Andi Mullin here, AFSCME Council 93’s new Director of Member Mobilization!  I am just finishing my first month at AFSCME – sorta’.  From 2001-2007 I worked for the Council in the Legislative and Political office.  I loved being the face and voice of our members on Beacon Hill, and I am really excited about coming back.  You are literally my people – I have relatives in Pennsylvania who are AFSCME members – and I am really looking forward to working with you all again!

The Department of Member Mobilization is a new one for the Council, and my staff and I are tasked with two buckets of work.  The first is to increase the involvement and activism of the membership in the union.  This will certainly include working with all of you to increase the number of dues-paying members of the union, but it might also include working with Local leaders and Staff Reps to engage the membership in a particularly tough contract fight, a privatization fight, a legislative initiative, etc.  The second bucket of work is to enhance and make more consistent our communication with both our union leadership (you!) and our rank and file membership.  As one piece of that work, I will be emailing our Executive Board and Local Presidents/Treasurers on or about the first of every month with an update on what’s happening across the union.  Some of you will remember emails like this from me when I was here before, however those were exclusively legislative updates.  These updates will certainly include legislative information, but also major collective bargaining updates, national developments directly applicable to our membership, significant legal updates, etc.

Do you have an update about your Local you’d like me to include, or a subject you’d like to learn more about?  Let me know, either via email or phone (617/367-6030).  I can’t promise to include everything, but I’ll do my best.  Now, enough with the introductions!  Let’s get to this month’s update!


American Rescue Plan Funds – How Does This Affect Your Members?

In March of 2021 Congress passed and President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) into law.  This was an historic piece of legislation, designed to help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Of particular interest to our members is the $350 billion provided to states, cities and towns, counties and other government entities.  There are many provisions of ARP that impact our membership, and you can find lots of detailed information here.  But it’s worth particularly highlighting the opportunity that ARP funding provides to negotiate for premium pay bonuses for our members.  Here are some of the key provisions:

·         To receive premium pay, an eligible worker must perform or have performed essential work. Essential work is defined as work involving regular in-person interactions or regular physical handling of items that were also handled by others and that is not performed while teleworking from a residence.

·         Premium pay of up to $13 per hour and capped at a maximum of $25,000 per eligible worker is permitted.

·         The Interim Final Rule emphasizes the need for state and local governments to prioritize premium pay for lower income workers.

·         State and local governments may use recovery funds to offer retroactive premium pay, recognizing that many essential workers have not yet received additional compensation for work performed.

ARP funds can be used for costs incurred between March 3, 2021 and December 31, 2024, so states, cities, towns, and other government entities are determining how to spend these dollars now.  Now is the time, if you haven’t already, to incorporate requests for premium pay into your bargaining process, whether as part of your regular contract negotiations or as part of a side agreement.  Please reach out to your AFSCME Staff Rep for more information.

City of Boston Contract Ratifies

On March 15th City of Boston AFSCME members voted to ratify a new three-year contract by a vote of 566-105.  As impressive as the margin was (85%-15% of the vote), I am actually just as impressed with the voter turnout – almost 700 members showed up to vote on this contract!  This is clearly because it’s a strong contract and because the negotiating team took time to talk to the membership about the provisions in the contract to build support.  Some key provisions of the contract include:

·         A $1,000 bonus related to working throughout the pandemic (see ARP above!)

·         A 2%-1.5%-2% COLA raise with full retro

·         The addition of two wellness days (for one year only for employees in full compliance)

·         The addition of the Juneteenth holiday

·         ZERO concessions!

·         Additional benefits for vaccinated members and protections for unvaccinated members to prevent job loss

It’s also worth noting that we collected just over 100 commitment cards during the course of the ratification vote.  This makes clear once again what an excellent opportunity a ratification vote is to collect cards from folks who want to be members of the union but who, for whatever reason, haven’t signed a card yet.  Every ratification vote should be viewed as an opportunity to increase membership in the union! 

This contract covers about 1,200 City of Boston workers (excluding the Boston Public Library, Boston Public Schools and Boston Public Health Commission, all of which operate under separate contracts).  Congratulations to the AFSCME Citywide Boston negotiating team!

MIT Contract Ratifies

After two and a half years of negotiations, a first contract (always a significant and hard-fought accomplishment!) for 60 Massachusetts Institute of Technology library professionals has been ratified!  On March 30, 2022 the members of our newest local (Local 2353) ratified a five-year contract by a vote of 45-0 (Zowie!).    Key provisions of the contract include:

·         A 3% COLA increase each year for five years

·         A 3% signing bonus

·         Excellent paid leave benefits

·         The inclusion of just cause language

·         The inclusion of grievance and arbitration language

A shout out to Metro Coordinator Bill Chiasson and Field Services Director Eddie Nastari for the vital role that they played over the last three months to get this deal done and congratulations to the entire MIT negotiating team!

Maine State Contract

On March 30, 2022 Maine Governor Janet Mills and AFSCME Council 93 Executive Director Mark Bernard signed a new two-year contract for AFSCME state employees in the Maine Departments of Corrections (DOC) and Health and Human Services (HHS).  Key provisions of the contract include:

·         A $2,000 bonus payment in December 2021, a 2% increase effective December 2021, and a 4% increase effective July 2022. 

·         An additional $1/hour increase effective October 2021 for DOC employees

·         An increase in the base pay rate to $15/hour

·         Parental leave is doubled to four weeks

·         Expanded eligibility for the childcare reimbursement program

·         Elimination of the one-week waiting period for worker’s compensation benefits

·         Development of a recruitment and retention committee for the DOC

In addition to Mark and other Council staff, the signing ceremony was attended by the Maine Local Presidents and Chapter Chairs – check out our website for pictures!  Congratulations to the entire Maine negotiating team!

Howard Center Contract Ratifies

With over half of the bargaining unit turning out to vote, Local 1674 at the Howard Center based in Burlington, VT ratified a three-year contract unanimously in mid-February.  This contract, which impacts over 600 workers, includes the following key provisions:

·         Average wage increases (specific pay grades are impacted differently) of 19.23% over the life of the contract, with base pay increases retroactive to July 1, 2021

·         $18 an hour minimum for lowest paid members

·         Bonuses for folks off the step grid of 2% in years one & two and 2.5% in year three.

·         Significant improvements to the retirement benefit

·         On-call stipends of $50 per day

·         ZERO Concessions!

President Katie Harris and Vice President Daniel Peyser are working to increase the number of dues paying members in the union and have made significant progress – union membership is now over 42%.  The Council and Vermont AFL-CIO are working with the Local leadership to bring that number to above 45% in the next 6-8 weeks, which then gives us the right to bargain for agency fee.  Congratulations to Katie, Dan, and the entire negotiating team!

Higher Education Contracts Funded

March saw speedy progress on securing funding for the Local 1776 (UMass Amherst), Local 507 (UMass Dartmouth) and Local 1067 (State and Community College) contracts.  The House version of a supplemental budget (commonly called a “supp”) included funding for the 1067 and 507 contracts.  Shortly after the House approved the supp the members of Local 1776 ratified their new contract.  Council Legislative and Political Director Jim Durkin worked hard with the Senate Ways & Means Committee and the Baker administration to insure that funding for the 1776 contract got added to the supp on the Senate side, thereby preventing a multi-month delay in funding for that contract.  On March 30, funding for all three contracts passed both the House and Senate and went to Governor Baker’s desk for signature.  Jim continues to keep a close eye on the process.   Reach out to Jim if you have any questions.

Hot off the Presses Update!  We just heard this morning that Governor Baker has signed the supp!  While he did strike certain provisions of the bill through amendment as we anticipated, the remaining sections – including our contracts – have been signed into law.  We have already reached out to management in an effort to determine the timeline for getting these hard-earned pay increases into our members paychecks as quickly as possible. 

Good News for Unit 2

Just last week we heard that the decrease in the $5/hour for unlicensed staff and $10/hour for licensed staff differential will be delayed!  These pay differentials were scheduled to decrease by half, but the higher differentials will now remain in place through July 2022. 

In addition, we were recently contacted by a DYS (Department of Youth Services) employee who is among a small group of Unit 2 members who use their own cars for work but only get reimbursed at 40 cents a mile.  Less than a week after the call, Field Services Director Eddie Nastari was able to negotiate a side agreement with the state that increased the reimbursement rate to 58.5 cents a mile – almost a 32% increase. The member who called was really impressed we were able to take care of the problem in less than a week.  All victories don’t come this easily, but let’s celebrate when they do!


Group 4 Retirement Bill for Local 1067 Police Officers Moves Out of Committee

On March 15th we heard that our bill to move our Local 1067 police officers into Group 4 of the state retirement system moved out of the Public Service Committee with a favorable report!  To put this in perspective, when I worked for the Council 15 years ago this was a bill that I filed every year – with no results.  But Jim Durkin, the Council’s Legislative and Political Director, saw a real opportunity in the Police Reform bill that passed in 2020.  In that bill, he was able to get language included that expressly defined a law enforcement agency as any public or private college or university police department, and further defined law enforcement officers as any officers working for a law enforcement agency.  The Police Reform bill also included language that expanded training and firearms requirements for all police officers, including those on state and community college campuses.  These are the kinds of changes that have been key to moving groups of employees from one retirement group to another. 

Another key to the progress this session has been the bill’s lead sponsor, State Representative Paul Tucker (D-Salem).  Rep. Tucker spent his entire career in law enforcement and finished his career as the Chief of Police in Salem, where he worked closely with the Salem State University Police Officers.  As such, he knows the important role they play in public safety, particularly on campuses with urban borders.  

There’s still a long way to go on this bill (HB 2786) – a favorable Committee report is just a first step.  Next up is an in-depth costs analysis by the Ways & Means Committee.  But this a critical step, and one that’s been a long time coming.  Stay tuned to this space for further updates, and reach out to Jim if you have members who would like to help push for this bill.


Invite Mark to Your Local Meeting!

Do you have a Local membership meeting coming up?  Mark wants to come!  This is something he’s done regularly since becoming Executive Director of the Council, and now that COVID restrictions are finally lifting he is eager to resume attending meetings of the membership.  Please reach out to Mark if you’d like him to attend so he can get those meetings on his calendar!

AFSCME International Convention

It may seem hard to believe but our 45th Biennial International Convention is less than four (4) months away!  We are all looking forward to getting back together in person with our AFSCME Brothers and Sisters from across the country and hope to see many of our Council 93 leaders and activists joining us as well.  The convention will be held from July 10th through July 16th in Philadelphia, PA.  You should have received an email from Executive Assistant Anna Owen describing important information about attending the International Convention.  Please reach out to Anna if you have questions or need help.

Council 93 Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament

Have you registered your foursome for the annual Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament yet? This year, the Tournament will be held on July 25, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm at Juniper Hills Golf Course in Northborough, MARegister here.  The golf tournament is the premier fundraising event for the Council 93 Memorial Scholarship Fund, which helps AFSCME families meet the high cost of a college education. Over the past 20 years, the fund has provided more than $100,000 in scholarships to AFSCME members, their spouses, children, stepchildren, grandchildren and legal dependents. Register today!

Upcoming Treasurer’s Training

Council 93 will be conducting a Financial Standards Code / Treasurers Training Workshop on Saturday, June 4th, 2022 at the Marriott Boston Newton, 2345 Commonwealth Avenue in Newton, MA.  All Local Union Presidents, Treasurers, Trustees and Executive Board members are welcome to attend. Newly elected officers are strongly urged to attend as the training is an excellent introduction to the financial responsibilities of local union officers. Space is limited and registration is due by May 13, so reserve your spot today!  Find registration information here.

Do you Love Chocolate? 

Is that a serious question – who doesn’t love chocolate?!  In any case, consider getting some from the Rabble Rouser Chocolate & Craft Company in Montpelier, VT!  This worker collaborative recently affiliated with AFSCME Local 1369, and AFSCME members get a 10% discount on all orders!  Read more here.