Friday, December 2, 2016

Free Associate Degrees for SHARE Members: An Update from AFSCME

We just received the following update from our parent organization, AFSCME, about the Free College Benefit. The program offers free Associate Degrees to SHARE members. And, the program has expanded to include Early Childhood Education degrees. Read on for more . . .



Dear SHARE members,

Back in July, we announced a new AFSCME benefit available to you and your family: a free associate degree from Eastern Gateway Community College. Your response has been overwhelming, with nearly 20,000 inquiries made, more than 5,000 applicants and more than 2,000 students currently enrolled in classes. We are thrilled that so many of you are taking advantage of this great benefit.
Having a college degree is more important than ever for getting ahead these days, but tuition costs just keep getting higher and higher. That's why the AFSCME Free College Benefit is absolutely free. You, your spouse, your children and grandchildren can earn a college degree without digging into your own pockets or piling on student debt. And because Eastern Gateway is a public, regionally accredited college, the credits you work hard to earn are transferable to other schools. This can literally save you and your family thousands of dollars.
You won’t be left to figure this out for yourself, either. Every student gets to talk to real people who will help you through the process. The classes are online, so they fit into anyone’s busy schedule, and there are tutors and coaches who make sure you aren’t on your own.
Get a Free Associate Degree
An associate degree can be your pathway to new opportunities, greater responsibility, a better job and higher wages. This is a unique opportunity — available only to AFSCME members, your families and retirees. You can find more information about the benefit and available degree programs here.
You work hard for your community, and that work can often go unsung. The AFSCME Free College Benefit is one more way AFSCME helps members secure the opportunities and the respect you deserve.
Enrollment for the first spring session is now open and Early Childhood Education degrees are now offered. Classes begin on January 17. Don’t wait to start this exciting new program and help grow your career!
In solidarity,
Lee Saunders

AFSCME President

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Looking Ahead to Winter Weather

Weather is on the way

Some early predictions suggest that, in our neck of the woods, we're going to experience average to slightly-below-average temperatures this Winter. Of course, it's too early to know how many heavy snowfalls we're going to get.

With that in mind, below you'll find some information reprinted from last Winter. We've got a smart weather policy in our contract, and we want it to help your season go a little more smoothly . . .


INCLEMENT WEATHER AND THE TIME OFFSET OPTION

In conversations leading up to the previous contract negotiations, it became clear that SHARE members saw a greater need for flexibility during inclement weather situations, which led us to negotiate the Time Offset Option as a new part of our Inclement Weather contract language.

The contract says:
Time Offset Option 
Employees who are excused from job duties due to inclement weather may, at their discretion, workplace conditions permitting, choose to make up the lost time, instead of using their own earned time. The time missed due to the weather event can be made up in a single instance or in increments, and must be worked within the same pay period as the event.

About the Time Offset Option
This option is only available to “non-essential employees” and your ability to use this option will vary depending on your workplace conditions--for example, the kind of work that you do, the tasks at hand, the hours that you cover, etc. Throughout any weather event, you should have clear communication with the appropriate supervisor about your needs and the needs of the department. 

Since this Time Offset Option is new to supervisors as well as to SHARE members, to minimize confusion we recommend you and your supervisor talk through the specific expectations before the bad weather hits. There might not yet be any standards on how your department implements this new Time Offset Option, so the details might need to be worked out. Please feel free to ask advice and help of your SHARE union rep, who will be happy to help you address your individual needs and work with you and your department to develop standards if needed.

About Inclement Weather and "Essential" Employees
Because some essential functions of the Medical School must be maintained, and some departments cannot simply close, usually those that operate 24/7 or 7-days a week, a plan for staffing coverage is needed. To be clear about who has to come to work in these cases, employees need to be designated as “essential” or “non-essential” by their department head. If there is confusion or disagreement about an employee’s designation, it should be discussed by the employee and the department head, either of whom may also ask for help from the Union and/or the Office of Labor and Employee Relations.

For More Details
The SHARE-UMMS inclement weather policy, including the Time Offset Option, can be found on page 12 of the contract. If you have any questions please email us at share.umms@theshareunion.org or call the SHARE office: 508-929-4020.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

2016 SHARE-UMMS NOMINATIONS OPEN -October 4th-19th.

All SHARE members should receive a postcard at home announcing that the 2016 nominations are open for SHARE Representatives and SHARE Executive Board.

Our union is built on every member having a voice at the workplace. And the union's strength lies in the active participation of its members!

There are lots of ways to participate: coming to union meetings, giving your input, reading the blog, keeping in touch with coworkers, signing petitions, asking questions and getting involved in SHARE elections!

SHARE members can nominate themselves or nominate other SHARE members to become a SHARE Area Representative or a member of the SHARE Executive Board. Nominations are now open and all nominations must arrive at the SHARE office by noon Wednesday, October 19th, 2016.

SHARE Area Representatives (or Reps) are members who volunteer to help with communication – building community and making sure that every SHARE member knows someone who is active within the union. Reps are elected for one-year terms, but can serve multiple terms. Ideally, we would like Reps in all departments. To guarantee one union Rep for every 50 SHARE members, we are expanding the number of positions.

The open Rep positions are: 10 for the main campus, 8 for South Street, 5 for CCU and 3 for all offsite locations combined. Extra volunteers are always welcome.  **NOTE: Current SHARE reps who wish to continue as Reps must also be nominated.

SHARE Executive Board Members (or E-Board Members) have responsibility for the whole union.  E-Board Members participate in contract negotiations when they are happening, and make decisions about the direction of our union. E-Board meetings happen once a month for 2 hours (release time from work has been negotiated for E-board members to attend).

This year 4 Executive Board Members will be elected for 2-year terms: Vice President, Treasurer and two at-large Executive Board members.

To run for Rep or E-Board Member you must be nominated in writing, either by a co-worker or by yourself.  You must also have been a dues-paying SHARE member for at least the last 6 months. 

What to include in your nomination:
  • the name, department and phone number of the person you are nominating
  • the position for which you are nominating them
  • your name and phone number
You may send an email to share.elections@theshareunion.org or fax nominations to the SHARE office at 508-929-4040, but it is a good idea to call to confirm that your nomination arrived. The phone number at the SHARE office is 508-929-4020.

After the close of the nomination period, all nominees will be given the opportunity to decline the nomination.  If they do not decline, their name goes on the ballot. If there are more candidates than positions, we will hold an election on Wednesday, October 28 2015; times and locations for voting will be mailed to all SHARE members.


If you want to talk about what it would be like to be a SHARE Rep or to be on the Executive Board, or if you have questions, please call Andrea at the SHARE office (508-929-4020 ex. 29) or talk to someone you know who is involved with SHARE.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Interviewer in the Spotlight: Laurie Lynch

by Kirk Davis, SHARE Staff Organizer

Laurie Lynch is relentlessly curious. She is best known to SHARE blog readers as the architect and interviewer behind the “Member in the Spotlight” series on the SHARE-UMMS blog. We consistently seek ways to make work feel like a more fun and respectful place, and Laurie Lynch had one particularly focused vision for making that happen.

Each month for six months, Laurie gave us a portrait of a SHARE member at UMMS. You could call it fifteen minutes of local fame. But Laurie’s aim was something bigger, something more meaningful.

When she conducted an interview, Laurie’s questions went here to there and back again. They were icebreakers. They were mundane. They were lofty. They were weird. The questions stabbed from odd angles into a person’s personality. The results were always surprising. And in the end, the interviews weren’t exactly about employees of UMass Medical School, they were beautiful glimpses into the complex lives of people with whom we cross paths every day.

Turning the Spotlight on the Interviewer

We intend to continue in the tradition, using Laurie’s example as a way to further develop our community. Along those lines, now that Laurie has moved on to a “new” career (one which she adored for over a decade, before the facility shut down), we’ll shine the spotlight up through the dust trail she’s left behind her (she’s always on the move) as a way of saying thank you to her for her excellent work on the SHARE organizing staff.

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree

Laurie’s from Earth. But, if you push her further on that question, she’ll tell you she’s grew up in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. With three siblings, a wonderful father, and a mother who was and still is an absolute animal lover. There, when she was ten, she met her future husband; they began dating when she was twelve. They eventually married. By the time she was nineteen, they owned their first home in Douglas, where they still live together to this day with their polite and amazing thirteen and fourteen year-old sons.  

Along the way, Laurie picked up a degree in Animal Science from Becker College, and one in Psychology from Bay Path University. Laurie Lynch is constantly fostering dogs, cats, and, from what I can tell, helping entire populations of displaced pets to find new homes. She has traveled around the US, attending all sorts of animal-trainings and conferences, learning how to help continue to aid and improve the lives of animals in research.

Laurie the Shoeless Organizer

Laurie worked as a SHARE staff organizer, brilliantly if briefly, over the past year, mostly with the UMass Medical School side of our union. Early in her work with SHARE, she went “organizing” with another member of the SHARE staff, Andrea Caceres. They went to stop in on a number of SHARE members that day, providing updates about SHARE events, answering questions, and generally keeping in touch with members.

At that point, Laurie didn’t know many members. But she’s a good listener, good-humored and a good sport. Although she was determined to be a dutiful work partner to Andrea, *snap!*, Laurie’s sandals gave up before she did.

And then, somehow, Laurie found herself being convinced by Andrea that they needed to continue through the halls until they had reached everyone they were looking for. So, they made a quick stop in the University Bookstore. When they emerged, Laurie’s feet were shod in a new pair of fluorescent socks. Of course, Laurie wondered if that might not seem a little weird, but when Andrea told her to just keep looking up, nobody would notice, Laurie didn’t flinch, and bravely padded along in her new job.

Laurie Now

Laurie has since returned to a career in Animal Behavioral Research, a track she began with a series of positions at Harvard University. While Laurie was working at SHARE, a Principal Investigator from Brown University approached her and offered her a job she couldn’t refuse, managing his animal lab. She’s back to playing with monkeys all day, trying to figure out how to make them happiest, and learning along the way about animal and human behavior, neuroengineering, optogenetics, and groundbreaking scientific discovery. We miss her here, but we’re very excited that she’s back to doing what she loves; research and caring for primates and all the other wonderful animals in her lab.


20 Fun Facts about Laurie Lynch


  • Favorite color – Blue
  • Favorite season – Fall
  • Beach or woods – Woods
  • The first thing you think of when you hear the word “chocolate?” - Nay
  • What was your worst kitchen disaster? Hmmmmm, well it might not be the kind of kitchen disaster you were looking for, but it happened in my childhood kitchen. My older brother convinced me it would be a good idea to play with matches when I was about 6 or 7. Long story short… the trash light on fire in the kitchen, which caught the curtains on fires, which lead to the wall, etc. It was very early in the morning, my dad was at work and my mom was sleeping. Once my brother finally realized it was out of control, he let me go wake my mother who was able to put most out before the fire department arrived and finished the job for her.
  • Do you have any pets (ha ha!) – 2 adopted dogs and 2 adopted ferrets and most of the time a foster dog in search of their forever home.
  • If you could keep any kind of pet (ethically and responsibly, of course), what would it be? A horse. I’ve always wanted a horse, just don’t have the time, space and money a horse requires.
  • Dream vacation – Anywhere, as long as my husband and kids are there and we are all safe and happy
  • Favorite style of music – Depends on my mood
  • Do you untie your shoes when you take them off –  No
  • Gift you have given others most often – Probably framed photographs
  • Favorite day of the week – Saturday… day most often spent with family and friends
  • T.V. shows you secretly enjoy – Teen Mom
  • What's your biggest pet peeve – Mean people
  • Do you have dream car – Nope
  • If you got stranded on a deserted island with no power source, what 5 items would you bring – Solar or crank-chargeable radio, lighter, tent, fishing gear and water purifier
  • How’d you get your name? – My mother was named after her mother and my oldest sister after the two of them. My brother was named after my father. My 2nd oldest sister’s name is Sherie Jean, so they wanted our names to be as similar as possible so they named me Laurie Jean (our names kinda rhyme, and end in “rie,” and we have the same middle name.)
  • What languages do you speak – English only
  • Favorite hobbies –  Spending time with my boys!
  • Fun fact that not everyone knows about you – I foster dogs and occasionally cats. Oh and a more interesting one is that I LOVE going ghost hunting at “haunted” locations, like inns and old abandoned prisons.   
  • Do you have a favorite life motto – Live, Laugh, Love

Upcoming SHARE Information Meetings in September

Please join us at one of the following drop-in times to learn what's happening with your union now. Stop by for a quick question, or stay a while and bring your lunch. (And your questions! And your friends!)

CCU -- Wednesday, 9/7/16 (2 -4pm) -- 1st Floor Conference Room

Main Campus -- Thursday, 9/8/16 (noon-1:30pm) -- Sherman Cafeteria, west end, near the elevator bank

If these meetings do not work for you, give us a call and we'll work with you to schedule a time and place that is more convenient: 508-929-4020.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Family Fun! Labor Day Event


This Labor Day, Lawrence Massachusetts will host its 32nd Annual Bread & Roses Heritage Festival. The family-friendly event will feature fun activities, including historic walking and trolley tours, performances by the renowned Bread & Puppet Theater, pony rides, juggling, exhibits, social justice sign painting, a kids-zone, and more, all free of charge.
The event commemorates the historic Lawrence Textile Strike, which involved over 20,000 diverse men and women who worked in the local mills. They spent the brutally cold winter of 1912 opposing, specifically, pay-cuts resulting from a shortened workweek, and, more generally, the deplorable working conditions of the mills.  
We know and appreciate that many SHARE members will be doing important work to keep our hospital and medical school running on the holiday. The Festival will run from 11:30am-5:30pm. Several from SHARE plan to converge at Campagnone Common for the event. We hope you can join us! The drive is under an hour from the main UMass Medical School campus.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

GIC UPDATE: No Increase to GIC Health Insurance Employee Contribution for FY2017

The House and the Senate met last week and approved to override Governor Bakers' budget vetoes that would have raised premium contributions to public sector employees hired before July 1, 2003 and many state retirees for FY 2017. 

Thank you all of you who participated by writing a letter or getting in touch with your Senator and supporting to maintain the employee contribution percentages as they are. For the past two years, there has been continuous pressure by the Governor to push healthcare cost onto employees. Last year, many union members and representatives, including those from SHARE, lobbied the State House to oppose the same proposed increase in premium contributions to the GIC. Union members' involvement was key in stopping the proposed increases. This year the letter campaign also succeeded in overriding the Governor's budget vetoes. Thank you for telling your story and participating!