VACANCIES were published on February 13, 2017; nominations will be accepted until Monday, March 6 at noon.
Below you will find the list of opportunities to serve on the SEIU 509 Joint Executive Board (JEB) and Chapter Executive Boards (CEBs). If you are interested in running for a seat — or nominating a colleague — please follow these instructions:
Only members in good standing are eligible for nomination. Members may nominate themselves or be nominated by fellow SEIU 509 members. The member doing the nominating also needs to be a member in good standing.
Submit nominations for vacancies in writing to Jenny Bauer in the union office by fax (508-485-8529), email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or US mail (293 Boston Post Road West, Marlborough, MA 01752 ).
Again, nominations are due Monday, March 6 at noon.
Nominees who are unopposed shall be declared elected on that date. If offices are contested, election dates will be announced and candidates will be notified.
NANCY CHIERO WAS as devoted as she was patient with her son Lee. The 35-year-old Uxbridge man had spent his life struggling with psychotic delusions, which would periodically send him to the emergency room for a prescription for medications. Those brought a brief respite, but Lee, who lived in his mother’s basement, would soon cycle off the meds and the visions would return. In 2007, caught in the grips of paranoia, he pushed her down the stairs and fatally stabbed her in the eyes — capturing the murder on videotape.
The story of the Uxbridge mother and son is emblematic of the state’s failed policies for treating those with serious mental illness. In a powerful series called “The Desperate and the Dead,” the Globe’s Spotlight team chronicled decades of tepid response, persistent underfunding, and governmental neglect that has thrown mentally ill patients into the streets and left families, police, and ER doctors with an enormous burden of care.
Since 2005, the series reported, more than 10 percent of all state homicides in which a suspect is known were allegedly committed by people with a history of mental illness or its clear symptoms. The Globe built a first-ever database of such cases; the numbers show that over the past 11 years at least 139 people in Massachusetts have died violently at the hands of a person with a diagnosed mental illness, or strong signs of one.
The arc of mental health care was supposed to be different, especially in the Bay State, where Frederick Wiseman’s shocking 1967 documentary, “Titicut Follies,” exposed humiliations inflicted on patients at Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane and prompted pledges for change. State officials moved to shut down mental hospitals, with the aim of placing patients in more humane community clinics. The number of inpatient psychiatric beds in the state declined to 671 as of last year, from a peak of 23,560 in 1953, according to Spotlight.
But that robust system of community care never materialized. State officials slashed funding for inpatient mental health care by more than half from 1994 to 2013, at the same time that some treatment was being farmed out to private companies and nonprofits. But nearly a third of community mental health providers in Massachusetts reported closing clinics from 2013 to 2015, including the sort of intensive programs that could have benefited Nancy Chiero and her son.
Closing the gaps left by the legacy of deinstitutionalization is, front and center, an essential job of government. Cities like San Antonio provide a model, with aggressive funding of a system to handle psychiatric and substance abuse crises and move people from jails and ERs into treatment, Spotlight reports. There are other signs of progress in Massachusetts: In 2015, the state received nearly $1 million in federal seed money intended to establish pilot community clinics. And Governor Charlie Baker’s administration has put $41 million into MassHealth reimbursement rates — as private insurers seem to be fleeing in droves.
Finally, change is needed in state law in order to protect families, friends, and the public from mentally ill patients who pose a danger to others. Massachusetts, with its strong support for civil liberties, is one of only four states without a law that allows courts to compel patients with a history of noncompliance to undergo treatment. Such “assisted outpatient treatment” laws have led to better health outcomes in other states: patients are escorted to settings where they receive required medications. And while psychiatric medications can cause unwanted side effects — and research sometimes seems stuck in another era — they can also be effective in quelling symptoms.
It’s important to note that the vast number of those with mental illness are not violent, and feel stigmatized by any broad-brush approach. But legislators could couple the law with more funding for community clinics, as well as education and training. It could ultimately help patients like Lee Chiero and those who love them.
Nobel Prize winner James Heckman’s research has played an important role in establishing that high-quality public preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds can more than pay for itself over the long term, as low-income children who attend are more likely to live productive lives. It’s an economic argument that has persuaded lawmakers from both parties to support early education initiatives.
Now Heckman has released new research showing that the return on investment is even higher for high-quality programs that care for low-income children from infancy to age 5. Children in such zero-to-five programs are more likely to graduate from high school, less likely to be incarcerated than their counterparts who stayed home or enrolled in low-quality programs, had higher IQs and were healthier during the course of their lives, according to the study released Monday.
All of that taken together leads to a significant savings to society, the study found. The rate of return on the public investment in zero-to-five programs is 13 percent per year, Heckman and his colleagues estimate, up from an estimate of 7 percent to 10 percent per year for preschool programs that start at age 3.
The more comprehensive zero-to-five programs cost about $18,500 per year for each child enrolled — more than the average public school district spends per pupil in grades K through 12. But for every dollar invested, the program generated a societal benefit of $6.30, according to Heckman.
He said the findings suggest that policymakers could make a bigger difference in the lives of poor children with early-childhood education programs that begin far earlier in their lives, when children are just eight weeks old.
“As an economist, I always find it very odd that people only focus on the costs of a program rather than the benefits,” Heckman said. “This is very strong evidence for supporting this kind of program going forward.”
On the heels of our court victory on CBFS just a few weeks ago, I write with disappointing news on the future of state-run Emergency Mental Health and Crisis Intervention Services in the Southeast Region.
On Friday, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued its ruling in our case to stop the privatization of programs in Southeastern Mass, the Cape and Islands, Service Employees International Union Local 509 vs. Auditor of the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, the SJC ultimately deferred to Auditor Bump’s approval of the DMH privatization scheme, despite obvious flaws in the process and the negative impact on area families. Having exhausted our legal options to halt the process outright, it seems this ill-conceived plan will now move forward.
In her statement to reporters this weekend, our union president, Susan Tousignant, blasted the decision — and gave voice to what many of us on the front lines have felt for quite some time:
“Front-line clinicians have been clear in our view that any action that jeopardizes critical care for at-risk families is unconscionable — whether through unnecessary budget cuts or irrational policy initiatives. This holds especially true in a region that has been devastated by the opioid crisis and suicide rates that are four times the rest of the state.
“In deferring to the State Auditor’s illogical decision to allow cuts to vital services, the Supreme Judicial Court has played an unfortunate role in endangering the lives of thousands of children and adults throughout Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands.
“After ignoring months of warnings from front-line crisis clinicians, legislators, and affected families, Governor Baker and Auditor Bump must now accept the repercussions of their shared scheme to slash life-saving mental health and crisis intervention services throughout the Southeast Region.”
Given the significant gaps we all know need to be repaired in our broken mental health system, it remains terribly concerning that the Department has spent so much time and money on this harmful privatization effort. But now we must begin the work of addressing the impact of this unfortunate scheme — both on front-line staff and the communities we serve through our ESP and MCI programs.
Over the next few months, we will meet with DMH officials to discuss their next steps and work to mitigate the effects of any proposed layoffs related to the privatization effort. We are fortunate that our union contract contains strong language that grants employees threatened with layoffs very broad “bumping options” based on seniority. We expect many of the affected front-line workers in the region will be connected with comparable state positions soon.
We will certainly keep everyone posted with updates on our meetings and other available details regarding implementation of this plan. This is a difficulty time for all of us, so please do not hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns in the meantime.
DMH Chapter President
WASHINGTON—SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry issued the following statement on President-elect Trump’s intended nomination of Andrew Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants, to be Secretary of Labor:
“With the intended nomination of Andrew Puzder for Secretary of Labor, President-elect Trump has once again shown how out-of-touch he is with what working Americans need. Working families, including those who elected him, issued a mandate for economic change because they are sick and tired of working longer and harder than ever but still struggling to build a better future for their families. Puzder has proven he doesn’t support working people: he opposes raises to the minimum wage, even though every time Americans have been called to vote for raises on the ballot, they always do.
“Throughout his career, Andrew Puzder has shown he does not believe in the dignity of all work and has used his position to line his own pockets at the expense of workers. In 2012, Puzder made $4.4 million, a full 291 times more than the average food worker. He doesn’t support measures that would help families who work hard build a better life, such as the overtime rule, which would put more money in the pockets of millions of workers for the extra work they do. He wants machines to replace workers because robots ‘never take a vacation’ – even though robots can not ever replace the work that people do. He has stood with Republican congressional leaders who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act – even though his underpaid workers and millions of working Americans depend on it for healthcare.
“Working Americans aren’t fooled by the anti-worker Trump-Puzder vision for America. They know it threatens their ability to have a voice and to provide for their families. That is why millions of American workers continue to come together through the Fight for $15 movement to make President-elect Trump and his administration deal with our economic reality. Together, workers in the Fight for $15 movement have made the kind of economic change America is crying out for by paving the way for 20 million people to get a raise. SEIU members will not back down, we will stay in the streets to fight back against anti-worker extremism and we will not stop until all work in valued and every community in America has the opportunity to thrive.”
The results are in! With all votes tallied, SEIU Local 509 members have elected our next leadership team. Peter MacKinnon will serve as president of our union, alongside Israel Pierre as our treasurer and Ivette Hernandez as our recording secretary. (See below for more details about our many election results.)
Local 509 takes pride in our long-held reputation as a thoroughly democratic union. All members are encouraged to participate by supporting candidates of your choice, submitting amendment proposals, nominating colleagues for leadership positions or running for office yourself.
Nominations for these leadership positions were accepted on October 15 as a record number of human service workers and educators gathered in Westborough for the Local 509 Annual Meeting. In that gathering, we learned more about how we’re building our strength across Massachusetts, met with some of the Commonwealth’s leading elected officials. Dozens of us also stepped up to take action in support of the Fair Share Amendment, Fight for $15, and a host of other important causes.
It has been 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. We look forward to seeing how these leaders will build on recent organizing and contract victories to set a future course for our union and the communities we serve.
Congratulations to our newly elected leadership team!
Candidates will officially be sworn into office at our December 13th JEB meeting held at our union headquarters.
There’s no point in sugar-coating it. We were disappointed with much of the results on November 8. And regardless of how you voted, there’s no doubt the outcome of at least one race or ballot initiative bothered you too. With so many important issues at stake and so many mixed messages sent by voters across the country, we have a lot to think about in the wake of the 2016 election.
One thing is for certain: change is coming, and it’s up to us to make sure our work continues and our communities stay strong in the face of whatever comes next.
So we have to ask ourselves: What kind of state and country do we want to live in? What action are we willing to take to protect the things we value and make change where it’s needed?
No matter what challenges we may face, know that this union will continue to stand up for human service workers, educators and the communities we live in — particularly those who who have been targeted by the disturbing rhetoric of this campaign. We will stand in support of those who feel threatened — whether due to their gender identity, orientation, faith, ethnicity or immigration status. We will stand for public and private sector workers whose right to collectively bargain will no doubt come under attack. We will stand with those fighting for a clean environment, criminal justice reform, economic equality and many other important causes.
In short, we will stand together because we are stronger together.
And we’d like to invite you to an upcoming event where we will begin to chart our course forward:
Friday, January 6
9:00AM to 5:00PM
(meals and translation services provided)
293 Boston Post Road West | Marlborough, MA
Join fellow SEIU members and community allies for a two-day ‘Legislative and Electoral Accountability Training’ January 6th at our office in Marlborough. With the 2016 elections behind us, we now turn our attention to holding elected officials of both parties at all levels of government accountable to an agenda that puts working families first.
We will train attendees on the budget and legislative process, learn best practices on motivating colleagues to take action, hear from elected officials from both major parties, and have an open discussion to help determine issue priorities for the coming year and beyond.
Members will need to use their own time off (personal, vacation, flex, etc.), though our union will be reimburse for lost time/compensation and travel. Translation will be available. Space is limited, so be sure to RSVP today.
Even if these specific dates don’t work for you, there are a host of ways you can become more involved in our union and its initiatives:
Needless to say, this is a critical time for human service workers, educators and the populations we serve. Our combined energy, strength and vision is more important than ever — so please don’t hesitate to contact us with your thoughts and ideas. We look forward to hearing from you!
Thank you for all you do!
With the 2016 nominating meeting behind us, elections for local-wide and chapter offices are now underway. This issue of 509News includes all statements submitted by candidates in contested races. (Statements are printed as written without editing, according to the Local 509 General Election Policies & Procedures) — along with balloting instructions, reports on recent victories and an Annual Meeting recap.
Con las nominaciones atrás de nosotros las elecciones para las posiciones locales de todos los capítulos de nuestra oficina ya están en camino. La noticia de 509 incluye todas las declaraciones de parte de los candidatos quienes se están postulado para una posición política en el sindicado. (Las declaraciones son imprimidas y no son editadas acuerdo a las Pólizas y Procedimientos de la Elecciones Generales del sindicado Local 509) — junto con las instrucciones de la votación, los informes sobre las victorias recientes y una recapitulación de la Reunión Anual.