. Joseph and the new school board so that we can ensure that MNPS support staff are paid what they’re worth, that they get dignity and respect on the job, and that they have the tools at their disposal to make Metro schools as great as we all know they can be.”

Meanwhile, in the special election in Metro Council district 1, the union’s endorsed candidate, Nick Leonardo, won convincingly.

We congratulate all of our endorsed candidates, our members and their families who voted for them,  and we especially thank our Member Political Organizers who did the hard work of campaigning to elect this slate of pro-labor candidates to office.

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SEIU Announces Endorsements for Metro School Board!

For Immediate Release

Local Union Supports Metro School Board Candidates With “Real World” Experience in Public Education

(Nashville, TN) Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 205, the labor organization representing support employees working in the Metro Nashville Public Schools, announced the names of candidates the organization will be supporting in the School Board elections to be held on August 4, 2016.

In the race for school board District 3, SEIU Local 205 endorsed incumbent Jill Speering, a retired teacher. “Jill knows that without an experienced support staff, teachers aren’t able to teach,” said Recco Seay Sr., an in-school suspension monitor and SEIU member. “Not only does Jill have decades of experience as an educator, she also has compassion for school employees and understands their needs and concerns.”

In District 5, SEIU endorsed Christiane Buggs. Christiane is a newcomer to politics, but served for many years as a Metro school teacher. “Christiane was a teacher and her parents were school support staff,” said SEIU member Lilldeus Russell, a paraprofessional in MNPS. “She has a lot of firsthand knowledge of how schools work on a daily basis and that perspective is needed on the board.”

In District 7, the union is supporting Will Pinkston who is running for re-election. “Will is a strong policy advocate and he’s been militant when it comes to transparency, accountability, and engagement,” said James Brown, a computer network engineer for the district and the union’s chief steward. “The moneyed special interests are putting their bets on his opponent, but voters should bet on Will Pinkston in this election.”

In District 9, SEIU Local 205 endorsed incumbent Amy Frogge, a community activist and parent volunteer. “As a parent with children in Metro Schools, Amy understands the needs and concerns of families who have a stake in our school system,” said SEIU member Deborah Dial, a secretary who works at Hillwood High, which is in District 9. “She has always relied on data and her compassion for others to be a leading voice on the school board and we want to see that continue.”

Election Day for the school board races will be on Thursday, August 4. Complete information on early voting dates and voting locations is available from the Davidson County Election Commission at 615-862-8800.

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SEIU Local 205 represents support employees working in the Metro Nashville Public Schools and has since 2001. Members come from nearly every department in the district and include school secretaries, cafeteria workers, paraprofessionals, education assistants, campus supervisors, maintenance workers, crossing guards and others who play a role in shaping the lives of children in Davidson County.

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