Time to Be Thankful (Winter 2019 Update from SEIU Local 284 ED Kelly Gibbons)

L284_Letter_From_Executive_Director

Happy New Year! As we head into 2019, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the ups and downs we’ve experienced in the last year as a Union.

Last February I became the Executive Director of SEIU Local 284 and it has been an incredibly eventful 12 months on the job. This has been a time for growing and learning. Below you’ll find an overview of our work in 2018 and some news heading into 2019. I’ll work to get out a quarterly letter to members to keep you up to date, but always feel free to reach out at any time. My email and phone number are at the bottom of this note.

Dealing with Challenges and Growing Our Union

Our union had been preparing for the anti-union Janus case for many years. When the Supreme Court finally ruled at the end of June their 5-4 ruling was, as we expected, in favor of the corporate-backed groups who want to break our unions. This was an attack on Unions and all working people. They want to crush us and turn us against each other. But that did not happen!

In the face of these attacks, we chose to fight back. We decided to stand in solidarity with each other and our Union. We decided we were not going to let them take our rights away or our voice in the workplace. We decided to invite our non-members to join us and we saw some exciting growth. We’ve been fighting for 40+ years to get where we are, and we decided that we aren’t going back. We know that united we stand and divided we beg!

But we still have a lot of work to do. At the moment we are right around 80% membership. To continue to win for working families and our students, we need every member to talk to every person who is not a member or who is a new hire and ask them to join us. We need to protect, maintain and grow our contracts. Our work could be dismantled if we don’t have members to protect it.

Because we lost some revenue after the court case, I had to make some decisions that were difficult, but every decision was made to make our union stronger. We had to lay off some staff and we made some changes with the remaining staff. I wanted smaller staff turf so they can spend more time with members, so you might have a different Contract Organizer. If you’re not sure who represents you, you can go to the website and we are all listed on there. We will continue to focus on efficiency, which will make us stronger going forward.

As we move forward we are looking for people who want to help build their worksites to help grow our union. We offer training and lots of leadership opportunities for those who step up.

If you are interested and want some information, please don’t hesitate to contact us to get involved. You make the difference!

Fun News

Our 2018 Member of the Year award winner was Mark Glendy, a 22-year custodian in the ISD 191 Burnsville-Eagan- Savage School District. Mark went to Washington D.C. where he joined other union members who were recognized for going above and beyond in their place of work. We were all so proud of Mark! SEIU members do more than just clean, feed, drive and care for kids. We know that all of you do so much every day to make our schools great. We teach, shape, mold, train, listen and care for these young people. You all are true heroes and teachers for our kids and community. After Mark got his award, we spent a couple of days lobbying at the Capitol about why we need to invest in education and school employees.
Supporting Candidates Who Support Working Families in the 2018 Election

DSC_2076 (1)This fall it was time to pick a new Governor with Mark Dayton retiring. I had the opportunity to sit at a table with community partners and other unions who were tired of how our government doesn’t seem to work for all of us. We spent a lot of time listening to our members and asking what it means to be a Minnesotan. We asked each other what we really wanted for our communities. What we heard was we need affordable health care and lower housing costs, safer schools, smaller class sizes, stronger unemployment laws, clean water for our families, ect..

After member-driven discussions, we decided to wait until after the primaries to endorse a candidate for Governor. We ended up endorsing Tim Walz for Governor and candidates (both Republican and Democrat) across the state who shared our values. In October we had our Leadership Assembly where we heard from some of our endorsed candidates and talked about how important this election was for working families and our unions.

Then we got to work! Some SEIU members took time off from their jobs and did work to help get the candidates elected. Others volunteered for phone banks and door knocks. In the end, our candidates won big time! Having conversations with our co- workers and neighbors is what makes change possible.

I would like to say thank you to everyone who volunteered and worked like crazy! We are so excited to be working with our new Governor, Tim Walz, and the new elected officials across the state. We will work tirelessly to make sure they invest in our schools, lower healthcare costs and make our state a place where every family – white, black or brown, rural or metro – can live safe and happy lives.

What’s In Store for 2019

  • SEIU 2019 Leadership Assembly
    • February 16th at the office of the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation.
    • Open to all. Learn about what we are working on in 2019 and get involved!
    •  Info and Sign up will be on our website at www.SEIU284.com.
  •  SEIU Lobby Day at the MN Capitol
    • March 19 th (all day)
    • Meet SEIU members from across MN as we talk about our priorities and visit
      our new elected officials to share what we expect from them this legislative
      session. We also will hold a rally in the Capitol Rotunda!
    • Info and sign up will be at www.seiumn.org/lobbyday

Looking Ahead

In closing I would like to say one thing: the attacks on our Union have only just begun. If you hear from these billionaire-funded anti-union groups, ask yourself who is it that wants you to give up your Union and why do they have an interest in you not being part of a Union?

We know that a small group at the top want even more for themselves, and they know that Unions are the best way to counter their greed. They want more for themselves, which is why they want to take away your union where we have won:

 Pensions
 Sick Time for yourself and your
immediate family members
 Vacation days
 PERA, FMLA and 401k contributions
 Health Care, Dental, Paid Family Leave & Personal days
 Overtime, 40-hour work weeks
 OSHA, ADA and EEOC protections
 Grievance Procedure
 Job protections so you aren’t an “at-will” employee who can be fired for no reason

We know our work is important. We know the value we provide for the students in our schools. We know the power of standing together. We know there are wealthy anti-union groups who would rather we didn’t exist, but we aren’t going to let them stop us from standing together and winning a better future for our families, our students and our communities!
In Solidarity,

Kelly Gibbons
Executive Director, SEIU Local 284

KellyG@Local284.com  || 651-256-9112

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