Markey, Kennedy join striking SEIU 509 members in Lawrence

-Direct care workers at Fidelity House enter day 5 of an open-ended strike-

Lawrence, MA – Community and labor leaders, elected officials, and allies are heading to Lawrence today in a show of solidarity for striking SEIU 509 members at Fidelity House CRC.

Senator Ed Markey, Congressman Joe Kennedy III, Congresswoman Lori Trahan, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, and State Representative Marcos Devers are expected to deliver remarks as they join striking direct care providers on the picket line.

The direct care staff at Fidelity House have been on strike since Tuesday, following stalled negotiations with Fidelity management over wage increases that overlooked nearly one-third of the bargaining unit. The current proposed wage hikes at the table would still leave worker’s hourly pay hovering just above minimum wage once the state minimum wage rises in January 2020.

“Our job is to empower the individuals in our care to live their lives to the fullest. When I see the work I do has an impact and brings joy, that means everything. I want to get back to work, while also having peace of mind that I can provide for my own family,” said Alette Domenech, a program assistant who has worked at Fidelity House for six years.

The direct care workers at Fidelity House provide 24-hour care to individuals with advanced disabilities and challenges. The 509 members at Fidelity are some of the lowest paid human service workers in the state, resulting in high turnover for the agency and a dependence on hiring temporary labor to fill in staffing gaps.

“I call upon Fidelity House CRC to act now. Zero is not enough. No worker should go another day without being paid a fair wage. These workers help our most vulnerable live in dignity, and in return, deserve dignified pay,” said Senator Ed Markey. “I am proud to stand with SEIU 509 workers as they strike for fair and equal wages, and I call upon Fidelity House CRC to bargain in good faith.”

“No one in this country should be denied a living wage and good working conditions for the sake of a bottom line,” said Congressman Joe Kennedy III. “The direct care workers of Fidelity House and SEIU 509 are on the frontlines of treating our most vulnerable every single day. They deserve to be treated with dignity, not indifference. I stand proudly, in solidarity, with them to fight for basic justice at work.”

Last week, members of the union at Fidelity House overwhelmingly voted to authorize the strike, delivering management with the legally required 10-day notice of their intent to strike. Community leaders, activists, and local elected officials have joined the workers on the picket line to lend their support and call for management to come back to the bargaining table.

“At the heart of it, this strike is about the dignity and respect of our members at Fidelity House,” said Peter MacKinnon, President, SEIU 509. “Each day, these direct care providers give themselves fully to the care of the individuals they serve. All they ask is to be paid a living wage: No more and no less.”

 

Contact:
Megan Piccirillo, 973-668-8999, mpiccirillo@seiu509.org

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SEIU Local 509 represents nearly 20,000 health and human service workers and educators throughout Massachusetts. We provide a variety of social services to elders, at-risk children and people with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities — as well as educational services in both public and private sector settings. From mental health clinicians and social workers to early childhood educators and university lecturers, Local 509 members are united in our mission to raise living standards for working families while improving the quality and affordability of the services we provide. SEIU Local 509 is part of the 2 million member Service Employees International Union, the fastest-growing labor union in the United States. Focused on uniting workers in four sectors –- public services, long term care, property services, and hospital systems — SEIU is the nation’s largest health care union, the largest property services union, and the second-largest public employee union.

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