Friday, September 25, 2015

Five-Tidbit Friday: September 25, 2015

Welcome to Fall! For SHARE-UMMS, Summer closed out in a lovely way. Altogether, over a thousand members of our community participated in last week’s Chocolate Day, including SHARE members, other hospital and university employees, medical students, senior administrators, and even a few children. But now, it is time for another Tidbit roundup. Here are five notable and timely items:

  • This week, UMMHC and UMMS have been screening The Connection, a film about the science of mindfulness. UMass Medical School’s Center for Mindfulness has long been at the forefront of this research. The CFM provides an eight week stress-reduction program, which several SHARE members have attended. SHARE-UMMS Treasurer Kathy Bateman says she loved the program, and would attend again. “I learned ways to relieve stress right at my desk. I’d recommend it to anyone,” she says.
  • Employers are starting to catch up with the value of the research being done at UMMS. Internet-search giant Google (considered by some to be the best employer in the country) has even developed its own in-house emotional intelligence training program called “Search Inside Yourself” (Get it? It’s Google, after all.)
  • Any list of Tidbits would be insufficient to tackle an issue as serious as mental health.  That said, please know that there are many free and low-cost mental health tools available. We recently came across this useful (if somewhat glib) resource list. The list begins with a series of apps, most of which are designed to help build grit and brain muscles, and moves through to a valuable collection of hotlines and support groups. For more local services, please see this list of mental health providers in Worcester.
  • Mindfulness and self-care are only part of the equation toward improving what we do, of course. Right now, the work confronting almost every SHARE member is unnecessarily complicated, difficult, and frustrating. We want to eliminate needless headaches. We know that frontline employees need to be the ones to design work-systems. Too often our work requires heroic effort to do a good job, and there are too many pitfalls along the way. Our union is working to enable SHARE members to develop structures that minimize the likelihood of error, and make it easier at the end of the day to see more good outcomes coming from our hard work. One way you can improve work processes in your own area is to submit an idea to your department’s Idea Board. If you have questions about how to do this, or concerns about the effectiveness of your area’s Idea Board system, please contact Will Erickson in the SHARE office.
  • On a lighter note, you might, given its popularity, have already seen this related talk by researcher Shawn Achor. But in case you’ve missed it, here’s a link to “The Happy Secret to Better Work.” It’s funny and smart, and only a little over twelve minutes long.

The weather report looks beautiful for the next few days. Good time to get outside and move around.  It’s not too late to register for The UMass Medicine Cancer Walk, which has been an effective fundraiser for cancer research at UMass, and a meaningful event for cancer patients, their friends, and their families, including many SHARE members. See you here next Friday. Hope you have a great weekend.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Raise Time Is the Time to Evaluate Your Retirement Strategy

Monday, September 21, 2015

Free Film Screening: The Connection

    Over the next week, UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Hospital will be screening The Connection, a documentary film about "the remarkable link between your mind, body & health." For a preview, you can watch the official trailer, or the first fifteen minutes of the film free online. For more information about the screenings, see the information from the event flyer below.

    • Learn more about the practice of mindfulness and the numerous resources available at our academic medical center.
    • After viewing the 70- minute video, participate in an interactive discussion and learn about mindfulness programming and new resources to continue or adopt a mindfulness practice. 
    • We encourage you to take the time to learn about the benefits of mindfulness for yourself and our patients.
    University Campus
    • Monday, September 21, 12:00 pm (Lazare Auditorium)
    • Friday, September 25, 12:00 pm (Lazare Auditorium)
    South Street Campus
    • Monday, September 21, 3:00 pm (Amphitheater)
    • Tuesday, September 22, 3:00 pm (Amphitheater)
    Memorial Campus
    • Monday, September 21, 3pm (Amphitheater)
    • Wednesday, September 23, 3pm (Amphitheater)
    Hahnemann Campus
    • Monday, September 21, 11:00am (Ann Nemitz Room)
    • Monday, September 21, 12:30 pm (Ann Nemitz Room)

    • Wednesday, September 30, 6:30 pm (Simonds-Hurd Complementary Care Center)

    Friday, September 18, 2015

    Five Tidbit Friday: September 18, 2015

    Happy Chocolate Day! If you're on the University Campus today, please stop by to enjoy some tasty treats and good fun hosted by our sister SHARE union at UMass Medical School. The festivities will run from 11:30-2:00 in the Faculty Conference Room adjoining the main UMMS lobby. Everyone is welcome.

    This Labor Day yielded a bumper crop of media pieces about work and unions. This week’s Five Tidbit Friday rounds up some recent worthwhile reads (and a video) about wage inequality, the minimum wage, the decline of the middle class, and what we can do about these things.

    • In this video, economist and former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich explains why Americans need stronger unions.

    • In “America Doesn’t Need a Raise, We Need a New National Norm for Wage Growth”  MIT Professor of Work and Employment Research and Engineering Systems, Thomas Kochan, makes a call to “reverse three decades of wage stagnation and rising income inequality,” pointing out that “analysts have begun to recognize that the long-term decline in unions and worker bargaining power accounts for a sizable portion of the problem.” He encourages readers to “rally around a simple norm that all workers should share fairly in the economic growth they help produce.”

    • This recent Op-Ed piece published in the LA Daily News, “Americans Should Think Bigger than $15 an Hour for this Labor Day” was written by Cherri Senders. (Senders serves as founder and publisher of, a consumer guide to goods and services whose employers treat their workers fairly with good wages, benefits and working conditions.) Although there are lots of good reasons to increase the national minimum wage, Senders argues that “a $15 minimum wage is hardly a panacea for a country whose middle class has been declining for more than 30 years.”

    • Here, Ralph Nader gives his explanation of “Why Labor Day Matters,” claiming that “commercialists have transformed Labor Day into a reason for shopping. The fact that Labor Day was conceived as an occasion dedicated to America's workers and what they have endured is sadly under-acknowledged and unappreciated.”

    • And, finally, this longread. “Can Millennials Save Unions,” which appeared in a recent issue of The Atlantic, speculates about the future of labor by looking closely at events in the news right now. It’s worth the time. But, if you want a quick summary, we’ll just mention that this article . . .
      • Traces recent union organizing at Gawker and Salon, in the NCAA, and at NYU.
      • Describes how millennials’ values overlap those of unions. (Speaking about a large-scale survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the article claims that "Without discussing unions at all, the firm . . . found that younger workers share concerns for some of the very things that unions have sought for generations.")
      • Explains that lack of work experience, and particularly experience with unions, leaves millennials with questions about unionization, and skepticism about established union hierarchies.
      • Points out that, "In general, if you ask the majority of workers, ‘If you could have a union, would you like that?’ they say yes, but the opportunity to do that is rather limited” because of broken labor laws and widespread employer opposition.
      • And, too, goes on to predict challenges to the future of organized labor.

    Want more tidbits? Just click the “Tidbit” label in the sidebar (or here). Then your screen will fill up with every tidbit we’ve ever posted. (We only started last month, so it’s easy to catch up.) See you here next Friday. Hope you have a great weekend.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2015

    Congratulations to the Winner of the Murray Wagner Laughlin Scholarship

    Congratulations to Xoyoan X. Colon Vega, who was awarded the Murray Wagner Loughlin Scholarship at this year's Central Massachusetts AFL-CIO Annual Labor Day Breakfast.

    While the Labor Day breakfast up the Pike in Boston captured the national spotlight this year with President Obama and Labor Secretary Perez in attendance, the Central Massachusetts AFL-CIO hosted another inspired and dignified event. Attendees included union members and leaders from throughout the region, as well as leaders from the United Way, Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty, and Attorney General Maura Healey. The breakfast featured a keynote address from Congressman Jim McGovern.

    Xoyoan is entering college to study automotive mechanics. His father works professionally on large truck engines, and Xoyan is considering that path, too. Xoyoan's mother, Ana Myriam Vega, is a former SHARE member, having worked as a senior administrative secretary in the Department of Pediatric Surgery. 

    Laurie Lynch, a member of the SHARE union organizing staff who also attended the breakfast, said that Xoyoan told her he was extremely grateful to our union for the award. He also wanted to express his faith by sharing a Christian Bible verse that he finds meaningful, Isaiah 12: 2, which reads, "Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation."

    This year, a total of $13,500 was awarded to nineteen scholarship recipients. The scholarships are presented each year to graduating high school seniors who will be going on to college. The student must be a member of a union local affiliated with the Mass AFL-CIO, or the child or grandchild of a member. The program intends to expand its scholarship offerings next year. SHARE typically receives announcements for the AFL-CIO scholarships in March. Keep your eye on this blog, where we will pass along any news of scholarship opportunities made available to SHARE members.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2015

    Sticking Together - Lessons from Next Door

    If you work on the University campus, you may notice that some SHARE members, those who work for UMass Medical School, are currently getting copies of a new union contract. Last year, our sister union settled a good agreement with the University. (The School SHARE local has almost 500 members, state employees, with a separate contract from our 2,600-member Hospital SHARE local.) 

    It was a year-and-a-half long contract campaign and, among other things, the members created this beautiful signature poster, supporting their negotiating team:

    The poster is a positive statement about who the union's members are, the work that they do, and what they care about. And, at the same time, the fact that over 80% of the union's members signed their names in support sends an unmistakable message that they were connected, paying attention, and willing to help move negotiations forward.

    That message was delivered to the management negotiators, some of whom had raised questions about whether the negotiating team was really representing the interests of the other members. Answering that question, firmly and respectfully, was one important factor in bringing negotiations to a successful conclusion.

    A year from now, we will be negotiating our next contract with the Hospital. It is not too early to be thinking about our strategy. The conversations we have with each other now and throughout this process are at least as important as the conversations we will have at the table with the management negotiating team. Stay tuned. We'll be doing lots to prepare, through surveys, and information meetings, and many, many conversations. 

    Friday, September 11, 2015

    Raises Are Coming in October

    In your October 16th paycheck, you should notice an uptick in your pay. The last of the four SHARE raises negotiated under the current negotiated agreement with UMass Memorial will become effective at the beginning of the 10/3/15 pay period.

    The raise averages 3%. It includes two components: an across-the-board raise that all SHARE members will receive, and an increment raise that recognizes all of the SHARE members who have logged another full year of service to the hospital, and keeps everyone moving through their pay grade. More specifically:
    • The raise is $.23 + 2% per hour, for an average of 3%. 
    • The flat rate of $.23 is an average of 1% for SHARE members, and is added to every SHARE member's base pay. 
    • The 2% is added to your base rate if you are below your grade maximum. 
    • If you are at or above your grade maximum, you get the 2% as a one-time bonus. 
    • The grade minimums and maximums will go up by $.23, to keep up with inflation. The additional 2% moves you up within your grade toward your grade maximum, unless you are already at max.
    To read the contract language that describes the raises, look here.

    The negotiating team will begin negotiating a new contract in the new year, which will be effective October 2016.

    Any questions? Call SHARE at 508-929-4020 and leave a message on the general voicemail. One of the SHARE staff will call you back to answer your questions.

    Five Tidbit Friday: Eighteenth Anniversary Edition!

    Today, September 11th, is rich with historical significance both for our union (SHARE turns 18 years old this week), and also, we remember respectfully, for our country. It’s been a busy time for many of us in SHARE, with Summer ending and the new school year beginning, the Labor Day weekend, preparation for next week’s Chocolate Day, and, it turns out, some nice recognition in the hospital for several SHARE members. Accordingly, here are our five informal, informational tidbits for the week:

    1. We want to say a hearty congratulations to the SHARE members and their colleagues on 5 East, who were named “Innovators of the Year” at this year’s Champions of Excellence Celebration. The event also recognized the important and inventive projects being done by SHARE members in the 3 Lakeside Step-down Unit, 4 East, the Anticoagulation Center, the Family Medicine Clinic, and the Cardiovascular Clinic. Nice work, and congratulations to you all!

    1. SHARE seeks more makers & bakers for Chocolate Day. If you would like to share your own fudgy, crunchy, chocolatey contribution at the festivities next Friday on the University Campus, or your recipes for chocolate goodness, please leave a message at the SHARE office (508-929-4020) or email for details.

    1. Following up from last week’s Labor Day post and tidbits, we note that Labor Secretary Thomas Perez joined President Obama in Boston to celebrate Labor Day. President Obama signed an Executive Order that requires federal contractors to allow employees who work on Federal contracts to earn up to seven paid sick days a year. This will give about 300,000 working Americans access to paid sick leave for the first time.

    Also, before leaving town, Secretary Perez dropped off an op-ed piece at the Boston Globe for Labor Day, in which he writes about the importance of workplace democracy in America, pointing out that “employers need to recognize their responsibility — to their workers and the nation — to help make sure that prosperity is broadly shared,” and that, “We should be amplifying workers’ voices, not silencing them.”

    1. Secretary Perez’s comments jive with a report released earlier this week by the Center for American Progress in conjunction with researchers from Harvard and Wellesley Universities. Entitled Bargaining for the American Dream: What Unions Do for Mobility, the report details their findings, including:

    • Areas with higher union membership demonstrate more mobility for low-income children.
    • Areas with higher union membership have more mobility as measured by all children’s incomes.
    • Children who grow up in union households have better outcomes.

    1. Speaking of chocolate: What?! Your mom never sent you the recipe for Two-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake? You really should know how, in a pinch, to swap out your healthy after-dinner square of dark chocolate for something gooier and more celebratory.

    We’re looking forward to more chocolate recipe swaps next week. If you’ll be pedalling in the  UMass Memorial Health Care Caregiver and Family Member Bike Ride tomorrow, ride safe and have fun. See you here next Friday. Hope you have a great weekend.

    Thursday, September 3, 2015

    Five-Tidbit Friday: September 4, 2015

    Happy Labor Day! Again, to all of you who are working this holiday weekend, thank you! And, happy new school year. Whether you're helping the students ease into a new year at UMMS, or getting the students in your own home back into the groove, we hope things are off to a smooth start. Here's a handful of things worth noting this week:

    • You've likely seen in the local news that, this Labor Day, President Obama will be around the corner at the 2015 Greater Boston Labor Council Labor Day Breakfast
    • But did you know that, leading up to Labor Day, US Labor Secretary Tom Perez has been doing a tour of US cities, meeting with workers around the country? He's been blogging his travels. And it's in that blog where we found this statement, in the entry about his Detroit stop: For generations, there has been a direct link − not just correlation, but direct causation − between a thriving middle class and a vibrant labor movement. Membership in a union lifts up workers, empowering them with a voice on the job that translates into better pay and benefits. 
    • Of course, there's still much to do to strengthen the middle class. For example, millions of working people don't get time off for holidays or vacations, including Labor Day. We're looking forward to more vibrancy, doing more good work through our own Union. And we're excited to see groups like Raise Up Massachusetts and Fight for 15 pushing to make paid family and medical leave, and a living wage, a reality in the communities around us.  
    • September is also Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Thanks to advances in research and treatment, the five-year survival rate is 83 percent for all childhood cancers combined, up from 58 percent in the mid-1970s. We're grateful to have fantastic Pediatric Cancer care in our own hospital, for local resources such as Why Me and Sherry's House which do so much to support patients and their families in hard times, and that, as always, the Boston Red Sox are coming out big in support of childhood cancer cures.
    • And, finally, SHARE turns eighteen this month! In 1997, on September 9th, 10th, and 11th, SHARE members voted in favor of having a union, and having a greater say in their worklives, and in making UMass Memorial and UMass Medical School better places to work and receive care. Happy birthday, everybody!
    See you here next Friday. Hope you have a great weekend.

    Labor Day

    Happy Labor Day! Of course, in a hospital, no holiday is a break for everyone. Thank you to those of you who will be caring for patients and keeping our hospital running this Labor Day weekend.

    In honor of the occasion, we've reprinted this op-ed piece that ran in the Boston Globe a few years ago. It contains some important ideas for unions. The letter was written by representatives of two of our sister unions, unions that have worked closely with SHARE, and who share our values and vision. Enjoy!