Saturday, June 3, 2017

A NEW SHARE UNION: UMASS MEMORIAL--MARLBOROUGH HOSPITAL

For those of you who haven’t heard, we’re lending support to employees at our sister location in Marlborough who wish to join SHARE. Impressed by what we’ve accomplished, they’ve come to us with a request to join in. If you have friends at UMass Memorial’s Marlborough Hospital, we could use your help connecting them with our union.

A Rising Tide

SHARE believes that everyone benefits when workers have a say. We’re making work better for ourselves, and we want our colleagues up the road to have that opportunity, too. What’s good for Marlborough Hospital is good for UMass Memorial, and for the Central Massachusetts community.

SHARE is a union unique to UMass Memorial and UMass Medical School, tailored to our needs here. Our region is distinct, with its own economic challenges. We know that inequality is hurting us. Without unions to advocate for middle-class wages, employers alone dictate the market rate.

Our connections make us strong, and we want to strengthen and be strengthened by the inclusion of the hospital’s Marlborough location, to enlist the help of our colleagues toward improving the area where we live and work.

Everyone Should Be Free to Participate

We’ve been cultivating our own organization for twenty years at UMass Memorial. Along the way, we’ve learned a lot about negotiating, and about the need to deepen our understanding of how to run a hospital . . . how to run *our* hospital.

Those of us who have been here since our union’s beginnings will tell you that our hospital is a very different place now from what it was then. We don’t suggest that those ambitions are easily achieved: we all have important day jobs, and having a union doesn’t make the day-to-day go away. We’re still working hard to make our hospital the kind of place we want it to be.

But we want our friends in Marlborough to know that our SHARE union gives us opportunities to compare notes, to talk and think together, to build structures for making improvements. Like our hospital’s senior administration, we believe in the mission of our hospital. We also believe that a labor-management partnership can make our hospital vibrant and resilient. We can’t do it without each other. We believe that the same is true in Marlborough.

We Want to Share Values and Strength

There are 2700 of us (plus our 500 friends in SHARE at UMass Medical School), and our relationships with our employer are extremely complex. As a matter of principle, we maintain kind and respectful conversations with those in management roles. We have support and assistance from in-house SHARE staff organizers who help this happen. Perhaps most importantly, we can have those conversations safely because our union affords us an independent source of power. Our friends at Marlborough need this, too. They deserve to negotiate their own agreements with their hospital leaders.

Let’s Connect

If you have friends at Marlborough Hospital, please let them know about your experience as a SHARE member. They may want to know about raises and benefits, but they may also want to know what we’re trying to do to improve the culture in our hospital, how we’re able to participate in more decisions, and how we work to improve the quality of care for patients.

If you can help connect SHARE Organizers with friends who work at Marlborough Hospital, let us know. If you can help us make an introduction, or would like to know more about what we’re doing, please call the SHARE office (508-929-4020) and leave a message on the voicemail for one of the Marlborough SHARE Organizers to call you back.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Tell Your Friends: SHARE Goes to Fenway!

Want to let your friends and co-workers know about the upcoming fun?

Use this link to download and print the Boston Red Sox "Union Night" Flyer. Give it to your friends, hang it in your personal workspace, or pin it to your local bulletin board.

For more details about how to join us this Labor Day, check out this earlier blog post, Come Cheer the Sox with SHARE: Tickets Available Now!




Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Come Cheer the Sox with SHARE: Tickets Available Now

Let's Go SHARE!
Labor Day this year is going to be a lot of fun. The Red Sox will have just swept the Yankees (right?), the weather’s going to be perfect, and SHARE will be a week away from its 20th birthday.

We’re looking forward to it, too, because we reserved a couple nice blocks of seating for Union Night at Fenway, when the Sox host the Blue Jays . . .

  • Date: Labor Day 2017 (Monday, September 4th)
  • Time: 7:10 pm
  • Place: Fenway Park!
  • Cost: $30 in the bleachers, or $15 in the upper bleachers.

Seems like a pretty decent way to round out the Summer and honor the contributions that workers have made to our country. In our section, we’ll be sitting with members our sister NEOP unions, including SHARE at UMass Medical School, HUCTW (the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers), and USW (the Union of Social Workers at Cambridge Health Alliance).

To sit in our block and take advantage of the discounted union rate, purchase tickets directly from this Red Sox website. Your family and friends are welcome to join in, too. Deadline for purchasing tickets is July 31, 2017.

Questions? Please contact Bobbi-Jo Lewis.  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats: Worcester City Council Votes to Support Increases to the Minimum Wage

President Kennedy popularized the expression that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” the idea that if the general economic conditions of community improve, everyone in that community benefits. Of course, these kinds of economic tides don’t raise themselves.


Khrystian King.JPG
City Councilor Khrystian King presents his
proposal to support an increase to the minimum wage
One of the most difficult aspects of any contract negotiations is the raise. How much should employees make? Most employers rely heavily on the idea of market rates and industry standards in order to develop their answer to that question. There’s a logic to that. And, at the same time, market rates and industry standards aren’t designed to help people lead better lives.


According to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, a living wage for a family with two adults and two children in Worcester County requires each parent to make at least $15.81 per hour. The success of SHARE and other unions in our hospital to maintain solid wages and benefits work to benefit Central Massachusetts as a whole, raising the tide, and normalizing a livable income.


One factor in improving the economic climate, the minimum wage, is a relatively recent idea. It has its own fascinating history, its origins involving exploding bakeries, a blue eagle, and a guy who may or may not have been drunk. The minimum wage is designed to increase wages up the scale, expanding and strengthening the middle class. Additionally, proponents argue that, for employers, higher wages mean more efficient workers and less employee turnover, making it easier to recruit and retain workers and helping their bottom line. And, that when workers have more money in their pockets, they spend it at small businesses in their neighborhoods, helping those local businesses grow and create more jobs.

SHARE Staff Organizer Jana Hollingsworth joined others at a recent Worcester City Council meeting to promote an increase to the minimum wage in Massachusetts. A number of residents presented to the Council, describing how an increase to the minimum wage would improve their families' lives. The Council voted to back a minimum wage increase to $15 by the year 2021, a measure that would directly raise the income of 40% of Worcester residents who currently make less than that, according to one figure cited at the meeting.
The increase must still be voted on in the State Legislature, in the form of House Bill 2365 and Senate Bill 1004. The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports that, “under the legislation, the minimum wage would increase by $1 annually, starting Jan. 1, 2018, until it reaches $15 in 2021. The minimum wage would then be adjusted each year to rise with the cost of living.”

Worcester City Council.JPG
SHARE Staff Organizer Jana Hollingsworth's view of the City Council Chamber

Of course, another way to participate in shaping a more favorable economic climate, one that promotes fairness and well-being, is through a union. Research shows that declines in unionization are linked to increasing inequality. At the same time, researchers find that a disproportionate number of women, African Americans, and Latinos currently make less than fifteen dollars an hour.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Find Help When Help Is Needed

We all know that a personal crisis can happen to anyone, and when we least expect it. SHARE is committed to helping each other get through the worst. In addition to their day-to-day job responsibilities working for our hospital, SHARE Reps help co-workers navigate problems at work. Often, those challenges are interwoven with hardships outside of the workplace.


Some elected SHARE Reps choose to be trained in Problem Solving skills, and can direct co-workers to helpful resources. Of course, all of us can help each other when hardship strikes. Below is a list of resources that you can offer to friends and co-workers at a critical moment:


EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM


Our own hospital’s Employee Assistance Program is an extremely valuable resource. Their services are free to employees of UMass Memorial and UMass Medical School, and completely confidential. EAP assists employees and their families with:


  • job-related stress
  • drug and alcohol abuse
  • child care issues
  • marital conflicts
  • elder care needs
  • financial difficulties
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • emotional trauma
  • domestic violence
  • legal concerns
The EAP is located very near the main University campus, at 382 Plantation Street. You can also call them at 800-322-5327.


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2-1-1


Just as you would call 9-1-1 in an emergency, United Way of Central Massachusetts has partnered with other United Ways across the state to establish a free, confidential hotline to help with non-life threatening needs. 2-1-1 is an easy to remember telephone number that connects callers to information about health and human services available in their community. It serves as a resource for finding government benefits and services, non-profit organizations, support groups, volunteer opportunities, donation programs, and other local resources. Calling 2-1-1 is:


  • Free
  • Confidential
  • Available 24 hours-a-day / 7 days-a-week
  • Multi-lingual
  • Available immediately during times of crisis, to field calls regarding the event and to direct callers to services most appropriate for their needs
  • Is an easy way to find or give help in your community
  • Maintains the integrity of the 9-1-1 system saving that vital community resource for life and death emergencies
These benefits are also available online at the Mass 211 website


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SUICIDE HOTLINES


If you or someone you know feels suicidal, get help immediately. The suicide.org website provides a number of local and national hotlines.

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HOMELESS SHELTERS


If someone you know needs a safe place to go, shelterlistings.org provides a list that includes local emergency shelters, homeless shelters, day shelters, transitional housing, residential drug/alcohol rehabilitation programs, supportive housing and permanent affordable housing.

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FREE HEALTHCARE


The Worcester Free Clinic Coalition is a group of Worcester Free Medical Programs that provide free or low-cost  primary healthcare services to those who are uninsured or underinsured in the greater Worcester area.


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GIVE A LITTLE BIT OF YOURSELF


You might consider seeking out ways to help. When you give blood, you help to save the lives of patients’ right here in our community, including those undergoing cancer treatment, accident victims, and transplant recipients. You can literally give this important part of yourself at our hospital’s Blood Donor Center.


Last year, Worcester County Food Bank volunteers assisted in distributing food to 89,000 people in Worcester County. You can learn how to help at the WCFB website. And, to learn about other ways to help locally, check out the website for the United Way Volunteer Center.

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TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF


To best help others, we need to be in good shape to do so. Headlines increasingly report that mindfulness practice literally strengthens your brain. Many of the scientific studies that support these findings come from our own pioneering Center for Mindfulness, which offers a number of opportunities for learning and practice.


You can also listen to this fun interview with distinguished psychologist Dr. Phil Lombardo, in which he describes, among other things, exercises to help you be prepared to do the right thing when heroic acts are needed.


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SHARE CAN HELP

Of course, the SHARE Reps and Organizing Staff have a lot of experience solving problems, and are tapped into a broad network of helpful and professional caregivers of all kinds. Just find your nearest SHARE Rep in your workplace who can help direct you (a list of the newly-elected reps will be listed to this blog soon), or call the SHARE office: 508-929-4020. If you have to leave a message, please know that we triage calls regularly during regular business hours, and do our best to return messages as soon as we can.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

No Voting Required This Year for SHARE Rep and Executive Board Members

This year we received more than 60 nominations for SHARE Rep and Executive Board, and there are enough positions for all the nominees. A vote is only held when there are more people running than there are positions to run for.

Congratulations to the new and returning SHARE representatives, who are now considered elected! Also, thank you to all of the nominators for honoring your co-workers by submitting their names for these important roles.

A list of all SHARE Reps and Executive Board members will be posted soon, right here on this blog.

Questions? Please call the SHARE office at 508-929-4020.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What Does a SHARE Rep Do?

SHARE leaders have a special role in our community. Together, we work to create one of the most important relationship networks in our hospital.

SHARE Reps discussing Unit-Based Teams
The main role of a SHARE Rep is to aid communication between members and the SHARE leadership. We continually share information to better understand what is happening across our workplaces, and to make our work better.

As a result, SHARE Reps do all kinds of things, depending on the needs and interests of our union and our members. Ultimately, if you become a SHARE Rep, you decide what to take on . . . each Rep has a different level of involvement. In the beginning, you should simply be prepared to meet new people, and to learn a lot of new things from others throughout the UMass Memorial community.

A SHARE Rep always has support. The SHARE organizing staff and experienced Reps are here to help. We provide training and individual coaching to help you develop new skills. Here’s a list of the kinds of projects that some SHARE Reps commonly do:

  • Meet and develop relationships with every person in their work area
  • Come to the monthly SHARE Rep Meetings
  • Provide information to co-workers, and to the EBoard and Organizers
  • Help other SHARE members to find help when they need it
  • Improve work processes and solve departmental problems
  • Lead and participate in Unit Based Teams
  • Bake for events
  • Participate in a web of support for other members in the unfortunate event of a layoff
  • Serve as a “witness” at a disciplinary meeting for a member
  • Distribute and collect surveys
  • Sign up new members on membership cards
  • Negotiate

There’s a whole lot more. The activities that SHARE Reps do are extremely important, and often a lot of fun. When new challenges arise, we figure things out together. And we know that important things get built just like anything else: one little brick at a time.

If you have questions about what SHARE reps do, please contact the SHARE Office (508-929-4020), or talk to a current SHARE rep.