Your Union’s Response to COVID-19

UPDATED 4/14/20: Tell Gov. Baker: Direct Care providers deserve hazard pay!

Union Operations

SEIU Local 509 has committed to making every effort to follow guidance from public health officials regarding our operations as an organization.  All of our staff are working remotely and available to assist members during this difficult period. However,  the Local 509 office itself is minimally staffed to cover basic operations only.  We will not be holding membership meetings at worksites or in the Local 509 office, but we have taken steps to ensure staff are available for grievance representation and other urgent labor/management issues.

If you need assistance, you can contact your steward, use our staff directory to reach a union representative, or call the Member Action Resource Center (MARC) at 1-800-632-8079.

Chapter Updates

Because the vast majority of our members work in jobs that provide critical services to the public, SEIU Local 509 is actively working with the Commonwealth and all of our employers to ensure our members’ health, safety, and rights on the job are protected, and to clarify policies and procedures that affect our members during this crisis. We will post further updates to this page as we learn more from employers about steps they are taking at your worksite.

Click here to find your chapter advisor or organizer.

  • 3/17/20 Update: The governor has issued the following statement regarding state employees. Local 509 is in the process of obtaining more information from each agency and we will update this page as soon as that becomes available. If you are unsure whether you are considered non-emergency or have other questions about your individual situation, please wait to hear from your manager and/or contact your steward directly.
    • Effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020, the following protocols shall apply to state employees working in Executive Branch agencies:
      • Non-emergency employees who have the capacity to work remotely shall continue to do so; Employees performing core functions that must be done at their workplace will be contacted by their manager and will be expected to report to work so that essential state government services can be maintained. Appropriate social distancing practice will be observed;
      • Employees who are not performing core functions and who do not currently have the capacity to work remotely will be contacted by their manager for an alternative work assignment. During this time, the Commonwealth will continue to pursue technology to enable remote work. Managers will notify employees as that technology becomes available.
      • Any employee who is working remotely and needs to collect laptops or other work items shall contact their manager. Managers shall structure pick up times so that an employee’s time in the office is brief and staggered to maintain desired social distancing.
    • These protocols shall remain in effect until April 3, 2020, at which time this will be revisited.
  • 3/15/20 Update: All non-emergency state employees should NOT report to work for Monday (3/16) and Tuesday (3/17). We will keep you updated the moment we know more. However, employees who are designated by their manager as emergency for the purposes of coronavirus planning should report to work. Those employees will be contacted by their managers this evening (3/15).



  • 3/18/20 Update (Actualización del 18 de marzo): Click here to view the full update from Chapter Pres. Celina Reyes (actualización en inglés y español). 
    • Today, Governor Baker ordered the suspension of all Early Education and Care programs. Read our full update above for more information. EEC is looking for providers who would be willing to stay open and operate Emergency Childcare Programs. In order to do this, you must follow EEC’s guidelines and complete an approval process.
    • Hoy, el Gobernador Baker ordenó la suspensión de todos los programs de Educación y Cuidado Temprano. Lea nuestra actualización completa arriba para más información. EEC está buscando a proveedores que estén dispuestos a permanecer abiertos y operar Programas de Cuidado Infantil de Emergencia. Para hacer esto, debe seguir las pautas de EEC y completar un proceso de aprobación.
  • 3/14/20 Update (Actualización del 14 de marzo): Click here to view the full update from Chapter Pres. Celina Reyes (actualización en inglés y español).
    • EEC has issued a memo that outlines major points of support they will provide, including stating that a program that closes due to COVID-19 will be reimbursed for the duration of the closure. You must follow EEC protocol for your closure to be reimbursed. Additionally, the EEC memo stated that EEC will reimburse programs for subsidized children if the program has a COVID-19-related closure, and that any program that closes to sanitize the location may be reimbursed for no more than 3 consecutive days. It is very important to note that programs that close without following proper EEC notification protocol will not be reimbursed.
    • EC ha comunicado que ningún proveedor perderá ingresos como resultado de un cierre debido a COVID-19. Han emitido un memo que describe los principales puntos de apoyo que brindarán, incluido el hecho de que un programa que se cierra debido a COVID-19 será reembolsado por la duración del cierre. Debe seguir el protocolo EEC para que se reembolse su cierre. Además, la nota de EEC decía que EEC reembolsará los programas para niños subsidiados si el programa tiene un cierre relacionado con COVID-19, y cualquier programa que cierra para desinfectar la ubicación puede ser reembolsado por no más de 3 días consecutivos. Es muy importante tener en cuenta que los programas que se cierran sin seguir el protocolo de notificación de EEC adecuado no serán reembolsados.



(UPDATED 3/23/20) SEIU Local 509 is looking directly to experts, including the CDC and DPH, for any updates related to public health. Local 509 members should not recommend anything to an employer or other members other than to refer people to the CDC or DPH websites where information on what people should do can be found.

Benefits/Financial Resources & Emergency Childcare

  • See our 3/21/20 update on emergency child care from Local 509 President Peter MacKinnon
  • Get information about unemployment benefits and apply here
    • Daily webinars are being held to answer questions, click here
    • See a step-by-step guide to the unemployment application here
  • If you have concerns about making mortgage payments during the outbreak due to a change in your income, see this resource for how to get help
    • If you are a renter, and unable to pay your rent due to loss in income, please contact your landlord as soon as possible to make arrangements. Boston and Cambridge Housing Authorities have suspended evictions for their residents, and the Massachusetts Housing Court has halted evictions until April 21st.
  • Click here for a fact sheet about emergency sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Health & Safety

Take Action

(4/14/20) Human service workers are providing direct care to our most vulnerable populations. They deserve recognition and protection, and they need our support! Whether in group home settings caring for adults with developmental disabilities, caring for those with with behavioral health challenges, or providing addiction services, human service workers cannot take a day off, and the nature of their work makes them disproportionately suited to contracting COVID-19. This work cannot be stopped, and given the nature of the work, many of the social distancing measures put in place simply cannot be followed. This puts our members and the people they care for at risk.

Tell Governor Baker that our direct care providers deserve hazard pay.

(4/6/20) Human service workers across Massachusetts are on the front lines of the coronavirus and doing everything they can to keep our communities safe and healthy. But they don’t have the protective supplies or tests they need to protect themselves from exposure to COVID-19.

From social workers, to group home staff, mental health clinicians, and healthcare workers, there are so many workers ensuring our Commonwealth’s most vulnerable feel supported during this overwhelming time. We need to support these workers as they take care of all of us and our loved ones. We need the federal government’s help to obtain access to vital PPE equipment!

Tell Vice President Pence and HHS Secretary Azar that we need the federal government’s help to get PPE for Massachusetts!

During these unprecedented times, SEIU Local 509 is seeking ways to protect our members at the worksite and in our communities. One critical way to keep our communities healthy is to minimize disease spread by encouraging members to stay home when they are sick and telecommute as much as possible. We have reached out to the Baker Administration a number of times to guarantee every member has access to these flexible policies during this critical time, and we have yet to get a reasonable answer. We need to get Governor Baker’s attention now.

Click here to tell Governor Baker we need a COVID-19 protocol now.

To better protect our members and ensure they have the sick time they need, State Representative Jim O’Day (D-West Boylston) and Senator Paul Feeney (D-Walpole) are filing legislation to establish a universal sick leave bank that any state employee could access should they need to take time due to the COVID-19 virus. The bill would guarantee enough sick time for all state workers impacted by the COVID-19 virus without the need for donations of sick time from co-workers.

Click here to support a Universal Sick Bank for state workers now!

Comments are closed.