Thursday, December 31, 2015

Friday, December 18, 2015

1651 SHARE Members Completed the Negotiations Survey

Thank you to everyone who completed the SHARE Negotiations Survey. All total, we received 1651 surveys, which represents 64% of the SHARE membership.

We'll provide a breakdown of the numbers on this blog soon. We're now beginning to read all the responses, so that SHARE's Negotiating Team can use them in preparation for sitting down at the table with management in next year's round of negotiations.

Although this survey is now closed, we'll continue having many many conversations, collecting feedback and ideas, both leading up to and throughout the negotiations process. In the new year, SHARE will hold information meetings around the hospital system. We really appreciate the time you have taken to let us know your priorities, and your feedback about what could improve your day-to-day experience at UMass Memorial. If you would like to talk with a SHARE Representative about contract negotiations, please let us know!

Small Dues Increase in 2016

In 2016, SHARE union dues will increase by $.18 per week for most SHARE members. That's an increase of $9.36 for the whole year, or less than half a cent per hour if you work 40 hours. (For employees working 20 hrs/week, dues will increase $.13 per week.) Below are the old and new rates per week.

Weekly Dues

Where do the dues go?

About 65% stays with SHARE at UMass Memorial and our sister unions at UMass Medical School, Harvard University, and the Cambridge Health Alliance. Together our four local unions form NEOP (New England Organizing Project). As NEOP, we pool our money and share expenses: staff, rent and utilities, printing and mailing, etc.

The other 35% of the money goes to our national union, AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) in Washington, DC. They spend that money on organizing new local unions (they funded us when we formed our union here), lobbying (like for the FMLA), research (like looking at contract trends across the country), etc.

Let us know if you would like more detailed information about SHARE’s expenses or AFSCME’s expenses. The SHARE office number is 508-929-4020.

How is the dues increase determined?

Our national union, AFSCME, calculates the annual increase based on the average raise for AFSCME members across the country. The new rate goes into effect each January.

Union Plus Scholarship Opportunity

The Union Plus Education Foundation is now receiving applications for their 2016 Scholarship Program. The awards range from $500 to $4,000.

The application deadline is Saturday, January 31, 2016.

This is a competitive scholarship, and applicants are evaluated according to academic ability, social awareness, financial need and appreciation of labor. A GPA of 3.0 or higher is recommended.

Undergraduate and graduate students are eligible. The Scholarship Program is open to current and retired members of unions participating in any Union Plus program (e.g., AFSCME), their spouses and their dependent children (as defined by IRS regulations). At least one year of continuous union membership by the applicant, applicant's spouse or parent (if applicant is a dependent). The one year membership minimum must be satisfied by May 31, 2016.

The applicant must be accepted into a U.S. accredited college or university, community college, technical or trade school at the time the award is issued. Awards must be used for the 2016 - 2017 school year. You do not have to purchase any Union Plus product or participate in any Union Plus program to be eligible.

Applicants should note that the application requires you to list the national or international union name, local union number, local union's address, phone number and the name of the local union President or Business Manager.  You need this information for your union, your spouse's union or your parent's union (if you are a dependent).  If you or your family members are affiliated with multiple unions you must list this information for all.

As a member of SHARE, you are also a member of our parent organization, AFSCME, a qualifying union. Please note that the “local number” for SHARE on the Hospital-side is AFSCME Local 3900. The SHARE Hospital-side co-presidents are Rita Caputo and Bobbi-Jo Lewis.

For more details, and to access the online application dashboard, please see the Union Plus Scholarship website.

Scholarship Opportunities for SHARE Members and Dependents

SHARE's parent organization, AFSCME, earlier this week published to their blog the following information about scholarships. As members of AFSCME, all SHARE members qualify. Please note that the application deadlines are rapidly approaching!

Many families are struggling with the costs of college tuition — or paying off college loans. AFSCME members and their children or dependents can apply for scholarships that could substantially reduce college costs. Here are two scholarship options currently accepting applications:
The Gerald W. McEntee Scholarship is a one-time award of $5,000 granted to one AFSCME member each year.  The scholarship is given to the member who best exemplifies the former president’s commitment to strengthening our union through organizing, building political power for working families, defending workers’ rights and supporting public services. The application deadline is Jan. 31.
The AFSCME Family Scholarship is an award of $2,000, renewable for up to four years, granted to 10 rising high school seniors each year. Any senior whose parent or legal guardian is an active AFSCME member may apply. The application deadline is Dec. 31.
Visit to learn more and download application materials.
Already graduated? AFSCME is committed to helping union members navigate the student loan process. You may qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program or Income-Driven Loan repayment, which can help dramatically reduce your monthly payments. You can find out more at

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Five-Tidbit Friday: December 18th, 2015


When you’re shopping, do you want to buy products that are union made? Don’t use slave labor?  Fair trade? Cruelty free? Environmentally responsible? You can now use your phone to scan labels and make purchases that line up with your own personal ethics. Check out for details.


Please, shop responsibly

If you want to browse for ideas, Made-in-America by union employees, check out the AFL-CIO gift guide.

One must go to great lengths to make the Extra Mile . . .

Or, use the Labor 411 website for another thorough listing of union-made products. The list even includes union breweries and distilleries.

After all, if you're looking to mix up a classy drink at New Year's (say, an Extra Mile?) shouldn't you use a reputable union-made rye, such as Knob Creek or Woodford Reserve?


Do you know your rights as a renter? This story on WGBH explains how the law is on your side, and gives advice for dealing with Winter issues. And everybody should remember to check their smoke and carbon detectors, of course.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its Employment Situation Summary, and Dan Diamond of the Advisory Board Company highlights that one in every nine jobs is in healthcare. Over on Twitter, Bob Herman (@MHbherman) notes that, in particular, "Hospital Hiring is relentless. Up 13,400 in November. 23,800 jobs added last month overall."

190 Mustaches?


The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Mustaches Outnumber Women Among Medical-School Leaders.

Although SHARE more blog posts are coming, this column is taking a break until 2016, which, really, isn't all that far off. In the meanwhile, happy holidays! See you here next year . . .  

Friday, December 11, 2015

Rutgers Professors Study SHARE Efforts

Professor Adrienne Eaton

Two weeks ago, SHARE hosted a pair of labor relations professors from Rutgers University in New Jersey, Adrienne Eaton and Becky Givan.  They came to study the work our union does to help SHARE members implement their ideas for improving their work. 

Dr. Eaton and Dr. Givan are writing an article about the different ways hospital unions and management are trying to transform their hospitals, involving front line staff to both improve patient care and make their hospital a better place to work. SHARE has a different, uncommon approach that drew the researchers' attention. They say that in some hospitals unions and management work to first focus on setting up committees at the top. The pair is interested in how SHARE begins with front-line employees--for example, engaging front-line staff to make idea boards and huddles useful to toward their own work.

Professor Becky Givan

Many of you generously took time out of your week to share with them your insights about how these efforts are going, as well as how you feel about your jobs, and the distance we still need to travel. Thank you to you, and to your coworkers for covering for you!

Adrienne Eaton's previous book, involving unions and quality improvement in the Kaiser Permanente hospital network

Dr. Eaton told us that in her work, she finds that most attempts between unions and management to improve the workplace begin with agreements between top-level leadership in both organizations.

Five-Tidbit Friday: December 11, 2015


It looks like we’re doing a decent job washing our hands. Under guidelines in effect for the past two years as part of the Affordable Care Act, the UMass Memorial Hospital campuses have fared well. Congratulations to SHARE members for their work in helping keep patients safe and saving our hospital money.

Based on the numbers from 2015, reports that, “758 hospitals . . . will see their Medicare payments reduced by 1% for ranking in the bottom quartile.” Due to its performance, UMass Memorial will avoid this penalty. For a full list of hospital scores nationally, see the Medicare HAC Reduction Program website.

This success builds on a positive national trend; according to Healthcare Finance News, “From 2010 to 2014, there’s been 2.1 million fewer hospital-acquired conditions and $19.8 billion in costs have been averted.” We look forward to making those numbers trend further in the right direction.


Occasionally the SHARE staff receives questions about union offers and catalogs that are mailed directly to your homes. These mailings come automatically from SHARE’s parent union, AFSCME, and so SHARE doesn't have much more information about them. One particular offer that has come through recently is called “AFSCME Advantage,” which allows users to shop and then pay for items directly from their paychecks over the course of a year. Unlike credit card purchases, these purchases involve no interest and no fees. You can find more details about this program here


The AFSCME Advantage program registration requires applicants to include their AFSCME Member ID number. While the SHARE office receives no record of your AFSCME ID, you can find that number on the address label of any mailing sent to your home from AFSCME. It looks something like this:


Legislators have proposed a two-year delay on the implementation of the healthcare “Cadillac Tax” provisions under the Affordable Care Act. Employers, including UMass Memorial, have been preparing to have to deal with the "cadillac tax" if and when it gets implemented.

The Cadillac Tax is currently slated to go into effect in 2018, and would require employers to pay a 40% tax on the value of any healthcare coverage that exceeds $10,200 for single coverage or $27,500 for families in premium costs starting in 2018.

The Wall Street Journal explains that, “A delay would punt the fate of the tax . . . to the next president, who is likely to be more open to striking it down. Republican presidential candidates have supported a repeal, as has Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.” According to, “If the tax is repealed or indefinitely delayed, the government will lose the estimated $91 billion in revenue the tax would bring during the next decade.”


Another program that might be helpful to you during holiday shopping is Union Plus, which is administered by the AFL-CIO non-profit called Union Privilege. The program is designed to use “collective negotiating strength of more than 13 million union member to negotiate solid values for consumers available from nationally known providers.” This provides discounts on items and services ranging from entertainment to heating oil. For a full list of features available to SHARE members, click here.

See you here next Friday. Hope you have a very decent weekend . . .

Friday, December 4, 2015

Scenes from the University Campus Craft Fair

Vince Pillari from the Blood Bank
The holiday season is off to a good start after the recent University Campus Employee Craft Fair. This year's event revives an old tradition that many SHARE members remember fondly. SHARE members--including Tanya Cournoyer and Rita Caputo, pictured below with their wares--helped to coordinate the event. Many other SHARE members showed off their crafts.

Vince Pillari, for example, from the Blood Bank, was glad to see the Craft Fair happening again this year. He was inspired to log extra hours at his workbench carving and soldering the ornaments pictured here.

“Ree’s Creations”

Tanya Cournoyer and Rita Caputo from Primary Care

Lisa Geneva from Employee Health at "Lisa's Soap Kitchen"
Genevieve Rentas from the Pediatric Clinic, with her daughter and their handmade wreaths

Friday, November 20, 2015

Five-Tidbit Friday: November 20, 2015


The traditional Thanksgiving meal 
Thanksgiving may only come once a year, but there's mounting scientific evidence about the benefits of developing thankful habits. Researcher Glenn Fox at the University of Southern California has been researching how gratitude alters the brain. “A lot of people conflate gratitude with the simple emotion of receiving a nice thing. What we found was something a little more interesting,” says Fox. “The pattern of [brain] activity we see shows that gratitude is a complex social emotion that is really built around how others seek to benefit us.” As you gear up for the big feast, here is some advice to help you and your family be truly thankful at Thanksgiving.


Although popularized more recently, and copyrighted by celebrity chef Paul Prudhomme in 1986, there's a longer story behind the Turducken. This kind of “Russian Doll Roast” traces its roots back to at least medieval times, when animals might be stuffed within other animals for the sake of spectacle. (See also,  “illusion foods,” or “incredible foods.”)

Schott’s Food & Drink Miscellany includes this example of a Russian Doll Roast involving way too many birds: “stuff a large OLIVE with CAPERS and a CLOVE,” and so on, it says. The directions continue stuffing birds, including a bec-figue, ortolan, lark, thrush, quail, plover, lapwing, partridge, woodcock, teal, fowl, duck, chicken, pheasant, goose, and turkey, until ultimately we’re told to “place the TURKEY inside an enormous BUSTARD.”


According to Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Food, at Sea and Ashore, in the Nineteenth Century, Thanksgiving used to be a bigger deal. For roughly the first half of our nation’s history, Thanksgiving reigned as the premier holiday among the Europeans who came to America, and their descendents. (Celebrating Christmas was too “churchy” for the Puritans.) For a fascinating tour of Thanksgiving meals through the ages, including the "Turducken," be sure to check out


Did you know that Jingle Bells was originally written as a song to celebrate Thanksgiving Day? James Lord Pierpont wrote it, quite possibly right here in Massachusetts, some time in the 1850’s, almost certainly at a time when one might expect the heavy snows to begin as early as November.
Placard Commemorating the composition of  "Jingle Bells" in Medford, Massachusetts


Probably all of us have driven along Route 9 in Shrewsbury, past the Worcester County Food Bank. On their website, you can quickly identify the nearest food pantry, learn where to donate funds and food for the hungry, volunteer to help with the distribution process, and learn how to advocate for the hungry in your community.

See you here in two weeks. Hope you have a decent weekend, and a very wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Where Ideas Come From

When a patient calls to book an appointment in the hospital, and it's your job to schedule it, but you can't--because there aren't any slots open, or too few to align with the patient's schedule, or because of some system problem--it's frustrating.

A group of SHARE members in Central Scheduling has been building a process to eliminate those frustrations, and help patients get the care they need. These schedulers were recently recognized at the Innovation Celebration, where Katie Warren, a scheduler in the 855-UMass MD pod, and Tony Le, the lead scheduler in the Primary Care pod, explained where their best ideas come from, and how their two areas have worked together to turn problems into opportunities.

Lauren George, another architect of the system, explains her personal process. She says she keeps a stack of idea cards on her desk. "It makes sense for keeping track of this kind of thing. I found if I wrote down an idea on any other ordinary scrap of paper, it was too easy to mix up with all of the other notes I take." If, after she hangs up with a patient, she has some concern that the call didn't go as well as it could, or the patient didn't get the appointment time that they wanted, she pulls a blank card and writes down the problem. Then she places the card in a designated spot on her desk. And it sits there, for maybe a couple of days, with the other problems that she's jotted down.

While Lauren takes calls and goes about her work, the cards rest on her desk. It's a busy job, with a constant flow of conversations, and plenty of interruptions. Still, in the background, her thoughts percolate. When she can, she'll stop to look back at the cards. She might come to find trends among the problems. Or, the day after a tough call, when the tension has subsided and she can look at the problem with fresh eyes, she might hit on an insight about its root cause. Lauren will write down her new analysis, and move the card along to another spot on her desk, where it sits for maybe a couple more days.

When she assesses the problem again, she finds she often has an idea that could reduce the chances of having to deal with that problem again. She writes down her idea. And then the card gets pinned to the department's idea board. "And it's not all for issues with scheduling patients," Lauren points out. "We use it for whatever ideas we have about work. We've got regular Throwback Thursday emails that now recognize birthdays in the department, and other things like that, which have come out of our idea system."

For the schedulers, this is a process that's working. They haven't perfected the scheduling system. But they certainly aren't looking at each other across their idea board huddles, wondering if someone else has thought of something. They're ticking off solutions to problems, one by one. And they're constantly developing a plan for addressing the rest. Not to mention finding ways to have some fun at work in the meanwhile. We're impressed, and very happy to see them recognized.

Look for more SHARE members at the next Innovation Celebration, including a focus on the Primary Care Idea System, on Tuesday, November 17th from Noon-1pm in the University Campus Cafeteria.

Katie Warren and Tony Le

Friday, November 13, 2015

Five-Tidbit Friday: November 13th, 2015

Röntgen and his beard
It’s Movember! Both the “No Shave November” and “Movember” movements encourage men to abstain from the razor for thirty days in order to raise men’s health and cancer awareness. Unfortunately, it’s getting harder to tell which hair is charitable, and which is just garden-variety facial fluff.  
On November 8th, 1895, German physicist William Conrad Röntgen discovered X-rays. National Radiologic Technology Week is celebrated each year during the week of the anniversary of this discovery. Röntgen’s own unruly chin-growth predated the UK’s Decembeard event.
According to the Boston Globe, the Massachusetts State Legislature’s Labor and Workforce Development Committee has put forward a bill to increase the minimum wage to fifteen dollars per hour. The introduction of the bill coincided with Fight for $15 demonstrations in over 270 cities, involving thousands of workers across the country. The bill still requires approval by the House, Senate, and Governor Charlie Baker.

Veterans’ Day was observed this week in Worcester and around the country. President Obama’s Veteran’s Day speech focused on jobs, as Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post writes:

“We’re in the midst of a new wave of American veterans,” said Obama, referring to a generation of men and women who have weathered the longest stretch of war in U.S. history. Those veterans have struggled in recent years to get care from an overwhelmed Department of Veterans Affairs. They’ve faced a higher unemployment rate than their civilian peers and an increase in suicides.
Here in Central Massachusetts, many work continually to honor the service of our Veterans, and to help them find ways to serve their country at home. The Worcester Veterans’ Services Division aims to supply local veterans with immediate financial aid, medical assistance, and referral services on issues such as housing, employment opportunities, health, and education. Notably, four of our area colleges and universities--Worcester State University, Fitchburg, Nichols College, and Mount Wachusett Community College--have been designated “military friendly” institutions.  


Describing one particularly personal commemoration of our country’s veterans, former SHARE-UMMS president and UMMS Library Assistant Paul Julian writes: “On July 9, while on a walk, I stopped to read a Veteran's monument on Upsala Street in Worcester. I had read others on my walks, but this was special, because Richard Leo Jandron , for whom the memorial was erected, died from his wounds sustained in Cherbourg, France exactly 71 years before. I said a prayer for Gunner Mate Jandron, and it occurred to me that I should do this for every veteran who is so honored here in Worcester. Working with two lists, I learned that there were 237 such monuments here in Worcester. I decided to seek them out so that I could pray and reflect on the sacrifices these brave veterans made. I aimed to walk to all 237 monuments. Today, the day before Veterans Day, I journeyed to the last one on my list for Lt. Paul Adams, which is located on Sunderland Road here in Worcester. I have found this to be both a moving and illuminating experience. We owe so much to our veterans. May their sacrifices always be appreciated by us.”

See you here next Friday. Hope you have a very decent weekend . . .

Celebrating National Radiologic Technology Week with SHARE Rad Techs

This week, SHARE tips its hat to the nearly one-hundred fifty members who serve as Radiology Technologists and Radiation Therapists. The week-long celebration calls attention to the important role medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals play in patient care and health care safety. 
Radiology Technologists on the University Campus

Radiology staff enjoying lunch provided by supervisor Marcia Amaral in celebration of rad tech week​.
(photo: RT Jess Joslyn)
National Radiologic Technology Week takes place each year during the week that includes Nov. 8 to commemorate the discovery of the x-ray. The theme for 2015 is Discovering the Inside Story.