Dear Fellow Local 580 Members,
I would like to start by thanking all of you for the privilege and honor of serving as your President for the past two years. We have, as a collective body, had many struggles during this time but I firmly believe that our many accomplishments are greater.
In January 2017 I began my term with approximately 70 of our brothers and sisters laid off and the lowest staffing in years in many departments. Our team worked diligently to make sure that all of those members were re-employed into 580 positions. We have had continual hiring into front-line positions in both DCYF and DHS and now have almost 100 more members than we did two years ago. We also created a new Economic Career Advisor position at DHS and are working on a career ladder for both social workers and supervisors.
My original promise was to work on communication and ensure that all members had access to information. We now have a working system where every member receives emails and information, every call is returned, every problem is addressed. We have worked hard as a team to build relationships in every department and across the State, to forge new partnerships among our multiple departments and to learn about each agency and the very difficult jobs our members do. .
I fought for our position at the table during Global contract negotiations and as a result I was able to ensure that we have a new contract with increased medical benefits and a record 7.5% raises which is the highest in many years!
We have worked tirelessly to ensure that more members are involved so that we build a strong foundation to keep this Union moving forward. We need and deserve experience, stability and consistency to bring us through the tough challenges ahead.
I have thoroughly enjoyed representing all of you, meeting many of you during my “breakfast meetings”, fighting to ensure that our jobs remain 580 jobs and making sure that our voices are heard when issues arise. If I am fortunate enough to be re-elected I promise as a team we will continue to advocate for additional positions in all agencies to bring caseloads down to the national standards, continue fighting for safe work environments for all members, continue building the relationships we need to make us stronger and continue to make our members my priority.
Voting is a privilege so please exercise your right in both the General Election and our Union Election. You have a voice, make sure it is heard.
My name is Jacinta Pena, I am running because I believe that I can help bring more voices to the table so that Local 580 have everything they need to provide great services to the people of Rhode Island.
I have dedicated my career to working for communities. I came to DCYF in 2006. Prior to that, I spent many years working in community-based agencies such as CCRI, RI Memorial Hospital, and St. Joseph Hospital. I started at DCYF as a social caseworker for clients in our Family Service Unit. In 2013, I moved to our Licensing Unit, where I support foster families and ensure that all of our homes are safe for children in state care. During this time, I have been a fierce advocate for families, particularly our Spanish-speaking families who too often are unable to receive the services they need in a timely manner.
I feel that changes are needed so that everyone would feel participate in the decision making that affects all Union members. Those who know me well will tell you that I am a person who is compassionate and who is a connector. I want to use this platform as a way to promote active participation – in times when they need support from Union leadership and in times when they don’t.
Along these lines, if I were elected, there are many things I would like to see move forward:
• Collective bargaining has to be more accessible to all members. We must increase the number of open meetings that are held so that there is time and space for voices to be heard.
• Civil Services examination schedules must become more routine. We must partner with the Department of Administration to hold regular exams. This is the only way to make sure that hiring and promotion is fair to all of our Union members and community members who want to devote their careers to civil services. We also need to make sure that processes around these exams are being followed (such as vacating lists at the time that new exams are announced).
• The Union needs to be involved with exit interviews. Whether an employee is dismissed, suspended, transferred or fired, the Union should have a role in understanding the nature of that employment change. If we are seeing trends or unfair practices, these insights can inform Union action.
• Our Union must represent all of its members. Members come from many cultural backgrounds and other forms of diversity. Our leadership and decision making needs to make sure that all of these perspectives have a voice in Union matters. As president, I will look for ways to ensure that we have a diverse set of active members. This includes actively recruiting them to support the organization on Union-sponsored activities as well as making sure that our executive committee is always considering the needs of the Union’s diverse membership.
I hope to have your vote, and look forward to hearing from you and making your voices heard.
1st Vice President
Dear brothers and sisters,
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for having entrusted your confidence in me over the past two years and for the two years to come. I have enjoyed meeting as many of our members as I have and hope to meet all of you in the next two years.
Our union has undergone two very hectic years with having dealt with issues at all our departments. Although the problems at DHS and DCYF have been more prevalent and covered by the media most intensely, this does not mean that the other agencies where our members are employed have not had problems of their own. The fact that many of the buildings our members work in are inadequate has been an on-going problem. Staffing resources at our agencies have been in flux and have left our members working long and stressful days.
During the last two years your union officers, under the steady leadership of our President, Kathy McElroy, have worked diligently in trying to maintain safe and stable working environments for all the staff at all our agencies. This has meant meeting with our members and providing communication to members about the on-going status of what the union is doing for all our members. Kathy has worked tirelessly as President and has maintained a steady compass in the right direction for our Union.
When this term began for our officers, DHS was in an organizational and staffing crisis with members displaced. Although the computer issues have continued to cause work related issues, displaced staff were rehired and there has been an on-going increase in staffing at DHS. There has also been an increase in staffing at DCYF. Over the next two years we hope to continue to work on the increase of new members working at all our agencies.
As we are all aware, a new contract was signed that has given us all a wage increase and will also provide additional benefits in our healthcare, while lowering some of our costs.
As previously noted, it has been a privilege to have been your First Vice President over the past two years. I hope to be able to continue this work with all our members in the next two years. I appreciate your confidence in me and look forward to meeting with you in the course of the years to come.
Thomas K. Tedeschi
2nd Vice President
Keri Anne Paquin