509 News

Media Contact:

Christie Stephenson, Communications Director
office: (774) 843-7500 || cell: (413) 374-6370 || email: cstephenson@seiu509.org

509 NEWS: 2017 Annual Meeting Edition

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Read about an exciting year for our union, with a promising string of victories in our new organizing efforts, contract negotiations, and on the broader public policy front in our latest edition of 509 NEWS:
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RSVP for the 2017 Local 509 Annual Meeting: October 14!

Mark your calendar for the 2017 SEIU Local 509 Annual Meeting – coming up Saturday, October 14 in Westborough.
Join us at the 2017 Annual Meeting as we celebrate these important wins, learn about the challenges ahead, and plot our course for the future:
  • Hear how we are building our strength across Massachusetts
  • Reconnect with union brothers & sisters and meet new colleagues working across the state in human services and education
  • Learn more about our ‘Fair Share Amendment’ to raise funds earmarked for education and transportation
  • Join the Fight for $15, Paid Family & Medical Leave and other efforts to improve working conditions for Bay State families
The 2017 Annual Meeting marks the first step in our union-wide leadership elections. (You can find a full list of offices open for nominations here.) Plus, we need your participation as we vote on 15 constitutional amendments.
Starting at 9 AM, the daylong meeting will be held Saturday, October 14 at the DoubleTree Hotel — located at 5400 Computer Drive in Westborough.
 
Click here to sign up online — or call the Local 509 headquarters at (774) 843-7509. Please let us know if you require child care, have dietary restrictions, or need any other special accommodations.
We have a great deal to be proud of at Local 509, and an incredibly bright future ahead. Please join us October 14 as we set the agenda for the months to come!  Until then, read about an exciting year for our union, with a promising string of victories in our new organizing efforts, contract negotiations, and on the broader public policy front in our latest edition of 509 NEWS:
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Averting Strike, Over 1,000 Union Workers at Bridgewell Win Improved Working Conditions

Tentative agreement reached under increasing pressure on the agency to avoid upcoming strike

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LYNN — The over 1,000 members of SEIU Local 509 at Bridgewell proudly reached a major settlement Tuesday with Bridgewell management, after a lengthy negotiating session spurred by an upcoming strike and overseen by a federal mediator. Today’s tentative agreement, subject to a ratification vote by union members at the agency, is a significant step toward addressing low wages and staff turnover at Bridgewell. The settlement, reached just days before a planned strike on August 20th, will improve wages and working conditions for over 1,000 workers who directly care for individuals with disabilities up and down the North Shore.

The three- year tentative agreement for Bridgewell workers  will result in a minimum of a 9% wage increase over the three-year contract, along with a decrease in health insurance costs, increase in time off benefits, and protection for immigrant workers.

“Caring, assisting, and advocating for those that cannot do it themselves isn’t easy work,” said Tania Louis, a Bridgewell human service worker and union leader. “I’m relieved that Bridgewell will respect my work and my colleagues by approving a better contract. Our fight continues, but today was a great day for me and all of my fellow human service workers at Bridgewell.”  

“I have been at Bridgewell for 7 years and I am proud of what I do,” said Ademola Odubiyi, a union leader and human service worker at Bridgewell.“Today we got a better contract which means we can proudly continue our work caring for others.”

Workers had provided management with the legally required 10-day strike notice on August 4th, while continuing to try to bargain in good faith with management in the days leading up to the strike. Today’s settlement comes after significant grassroots organizing and mobilization by human service workers at Bridgewell, who work in numerous group homes and day habilitation programs in the North Shore and Merrimack Valley.

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Bridgewell Employees Are Ready to Strike!

Strike vote comes as SEIU Local 509 fights to address the daily crisis in care for private sector human service workers!

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Lynn — SEIU Local 509 members at Bridgewell have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, in the midst of contract negotiations with the agency. In a show of strong energy and solidarity, over one thousand workers at Bridgewell have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a vote. Today, member leaders of SEIU Local 509 at Bridgewell delivered management the legally required 10-day notice of their intent to strike on August 20th.

SEIU Local 509 members at Bridgewell continue to bargain in good faith with management in an effort to address the crisis in care at Bridgewell and private sector human services agencies across the Commonwealth. Frontline workers care directly for clients of the agency, coming into work day in and out to care for people with disabilities and help them live with dignity. Yet frontline workers still struggle to earn a living wage, resulting in high turnover and constant staffing issues that impact the quality of care available to the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable. All attempts to reach a commonsense resolution to these challenges have since been rejected by agency management – prompting this strike.

Bridegwell employees have worked tirelessly to have their voices heard by management, they have mobilized their co-workers and now they are ready to strike.

“I am proud of what I do, I wake up every morning ready to work to take care of my individuals and Bridgewell management should take care of us,” said member leader Ademola Odubiyi, who has worked at Bridgewell for 7 years. “We need better pay but most importantly we need better working conditions. In this contract I would like Bridgewell management to show us how proud they are of the services and care that we provide.”

For more information about the fight to ensure a living wage for private sector human services workers, or to speak to a leader of the campaign at Bridgewell call (978) 327-0906.

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Direct Care Workers Building Momentum in Fight for Living Wage

String of major contract wins increasing pressure on taxpayer funded agencies to address crisis in care

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MARLBOROUGH, MA — At the midpoint of its historic contract campaign to raise wages for direct care workers in Massachusetts, SEIU Local 509 announced that nearly 2,500 workers organized through the union have won significantly better wages in the last month. In the past two weeks alone, workers organized to major contract wins from management at Eliot Community Health Services and Fidelity House, building on hard-fought contract campaigns at several other nonprofit agencies. Local 509 launched the coordinated bargaining campaign earlier this year in response to a crisis in care caused by low wages at human services providers across the state.

Over 6,000 employees who serve individuals with disabilities, the elderly, and people living with mental illnesses are organized through SEIU Local 509. Through relentless organizing, months of bargaining, and in some cases, voting to authorize a strike, thousands of 509 members have won the following major gains from key human service agencies:

  • STATEWIDE:

    • Eliot Community Health Services*: 3 percent wage increase over the course of one-year contract with larger increases for most clinicians

  • MERRIMACK VALLEY:

    • Fidelity House: $.60/hour raise for direct care staff over the course of the one-year contract

    • CLASS, Inc.: $.75/hour raise for direct care staff over the course of the one-year contract

  • GREATER BOSTON:

    • Boston Senior Home Care: 3% wage increase in the first year of the contract

    • Mystic Valley Elder Services: 3% wage increase across the board over the course of the one-year contract

  • SOUTHEAST:

    • Coastline Elderly Services*: 2.5%, 2%, and 2% wage increases for direct care staff over the three-year contract, with additional gains for RNs at the agency

    • Better Community Living: 3%, 2%, and 2% wage increases for direct care staff over the three-year contract

    • Comprehensive Mental Health Systems, Inc.: Annual raises as high as 8% for direct care staff over the three-year contract

  • CAPE:

    • Latham Centers: All direct care employees raised to a minimum of $15/hour and 1%, 2% and 2% wage increases for all direct care staff over the course three-year contract

  • WESTERN:

    • Highland Valley Elder Services: Wage increases of $.80/hr and $1.00/hr in the first year of the contract

    • Womanshelter/Companeras: $15 minimum and 4% raise for all

Additionally, in the face of increasing anti-immigrant policy, Local 509 won key immigration protections for the diverse workforce at many of these agencies.

“We all agree that everyone deserves to live a life of purpose and dignity, most especially individuals with disabilities, the elderly, and those with mental illnesses,” said Peter MacKinnon, President of SEIU Local 509. “Yet the workers who directly serve the most vulnerable among us are themselves in crisis, and often not making a living wage in return for the social good they provide.

“Local 509 members will continue to fight and organize until we address the crisis-level working conditions at human service providers across the state and the impact on the individuals being served by these taxpayer funded agencies.”

Earlier in the campaign, SEIU Local 509 released a report calling attention to the need for state accountability measures on spending by nonprofit agencies that received funding through Chapter 257. The report found that agencies disproportionately spent on increasing CEO pay and administrative costs, rather than raising wages for workers in an effort to address high turnover. A copy of the report can be found here.

To speak with workers and leaders of the campaign to address the crisis in Massachusetts’ human services industry, contact Christie Stephenson: (413) 374-6370.

*Denotes tentative agreement pending a vote of union membership.

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Averting Strike, Workers at Fidelity House Make Key Gains in Fight for Quality Care & Good Jobs

Tentative agreement reached under increasing pressure on the agency to avoid strike

LAWRENCE — In a major step toward addressing the low wages and staff turnover plaguing Fidelity House staff at the agency who directly care for individuals with disabilities reached a settlement early Sunday afternoon with Fidelity House management. Facing a strike that was set to begin in less than 24 hours, management at Fidelity House returned to the table Sunday morning for a negotiation session overseen by a federal mediator. The resulting settlement is subject to a ratification vote next week by affected Fidelity House workers, who will return to work on Monday.

Today’s settlement is a step forward in a years-long campaign by Fidelity House workers, organized through SEIU Local 509, to address the crisis in caregiving created by low wages at the agency. The tentative agreement will result in a $.60/hour raise for direct care staff over the course of the one year contract, a significant raise for workers at Fidelity House,Inc. who have worked and organized tirelessly to gain this win for frontline direct care workers.

“What I do for a living isn’t just about me, it’s also about all the individuals we serve here in the Merrimack Valley,” said Nurys Cintron, a worker at Fidelity House and leader of the contract bargaining committee. “I’m relieved that after many months and a long morning of bargaining, all of my colleagues will return to work Monday with a better contract that will hopefully pave the path for all our brothers and sisters in the human services field.”

“Today we got a good contract but the work continues,” said Alette Domenech, who has worked at Fidelity House for three years. “I look forward to the roll out of these much-needed improvements in our contract.” 

Workers had provided management with the legally required 10-day strike notice on July 24th, while continuing to try to bargain in good faith with management in the days leading up to the strike. Today’s settlement comes after an outpouring of support for quality care and good jobs at Fidelity House from community groups and elected officials, including Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, Representatives DiZoglio, Matias, Moran, and State Senator Barbara L’Italien.

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Workers at Fidelity House Set to Strike Monday

Workers at the Merrimack Valley nonprofit will strike for three days over staff turnover & low wages

LAWRENCE — SEIU Local 509 members at Fidelity House will be on strike Monday through Wednesday of next week, following stalemated contract negotiations with the agency. Members of the union at Fidelity House overwhelmingly voted to authorize the strike, and delivered management last week with the legally required 10-day notice of their intent to strike. Workers, community leaders, activists, and local elected officials will be on the picket line during the three-day strike next week.

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WHERE: 439 S Union Street, Lawrence

WHEN: 9-6pm, Monday-Wednesday July 24-26

COMMUNITY RALLY: 12PM Tuesday, July 25

“We love our work and the clients we serve,” said Alette Domenech, who has worked at Fidelity House for three years. “Management at Fidelity House has forced us to go on strike by failing to work with us to address high staff turnover. The turnover at Fidelity House is disrupting the lives of people we care for, and they deserve better.”

For more information about the strike and the fight to ensure a living wage for private sector human services workers, or to speak to a leader of the campaign at Fidelity House call (413) 374-6370.

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Averting Strike, Workers at CLASS, Inc. Take Major Step Toward Quality Care & Good Jobs

Tentative agreement reached under increasing pressure on the agency to avoid strike

LAWRENCE — In a major step toward addressing the low wages and staff turnover plaguing CLASS, Inc., staff at the agency who directly care for individuals with disabilities reached a settlement late Friday evening with CLASS management. Facing a strike that was set to begin Monday, management at CLASS, Inc. returned to the table late Friday for a negotiation session overseen by a federal mediator and convened by Massachusetts Senator Barbara L’Italien. The resulting settlement is subject to a ratification vote next week by affected CLASS, Inc. workers, who will return to work on Monday.

Tonight’s settlement marks an inflection point in a years-long campaign by CLASS workers, organized through SEIU Local 509, to address the crisis in caregiving created by low wages at the agency. The one-year tentative agreement is a critical step towards reducing staff turnover and improving the standard of care for individuals with disabilities in the Merrimack Valley.

The tentative agreement will result in a $.75/hour raise for direct care staff over the course of the one year contract, a significant raise for workers at CLASS, Inc. who are among the lowest paid at peer agencies across the Commonwealth.

“I do this work because I love the individuals I care for — it’s my passion,” said Krystina Castillo, a day habilitation worker at CLASS. “I’m happy that after many hours of negotiating we get to go back to work on Monday with a better contract.”

“At the end of the day, we won a better contract,” continued Thomas Baca, a driver at CLASS. “But the fight continues to make sure the individuals we care for can access the care they deserve.”

Workers had provided CLASS, Inc. management with the legally required 10-day strike notice on June 29, while continuing to try to bargain in good faith with management in the days leading up to the strike. Tonight’s settlement comes after an outpouring of support for quality care and good jobs at CLASS from community groups and elected officials, including Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera and Representatives DiZoglio, Matias, and Moran.

For interviews with workers leading the bargaining process, contact Christie Stephenson: cstephenson@seiu509.org / (413) 374-6370.

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SEIU Local 509 Lauds Inclusion of Protection for DCF Social Workers in Final Budget

As the conference committee budget heads to Governor Baker’s desk, SEIU Local 509 released the following statement lauding the inclusion of a critical safety measure for social workers at the Department of Children and Families. Effective upon the Governor’s signature, DCF social workers will be able to use state-issued identification for all DCF business, protecting workers’ home addresses from becoming public record.

The following statement is attributable to Adriana Zwick, a social worker and SEIU Local 509 DCF Chapter President:

“Social workers at DCF dedicate their careers to keeping at-risk kids safe from abuse and neglect, and unfortunately, it can be a dangerous profession. Too often in the course of our work, social workers are forced to provide personal information, like our home address, when we visit our clients in hospitals, correctional facilities, or schools. Being forced to provide our personal information poses a safety risk to social workers and their families.

“This measure keeps social workers’ personal information personal and helps protect their safety by allowing the use of state issued identification when carrying out DCF work. We are grateful to Minority Leader Tarr, Senator DiDomenico, Representative O’Day, and the Baker administration for championing home address protection for DCF social workers.”

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Workers at CLASS, Inc. Overwhelmingly Vote to Authorize Strike

Strike vote comes as SEIU Local 509 fights to bring private sector human services workers to $15/hour
 
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LAWRENCE — SEIU Local 509 members at CLASS, Inc. have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, in the midst of stalemated contract negotiations with the agency. In a show of strong energy and solidarity, nearly 90% of frontline workers at CLASS voted in favor of the action. Tonight, member leaders of SEIU Local 509’s chapter at CLASS, Inc. delivered management the legally required 10-day notice of their intent to strike on July 10.
SEIU Local 509 members at CLASS, Inc. continue to bargain in good faith with management in an effort to address the crisis in care at CLASS and private sector human services agencies across the Commonwealth. Frontline workers care directly for clients of the agency, coming into work day in and out to care for people with disabilities and help them live with dignity. Yet frontline workers still struggle to earn a living wage, resulting in high turnover and constant staffing issues that impact the quality of care available to the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable.
Thomas Baca, who has worked at CLASS, Inc. for five years, confirms that low wages are causing a crisis in care at the agency.
“The reason we voted to strike is simple. We need to take steps to address high staff turnover, so the individuals that we care for can access the care they deserve. Management now needs to take steps to address the low wages that are causing high turnover.”
For more information about the fight to ensure a living wage for private sector human services workers, or to speak to a leader of the campaign at CLASS, Inc., call (413) 374-6370.
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