As racial-justice protests swept our country in response to the murder of George Floyd, many of the protesters began calling for governments at various level to “defund the police” — a phrase that few in the U.S. were familiar with.
UE NEWS Updates
Local 222 Vice President and General Executive Board member Margaret Dabrowski addressed a virtual town hall on Medicare for All organized by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) on August 26. Dabrowski, a 911 dispatcher for the City of New Britain, spoke both about how the for-profit health insurance system affects people who call her as a 911 operator and about her own experiences with the healthcare system.
Two of UE’s top officers were invited to join Senator Bernie Sanders for virtual “town hall” meetings in early September. Both events addressed the issues facing working people, the need for urgent Congressional action on the many crises facing the nation, and the upcoming presidential election.
Faced with budget shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kenyon College Board of Trustees chose to suspend all retirement contributions for their 600 or so full-time staff. Among those staff were the 25 members of UE Local 712, which represents maintenance workers at the liberal arts college. Local 712 — supported by a coalition of students, faculty, and alumni — were able to win repayment of the missing year of retirement contributions over the next three years, which will also be extended to the rest of the staff at the college.
Increased member activism, including a vote authorizing a strike and concrete preparations for carrying one out, resulted in a new contract for Local 777 with Treehouse Foods that includes significant wage gains, a reduction in healthcare costs, and addresses several core non-economic issues.
As the COVID-19 pandemic began spreading in the U.S. in March, it quickly became clear that the regional council meetings scheduled for late March and early April — large in-person gatherings of people from many states — could not be held as initially planned. But after lengthy discussions between national and regional leadership, assisted by technical expertise from UE staff, both new regions held their founding meetings virtually in July, over the video-conferencing service Zoom.
UE Local 222's best wishes and appreciation go out to Deb Main, who has recently retired as an employee of the Groton Telecommunicators Association in Groton CT. Deb has been a staunch Union member with CILU/CIPU even before we merged with U.E. Many of our 911 Telecommunicators are not aware that their raises and benefits are due in part to Deb, for she has drawn up spreadsheets and contract comparisons for years that have been used in other Dispatch sub local negotiations.
Rocky Hill Library employees, members of UE Local 222 Sublocal 39, settled a new four-year contract in August. The contract provides for wage increases of 2.85 percent in the first year, 2.95 increase in the second year, 3 percent in the third year, and 3.25 percent in the last year.
As essential workers, the many dispatchers represented by UE Local 222 in Connecticut have been working full-time at their centers throughout the pandemic. Numerous dispatcher sub-locals also have been in contract negotiations.
Winning a first contract is hard enough in normal times, but for the almost 200 paraprofessionals of UE Local 119 it meant persevering through both an unprecedented pandemic and a nerve-wracking annual bidding process which their employer had to win in order for their contract to go into effect.
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