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Sandy, Chris, Rob, & Rita

Picture above: SHARE leaders and activists (clockwise from left) Sandy Alafberg, Chris Flynn, Rob Beatty, and Rita Caputo

Check out what they have to say about SHARE on the left!

Pictured above: Alana Wesson and Elaine Terlizzi


"I have to admit that when I first started paying union dues, I really wasn’t happy about it. I had to wonder, “What is this money being taken out of my check for?”

Then one day I was told that my department, and my job, were going away. I was being laid off. I’d been laid off before – I was given my notice and told it was time to go. That’s how it was for my manager this time – he was escorted from the building. This time was different for me: We had a union now, and my SHARE union rep, Alana, was there with me.

I can’t remember doing anything during that meeting but sobbing. This job was my second job, but I counted on the money that I made at the hospital. I was sure it would be impossible to find another job for the evenings.

But then, afterward, Alana and I sat together to figure things out. Alana gave me hope that I didn’t have. I might have felt like I’d just been tossed to the wind, but she kept calling me, even in the evenings after work and on the weekends, to help me find another job in the hospital. With the union contract, first I got severance and then weekly checks as my vacation time was paid out to me so I could keep my health insurance. I was down to my very last check when Alana called and said, “Elaine, I think I may have something good for you.”

The job was in the Birth Certificates office, and was from 4pm to 9pm—exactly what I needed. The manager had received a lot of applications, but because the SHARE contract gives preferential hiring to people who have been laid off, I got the job. At first, the manager wanted to hire me at the bottom of the pay scale, but because I had been a SHARE member, I got to keep the pay rate that I had earned over the years.

Now I tell everyone how great I think our union SHARE is. Without a union like that, there’s no one in a big place like the hospital who will take the time to get to know you and help you figure out your problems."

SHARE member Elaine Terlizzi, Birth Registrar, UMass Memorial Medical Center, 14 years

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"I totally understood what it meant to Elaine, to lose her job when she was the sole provider for herself, like I am. It made me really happy to be able to offer her support, and to help her find the right job.

Being a SHARE Union Rep is incredibly rewarding. I got training for helping someone who is in some kind of trouble at work, as well as for layoffs, and I always have support and back-up. I really like being able to help my co-workers, and to help departments find solutions to problems that can work for everyone. Often the Human Resources person and I become a team to try to find a solution that could work for the supervisor and the employee."

SHARE union rep Alana Wesson, Lead Patient Access Services Rep, UMass Memorial Medical Center, 30 years

For further info, visit:
SHARE UMass Memorial website

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SHARE at UMass Memorial Hospital (SHARE Hospital) is the union of staff who work at the two hospitals of UMass Memorial Health Care, in Worcester, Massachusetts. SHARE represents 2800 clerical, technical and healthcare employees. They voted in 1997 to form a union because they wanted to have a voice in decisions at work that affect them. They started from the HUCTW model of a union, and re-shaped it to fit healthcare, and their unique workplace.

Scroll down to read their stories!

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"One of the best things about our union is that we fixed the pay system so that we get credit for our years of work experience – now long service people are rewarded. We look at that and say wow, we’ve done a good thing here. Plus, we’ve gotten good raises every year, too. The union helps me feel comfortable and secure in my job, and I know I always have a place where I can talk about any issues that come up. The union has helped things get better, more positive, over the years I’ve worked at the UMass Memorial. We’re blessed. I truly believe that."

SHARE activist, Sandy Alafberg, Senior Administrative Assistant, UMass Memorial Health Care, 10 years

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"The most fulfilling part of my union work is our Patient Satisfaction project. We work with a manager to involve everyone who works on the nursing floor in fixing the problems there. Everyone has a say, because good ideas can come from anywhere. When we’re all working together to help improve the patient care we provide, instead of someone else telling us how to do it, it changes how it feels to be at work. And, our patients get better care!

SHARE co-president, Chris Flynn, Worked at Memorial hospital for 13 years as a Respiratory Therapist

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"The two hospitals that I worked for before this had unions, and I had little respect for how they operated. So I wasn't optimistic about the SHARE union. I worried that SHARE would interfere with patient care and raise tensions. I expected the SHARE union to be inflexible and uncompromising. It turns out that the SHARE union is the exact opposite of what I expected -- we in SHARE take pains not to do all those things. As members of SHARE, we’re not bogged down in work rules to protect “union jobs,” we’re getting the job done and taking care of each other. We’re creating new ways to give patients a better hospital experience."

SHARE activist Rob Beatty, Biomedical Equipment Technician, UMass Memorial Medical Center, 10 years experience

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"I remember before the union got in, my co-workers were scared. Then people met the union organizers, saw them at lunch, talked with them, and the climate began to change. Some managers intimidated people about the union, but we found out that a lot of the things we heard about the union weren’t true. Now nobody’s scared – that fear went away the day after the union election."

SHARE activist Rita Caputo, Primary Care Clinic, UMass Memorial Medical Center, 26 years

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SHARE member Carol Fricka, Billing Support Services, UMass Memorial Health Care, 10 years service


SHARE member Gina Nelson, Referral Services Representative, UMass Memorial Health Care, 9 years service