Metro Public Health Department

SEIU Endorsements for 2019 Metro Council Runoff Elections!

vote_500x279The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 205 announced their endorsed candidates for Nashville’s Metro Council runoff elections to be held on September 12, 2019.

The candidates were interviewed and chosen by a committee of rank and file members of our union. The members of this committee are Davidson County residents who work for Metro Government, Metro Nashville Public Schools, and Nashville General Hospital. This committee chose to endorse:

[NOTE: You may choose up to four different candidates for the At-Large race]

At-Large    Burkley Allen
At-Large    Fabian Bedne
At-Large    Sharon Hurt
At-Large    Gary Moore
At-Large    Zulfat Suara

District 2    Kyontze Toombs
District 7    Emily Benedict
District 13   Russ Bradford
District 16   Ginny Welsch
District 21   Ed Kindall
District 30   Sandra Sepulveda

SEIU Local 205 chose not to endorse in the race for Nashville’s mayor. Click here to find out why.

Early voting takes place from August 23 through September 7. For a complete listing of polling locations, times, and other election information, contact the Davidson County Election Commission at 615-862-8800. Members seeking to volunteer for a campaign or for get-out-the-vote efforts should contact the union’s political department.

Comments Off on SEIU Endorsements for 2019 Metro Council Runoff Elections!

‘#MoralBudget’ Campaign Fights for Nashville’s Public Employees!

SEIU and MNEA members join education & community activists at a press conference at the Courthouse.

SEIU and MNEA members join education & community activists at a press conference at the Courthouse.

Local 205 did major work this year in Nashville to prepare for a budget showdown we predicted would happen when elected officials narrowly rejected adjusting the property tax rate in 2018.

Our members held town hall meetings, spoke to their friends, family, clergy, elected officials, and the media to educate them about how the government is funded and that Nashville’s financial struggles are not because of spending but because of a failure to capture the city’s explosive growth and prosperity.

When Mayor David Briley proposed a “no new taxes” budget, it was almost a guarantee that the city would not have enough revenue to properly fund the Metro school system (SEIU members work as support staff in MNPS and are among the lowest-paid public employees in Davidson County). While there was a substitute budget that was proposed to replace Briley’s, that budget failed to pass by one vote. This is the same thing that happened last year. As a result, the Metro School system remains underfunded by tens of millions of dollars and school employees again wonder how they are going to afford to live in Davidson County while housing costs are skyrocketing.

“We believe that in the court of public opinion, we have convinced most people that Nashville’s budget problems are the result of low revenues, not excessive spending and that the solution was to adjust the property tax rate,” said Brad Rayson, Local 205’s president. “In the end, though, this was an election year and we still just did not have enough council members who were brave enough to take the tough votes and do what is right for the city. We will be factoring that in to our decisions on who we support in this year’s Metro elections”.

Despite this setback, city employees did get raises and other improvements in the 2019-2020 budget, including —

Metro Government employees

  • 3% cost-of-living raise—all employees
  • ‘Step’ pay plan funded (approx. 2-4% for those who are eligible)
  • ‘Open-Range’ pay plan funded (for those eligible)
  • No health insurance premium increase for employees

Metro Nashville Public Schools employees

  • 3% cost-of-living raise in January + 3% in July
  • No health insurance premium increase for employees

Metro Action Commission employees

  • 11% raise for Teacher Assistants
  • 5% raise for all other bargaining unit employees
  • No health insurance premium increase for employees

Nashville General Hospital

  • 3% cost-of-living raise—all employees
  • No health insurance premium increase for employees
  • No contentious fight over Hospital funding or layoffs

 

Comments Off on ‘#MoralBudget’ Campaign Fights for Nashville’s Public Employees!

SEIU Statement on Mayor Briley’s “State of Metro” Address

SEIU Local 205 issued the following statement in response to Mayor David Briley’s “State of Metro” address and his proposed budget for Metro Government in Nashville for 2019-2020:

Mayor Briley’s State of Metro address outlined a budget that is an improvement from last year. We are thankful the Mayor has prioritized fulfilling the commitment of a cost-of-living adjustment for Metro employees and for extending that to Metro Schools employees. We are also encouraged that Mayor Briley is supporting a $15/hour minimum wage for Metro employees, something our union fights to achieve for all workers.

Despite these hopeful signs, there are a lot of details about this budget and the city’s revenue projections which are still unknown. We do know that our public schools will remain underfunded, as Mayor Briley acknowledged in his remarks today. The MNPS School Board requested much more than what Mayor Briley is proposing and our teachers, paraprofessionals, and other school support staff – many of whom work two or three jobs just to get by – literally can’t afford to wait for the “multi-year, long-term approach” that Mayor Briley recommended. We hope the Metro Council will fully fund the school board’s budget request.

We share many of the goals Mayor Briley laid out in his State of Metro address, but we do not believe his vision for Nashville can be accomplished without addressing the core revenue issue that our city faces. If the mayor is correct and Nashville continues to grow, so will the demand on our schools and public services. Metro will struggle to meet these challenges until we directly confront the structural revenue problem created by Mayor Barry and the Metro Council adopting the lowest property tax rate in the history of Metro Government. That decision in 2017 was effectively a large tax cut that disproportionately benefited developers and commercial property owners and is at the root of all of Nashville’s budget challenges.

Brad Rayson
President, SEIU Local 205

Comments Off on SEIU Statement on Mayor Briley’s “State of Metro” Address

SEIU Kicks Off Series of “Roundtable Conversations” About Growth & Budget in Nashville!

MetroBudget2019_GreenHills-With nearly a hundred people moving to “It City” every day, how can Nashville experience such rapid growth and yet still struggle with a revenue shortfall?

This was the topic of discussion at a community meeting held at J.T. Moore Middle School in Green Hills. Hosted by SEIU Local 205, the roundtable discussion featured perspectives from Metro Council members, labor leaders, and city employees who are dealing with the direct impact of an exploding city population using limited resources.

The discussion began with some sobering statistics. In the last decade, the city’s population has increased by over 17%. This population growth brings with it a host of issues that require local government services and people to provide them and yet, Metro departments have lagged far behind the city’s growth curve. Some city departments like Public Works have essentially the same number of employees as they did in 2008.

Despite Nashville’s population explosion, a development boom, an overall increase in property values, and job growth, Nashville ended up with a revenue shortfall last year which resulted in Metro Schools receiving about $37 million dollars less than they asked for. Metro Government employees, who rely on cost-of-living raises to keep up, watched as their COLA raise was taken away even though the council had voted to approve it the previous year.

Several Metro employees participated in the roundtable discussion and shared their perspectives on how growth and budget shortfalls are impacting their work and their families. Alisa Franklin, a call taker at the Department of Emergency Communications, described a high-stress environment that results in burnout and high turnover. “Some of our call takers are working 12 to 16 hour days to make sure the city is served properly,” Franklin said. “We’ve got people who do that on a daily basis because we are dedicated.” She also described the department’s struggle with retaining good people since their starting salary is only $15.60 in one the most expensive urban markets in the state. “It’s hard for us to keep people here because they can go to work somewhere else for the same money doing easier work and not have all the stress.”

Panelist Chris Gill is a paraprofessional working in Metro Nashville Public Schools and assists children with developmental disabilities. Gill, a former U.S. Army captain, questioned how he and his co-workers – many of whom have college educations – are able to live in Davidson County with a salary that forces many of them to have second jobs. “I love my job, but I shouldn’t have to take a second job to keep my first job,” Gill said. “Everyone says ‘we appreciate your service’, but if you really appreciate our service, pay us what we’re worth.”

Tyrone Jolley works for Metro Water Services in the Development Services division, which is ground zero for the development boom in Music City. His office deals with project engineering, planning, permits, and inspections. “On any day of the week, you can come down to our office at 7:30 am and see a line of people waiting to get in,” Jolley said. “We used to have some slow periods but we haven’t seen any of that in the past four years. It is non-stop.” Jolley, who’s worked for Metro Water for over 20 years, received no raise in 2018.

Watch the comments from SEIU members here

Mark Young, local president of the International Association of Firefighters and James Smallwood, local president of the Fraternal Order of Police joined in the discussion with equally powerful statistics and stories about how a lack of funding is impacting public safety in Nashville. Whether it’s not having enough fire stations or enough police officers on the street, the failure to adjust the property tax rate as well as ongoing tax incentives to large corporations like Amazon, HCA, and others are literally putting Nashvillians at risk. A similar sentiment came from Erick Huth, president of Metro Nashville Education Association, who talked about the impact funding is having on public education in Nashville.

Councilmembers Russ Pulley, Angie Henderson, and Burkley Allen, who represent districts across West Nashville, participated in the discussion as well. When last year’s budget was being voted on, both Pulley and Henderson voted against an amended budget ordinance which would have adjusted the property tax and fully-funded Metro Schools along with city employees’ cost-of-living raises. Councilwoman Allen voted for the amended budget ordinance but ultimately it failed to pass by one vote. During an open q&a session, several attendees expressed frustration with city officials for playing politics over budget items. “Thank you for the clarification that getting elected is more important than doing the job you were elected to do,” said Lilldeus Russell, a city employee and mother who also offered a suggestion to the council members. “If we stop giving away our city to businesses which don’t need [tax incentives] and actually take care of the people who voted you into office, we wouldn’t be in this place.”

SEIU Local 205 plans to host several more roundtables on growth and the city budget across Davidson County over the next few months. For more information on future events, contact the union at 615-227-5070.

Leave a comment

SEIU & Allies to Metro Council: “Keep Your Promises & Pay Your Bills” to City Employees!

City employees and allies deliver a "past due invoice" for unpaid raises to the Metro Council.

City employees and allies deliver a “past due invoice” for unpaid raises to the Metro Council.

Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), presented the Metro Council with an “invoice” of $38 million, which the public sector unions say would make city employees whole after the Council reneged on a pay plan which included cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) in 2018 and 2019.

The General Government employee pay plan, which was developed after two years of study, was approved by the Metro Civil Service Commission and passed the Council by a vote of 34-1 in June, 2017. But last May, the mayor’s budget did not include the cost of living raises that were included in that pay plan, forcing the Council to write new ordinances that undid their previous vote on the pay plan.

Check out the complete video of the event.

The following remarks were made during the public comment period by Richard Tippit, a Metro employee who helped present the invoice to Metro Council members:

Members of Metro Council,

We’re here tonight to deliver you an invoice for services performed by the employees of Nashville Metro Government. In July of 2017, this Council passed a three-year pay plan that included annual cost of living adjustments. This pay plan was largely seen as attempting to make up for sacrifices made by Metro employees throughout the Great Recession.

Last year, because of a self-inflicted funding problem, this Council decided it wasn’t going to pay all of its bills. You paid every other bill – you even took on new bills – but you forgot to pay one of the most important. The men and women who keep the parks clean, keep our water running, keep the libraries open, repair our roads, pick-up our trash, answer 911 calls, put out the fires and keep our communities safe are owed a 3% cost of living adjustment for last year and a 3% adjustment for this year.

The total balance due is approximately $38 million in total, $18 million of that is past due. As you begin to discuss this year’s budget, you should know this bill remains unpaid, and your budgeting should start there.  Thank you.

Here’s a news report that aired on NewsChannel 5 featuring SEIU president Brad Rayson. Nashville Public Radio ran a brief report this morning as well.

Comments Off on SEIU & Allies to Metro Council: “Keep Your Promises & Pay Your Bills” to City Employees!

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly with the Metro Budget

MetroGovt-sealThis has been one of the most contentious budget seasons in years due to a revenue shortfall, political upheaval in the mayor’s office, and chickens coming home to roost on bad economic policies made by short-sighted politicians over the last decade. SEIU has led the way in fighting for public employees as our members have reached out to their council members by email, phone, and in person. Here’s the good news and the bad news about what happened this year and a look at what lies ahead:

THE GOOD: New Raises Go Through + Stability In Employee Benefits

Several improvements did happen for Nashville’s public employees as a result of SEIU members’ hard work and the support of our allies, including —

  1. Metro employees who are eligible for step raises will still get them.
  2. In the schools, paraprofessionals will receive an upgrade/pay increase.
  3. Thanks to our allies on the benefit board, there is no increase in insurance costs to employees this year.
  4. Employees at Nashville General Hospital will receive a raise.
  5. Despite efforts from Councilman Glover to get rid of the paid family leave benefit, this remains intact.

THE BAD: The Mendes Budget Fails

As you know, Mayor Briley’s budget broke the existing pay plan and did not include the promised cost of living adjustments for this year or next year. It forced MNPS to cut $17 million from this year’s school budget and kept MNPS employees from getting any raise at all. Mayor Briley blamed the budget problems on an unexpected revenue shortfall. The shortfall was caused by Mayor Barry’s administration allowing the property tax rate to drop last year to the lowest rate in the history of Metro government.

For the past month, members of Local 205 have worked extremely hard to pass a substitute budget through the Metro Council that would honor the commitments made last year, and fully fund the MNPS budget. Councilman Bob Mendes proposed a budget that would have fixed the revenue shortfall by restoring the property tax rate to a historically normal level.

We fought hard and came within two votes of saving the cost of living increases and getting MNPS the money needed to fund employee raises.  In the end, 19 Members of the Metro Council stood with us, speaking loudly and clearly that the commitments they made should have been honored.

Below you can see how every member of Metro Council voted. We urge you to thank the members who stood with us:

YES:  Sharon Hurt, Brenda Haywood, Brett Withers, Bill Pridemore, Burkley Allen, Ed Kindall, Fabian Bedne, Erica Gilmore, Anthony Davis, Doug Pardue, Mina Johnson, Karen Johnson, Jacobia Dowell, Colby Sledge, Bob Mendes, DeCosta Hastings, Kathleen Murphy, Jason Potts, Antoinette Lee.

NO:  John Cooper, Steve Glover, Robert Swope, Jeff Syracuse, Russ Pulley, Tanaka Vercher, Angie Henderson, Scott Davis, Holly Huezo, Mike Freeman, Freddie O’Connell, Jeremy Elrod, Dave Rosenberg, Larry Hagar, Kevin Rhoten, Mary Carolyn Roberts, Davette Blalock, Nancy VanReece, Jim Shulman, Sheri Weiner

THE UGLY: We Will Have This Fight Again Next Year

Unfortunately, because the city did not adjust the property tax rate last year or this year, we will see another massive budget shortfall next year, regardless of the city’s growth. Since most of the council members have to run for re-election in 2019, it is difficult to imagine them voting to correct the property tax rate while they are campaigning. The city will also face approximately $125-$150 million in payments on the debt service to the Music City Center (which SEIU opposed).

While we will be working hard over the next year to push major reforms to prevent this from happening, our well-funded opponents from the business sector are also going to do whatever they can to keep your tax dollars flowing into their bank accounts through corporate welfare policies that only benefit them. We expect to be back at this again next spring, but here’s a few things we can do right now to strengthen our hand:

  1. Hold the council members who voted against us accountable – most are up for re-election next year.
  2. Become more active with the union in your workplace. That means recruiting more members and communicating our issues to your co-workers.
  3. Contribute to our political fund, COPE, which will help us elect better politicians next year.

To Learn More About the Outcome of this Year’s Metro Budget:

SEIU Comments on the Council Vote (Newschannel 5)

Article on the Budget Vote (The Tennessean)

Comments Off on The Good, the Bad & the Ugly with the Metro Budget

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:
METRO GOVERMENT Employees
  • 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

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

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

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

Metro Health Department Restores Stepped Pay Plan!

The Board of Health discusses a presentation from SEIU members about the Health Department's work rules and pay plan.

The Board of Health discusses a presentation from SEIU members about the Health Department’s work rules and pay plan.

At their March meeting, the Board of Health adopted a new pay structure that restores hundreds of Health Department employees into a stepped pay plan and removes them from “open range” classifications!

SEIU has made no secret of opposing open range structures in Metro and we included that in the Union’s presentation to the Board of Health. Many of the Health Department employees who will have their steps restored will also see pay increases under this new plan.

Despite claims to the contrary, research shows that open range/merit pay structures do not improve performance for public sector employees and often do serious damage to morale. In recent years in Metro Government, open range plans have not been well-funded and the processes the city uses to determine who gets what is vague and inconsistent. And in the private sector, open range/merit pay structures (which are used nearly universally in the U.S.) have frequently been used to play favorites or to discriminate against women and minorities.

A struggle against open range in Metro Government is going on as Nashville Public Library employees push back to stop an expansion of open range classifications in their department.

Comments Off on Metro Health Department Restores Stepped Pay Plan!

Solidarity Stops Controversial Changes to Health Department Work Rules!

SEIU members rally to support employee rights and quality public services at the Metro Health Department in Nashville.

SEIU members rally to support employee rights and quality public services at the Metro Health Department in Nashville.

Workers from across the Metro Public Health Department came together to stop controversial changes to the department’s Civil Service Rules which would have weakened employees’ rights and impacted service to the public in Nashville.

When the Board announced that it was considering making changes to the Civil Service Rules, SEIU members formed a committee and members developed their own proposals which were submitted to Management. While some of these initial proposals were adopted, administrators then submitted a series of controversial changes which would have a major impact on Metro employees’ rights. Union members pushed back against management’s controversial proposals by turning out in large numbers to board meetings, including a public hearing. Union members had already submitted their own suggestions for rule changes and they then developed a Powerpoint presentation which SEIU proposed to the Board of Health at the public hearing. SEIU’s recommendations had a major impact on the Board’s deliberations and the union also presented the board with petitions signed by dozens of Health Department employees across all divisions and worksites.

“I am so proud that my co-workers were active throughout this entire process,” said Mia Jackson, a program specialist. “We met off the clock on our own time to go through the entire Civil Service rule book, we researched what the administration was proposing and we even submitted our own proposals.”

“I think what really swayed the Board of Health was the participation by employees and the huge turnout the Union organized for the board meetings,” said Thereasa Howse, a program supervisor. “I have worked for this department for over 20 years and I have never seen staff so engaged in what the department was up to. I truly believe that we were effective because of our strength in numbers and our attention to detail.”

Leave a comment