SEIU 509 State House Alert: 509 Members Speak Out for Educational Opportunity for All

509 educators testifying today in favor of expanding access to early childhood and higher education

BOSTON, MA – Educators and members of SEIU Local 509, the Bay State union for human service workers and educators, are on Beacon Hill today to show support for An Act to Support Educational Opportunity for All during today’s hearing by the Joint Committee on Revenue. The bill would provide much-needed funds to expand access to early childhood education and enable more young people to pursue higher education — both critical priorities for the Commonwealth’s continued economic growth and prosperity.

In order to fund these critical investments in education, the bill includes a modest 2.5 percent duty on private college and university endowments with over $1 billion in assets under management. Nonprofit private colleges and universities are not currently required to pay local, state, or federal taxes on their endowment funds. The excise — which would only impact a handful of the Commonwealth’s richest institutions — would create a new Educational Opportunity for All Trust to help defray the cost of higher education, early education, and child care for lower-income and middle-class residents of the Commonwealth.

“As an early childhood educator, I know firsthand that we badly need to invest more in the Commonwealth’s youngest children during the influential, early years of their education,” said Marites MacLean, a member of SEIU 509 who operates a family child care center in Fitchburg. “But more than that, I see that when we are able to help working class families access child care, it allows them to attend school and work themselves and further contribute to our economy and society.”

“There is overwhelming evidence that we need to invest more in both early education and higher education, but too often these investments are forgone due to scarce budgets and competing priorities,” said Tyler O’Day, a graduating senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “Asking the wealthiest institutions to contribute a modest amount toward expanding access to higher education is a commonsense way to make sure all students can access the kind of world class education I’ve been lucky enough to pursue.”

MacLean and O’Day joined leaders from the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM) to share their expertise and testify in front of the Joint Committee on Revenue in favor of the bill. SEIU Local 509 regularly empowers its diverse, statewide membership to speak out in favor of key legislation that impacts their day to day work as educators and human service workers. Last month, Local 509 held its largest-ever Lobby Day at the State House, where union members spoke with their elected officials about the issues facing them as they educate and care for the Commonwealth’s students and most vulnerable populations.

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SEIU Local 509 represents nearly 20,000 human service workers and educators throughout the Commonwealth. SEIU 509 members provide a variety of social services to elders, at-risk children and people with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities — as well as educational opportunities from early learning to higher education. Local 509 is part of the Service Employees International Union, the fastest-growing labor union in the United States.

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