One year ago, the Service Bargaining Unit of Local 250 at MHS bargained
their first union contract. At the time, most people's attention
was on the 9% wage increase and free dependent health care, but
as the year went on, we had cause to appreciate some of the other
rights the contract gave us. One of the big ones is the right to
bargain over changes in job duties. In the past, (during the "redesign"
period, for example), major changes in how work was done occurred
without anyone who actually did the work being consulted.
Now with the Union contract: "The Employee will send the Union
a draft of the changes, with the changes indicated, in advance of
implementation. Within fifteen days, the Union may request and the
Employer will meet to negotiate with respect to the proposed change...."
Union employees in the Environmental Services Department at Mercy
General have been "meeting to negotiate with respect to the
proposed change" since late last Fall, when the EVS manager
announced a fairly major "redesign" of the department.
Then, on March 14 of this year, the Union received a letter from
the EVS manager announcing the planned implementation of the EVS
redesign, effective May 4, 2003. This was NOT agreeable to EVS employees,
who voted by a large margin (34 to 3, I think) to protest this abrupt
close of bargaining by holding an informational picket of Mercy
General on April 9th, 2003.