Friday, June 21, 2013

Contract Negotiations

This week we began negotiations for our next contract. We will try to post a quick update every week or two throughout contract negotiations. If you have questions, please talk to a SHARE rep in your area, or call the SHARE office at 508-929-4020. (At the bottom of this post is a list of who is on the negotiating teams.)

Our first session was productive. The members of the SHARE negotiating team and the members of the management negotiating team introduced themselves, we agreed on groundrules for negotiations, the management team made a presentation on the Medical School's strategic goals, and the SHARE team made a presentation about who SHARE members are and what we care about.

We have grouped our hopes for this contract into four broad categories:

1. Money
2. Career development, training and education
3. Work-life-family balance
4. "Other"

Raises are generally the last issue resolved in negotiations (even though they are generally the first thing people want to know about) because management will want to know the total cost of everything in the contract before committing to an amount for the raises.

We plan to focus in on each of the four areas, starting next week with career development. Members who responded to the survey were enthusiastic about the idea of more opportunities for growth and learning, and we are hopeful that we can work with the School to make progress in this area.

If you have not yet taken the Contract Survey, it is not too late! Click on the tab at the top of the page marked **2013 NEGOTIATIONS SURVEY**. If you have taken it, thank you. The responses we received are very helpful in shaping the SHARE team's approach to negotiations. Stay tuned for survey results in an upcoming post on this blog, and for a schedule of the next round of member meetings.

SHARE Negotiating Team
The SHARE negotiating team consists of the elected leaders and staff of SHARE:

Kathy Bateman, Executive Board at large (MaPS)
Andrea Caceres, SHARE
Kirk Davis, SHARE
Deb Engvall, SHARE
Peter Fallah, Vice-President (IRTP)
Jana Hollingsworth, SHARE
Paul Julian, President (Library)
Sherry Nguyen, Treasurer (DES in Auburn)
Elisabeth Szanto, SHARE
Alana Wesson, SHARE
Dianne Williams, Secretary (Psychiatry)

UMMS Negotiating Team
The Medical School management negotiating team consists of department managers and representatives from HR:

Erin Cummings (HR)
Tim Cummins (CPS)
Jane Fama (Library)
Marc LaBella (HR)
Kristin Mullins (HR)
Jodie Nosiglia (HR)
Justin Peristere (CPS)
Bill Schmiedeknecht (HR)
Bill Tsaknopoulos (Facilities)

Things to Do: Wright's Chicken Farm Review

Maybe you remember the movie and book reviews from past SHARE-UMMS newsletters? Maybe you've enjoyed something gooey on a SHARE Chocolate Day in one of the previous years? In that spirit--and in an effort to elevate and venerate the creative and cultural soul of the SHARE union--we present the first ever review to appear on the SHARE blog: Kathy Bateman's review of Wright's Chicken Farm! 

Wright's Farm Restaurant, located in Harrisville, Rhode Island, is a home-style, all-you-can eat chicken restaurant and is open year round, but is only open Thursday - Sunday.   The menu contains only two menu items:  Chicken Dinner and Steak.   Adult dinners are $11.75 per person, children’s meals, ages 2 – 10, are $6.75 per person, and children under 2 are free.     The chicken dinner is standard for everyone, salad, rolls & butter, shells and red sauce, hand cut hom-made French fries and chicken.  The steak dinner is a 16 oz sirloin for $20.00 – the steak itself is not all you can eat – but all of the other sides are all you-can-eat.  To make a reservation, you need a minimum of 10 people and, if only 9 in your party show up, you would have to wait your turn to be seated with the rest of the customers who did not have reservations.  I’ve heard the wait can get long.  So we made reservations for 18 people at 4pm for the Friday after Christmas.  

a peek into the dining room

We arrived about 15 minutes early to a very large, nearly empty parking lot.  We entered through the gift shop entrance, went through the waiting area up to the host, and gave our party name to the maitre’d.  We let him know that one car in our party would be arriving a bit late.  He said that was not a problem, told us that our table would still be available but that we could only be seated once the whole party arrived.  He showed us the lounge area that we could wait in or that we could visit the gift shop while we wait for the rest of the group.  The lounge area was large with only one couple sitting at a very long bar having a drink; and, at several tables in the lounge, people were waiting - possibly for the rest of their party to arrive - because the doors had just opened at 4pm and there was plenty of available seating.   

We decided to go into the gift shop and browse.  The gift shop is big with lots of nooks and crannies filled with a huge selection of items!  Christmas decorations just happened to be 50% off when we went!  A huge selection of Fudge made on right on the premises, all sorts of candy - including old-school candy, you could purchase frozen chicken pies,  they sell jewelry, purses, sports paraphernalia, nick-knacks, children's toys, novelty toys, stuffed animals, books, so much stuff you could spend several hours just looking!  We glanced up and noticed the rest of our party had arrived.    It was difficult tearing ourselves away from the gift shop – we were having so much fun and hadn’t gotten a chance to see everything in the store! 

We approached the maitre’d to inform him we had all arrived and were seated immediately - towards the back of the restaurant.  We told them when we made the reservation that we had about 6 children, so we were seated just outside of the main area.   It worked out well - the children were able to get out of their seats stretch their legs and not disrupt anyone in the restaurant.  The dining room was large, clean, well lit and nicely done.  Our rectangular tables were set side by side in two rows, and each row had its own waiter.   We were welcomed quickly and the drink order was taken first - drinks are not included in the price of the meal.   Soda can be purchased by the pitcher, by the glass or a beverage can be ordered from the bar.   Our salad and rolls arrived at the same time the drinks did.  The salad was nothing fancy, just a regular garden salad with Wright's Farm dressing and came with lots of rolls and butter - and so far, it was all good.      We had anticipated that all of the food items would be brought to our tables at the same time as the salad and rolls, but the waiters stood by our tables, and offered us more salad and rolls.  I admit that I was a little disappointed because I thought that everything was going to be brought out to us all at once and that empty bowls would be refilled as soon as they were empty, but it soon turned around quickly.   When everyone had their fill of salad and rolls, the rest of the meal was put out on the table all at once, baby shells in red sauce - (no meat in the sauce but plenty of thick red sauce that clung to the pasta just right - and cheese to sprinkle over it), French fries, and chicken.    

I reached for the French fries first. The French Fries were like none I had ever tasted before.  Homemade from a white Russet potato, fried to a dark golden crispy outside and soft on the inside with an indistinguishable sweet flavor.  The malted vinegar, used in place of ketchup, finished the fries off!  Next, the chicken - it was cooked golden to medium dark brown in color and looked moist, tender and scrumptious!  My first bite was of a piece of the skin – (admittedly, it’s my favorite part of the chicken!).  Immediately I thought, "Uh Oh, this is too salty", but the meat itself was not salty at all - it was only the skin that was salty from the spices that the chicken marinated in and then gets baked.  The meat was very moist and delicious, not greasy at all!  I really loved the flavor and texture chicken.  It was prepared in quarters - the leg and thigh together and the breast and wing together.  During the 1 hour and 15 minutes that we spend eating dinner, our waiters stood by our table the whole time just waiting to serve us more, and we did eat. . .

 Once we ate our fill of the meal, one person ordered dessert - my 3 year old granddaughter, Lexi.  It was a slice of ice cream roll, and it had crunchy chocolate bits surrounding the outside of the roll of vanilla ice cream with chocolate ice cream in the center of the roll, shaped as . . . you guessed it, shaped as a chicken!  The restaurant offers only ice cream for dessert at a reasonable cost of $1.00.

 Everyone in our group really enjoyed the Wright's Farm Restaurant and we all plan to go back again sometime in the future.  I think it might become a tradition.

PS  - just to let you know how busy it is on a Friday, when we arrived in the large parking lot at 3:45 pm- it was mostly empty -   at 5:30 when we left - the parking lot was so full that cars were driving around waiting for people to pull out of spaces so they could park.   The restaurant was completely full and the waiting area was packed.  It is a must to put on your bucket list if you have not been there yet!

 Kathy Bateman, Pathology

Incidentally, I have it on good authority that Kathy makes a mean batch of brownies, too. And yes, you read that right: this is a review from over the Winter holidays. Now that we've got our new blog up and running, we're looking for more. If you'd like to share with SHARE a restaurant review (or a book review, or a movie review, or a roller-coaster review, or other idea) please send it to (I'm also on the hunt for other food-related writing from SHARE members . . . for example: recipes, holiday meal remembrances, brown-bag lunch tips, notes on recent nutrition research--and, especially--fun tales of kitchen disaster. Thanks!) 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Coincidence at Nu Cafe

Do you like science and beer? Yes? Then here's a thing that will be fun: Science Cafe Woo (#2)!  

This talk, "Accidents Happen: Serendipity in Biomedical Discoveries," will be the second installment from our local neighbors in the Science Cafe Woo group, which meets occasionally at the Nu Cafe on Chandler Street. 

On their Facebook page, the SCW writes: "Join us in conversation with Dr. Allan Jacobson from UMass Medical School. Dr. Jacobson will discuss why it is worthwhile to study basic science. Using his own career as an example, he will explain how the discovery of a promising new drug for the treatment of genetic disorders began with simple experiments."

The event will be held this Monday, June 17th, at 6pm. Nu Cafe is at 335 Chandler St. in Worcester. Hope to see you there!

For more details about the Science Cafe Woo, check out their page on Facebook.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Postcard from the LERA conference

I had thought we would be able to catch our breath for a minute here and there and provide some updates during the LERA conference. But it was a whirlwind!

And, it was a good whirlwind. We attend these sorts of conferences from time to time for a couple of primary reasons. We have a unique union, and it's useful to build a web of connections among other unions and organizations that believe in positive, collaborative work. We often find that people who are interested in work systems are interested in SHARE's model. Perhaps most importantly, we learn a lot, and bring that learning back to our own union. 

I can't begin to convey everything about the conference here. This'll be a quick summary, and I'd love to talk with anyone who wants to know more about what we learned. LERA is the Labor and Employment Relations Association, and this was their 65th conference meeting, "The Future of Work," bringing together academics and labor leaders from all over.

We met folks from around the globe, many of them dealing with issues like the ones we face every day, many of them with particularly sharp ideas. We were hit up with interesting questions about the work that we're doing at SHARE: how we're addressing problems in patient experience, how we're working to protect our university and our members from outsourcing, and how we try hard to create connections within our union. It's awfully exciting to know that people from around the country have been talking about what SHARE has been doing. 

For me, the most inspiring example of important work being done to help workers elsewhere was described by Cheryl Feldman, with the AFSCME 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund. She delivered a talk entitled "Investing in a Skilled Workforce: A Win-Win for Workers and Employers." She gave a very inspiring description of her work over the past 30+ years, creating job ladders and training opportunities for climbing those ladders for AFSCME members in Philadelphia.

I was fascinated by Adam Seth Litwin's study of employee engagement at the Kaiser Permanente hospitals. It was heartening to hear his research finding scientifically what has been true in our experience: improving the workplace is complex. And, in the end, frontline employees really do hold much of the most important intelligence, and they are the ones who make quality outcomes happen.

There was inspiration to be had, but there was discouragement, too. I learned that nearly half the households in the United States don't have retirement funds. And, enough companies have filed for bankruptcy, (thereby skirting their commitment to pay out their Defined Benefit pensions), that the government agencies who bail out those companies are themselves facing financial problems. Meanwhile, powerful organizations such as ALEC have been successfully coordinating efforts to undermine the economic progress of working people.

We've got a lot of leads to explore. Timothy Vogus' concept of mindfulness organizing resonated with me, and his emphasis on expertise over authority. A neighbor at Brandeis University, Jody Hoffer Gittell, talked about the ways that our relationships with one another affect the "Lean" process improvement method that is currently so popular among management leaders.

We caught a fun Cardinals game, discovered a very nifty Indian import store, and went a little cross-eyed staring up at the impressive St. Louis arch. Now we're excited to talk more about what we've learned, and incorporate the good ideas into our own union.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wish you were here: greetings from St. Louis!

Greetings from the conference of the Labor and Employment Relations Association! I am here with fellow SHARE organizer Janet Wilder, and a few hundred labor and business leaders from around the world, not to mention quite a few academics. There is an impressive looking roster of panels to attend. First up, this one: "Addressing Healthcare Challenges on the Frontlines: Partnership, Involvement, Voice and Mindful Organizing." Hope to learn a bunch. More to come…