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.