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Local 205 Endorses Porterfield in Nashville Council Special Election!

Delishia Porterfield

Delishia Porterfield

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 205 announces their endorsement of Delishia Porterfield for the Metro Council District 29 special election which is to be held on Feb 12, 2019.

Mrs. Porterfield is a special education coach for Metro Nashville Public Schools and is herself a union member with the Metro Nashville Education Association. She has been an active member of her community serving on the boards of local non-profit organizations working to empower and engage young people through education and mentorship. Delishia is committed to fully funding Metro Schools and supporting Metro employees who do the vital work of keeping the city running.

Porterfield and the other qualifying District 29 candidates were interviewed by a committee of union members who are residents of Davidson County and who work for Metro Government, Metro Nashville Public Schools or General Hospital.

Election Day for the District 29 special election is Tuesday, February 12, but early voting happens from January 23-Feb. 7. 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 & 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.

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Spike In COPE Contributors Bolsters 2018 Political Program!

COPE_logo copyIn 2018, our local ran a member leadership program focused on growing our Committee On Political Engagement (COPE). COPE is how our members participate in politics and elections.

20 member leaders volunteered for trainings on talking to fellow members about voting, recruiting volunteers, signing up new COPE contributors, and using new communication tools. Overall, more than 120 new COPE contributors were signed up in 2018!

“The training was very informative and it caused me to realize my responsibility to help protect the progress our union has made by supporting political candidates and community organizations that share the same values as the working class and are working toward uplifting them,” said Laura Collison, a service advisor at Nashville Electric Service.

Our 2018 member leadership program was a huge success and we hope to build on that in this year’s local elections.

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“Fight for $15” Campaign Achieves Victory in Memphis!

SEIU members with international union president Mary Kay Henry (center) at a FF15 event in Memphis last spring.

SEIU members with international union president Mary Kay Henry (center) at a FF15 event in Memphis last spring.

Starting in January, Shelby County employees—including those working in Shelby County Schools—will be paid at least $15 an hour, thanks to a resolution and MOU passed by county mayor Lee Harris and other elected officials.

The move comes after the nationwide “Fight for $15” campaign that SEIU launched four years ago. In Memphis, Local 205 was a key partner in organizing FF15, which multiple events and visibility actions being organized and attended by SEIU members.

Under the new initiative, 340 active county employees will see their pay increase by January 1, 2019.

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Pro-Labor Candidates Pull Off Upsets in TN Thanks to SEIU Members’ Activism!

Gloria Johnson supported SEIU members working at Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge.

Gloria Johnson supported SEIU members working at Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge.

Two candidates supported by SEIU Local 205 won their races for the Tennessee House of Representatives on November 6.

Gloria Johnson won with 55% of the vote in the 13th district, which is located in Knox County, despite a series of ugly campaign ads by her Republican opponent, who was the sitting incumbent. Ms. Johnson supported SEIU during a difficult contract campaign at Methodist Medical College last year—appearing at multiple union actions including the Workers Rights Board.

Bob Freeman won his race for House District 56 in one of the most closely watched legislative races this year.  Freeman succeeds former House Speaker Beth Harwell in an historically Republican district in Davidson County which includes Belle Meade, Oak Hill, and Green Hills.

SEIU Local 205 members were active in these and other races this cycle (see sidebar) and were part of a targeted effort to elect more pro-worker candidates to office in 2018. Congratulations to the candidates and thanks to our members who helped!

 

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A Call for Justice & Action at Issues Forum in East TN!

ACT-EastTN_Forum2018_crowd

A packed house at the “Liberty & Justice For All” forum on the UT campus.

SEIU members were there to lend their support and expertise to the new non-profit, non-partisan organization ACT-East Tennessee Strong United as it hosted its “Liberty and Justice For All” issues forum in Cox Auditorium on UT’s main campus.

The forum was attended by hundreds of citizens and students across East Tennessee as well as political candidates running for state and federal office, including gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean.

Jenna Rasnic, an ER nurse and union leader at Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge, was one of the presenters at the forum. She spoke from a healthcare perspective about the opioid epidemic that is tearing whole communities apart. Jenna has been active with ACT since its formation. “I never thought of myself as a leader, but through my involvement in our union and ACT is see that I can be,” she said.

Tracy Fair, a unit secretary and union steward at Methodist was also in attendance. “The most inspiring thing to me was looking at how committed the members of this organization were and their belief that they will and can make a true difference,” Tracy says.

ACT-EastTN_Forum2018_leader

SEIU leaders Jenna Rasnic & Tracy Fair

When the candidates in attendance who are running for state Senate, state House, Congress, and Governor were asked to support the group’s platform if elected, all said ‘yes’.

Many thought that the highlight of the day was a moving sermon by Father Bryant Stewart. “It set my heart singing when he did his call and response saying ‘I will vote’,” Jenna said. “My voice is pretty darn loud, but I got drowned out in the sea of voices! We were a deafening force.”

ACT-East Tennessee plans to continue meeting regularly on the fourth Thursday of each month. Find out more about them at their website or on their Facebook page.

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Election 2018: SEIU Endorses Gloria Johnson in State House District 13!

Political_GloriaJohnsonIn State House District 13, SEIU Local 205 has endorsed Gloria Johnson.

Gloria is a retired teacher running for the seat she previously won in 2012. Gloria’s family has deep roots in East Tennessee, and she is a graduate of Knox County schools and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. In the past few years, Gloria has been a tireless advocate for improving our health care system to ensure that every family can see a doctor when they need one.

“As a teacher, healthcare advocate, and legislator, Gloria has shown a deep commitment to public service in East Tennessee. She has been tireless in working to improve the lives of those around her, and we need her voice back in the legislature,” said Tracy Fair, a Health Unit Coordinator and SEIU member from Knoxville.

The general election is on Tuesday, November 6 and the last day to register to vote in this cycle is October 9. For information on voter registration and polling locations, contact your local county election commission or visit the Tennessee Secretary of State website.

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Election 2018: SEIU Supports Bob Freeman for State House District 56!

Political_BobFreemanIn House District 56, SEIU Local 205 has endorsed Bob Freeman.

Bob is a Nashville businessman running for the open seat left by former Speaker of the House, Beth Harwell. Bob is focusing his campaign on expanding access to healthcare, investing in infrastructure and combating the opioid crisis. Bob and his wife Rachel have been active members of their community and as a State Representative, we know Bob will make sure working families have a voice in the legislature.

“Bob Freeman is a life-long Tennessean who has volunteered for good causes in his community. Whether he was serving on the Davidson County Homelessness Commission or the Tennessee Environmental Council, Bob has worked help others and make Tennessee a better place to live,” said Russ Anthony, a social worker and President of SEIU Local 205’s State Council.

The general election is on Tuesday, November 6 and the last day to register to vote in this cycle is October 9. For information on voter registration and polling locations, contact your local county election commission or visit the Tennessee Secretary of State website.

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Big Election Wins for Union-Endorsed Candidates!

Katrina Robinson and SEIU member Russ Anthony.

Katrina Robinson and SEIU member Russ Anthony.

The August 2018 election season saw some pro-labor candidates win their races and SEIU was proud to have supported them.

In Memphis, the union’s endorsed candidate for State Senate, Katrina Robinson, won her primary election. Because Katrina has no Republican opponent in November, she will be the next State Senator for District 33.

After serving as a registered nurse at Methodist Healthcare in Memphis, Robinson went on to found the Healthcare Institute – a vocational training school which has since become the only independently-owned licensed nursing program in the state of Tennessee. Robinson currently serves as chair of the Shelby County Government Ethics Commission and is involved in various government and business program initiatives designed to increase support for minority and women owned businesses.

In the Nashville school board elections, Gini Pupo-Walker, a community organizer and former educator, won her race for the District 8 seat. Gini was endorsed by SEIU and made history as the first Hispanic person elected to the MNPS School Board.

The next major election is the 2018 General Election across the state on Tuesday, November 7. As always, we urge our members and their families, friends and co-workers to vote for pro-union, pro-labor candidates in any party whenever they can. To vote in the General Election, you must be registered 30 days in advance. To register to vote or update your information, contact the state Election Commission or call them at 877-850-4959. If you would like to participate in SEIU’s political programs or volunteer on a campaign, contact our political director Jason Freeman.

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Local 205 Vice-President Addresses Lawmakers @ First Metro Council “Public Comment” Session!

MetroCouncil_PublicComment-In the wake of a budget shortfall in Nashville and a bitter campaign by the city’s unions and community groups to get an amended budget passed, the Council began a new initiative – a “public comment” session – which permits members of the public to come before the government and speak about anything they want for two minutes.

It’s a new idea for the Metro Council, and one that SEIU took immediate advantage of. During the first night of “public comment”, Local 205’s executive vice-president, James Bradley, gave some prepared comments to the council. They touched on how he and other city employees felt about being betrayed by council members who had only a year earlier promised to fully fund a new pay plan. He also poked fun at how many council members refused to vote for a property tax adjustment (something that is a normal course of government operations in Metro) because there “wasn’t enough public input” by rattling off a list of questions that SEIU would like to have the council get input from us on over the next year while they run for re-election.

Here’s the full text of James’ comments (though he wasn’t able to complete them because time ran out):

“Good evening, members of the council. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to address you this evening. My name is James Bradley and I serve as the executive vice-president of SEIU Local 205. My organization represents the men and women who work for so many of our public agencies including General Government departments, the Hospital Authority, Metro Action Commission, and we represent the support employees in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

First of all, on behalf of the thousands of city employees SEIU represents, I want to thank the 19 members of the council who voted in favor of Councilman Mendes’ budget two weeks ago. We appreciate your integrity and courage and we will not forget your support for us.

Having said that, we will also not forget the 20 council members who voted against us.

You are the people I would like to direct my public comments to this evening.

Two weeks ago when you voted on the budget, we heard your speeches about how there wasn’t enough “public input” on correcting the property tax rate. Every member of this council knows full well that correcting the tax rate has never had “public input” but if we have to have more “public input” on something that you all know is necessary for the city to do, let’s start with a couple of questions to get that ball rolling:

First, how do we explain to city employees who already took cuts to their pay and raises for four years that they have to do it again while we’re in a boom? I was one of the people whose taxes went up and then didn’t get a cost of living raise. I don’t mind paying my fair share, but when do these private developers start paying theirs?

Second, how do we explain that we couldn’t find the political will to fully fund our schools but we can find it to keep giving more TIF and PILOT deals to developers and corporations? Or for a water park at Opryland that only Opryland guests can use?

How do you justify asking Metro department heads to begin preparing budget reductions for next year when you are literally getting ready to vote tonight on another tax increment financing deal?

There’s a whole host of other questions too. Like where is the accountability on these TIF and PILOT deals? Which Metro department or office is tracking whether these companies are creating all the jobs they say they are? Is privatization saving us money or costing us more while quality goes down?

Hopefully, addressing these questions over the next year while many of you are campaigning will help educate and enlighten our teachers, firefighters, police officers, bus drivers, and General Government employees who live and vote in Davidson County.

We will be watching and trust me… we will be giving you and your political opponents our “public input” in 2019. I appreciate your time and again… thanks to those of you who voted for what was right, not for what was easy.”

Who Voted FOR Us on the Mendes budget?

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