The recent surprising decision by the GIC to eliminate the largest Health Insurance plans for state workers has been reversed. Thank you for your efforts! Your calls helped to protect the integrity of the plans for SHARE members and employees throughout the state.
Responding to broad public objection and the criticisms of many public-sector unions, the GIC board re-voted on the decision, this time voting 12-2 to undo the plan to consolidate the Health Insurance plans. According to a report on the MassRetirees website, "the move to reconsider returns the GIC to a decision about how to move forward with plans for its members. The meeting continued after the vote Thursday with a discussion about the commission's options."
THANK YOU for making calls to Governor Baker's office earlier this week to oppose the GIC Health Insurance plan changes. While many of us were able to leave him a message, we understand that the number of calls overwhelmed his voicemail. Governor Baker has since said publicly that Commission officials "need to take seriously the blowback."
Our collective voice has clearly made a difference. According to the Boston Globe: “As a result of candid feedback from members and stakeholders, the agenda of the next GIC Commission meeting on Thursday, February 1 will include a motion for reconsideration of the recent vote to narrow carriers,” Ashley Maagero Lee, the commission’s chief of staff, said in a statement."
Furthermore, the GIC's plan may have hit a snag. The Globe continues to say: Attorney General Maura Healey’s office is investigating whether a state commission that made a surprise decision to eliminate some popular health plans for state employees violated Massachusetts open meeting law -- casting doubt on the validity of the commission’s decision.
Read the whole story at The Boston Globe.
As we previously reported here on this blog, SHARE recently attended the Worcester hearing on the recent decisions by the GIC to limit the number of health insurance options.
We met at Worcester State University with many other unions and state workers who came to express their concern. All of the responses to GIC Director Roberta Herman expressed discontent at the surprising decision.
Early in the public comment portion of the hearing, SHARE-UMMS President Kathy Bateman asked Herman to have the vote rescinded, and a decision delayed until more of the affected groups had a chance to fully understand and respond to the options. We have since learned that many around the state are echoing that request, directing it at Governor Baker in advance of his State of the Commonwealth address this evening. We encourage you to call Baker's office today at 617-725-4005 to ask him to put a halt on this decision, and provide more time for Massachusetts State workers to have a say in the design of their health insurance plans.
If you currently carry your health insurance with Harvard Pilgrim, Tufts, or Fallon, you will soon be required to move to a different plan. The decision was made yesterday by the Group Insurance Commission (GIC), the Massachusetts agency that manages coverage for all State employees.
According to reporting from WBUR, the change affects roughly half of the 442,000 state employees. Three insurers will remain available: Unicare, Neighborhood Health, and Health New England.
The GIC claims the changes will save the state $20.8 million in the next fiscal year, and that their goal is for members to retain their current physicians, with comparable coverage.
According to the Worcester Telegram: "On Friday, the [GIC] agency will begin a series of nine public hearings over 10 days beginning in Worcester to solicit feedback. Benefit design decisions will be made at the GIC’s Feb. 1 meeting, and final rates will be determined on Feb. 22."
Today, SHARE will attend that first public hearing. If you are available to come, we encourage you to be there, too. The session is being held at Worcester State University's May Street Building Banquet Hall (260 May Street in Worcester) from 3:00-4:30 pm.
Being in SHARE connects you to a very big community, one designed to take care of itself, almost 500 members at UMass Medical School, as well as 2700 members at UMass Memorial Hospital. Our strength comes from the stories and information we share.
Our strength also comes from the meals that we share. At our SHARE 20th Anniversary celebration at South Street, the cooks showed up in full force for a fantastic potluck lunch.
When it comes to feeding ourselves, we really know how to take care of business. Cheese and crackers with guava paste. Two kinds of homemade hummus. Tabouleh. Pulled pork. Meatballs. Rice and beans. Salads. Filipino roasted eggplant. Apple pie. Pumpkin Pie. Brownies. Cookies. Pretzel strawberry dessert. And so many more delicious homemade dishes appeared on the table at the event.
When a thousand people showed up to eat together at SHARE’s 20th Anniversary Celebration on the University campus, that’s a certain kind of festivity. It demonstrates something about how big our union is. It shows how we welcome others in our community. And, really, with so many of us on that campus, why wouldn’t we host a giant shebang, complete with a ukelele and a congressman?
South Street, however, is a place for a big family meal. During that lunch hour, we had a holiday. We talked family, we talked work. Top tunes from 1997 played in the background. In that festive and familial setting, we even talked about our upcoming contract negotiations (and somehow completed surveys). Thank you to everyone who made it a special day. We’re looking forward to more.
More to Come
We’ve got a lot more to talk about before we sit down at the negotiating table with management. Kicking things off by remembering where we’ve been, sharing our home cooked recipes, and having good conversations about the things that matter most in our lives, that’s a strong beginning to the next chapter for SHARE members at South Street.
How much will SHARE union dues be in 2018?
For 2018, dues will increase for most members by 46 cents per pay period. Below are the old and dues new rates. The new rate will be effective on the first paycheck you receive in January 2018.
Per Pay Period (2 weeks) 2017 rate 2018 rate
Regular dues rate $17.48 $17.94
20-hours/week $13.09 $13.43
That's a total annual increase of $11.96 ($8.84 for employees working 20 hrs/week).
Where does the money go?
The money from dues supports the work that SHARE does. It pays for the organizers' salaries, office rent and supplies, phones, printing costs and postage for mailings – all the things we need to negotiate good contracts, keep people informed, help members to solve problems if they come up, and to support members in having a voice in the workplace. A portion of the dues also goes to our national union, AFSCME, in Washington, and helps to pay for other groups of employees forming unions in their workplaces, and for research and lobbying.
How is the dues increase determined?
Our national union, AFSCME, calculates the annual increase based on the average raise for AFSCME members across the country. The new rate goes into effect each January.
Are my SHARE dues eating my raise every year?
SHARE members gain more than non-union employees even taking the cost of dues into account. In fact, from the end of June 2012 to the end of June in 2017, SHARE members got more raises than non-union employees. SHARE members get bigger raises (the difference in any particular year between a union raise and non-union raise is small, but the difference adds up). And each year the advantage of being in SHARE grows by having a voice in issues that affect 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
You can talk to any of our E-board members or local reps who are active with SHARE, call the SHARE office at 508-929-4020 or email us at email@example.com
- raising the minimum wage,
- establish collective bargaining rights for Uber and Lyft drivers,
- bolster the current unemployment safety net while economic times are good,
- ask Governor Baker to keep the MBTA bus system public,
- stop wage theft, and
- limit out-of-pocket healthcare spending for public sector employees covered under the GIC.
In the coming year, our Executive Board members will be around the table with management negotiating our next contract, while our representatives have stepped up as union point-people and resources for their coworkers.
Congratulations and thank you to all of our new and continuing elected SHARE leaders, listed below.
Kathleen Bateman, Pathology -- President
A.J. Iaconi, Psych CCU -- Treasurer
Jameal Jackson, CEAP South Street -- At-large Executive Board Member
Antonio Jimenez, Psych CCU -- At-large Executive Board Member
Valerie Mount, Animal Medicine -- At-large Executive Board Member
Tina Pierce, Office of Undergrad Med Ed -- At-large Executive Board Member
Danielle Brewster, Psych --CCU
Charles Gayflor, Psych -- CCU
Devon Poirier, Psych – CCU
Christopher Barry, Animal Medicine
Beverly Potts, Animal Medicine
Carlos Ortiz, Asset Management
Karen Lekas, Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology
Tara Washington, Bursar
Lisa Mendes, Medicine
Feston Idrizi, Molecular Cell & Cancer Biology
Daneal Portman, Molecular Cell & Cancer Biology
Sharlene Hubbard, Pathology
Cody Whitcomb, Cardiovascular
Max Trojano, Psychiatry Clinical Research
Ryan Bottary, Emergency Medicine
Melanie Gazdzik, CEAP
Belinda O'Brien, DES
Stephanie Therrien, Medicare Appeals
And thank you all for strengthening SHARE.
If you have interest in becoming a point person for your department, please reach out to us. Extra volunteers are always wanted and needed!
Cody Whitcomb, Cardiovascular
It’s a great time to be online with AFSCME's Free College benefit.
Spring 2018 classes start January 16th, so don't delay.
Get started right away to take advantage of this opportunity for you and your family, and you won’t have to pay a penny out of pocket.
Thousands of AFSCME members have already signed up for classes and are sharing this benefit with their spouses, children and grandchildren as well. Spouse to spouse, parent to child or grandparent to grandchild, AFSCME’s partnership with Eastern Gateway Community College allows members to share this valuable college degree opportunity awhere it means the most. Right in your own home with your own family!
Eastern Gateway Community College is a public, fully accredited, open-access college in Ohio, and credits are transferable. No entrance exam or placement test is required; you only need to complete the EGCC application, send in your high school or GED transcript, and apply for and use any available federal financial aid. AFSCME Free College will cover the difference for tuition, fees and e-books.
The AFSCME Free College benefit is bigger and better than ever, so spring into action with us this January.
Visit us at FreeCollege.AFSCME.org or call toll free at 1-888-590-9009 to take the next step to a brighter future.
|SHARE-UMMS EBoard Member AJ Iaconi|
describes how a Joint Working Group
at the Critical Care Unit has improved working conditions
and patient care
Support from an Old Friend
|Congressman Jim McGovern|
commended the courage of employees
who voted to unionize
|SHARE-UMMS Executive Board Member|
Val Mount talks about
the importance of unions to Central Mass
|New SHARE/JOIN Fellow Eve Feldberg explains|
how an increased minimum wage
benefits SHARE members and other members of our community
|SHARE Rep and PCA Kona Enders|
describes how SHARE members stick together
|Nice shout-out from Congressman McGovern on his Facebook page!|
- 1-year Representative positions: 10 for the main campus; 8 for South Street; 5 for the CCU; 3 for all offsite locations together.
- 2-year Executive Board positions: President; Secretary; and two at-large Executive Board members. (The other four Executive Board positions will be up for election in October 2018.)
Wednesday, November 15
South Street & CCU
South St, Canada, 12-2:30pm
CCU, 7-7:30am and 2:30-4pm
Thursday, November 16
LRB Lobby, 9-10:30am
Sherman AS8-2072, 11-2pm
Main School S1-123, 3-5pm
Thursday, November 16
Biotech One, 9-9:30am
Biotech Two, 10-10:30am
Chang Building, 12-12:30pm
Shaw Building, 1-1:30pm
Memorial Hospital, 3-3:30pm
To run for Union Rep or Executive Board Member
- You must have been a dues-paying SHARE member for at least 6 months prior to the election.
- You must be nominated in writing by a SHARE member (either a co-worker or yourself).
- Current SHARE Reps who wish to continue to be Reps need to be nominated again this year.
- Please send nominations by email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or by fax to (508) 929-4040; or by U.S. mail to SHARE, 50 Lake Ave, Worcester, MA 01604. you send the nomination, it is a good idea to call to confirm that it arrived. The phone number at the SHARE office is (508) 929-4020.
- Nominations should include:
- Food! Including sub sandwiches, homemade treats, and -- of course -- chocolate!
- Songs! New and old, written by SHARE members
- Special guests! Including Congressman Jim McGovern, returning to congratulate our union, which he championed on our campus 20 years ago
- Raffle! Enter to win one of several baskets. All proceeds go directly to support the Cancer Walk
- Memories, Friends, and More! Including free SHARE Union schwag!
- Come to our keystone event, the 20th Anniversary Celebration, on September 21st.
- Bring a plate of finger foods to that party.
- Email a photo of yourself, along with a quote about what SHARE means to you, to email@example.com.
- Print a flyer or three, and post them in your area.
- Send an entry to the Great SHARE Recipe Swap.
- Hand out postcard invitations to friends and co-workers (ask your SHARE organizer for some, or contact the SHARE office: 508-929-4020).
- Help plan to celebrate on your campus . . . contact your SHARE organizer for details.
- Subscribe to the SHARE blog.
- Warm up your voices and be ready to sing.
- Ask your co-workers to do any of the above!
SHARE Union Co-President Bobbi-Jo Lewis
on deck to be recognized
during the pre-game ceremonies
|HUCTW member Martha Vedrine|
singing the National Anthem
|Bobbi-Jo's kids at the game:|
SHARE member Emily Anderson
and her brother Tyler
I'm always preparing my house's dinner for the week on Mondays.. Feeling good, beginning of the week, I'm thinkin', "let's have a movie night Friday, and I'll make snacks!" - meaning, I will be tired after a long work week and have to host friends that I invited when I was energized (this happens, well, every week..). So, I prepared my Monday grocery shopping list and set off to the store. Thursday comes around, I'm already dreading hosting this little get together - thinking about all the cooking I will have to do.. Is there a way I can just order pizza..? Then it's Friday. I know how I am, I do this all of the time, I know that I'm going to go way overboard - and what do I do? Just that. BUT! It was totally worth it, and actually ended up being decently easy (just time consuming, you can easily make the thai chili sauce ahead of time or use store bought - I prefer homemade). Give it a try to wow your guests, or just yourself when you're craving some crab rangoons but really don't want the guilty feeling at the end.