Since its inception, SEIU has attracted and retained members through the numerous advantages of unionization. As SEIU has grown, so too has its ability to fight for and win benefits — not only for SEIU’s members, but also for those whom SEIU members serve.
Joining a union is the epitome of strength in numbers, enabling members to not only obtain contracts, but a negotiated compensation package that is fair and equitable. As seen in the first photograph, in 1958, SEIU Local 285 advertised the array of tangible benefits including both higher pay and a variety of insurances available to Boston city employees who joined SEIU (then BSEIU).
In addition to monetary benefits, unionization also offers community, and working together for a greater good. The second photograph depicts Justice for Janitors demonstrators from Local 525 advocating for women’s rights and against sexual harassment. The man on the left holds the sign, “Harassment of women will not be tolerated,” and the man on the right holds the sign “We are fighting for our rights.” These men are fighting for rights that don’t apply directly to them, but for their union sisters, demonstrating that union solidarity benefits all members.
Beyond members, unionization benefits people at large, particularly those served by union members. For the nurses featured in the third photograph, their fight is not for higher pay, but rather for improved working conditions that will directly improve patient care. Similarly, the fourth photograph features Local 29 members proclaiming that they “keep Pittsburgh livable” — a benefit extending beyond union members indeed.
Joining a union, and as history has shown, joining SEIU in particular, directly improves the lives of members and their families through better wages and insurance availability. And through SEIU’s size, members are able to stand together to collectively fight for their own rights and working conditions, which not only helps themselves, but also those they serve
Members of SEIU Local 525 participate in a Justice for Janitors (J4J) demonstration against sexual harassment in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 23, 1988. Photographer: Photo Editor, SEIU Communications
Nurses carry a sign stating, “Money is not the issue, patient care is,” during the Nurse March in Washington, D.C., May 10, 1996. Photographer: Bill Burke/Page One Photo
Demonstrators from SEIU Local 29, several in costume, protest against the Pittsburgh Lockout in 1985. Photographer: Unknown
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Several students and I Eric Schildge have started a student organization on campus called Dartmouth Students Stand with Staff. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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In recent public statements regarding the impending budget reductions at the College, President Kim has repeatedly stressed that the student body forms the core of the Dartmouth Community, and that the faculty are the single most important factor in maintaining our excellence in research and education. These reasons are cited as justification for the apparent effort to leave these two communities largely untouched in the budget restructuring process
While this is a noble goal, the unmentioned effect of these efforts is that members of the Dartmouth staff will bear the brunt of any cuts made to the College’s operating budget. Cuts to staff will directly affect the experiences of students and faculty. What’s worse, a much smaller group of employees will be asked to do a far greater share of this work, while other tasks will be allocated to contractors offering cheaper rates, in direct violation of the current contract between the Service Employees Union and the College.
The staff and the work they do remains largely invisible to the average student, who is busy rushing from class, to meals, to practice, to club meetings. I doubt that many students have had the chance to consider what Dartmouth would be like without these hard-working individuals in our community.
The disproportionate suffering of the staff in the coming months and years will fracture the already tenuous dynamic of trust and reciprocity that exists between them and the students and faculty they support. If President Kim and his administration truly value the sense of community which they rightly endeavor to preserve, they will take care to respect the long and tireless service rendered to the College by so many of its staff members. They are members of our community; just as much as our faculty and students. They deserve respect. They deserve thanks, and frankly, they deserve better treatment than that which they’ve received at the hands of the administration in the process thus far.
While the decisions that are being made today in Parkhurst may strike students as minor intrusions into our otherwise idyllic lives, they mean far more to the staff member whose livelihood, and the wellbeing of their entire family, hangs in the balance.
Eric Schildge ’10
14 South Main St.
Hanover, NH 03755
RE: SEIU 560
Dear Attorney O’Leary:
I am in possession of your letter dated April 14, 2011. Thank you for the same. Your response is duly noted and it is a dark day for the “Dartmouth Family”. In February of 2010 representatives from the College and the Union met to commence reaching an agreement during what I believe was termed the worse economic situation face by Dartmouth since the “Great Depression” and an unprecedented diminishment of value to the Endowment fund. The College let it be known that we were all facing hard times and that there was a plan for trying to rejuvenate the college. It was a time that we all had to make sacrifices to Save the Dartmouth Family.
Local 560 responded and agreed to attempt to save the “Dartmouth Family”, as we were all in this together. Local 560 agreed, for the first time, to reduce wages, health care benefits, retirement and other concessions temporarily. The College agreed to maintain “free single coverage” and not to initiate layoffs. However, we still do not have a signed contract and the “free single coverage” is not free. While the College has not initiated any additional layoffs it continues to subcontract out unit work. We were also to find out that representations made concerning the Hanover Inn were not as portrayed by the College.
While the economy has turned around, the endowment fund has rebounded, and the College is showing record “profits” the College would deny and treat disparately less than 10% of their employees because they tried to save the “Dartmouth Family”. We still believe in the Dartmouth Family and the Dartmouth Experience, but disavow any attempt to make our family dysfunctional through misrepresentation and manipulation of the facts for the benefit of corporate and /or institutional greed.
While I am sure that the College can conjure up a self serving rationalization for it actions please be advised that it is now seen as just that, a rationalization. The SEIU 560 hopes to someday reinvigorate the harmonious relationship that was the Dartmouth Experience and Family, but does not believe that all share in that goal. This is a turning point in the relationship and one that will only bring disharmony. Regretfully, this is the path chosen by the College for us all.
Steward’s Job Checklist
____ I take a leadership role in the union and in my work area.
____ I talk about the union with my co-workers.
____ I listen to my co-workers concerns. I solve their problems if I can.
____ I read the things sent to me by the Union, and I discuss them with my co-workers.
____ I treat all employees fairly.
____ I greet new hires, introduce myself as their union steward, and tell them about the union. I ask them to join the union.
____ I talk to every non-member about joining the union.
____ I watch time limits very carefully when handling grievances.
____ I try to settle grievances informally, or at the lowest possible level.
____ I involve my co-workers in solving workplace problems.
____ I tell my co-workers about union accomplishments.
____ I ask union members their opinions about union matters.
____ I encourage union members to attend meetings.
____ I set an example by attending meetings myself.
____ I keep the bulletin board interesting and up-to-date.
____ I study the collective bargaining agreement.
____ I try to gain and nurture the respect of my co-workers.
____ I demonstrate to management that I am their equal.
____ When I have a question or a problem, I consult other stewards, my chapter president, and/or my field representative.
A union steward is an employee just like you. They have a job to do every day, and they answer to the same management that you do. The key difference, is that a union steward has the training, the tools, and the protections to help you and other employees solve problems at work!
he job of a union steward involves:
If you think you have a problem, then perhaps your steward can help you. He/she has been trained by the union and has special legal protections to enable them to stand up to management that isn’t being reasonable.
A term you may be familiar with is “filing a grievance.” A grievance is an allegation that management has violated the terms of the contract. Not every problem is a violation of the contract, so make sure to consult your steward to find out if your problem can be solved by filing a grievance. Also, not every problem requires a grievance. Talk to your steward, he/she can help you.
The Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800, S. 1041), supported by a bipartisan coalition in Congress, would enable working people to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions by restoring workers’ freedom to choose for themselves whether to join a union. It would:
Did you know about the SEIU Scholarship Program? If you have been a member of SEIU for 3 years as of 9/1/2010, click here for more information about scholarships. Also you are encouraged to talk with Earl about this.
Application deadline is March 1, 2010. Please don’t wait until the last minute to apply! It usually takes some time to prepare the application and gather required documentation.
Also, NH residents are eligible for a variety of scholarships administered by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. For more information about those scholarships, click here.
|Earl Sweet ~currently working 20 Plus years.
Ann Marie Whipple