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Crisis Averted (For Now) at Nashville General Hospital Thanks to Activism & Solidarity!

Union leaders confront Mayor Megan Barry after the surprise announcement from Meharry & HCA that could lead to cuts in jobs and patient services at General Hospital.

Union leaders confront Mayor Megan Barry after the surprise announcement from Meharry & HCA that could lead to cuts in jobs and patient services at General Hospital.

After SEIU members and community allies waged a grassroots campaign, Mayor Megan Barry finally agreed to a “reset” on her original plan to end inpatient services at Nashville General Hospital.

Barry’s pivot came after a surprise announcement on November 9 to restructure the hospital was revealed to the public during a press conference announcing a new partnership between Meharry and HCA. The Mayor’s proposal was short on specifics and contained inaccurate statistics about hospital beds, usage, and other metrics which caused a panic among hospital staff, patients, clergy and vendors.

Elected officials, hospital administrators, and healthcare advocates were completely caught off-guard by Barry’s announcement and had many of the mayor’s own supporters scratching their heads in confusion. In a discussion held at the Metro Council, the mayor’s chief financial officer and legal counsel both admitted they knew nothing about the proposal until shortly before it was made public.

SEIU members didn’t take the news lying down. Almost immediately, the union sprung into action as members spoke up at the Hospital Authority board meeting, turned out in droves to an emergency Metro Council meeting, wrote letters, called their council members, and engaged their churches, neighbors, and patients.

“If we as a union hadn’t pulled together and if we hadn’t worked together with our partners in the community, I honestly think that most of us would be out of jobs,” said Michael Foster, a service tech at General and SEIU member.

The union’s action, with help from our allies across the community, helped get the word out that the mayor’s proposal could threaten tens of millions in funding to the state’s safety net hospitals. It was also revealed that the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office would have to add another $3 million in its budget to pay for the changes the mayor was seeking since DCSO provides transportation and security for inmates who are served at General.

“We couldn’t have stopped this train as individuals. We needed to lock arms, stand together, work with our partners, and fight back,” said Myra Franklin, a registered nurse in General’s NICU.

The overall plan to create some kind of change at General Hospital is still in effect, though the mayor has conceded that it is ultimately the role of the Metro Council to implement any major changes at General after two councilmembers from opposite sides of the political spectrum announced a new ordinance that would prevent the mayor from acting unilaterally.

A proposed timeline by the mayor would now give her until December, 2018 to hear recommendations on “how we can come together as a community around a working model for the future”. The legislation in front of the Metro Council would extend the deadline to June, 2019 before any major decisions are made. There will be a new format in place engaging stakeholders to determine the future recommendations for General Hospital.

“This fight isn’t over yet and we’re going to need to keep doing this until the city gets the message once and for all: General Hospital needs to stay a safety net hospital and we’re going to do whatever it takes to keep it that way,” said Osa Richards, a registered nurse.

For all the latest news and updates on the struggle at Nashville General Hospital, join the “Save NGH” Facebook group or bookmark the “Save Nashville General” campaign website and sign their petition.

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Local 205 Endorses Daron Hall for Davidson County Sheriff

DCSO_SheriffHall-MembersService Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 205, the labor organization representing employees of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO), announced its endorsement of Daron Hall in his bid for re-election as county sheriff.

Hall has served four consecutive terms and three different mayoral administrations since he was first elected in 2002. During that time, corrections officers and other DCSO employees have seen steady increases in pay, better training, and improvements in their retirement benefits thanks in large part to the collaborative relationship SEIU has had with Sheriff Hall.

“We were glad to work with Daron on getting compression pay and salary increases for corrections officers over the last couple of years,” said Brad Rayson, president of SEIU Local 205. “Corrections work is hard and it is always changing – we need someone in that office who will listen to the employees when they see that there are problems and work tirelessly to try and fix them,” Rayson said. “We applaud Sheriff Hall’s effort to decriminalize those with mental or substance issues who enter our jails and his efforts to provide treatment to this population.”

“Sheriff Hall has demonstrated a commitment to helping improve pay and benefits for his staff and a proven track record of being an effective administrator,” said Linda Knox, an SEIU member who served on the union’s political committee. “Nashville is growing by leaps and bounds and our city needs someone who is a proven leader who can deal with the challenges that are set in front of them.”

Election Day is on May 1, 2018 and early voting begins on April. 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 thousands of public sector employees across the state of Tennessee, including employees of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office.

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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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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

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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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Political Update: A Wave of Anti-Union Bills Defeated @ State Capitol!

Members@LXR-lobbying

SEIU member leaders lobby to protect health care for all at the state legislature.

The anti-union bills filed at the Tennessee General Assembly this session either failed or were withdrawn from the legislative agenda, including:

HB 115 (Alexander): Certain prohibitions of payroll deductions for public employees, including a prohibition on a state agency or local government from deducting and remitting from an employee’s payroll any dues of an employee association.

Result: BILL WITHDRAWN BY SPONSOR

HB 356 (Dunn)/SB 404 (Gresham): Payroll deduction of dues to professional employees’ organizations. This bill makes dues deduction an option for school systems in the Tennessee. This bill states that if a school system makes payroll deduction to one professional employee association it must make availability to all professional employees associations with the employee’s authorization must be in writing and the employee can stop the dues deduction at any time. This bill allows the schools to charge up to 10% of the dues collected to process the dues deduction.

Result: BILL DEFEATED IN SENATE FINANCE CMTE.

 

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Big Wins for SEIU-Backed Candidates in Chattanooga Elections!

Local 205 members played a critical role in the various candidates' "ground game" by knocking doors and making calls.

Local 205 members played a critical role in the various candidates’ “ground game” by knocking doors and making calls.

In the 2017 Chattanooga City Council election, all of the Union’s endorsed candidates won their races in the general election. However, two candidates, Chris Anderson and Yusuf Hakeem, did not reach the 50% + 1 threshold needed to win the overall district election. Despite those two losses, their opponents were also union advocates. This means that there is still a pro-union majority on the Chattanooga city council, which complements mayor Andy Berke’s overwhelming re-election victory.

SEIU members were able to maintain this union majority by providing 237 volunteer hours, knocking on 1,158 doors, and making over 500 phone calls!

Congratulations to the candidates and to our members who made the difference and helped them win on Election Day!

 

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SEIU Endorses Andy Berke for Mayor of Chattanooga!

Members of Local 205 and Chattanooga mayor Andy Berke.

Members of Local 205 and Chattanooga mayor Andy Berke.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 205, the labor organization representing employees in Chattanooga city departments, announced its endorsement of Andy Berke for mayor.

Berke has served four years as Chattanooga’s mayor as the city saw major growth and progress on multiple fronts, including for city employees. Berke was the first mayor to recognize a union for general government employees by signing a memorandum of understanding with SEIU, he’s worked with union members to develop an employee policy manual that is consistent across all city departments, and he has continued to meet in good faith with local labor organizations to ensure equal and fair treatment for all city employees.

“Andy Berke is one of the most pro-worker mayors I’ve seen in a long time and we’re proud to continue supporting him,” said union member Blondel Garner, a Head Start teaching assistant who has worked for the city for over 20 years. “Andy knows how to treat people and he knows how to make our city successful.”

“I respect Andy Berke because he respects people who work for a living,” said Greg Hinton, a building maintenance mechanic. “We are not going to find another candidate for mayor who is as committed to workers and making Chattanooga great as Andy Berke is… he’s already proven it.”

“We look forward to continuing to deepen our relationship with Andy by creating more efficient and productive ways to address employees concerns and issues,” said Brad Rayson, president of SEIU Local 205.

Election Day is on March 7, 2017 and early voting begins on February 15. Complete information on early voting dates and voting locations is available from the Hamilton County Election Commission at 423-493-5100.

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SEIU Local 205 represents thousands of public service and healthcare workers across the state of Tennessee, including employees of the City of Chattanooga.

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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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