Having a Say at Work

SHARE officially became the union for support staff at UMMS in 1997, when employees voted overwhelmingly “yes” for union representation. The primary reason employees had for organizing SHARE was to have a voice in issues that affect them. We even had a slogan: “Don’t make decisions about us, without us.”

In what ways does having a union give SHARE members a voice?

  • In contract negotiations, we have a voice in our pay, benefits and work policies
  • In union meetings and individual conversations, we have a voice in the direction and priorities of the union
  • Through the problem-solving process, we have a voice when individual problems/conflicts come up at work
  • In union elections, we have a voice in who our representatives will be
  • Through committees and ad-hoc negotiations, we have a voice in issues that face groups of SHARE members

What happens in contract negotiations?

Sometime before our current contract expires in June 2018, SHARE and UMMS will start negotiating about what will be in the next contract. The SHARE team usually consists of the SHARE Executive Board and SHARE staff. The UMMS team usually consists of Human Resources representatives and department managers. They discuss pay (like what the annual raises will be), benefits (like time off) and policies (like inclement weather).

Before and during negotiations, the SHARE team spends a lot of time talking with SHARE members: discussing what our priorities for negotiations should be; giving updates about how the discussions are progressing; and strategizing about what kind of arguments in the room, and activism outside the room, will be most effective in getting to an agreement.

What happens in union meetings?

In SHARE information meetings we talk about what is going on in the union for SHARE members and in SHARE’s discussions with the Medical School. In drop-in meetings, anyone can stop by to talk about whatever is on their mind. Both kinds of meetings are usually held over lunchtime. They are informal, and you are encouraged to bring your lunch and questions. Union leaders check in with members to share information and to address any concerns.

What is the problem-solving process?

The problem-solving process is a joint union-management process for dealing with problems that come up at work between an employee and his/her supervisor.

What happens in union elections?

Every fall, SHARE members elect leaders: Executive Board members and local area Representatives. SHARE leaders keep the union strong by staying in touch with SHARE members, helping people with questions or issues, and coordinating union activities.

What kinds of things are discussed in committees?

We have committees on Work-Learning, and Bilingual Pay, both coming out of contract negotiations. SHARE members also participate in UMMS committees on a range of topics sponsored by the Diversity and Inclusion Office.

How can I get involved?

You can talk to someone who is active with SHARE, or call the SHARE office at 508-929-4020. We would love to have your help!