509 News

Media Contact:

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

CliniciansUNITED Applauds Senate Action to Limit Insurance “Clawbacks”

Senate unanimously adopts Sen. Rodrigues’ amendment to limit insurance company clawbacks for mental health treatment

BOSTON, MA – Today, private mental health clinicians organized through SEIU Local 509’s CliniciansUNITED campaign lauded the Senate’s unanimous passage of amendment 143, which would limit retroactive claims denials by insurance companies. The passage of Senator Rodrigues’ amendment comes after hundreds of clinicians lobbied and contacted their senators to demand action on this unfair billing practice.

Currently, insurance companies can recoup their payments to a clinician months, or even years, after a therapy session takes place and is paid for, even though therapists secure prior approval from health insurance companies before treating their patients, and then adhere to billing deadlines (usually 60 or 90 days after each session takes place). No similar deadline exists for insurance companies. As a result, companies have demanded that private mental health clinicians pay back thousands of dollars for services rendered years ago in good faith.

The financial burden and uncertainty created by unlimited clawbacks has a chilling effect on therapists and is a limiting factor on their ability to treat patients. More and more clinicians are choosing to leave insurance panels because they find the requirements, the reimbursement rates, and retroactive claims denials too difficult to accept. If there are fewer therapists accepting insurance, people seeking mental health and substance abuse services have a harder time finding qualified therapists to work with at fees they can afford.

“As a clinician with a growing small business, I take pride in our practice’s commitment to accepting insurance for mental health treatment,” said Jen Erbe Leggett, LICSW, who runs a private practice in Roslindale. “Clawbacks and other insurance company practices can make it extraordinarily difficult for providers to accept insurance and families to get the care they need. Today, the Senate took an important step toward ensuring access to quality, affordable mental health care in Massachusetts.”

SEIU Local 509 formed CliniciansUNITED to influence public and private policies that directly impact the vital services clinicians provide in communities statewide, from Medicaid rates to insurance panels. CliniciansUNITED has empowered clinicians in private practice across the state to come together to address the crisis in affordable mental health care. Earlier this year, clinicians testified before the Joint Committee on Financial Services about the need to address insurance clawbacks.

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CliniciansUNITED is a multidisciplinary group of behavioral health clinicians who are associate members of the Massachusetts Human Service Workers Union, SEIU Local 509. Together, we are fighting to ensure each and every Bay State resident has access to quality, affordable mental health services — and to bring about the fair reimbursement policies and practices needed to make universal access possible.

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Workers at Human Service Options win major settlement

On the eve of a planned four-day strike at Human Service Options (HSO), SEIU Local 509 released the following statement:
“After a late-breaking settlement with HSO management, members of Local 509 at HSO will work on Friday as scheduled. The planned four-day strike is cancelled as workers at HSO have reached a tentative agreement with management after a long, hard-fought campaign to improve working conditions at the agency. The tentative three-year agreement (subject to ratification by union membership) includes significant raises of 3 percent each year of the contract, in addition to other key provisions that will improve the quality of care HSO clients receive. 
 
“We all agree that individuals with disabilities deserve the chance to live with dignity. The fact remains that workers at HSO and at similar agencies across the state too often struggle to make ends meet doing this incredibly important work.
 
“HSO workers decided to go on strike to fight for their clients and stand up for what’s right, and this win is a testament to their bravery.”

South Shore agency is one of the only for-profit companies receiving state funding to serve individuals with disabilities

WEYMOUTH — SEIU Local 509 members at Human Service Options (HSO) will be on strike this Friday through Tuesday morning of next week, following stalemated contract negotiations with HSO. Members of the union at HSO overwhelmingly voted to approve the strike and delivered management two weeks ago with the legally required notice of their intent to strike. Workers, community leaders, activists, and local elected officials will be on the picket line during the four-day strike.

The strike comes as nearly 200 direct care workers at the agency have been fighting to improve the quality of care at one of the only for-profit agencies of its kind in the state. HSO, which is primarily funded through the state Department of Disability Services, has been profitable in recent years and company executives are paid an above average salary. Yet the agency’s workforce is one of the lowest-paid in the state, with many of its workers receiving poverty wages to do important, difficult work caring for individuals with disabilities.

WHERE: 536 Broad Street, Weymouth

WHEN: 9-6pm, Friday 11/3 – Monday, 11/7 

COMMUNITY RALLY: 12PM Friday, November 3

HSO is putting profits over people — clients and workers alike — and we are ready to go on strike to improve the quality of care the agency offers the people we serve,” said Louise Ricciardi, who has worked at HSO for over twenty years. 

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 HSO call (413) 374-6370.

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Job Opening: Director of Field Services for SEIU Local 509

Director of Field Services for SEIU Local 509

SEIU Local 509 is a fast growing, progressive union representing 20,000 workers.  Our members are organized into 4 divisions: state workers, private human service workers, family childcare providers and higher education faculty.  The Director of Field Services Director is responsible for directing and coordinating the work of the 4 divisions, and developing a unified and coordinated field plan.

Primary job duties include:

  • Responsible for developing bargaining campaigns
  • Responsible for developing a unified field campaign across divisions
  • Develops programs for Member Leadership Development.
  • Coordinates field representative activity with other components of the Local Union such as organizing,  politics, finance and administrative
  • Chairs bargaining committees and interim bargaining efforts.
  • Consults with and advises chapter leadership regarding chapter issues, strategies and tactics, and problem solving
  • Monitors to ensure compliance & time limits.
  • Maintains liaison with various agency personnel to facilitate problem solving on all levels.
  • Coordinates communication and protocols with the MARC, Member Action Resource Center
  • Responsible for unfair labor practice charges
  • Meets with management to discuss various issues.
  • Attends membership, chapter and local meetings
  • Responds to member concerns and complaints
  • Performs related work as required.
  • Evaluates work performance.

 

QUALIFICATIONS:

Must have least 10 years of Union Organizer/Field Representative work of which at least five must be in a supervisory role.

Must possess good written and oral communication skills and have the ability to work in stressful situations.

Must be willing to work long hours, travel both in and out of state, and work on weekends and evenings.

A good knowledge of contract interpretation, knowledge of state and federal laws applicable to employment.

Excellent computer skills are essential.

 

SUPERVISION RECEIVED

Under direct supervision of President/Executive Director or his/her designee

 

SUPERVISION EXCERCISED

Responsible for supervision of management staff in Higher Education, Childcare and Private Human Services, as well as lead internal organizers in the state worker division.

 

Resumes should be sent to: jobapplication@seiu509.org by November 10, 2017

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On Eve of Strike, Tufts University Part-Time Faculty win contract settlement with administration

Faculty & students were scheduled to walk out tomorrow in a massive strike action

Five-year agreement between part-time faculty union and Tufts University improves wages and teaching conditions for approximately 240 Lecturers

MEDFORD, MA – One day before a massive faculty walkout, part-time faculty at Tufts University reached a tentative agreement on their second contract with the administration. SEIU Local 509 represents 240 part-time lecturers at Tufts, ever since they voted to unionize in April 2014. After seven months of negotiations between the administration and the faculty union, the proposed five-year contract achieves fairer pay, better job security, more paid professional development opportunities, and other benefits.

The tentative agreement is hard won; today’s settlement was achieved after public pressure on the Tufts administration to reach a fair contract and the imminent threat of tomorrow’s massive walkout. At the end of September, the part-time faculty union announced their intention to walk out on October 11, with the support of other Tufts faculty, students, alums, and community allies. The same day they announced their plans, Tufts students rallied in support of the faculty to demand that the administration come to the table with a fair contract proposal.

Among the historic gains in the contract, highlights include:

  • Significant pay increases: Over half of the part-time faculty will see a raise of 22.5% over the life of the contract. Others will receive a minimum 12.5% pay increase during this contract.

  • Job Security and Professional Courtesy: There will be stronger provisions governing the review and appointment process. Faculty will receive earlier notification if their contract will not be renewed, giving them adequate time to find other employment.

  • Professional Development: Tufts will expand the eligibility criteria to improve access to fund for paid professional development opportunities for faculty.

“I feel very proud of Tufts for recognizing the dignity of our work and its importance to the teaching mission of the University. I am honored to be a part of this community that came together in support of part-time faculty,” said Tanya Larkin, Part-Time Lecturer in English at Tufts University.

“This contract would not be possible without the support of students and the community. The Tufts community submitted over 600 letters to President Monaco. Tufts students rallied and marched in support of a fair faculty contract. By coming together with us, they helped make gains toward fair compensation and just treatment for Tufts part-time faculty,” added Elizabeth Lemons, part-time faculty in Religion at Tufts University.

The tentative agreement at Tufts University is subject to a ratification vote by members of the union. To arrange interviews with faculty involved in contract bargaining, contact Christie Stephenson at (413) 374-6370 or cstephenson@seiu509.org.

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Averting Strike, Boston University Lecturers win contract settlement with BU administration

Three-year agreement between lecturers’ union and BU improves wages and teaching conditions for more than 250 Lecturers
Attention shifts to Tufts University, where adjunct faculty will walk out October 11 for a fair contract

BOSTON, MA – Days before a massive faculty walkout, lecturers and instructors at Boston University (BU) reached a historic tentative agreement on their first contract with the BU administration. Over 250 lecturers at the university are members of SEIU Local 509, having won their union in April 2016. After a year of negotiations between the administration and the lecturers’ union, the proposed three-year contract achieves fairer pay, better job security, paid professional development opportunities, and other major benefits.

The tentative agreement is hard won after a year of bargaining, and after the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against BU for an Unfair Labor Practice. Today’s settlement was achieved amid building public pressure on the BU administration to reach a fair contract. Lecturers announced their intention to walk out in an Unfair Labor Practice strike on October 11, with the support of other BU faculty, students, alums, and community allies.

Among the historic gains in the contract, highlights include:

  • Significant pay increases: All lecturers will see pay increases in every year of the contract. The lowest-paid lecturers will see the greatest increases. On average, union members will receive a 15% pay increase in the first year.

  • Income Security: Lecturers will have their across-the-board raises guaranteed every year.

  • Professional Development: BU will create a fund for paid professional development opportunities for lecturers. BU will also create a significant fund to recognize lecturers with distinguished service, in conjunction with the union, beginning in September 2018.

“Lecturers and instructors are the heart of teaching and learning at Boston University, and our compensation and treatment directly impact the student experience here,” said Jessica Bozek, senior lecturer in the writing program at BU. “Today’s win is the result of years of work to make sure BU values its teaching faculty.”

“By coming together as a union, we have built a better understanding of our colleagues’ working conditions across departments and disciplines. This contract is a clear way to make sure all of us are compensated and treated fairly,” added Seaghan McKay, Lecturer in BU’s School of Theatre.

Though a strike was averted at Boston University, plans for a massive faculty walk out at Tufts University on October 11 continue. Adjunct faculty at Tufts are renegotiating their agreement with the administration, in an effort to secure fair pay and job security. Today, during contract bargaining, Tufts students rallied in support of adjunct faculty and to demand that the administration come to the table with a fair contract proposal.

 

The tentative agreement at Boston University is subject to a ratification vote by members of the union. To arrange interviews with faculty involved in contract bargaining, contact Christie Stephenson at (413) 374-6370 or cstephenson@seiu509.org.

 

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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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Thank you for participating in the 2017 Annual Meeting!

Thank you for participating in the 2017 SEIU Local 509 Annual Meeting!
At the 2017 Annual Meeting, we celebrated our important wins, learned about the challenges ahead, and plotted our course for the future:
  • Heard how we are building our strength across Massachusetts
  • Reconnected with union brothers & sisters and met new colleagues working across the state in human services and education
  • Learned 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 marked 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.
We have a great deal to be proud of at Local 509, and an incredibly bright future ahead. 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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