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State of Our Union

City Union of Baltimore President, Yvonne Rice, addressed the CUB membership on Thursday, June 4, 2015 at the annual membership meeting. For photos from the event, visit AFT-Maryland's Facebook page.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, sisters and brothers, I would like to OFFICIALLY welcome you the City Union of Baltimore's annual membership meeting.

I would first like to take a moment to recognize our brothers and sisters that are no longer with us. I ask you to join me for a Moment of Silence for Benjamin Glenn, Sr., husband of our first president, Delegate Cheryl Glenn, who served us from 1988 to 1996, and for James Anthony, Jr., son of our Labor Relation Specialist, James Anthony, Sr.

I ask you to join me by naming your loved ones and co-workers that we have lost since we met last year.

Our accomplishments have most recently been achieved by strong opposition to the Mayor and City Council's attack on Employee Health Insurance, Pension Plans, and other concessionary bargaining efforts that have arisen from her so-called "10 Year Plan".

In a cooperative effort, we have joined forces with all other City Unions, including AFSCME, led by Glenn Middleton, along with the Fire and Police Unions and the MAPS Group to resist the strong push to erode our Health our Health Insurance Benefits.

We stood strong at City Hall to fight against the oppressive Pension plan changes and were able to gain some favorable ground that eroded the Mayor's "take it or leave it" posture. For example, we achieved a Guaranteed 2% salary increase as a pre-requisite before a 1% employee contribution to the Pension Plan could be implemented. The 2% wage increase guarantee was not included in the Mayor's legislation until CUB and AFSCME joined together to demand it. And even then, it was City Council who adopted our Amendments despite the Administration's resistence. In the end, however, she signed the bill.

In addition to all of that, we have challenged management's heavy handed Disciplinary Action through the Grievance and Arbitration Procedures. We have prevailed in over 65% of all cases we have taken to Arbitration and have gained significant ground in the lower steps of the grievance procedure. None of these victories were accomplished alone. Our Labor Relations Specialists, (Thad, Ruth, Maxine, and Jim) in partnership with our Legal Team (Dan and Duane), and with the support of our Area Vice Presidents and Stewards, have pushed back hard against oppressive measures. One such manager (Paul Tolle in Towing) who fired one of our Stewards three times and lost all three times, is no longer working for the City after the Arbitrator awarded that our Steward be reinstated to work, and granted full back pay, seniority, and benefits. This is not the first time that the efforts of our Union have caused the firing of an unfair, bully manager, and we believe it won't be the last time, either.

My vision for this Union is big, and builds on the visions of our past presidents. My vision is:

  • To develop and implement a plan that will continue to grow and build our membership.
  • To educate and train my sisters and brothers, as well as our stakeholders.
  • To protect the rights and benefits previously negotiated.
  • And to improve the wages, benefits, working conditions, and quality of life for our members and their families.

We are already working to achieve these visions. To that end, CUB held a training seminar (retreat) in February this year to educate our Area Vice Presidents and Stewards on the responsibilities of their respective positions. As a result of the training, we are actively updating our membership information to include cell phone numbers, non-work email addresses, and address ZIP codes. Getting this information will help us locate and communicate more efficiently and organize our Members to build and strengthen our union community.

We have several standing committees and we need your participation. If anyone here is interested in being a part of any of these committees, we welcome your input and support. You can see any one of the staff after this meeting, if you are interested.

As to Negotiations, we are currently bargaining with the Baltimore City Public School System for a new contract. As you know, our last agreement was for a five (5) year term and was among the most lucrative contracts ever negotiated for our Members. We are hoping to continue that trend again this year despite the Board's poverty claim, and threat of possible layoffs.

On the City side, we have finally completed our negotiations for the 2014-2015 bargaining cycle. Dan will summarize the details in a moment, but let me say, that tis was the most difficult Administration we have had to deal with in the history of CUB. For example, after agreeing to front-load our vacations as a quid pro quo for other changes in the contract, the Administration got amnesia and forgot to include it in the MOU. In addition, they changed the agreement language in a way that we never agreed to. It took nearly another eight months to get them to come to their senses, and I am pleased to announce that a signing ceremony is being scheduled in the next two weeks.

We are not organizing ourselves to build our strategy for our 2016 bargaining cycle in order to fully expose this Administration as it enters an election year. We are hoping to exploit that circumstance to the benefit of our Members.

As we work to grow our Union strength, we have been workin gto establish a Retiree Chapter for CUB. We are close to making this a reality. Organizing committees have been established and are now meeting on the 3rd Friday of each month here at the CUB office. I want to thank everybody involved for taking on this difficult, but very important challenge.

As for the threatened layoffs I mentioned, and in lieu of the recent layoff announcements from Baltimore City and Baltimore City Public Schools, we are working with the Mayor and Labor Commissioner for Baltimore City and the Director of Human Capital and the Labor Relations Manager for Baltimore City Schools to find other positions and re-assignment solutions within our bargaining unit for any affected members.

It is clear that we have our work cut out for us. However, over the last twenty-five years, we have made our mark in this city and across the country. These and other goals can be reached as we develop this vision for the City Union of Baltimore. I am excited and solicit your support and assistance as we continue this union fight for equality and justice.

Our strength is in our Unity.

As president, I look forward to the challenges we face together; I know that I am not alone in this fight.

Together is our strength
and Together we make a difference!

I thank you for your attention and attendance today.

Yvonne Rice, President
City Union of Baltimore
Thursday, June 4, 2015

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