With our current contract set to expire at the end of June, the Local 6 Bargaining Committee has been hard at work negotiating with Trial Court management to craft a new agreement to cover our members across the state of Massachusetts. To date the parties have met four times since April 6—with more dates scheduled through the month of June.
Local 6 Business Manager George Noel opened the April 26 proceedings by emphasizing the common interest the Union and Management share in fostering a culture of continuous improvement and promoting public trust and confidence in the court system. Such institutional goals, he explained, can best be met by a unionized workforce that feels secure, respected, well paid, and possessed of the opportunity to grow and advance. However, key as these goals may be to the Court’s success, they are not currently a reality according to our Union’s own survey.
“80% of our members are concerned about their job security,” he said, adding that members want to feel they are valued by the Court. “94% are highly concerned about wages,” he continued, citing the high cost of living in Massachusetts, shameless cost-shifting to our members by the GIC, and the very generous pay increases the legislature recently ” lavished upon on the judges and the clerks.” “All we seek is to be valued and fairly compensated for our work.“
On the Table
So far, the Court has offered a combination of non-economic and technical/housekeeping proposals covering topics such as the process by which time off is requested, the mechanisms available for addressing substance abuse in the workplace, and bringing the current Agreement into line with statutory changes that have taken place since the last negotiation. The Union, in turn, has made proposals seeking to address those issues that members raised directly in the seven Demand & Proposal meeting held across the state, sent in via the online survey, and that have come up in the years since the last contract was ratified including: a more robust classification review process, response deadlines for the grievance procedure, and protecting jobs from outsourcing and new technologies.
At present, these proposals are in their earliest stages and both parties intend to make additional proposals over the next two sessions.
Beacon Hill Budget Blues
Much to our dismay of Governor Baker’s Office of Administration & Finance—which is responsible for providing all state agencies with their economic parameters for establishing pay rates—has not yet established those parameters. Moreover, the Governor’s FY18 budget only just moved from the Ways and Means Committee to the full Senate for debate.
Translation: The Court does not yet know what it can spend in FY18.
That means there is little point in exchanging economic proposals until the Court knows exactly what it has to work with. Cold comfort though it may be, the problem is not limited to the Court. “Everyone is struggling with this” explains George. “Social workers at DCF, engineers at the DOT, UMass teachers, and nurses at state hospitals. Everyone is stuck waiting for their economic parameters from A&F.” Other unions affected include our brothers and sisters in SEIU Local 509, NAGE, MOSES, MTA, MNA, and AFSCME Council 93.
Meet the Committee
Being a member of the Bargaining Committee is no easy task as it involves far more than just sitting at the table across from Court management. It includes: researching, drafting, and prioritizing proposals before presenting them to management; reviewing every proposal that is received; identifying areas where there is potential ground for agreement and where there is not; and making tough decisions about what is ultimately achievable given the context and circumstances of a given negotiation before coming to agreement and bringing that to the members. Our 2017 Bargaining Committee is a hard-working and resourceful mix of experienced former committee members, new members, and the Local 6 staff:
Robin Bates, Essex Law Library
Arthur Fenno, Superior Court Administrative Office
Erin Grassetti, Hampden Superior Court
Kathleen Hamlin, Worcester Juvenile Court
Susan Henderson, Suffolk Superior Court
Phillip Lang, Electronic Monitoring Program
Michelle Latimer, Berkshire Juvenile Court
Carmen Lozada-Carroll, Springfield District Court
Cara Madarese, Office of Court Management
Garrett Mahoney, Business Agent
Mary Martinez, Office of Court Interpreter Services
Sheila McGillicuddy, Business Agent
Joseph Montagna, Business Agent
George Noel, Business Manager
Patricia Pelletier, Dedham District Court/Local 6 Secretary-Treasurer
Diane Peterson, Norfolk Superior Court
Deborah Puopolo, Quincy District Court Probation Dept.
Dick Russell, Business Agent
Kathaleen Seibert, Worcester Juvenile Court
Shawn Wright, Office of Community Corrections
Now is the time to stick together!
Now is the time to stick together!
Stand tall, and stand with your negotiating team. Do not allow naysayers to cloud the issues or divide us. Together we will show Trial Court Management, the Legislature, and the Governor, that we deserve to be treated with respect and justly compensated for the vital work that we do day in and day out for the Commonwealth.