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Workers at Triangle, Inc. Organizing to Form Union for Better Pay, Lower Turnover, and a Voice and Respect at Work

More than 100 direct care support workers at human service agency Triangle, Inc. are organizing to form a union with SEIU Local 509, calling for better pay, lower turnover, and a voice and respect at work. Today, workers and Local 509 announced they have filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board, with ballots scheduled to be mailed to workers tomorrow.

“Many of the workers here are highly educated and qualified, but our wages are too low to pay the bills, and we don’t have room for advancement. Triangle pays its workers peanuts, so we have to pick up hours elsewhere. Many people work for two or three different agencies just to pay their rent, and we still can’t afford to live in the communities where we work,” said Wycliffe Mulindwa of Woburn, a direct care specialist at Triangle, Inc.’s Reading residential site who helps people with disabilities with their basic needs, administers medicine, and drives individuals to medical appointments and community activities. “We’ve seen the improvements that happen at other agencies when workers form a union. They’re paid more, turnover is reduced, and services for the people they care for improve. I’m supporting the union because we need to see that change here at Triangle.”
The 100+ employees work at employment support and day services sites in Brockton, Malden, Randolph, and Salem, and at group homes in Beverly, Danvers, Malden, Peabody, Reading, and Saugus, supporting individuals who have developmental disabilities. With their current low pay and lack of job security, many workers are forced to work two or three jobs to survive, with some reporting they work more than 100 hours each week. Triangle, Inc. workers are also concerned about how the agency’s high turnover and resulting low staffing levels impact the people with disabilities whom they care for.
“Due to low staffing levels, my coworkers and I are spread thin and have to cover different work sites, doing multiple jobs at once. Juggling varying responsibilities to make up for low staffing takes the focus away from the people we serve, and greatly diminishes the quality of the services we’re able to provide for them,” said Amy Banelis of Lynn, an employment specialist at Triangle, Inc. who works with people with disabilities to teach career readiness, help individuals find jobs in the community, and support them in their jobs. “I’m supporting the union to have a voice in the workplace, to improve wages in order to reduce turnover and improve staffing ratios, and to win workplace protections that only a union can provide.”
SEIU Local 509 represents nearly 20,000 human service workers and educators throughout Massachusetts, including over 6,000 private sector human services workers who serve individuals with disabilities, the elderly, and people living with mental illnesses. Through relentless organizing, months of bargaining, and in some cases, voting to authorize a strike, thousands of 509 private sector human services members have won significantly better wages over the last two years, including minimum wages of $15 an hour at several agencies. Additionally, in the face of increasing anti-immigrant policy, Local 509 won key immigration protections for the diverse workforce at many agencies.
“People with disabilities deserve to live a life of purpose and dignity, just like the rest of us, and the hard-working direct care support staff at Triangle, Inc. help them do so every day,” said Peter MacKinnon, President of SEIU Local 509. “Yet these front-line workers who directly serve the most vulnerable among us are themselves in crisis, and often struggle to get by each week. By coming together in a union, the workers at Triangle, Inc. and other human service providers are using our power in numbers to raise wages, secure a voice in the workplace, improve our jobs, protect our rights and create a better life for ourselves, our families and our communities.”
For Immediate Release 
July 23, 2018
Contact: Andrew Farnitano, Crawford Strategies


SEIU Local 509 represents nearly 20,000 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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Local 509 Workers and CLASS, Inc. Management Reach Settlement to Raise Wages, Avoid Open-Ended Strike


After a long night of bargaining on Friday, SEIU Local 509 members at CLASS, Inc. have reached a settlement with management to raise wages at the Lawrence-based human services agency, and avoid an open-ended strike that was scheduled to begin Monday.
Under the proposed one-year contract, workers will receive a 60-cent wage increase and other contract improvements.
“CLASS, Inc. workers fought hard and won a short-term contract with significant pay increases. We’re glad that we were able to avoid a strike so we can continue to care for the people we serve, but we’re not done organizing for higher wages to address the high staff turnover that impacts their care,” said Tom Baca of Lawrence, who has worked at CLASS, Inc. for six years, currently as a driver. “Since we formed a union in 2014, we’ve shown that every time workers stand together, we win higher wages and better care for the people we serve. This was a win for us and we will continue to be victorious, as we stand united and undeterred.”
“This was a deal worth working late into the night for. I was proud to join SEIU Local 509 members and negotiators last night at the bargaining table with CLASS Inc., and I think the agreement we hashed out as a group after six hours is a victory for both the workers and the people they serve. It’s the product of everyone coming together and having a respectful discussion where all could be heard,” said State Senator Barbara L’Italien, who attended Friday night’s bargaining session. “This is the second year in a row where we have sat down and found a way to produce a deal that increases wages for workers. There is, however, more work to be done, and I look forward to continuing the effort to make sure both workers’ and clients’ needs are met.”
During the week of July 9-13, CLASS, Inc. workers held a five-day strike, with incredibly strong support from the Lawrence community. Throughout the week, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera; State Senator Barbara L’Italien; State Representatives Diana DiZoglio, Juana Matias and Frank Moran; candidates for Governor Jay Gonzalez and Bob Massie; congressional candidates Jeffrey Ballinger, Alexandra Chandler, Beej Das, Rufus Gifford, Dan Koh, Bopha Malone, and Lori Trahan; State Senate candidates Mike Amano, John Drinkwater, Joe Espinola, and Barry Finegold; State Representative candidate Marcos Devers; and dozens of community, faith, and labor allies joined workers on the picket line and called on CLASS, Inc. management to continue bargaining with workers and pay them a fair wage.
SEIU Local 509 members at CLASS, Inc. care directly for clients of the agency, coming into work every day to care for people with disabilities and help them live with dignity. CLASS, Inc. workers formed a union with SEIU Local 509 in 2014 and won an initial contract that included essential workplace protections and significant raises for workers, who were then earning wages as low as $8 an hour. Last year, after a strike vote, workers won a 1-year contract that included an average 5% wage increase. Workers at CLASS, Inc. will continue fighting for a living wage that addresses the high turnover and constant staffing issues that impact the quality of care available to the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable.



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Mass Health Chapter Contract Update


Congratulations MassHealth chapter on having the most up-to-date trainees with our union regarding the Janus Supreme Court case!

Right now, The MassHealth chapter leadership is negotiating with management to implement a phone-free and part-time work week schedule for our members.

Also, MassHealth leaders will be holding member meetings at all offices to educate their members about the contract and the upcoming Supreme Court decision.

Plus, steward elections are coming up this month!

If you have any questions, contact Mass Health Chapter President Carol Butler.

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Tufts Grads Op-Ed: Support graduate workers

Letter to the Editor: Support graduate workers


May 20, 2018

We are the graduate workers at Tufts. As we pursue degrees in our fields, we also work for the university as instructors, TAs and research assistants. We teach and mentor undergraduates, grade exams and papers, write grant proposals and work hand-in-hand with faculty on crucial research. Our long hours keep Tufts running.

Yet despite the work that we do for the university, we struggle to pay rent and access healthcare. According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, a living wage for a single adult in Middlesex County is $29,547 a year, but many graduate workers at Tufts make significantly less than that. Even a small apartment in the area can cost two-thirds of our income. Many of us have to work second and third jobs just to get by. Additionally, our healthcare plan is very limited: we face steep barriers to getting mental healthcare and often have to skip the dentist entirely because it’s too expensive.

Our working conditions are also precarious. Some of us aren’t told what we’re teaching until after the semester begins; this keeps us from adequately preparing for our jobs and giving students the instruction they need. Others face dangerous conditions that the university refuses to fix. For instance, one office used by graduate workers sprung a leak near an electrical outlet; the outlet eventually caught fire, and still, the university took more than a year to stop the leak.

This is why last May, we came together and voted to form our union. We want an end to precarity—enough pay to support ourselves, and the conditions to do our work safely and well.

We are not alone. Since 2016, graduate workers at Harvard, Brandeis and other private universities have also formed unions to fight for better wages, benefits, and working conditions.

Tufts advertises its commitment to inclusion, social justice and active citizenship. But these values ring hollow if the university doesn’t pay its workers a living wage and guarantee them safe and stable working conditions. It’s time for Tufts to recognize that both the university’s brand and continued success depend on a fair union contract for graduate workers.

Click here to link to the Tufts Daily article.

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Congratulations 2018 SEIU 509 Scholarship Winners!


Each year, our SEIU Local 509 Scholarship Program funds 20 educational scholarship awards for fellow members and their dependents. Each of these scholarships range from $1,000 to $1,500 — many awards are based on member’s demonstrated commitment to the union’s growth over the last calendar year. From this pool of qualified applicants, winners are drawn at random. First we contact recipients directly, then we announce the full list here at seiu509.org.

Congratulations to our winners:

James Tremblay, DCF
John Follit Award
Jennifer Renzi, CSO
Linda Silva/Deborah Ann D’lorio
Memorial Award
Lynn Mourao, DCF
Luis Vega Memorial Award
Teresa Vazquez, DCF
Zevorah Bagni Memorial Award
Margarita Ramos,
Family Child Care
Membership Benefit
Insurance Scholarship


Christine Fowle, DMH
Colonial Insurance Scholarship
Donna DiNapoli,
Mass Coalition for the Blind
Membership Benefit Insurance Scholarship
Felicia Morgan, CHL
Ginny Steinberg Award
Maura Synder, DCF
Meredith Miller Memorial Award
Stephen Forcha-Beloa, Bridgewell
& Shea/Prout Award
Jocelina Pires, DDS
Kenneth Gorman
Memorial Award
Frances Ransum-Canning,
Department of Education
Membership Benefit
Insurance Scholarship
Elysa Monseratte, DMH
Colonial Insurance Scholarship
Paula Habersang, CCES
Martin Martinian Memorial Award
Lynette Littles, DMH
Bill Greene Memorial Award
Ruth Dresser, MRC
& Shea/Prout Award
Walter Tetreault, Eliot
Flynn Insurance Scholarship
Deborah Visocchi, DDS/MRC
Colonial Insurance Scholarship
Tiffany Goffer-Fitz, DDS
Officer’s Award
Karl Toth, Brandeis University
Mt. Washington Bank Scholarship


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Brandeis University graduate workers rally for a fair contract

Dozens of Brandeis University graduate student workers rallied on the steps of the campus’ Rabb Graduate Center on Tuesday, May 1, at 12 p.m. to demand that the administration bring them an offer for a fair contract. After over six months of bargaining, the administration hasn’t responded to several of the union’s most important issues, including compensation, benefits, and workload.

The workers spoke about why having a fair contract is so important to them and what has led them to this point. Issues such as food insecurity, safety, and the inability to meet basic needs like housing and transportation were frequently mentioned.

Following their rally, they and their supporters marched to the offices of President Ronald Liebowitz and Provost Lisa Lynch. There, they submitted over 200 cards of support from students and parents, letters written by undergraduates about the role graduate assistants have played in their education, a petition signed by dozens of graduate students, and a letter of support signed by more than 50 Brandeis faculty members. There was one unifying theme behind all of these messages: a demand for a fair contract—now!

Graduate student workers at Brandeis voted overwhelmingly to form a union one year ago. The two sides are scheduled to meet again on Wednesday, May 2, on the anniversary of the union’s election. The workers hope that they will be celebrating a complete and fair contract in the near future.


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Thank you for a successful 2018 Lobby Day!

    On April 11th, SEIU 509 members successfully lobbied at the State House for legislation and budget items that affect our specific chapters, as well as broader issues affecting the working people of Massachusetts.  Specifically, we advocated for GIC health insurance reform, state contract ratification and our $15 minimum wage plus Paid Family & Medical Leave ballot initiatives.  Our Lobby Day actions are critical to getting our legislation passed!
    We thank you for your support and participation! We will keep you updated on our progress with these efforts.  Remember, our voice is stronger when we come together to ask for actions on issues that matter the most to us. Here are some pictures:
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SEIU 509 Higher Education Chapter: Schools Should Be Gun-Free

For Immediate Release

Friday April 20, 2018


Virginia Tech University, Sandy Hook Elementary School, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are the sites of the three deadliest mass shootings in U.S. educational institutions since 2000. Even one student, teacher, administrator, or staff member dead by gun violence on school grounds is too many, but already hundreds have died and scores have been injured. Enough is enough.

As teachers, and teachers of teachers, we, the elected Higher Education Chapter Executive Board representatives of Local 509 of the Service Employees International Union, join the AAUP, AFT, AAC&U, the students of #MarchForOurLives, and many other individuals and groups, in affirming that in these United States guns have no place in classrooms or on college and university campuses. We reject the idea that teachers carrying guns will increase anyone’s safety. Our position is both a workplace issue and a human rights issue.

As a workplace issue, it has three key interrelated dimensions: our ability to fulfill our responsibility to facilitate our students’ learning; our commitment to the unfettered, critical discussion of ideas, a principle of both academic freedom and democracy; and our working conditions. The presence of guns in schools would damage academic exchange, with students and faculty alike fearful of violent reactions to conversations about ideas. Additionally, it would create unsafe working conditions and make unreasonable demands on workers to fulfill duties contrary to our educational mission.

As a human rights issue, sensible gun policies permit students to exercise their right to an education, which has been pursued as policy in the United States since the establishment of our first public schools and is protected under Article 28 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Moreover, we are mindful that, given the deeply entrenched racism of our society, guns in schools will present heightened risk to teachers, students, administrators, and staff of color.

For these reasons, we also endorse the 2015 Statement Opposing ‘Campus Carry’ Laws put forth by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB). We stand behind the Statement, which notes in part: “Colleges and universities closely control firearms and prohibit concealed guns on their campuses because they regard the presence of weapons as incompatible with their educational missions. College campuses are marketplaces of ideas, and a rigorous academic exchange of ideas may be chilled by the presence of weapons.”

As a nation we must protect our educational system from pre-school to university, a system that shapes us and should serve to unite our citizens. We categorically reject the idea of adding guns to our schools and campuses. Sensible gun laws and their careful implementation are overdue.

Norah Dooley

Nina Kammerer

Drew Flanagan

Steve Benson

Eleanor Roffman

Celia Morris

Peter Lert

Melissa Wolter-Gustafson

Laurie LaPorte

Sarah Slavick

Elizabeth Lemons

John Maslanka



Matt Dauphin

SEIU 509 Higher Education Coordinator

(774) 843-7509 x1231


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Department of Revenue members want computer systems fixed

Featured in the Boston Globe, Department of Revenue members want their computer systems fixed to serve families in need. Read more from the Boston Globe:

“[Department of Revenue Chapter President] Foley said the problems with the system have not been fixed, leaving front-line employees in the dark about what steps are being taken to remedy the breakdown.

This year’s glitches, Foley said, are affecting low-income parents, primarily mothers, who have had their child support payments pocketed by the state when they go on welfare, in accordance with state policy. They are eligible to resume collecting child support when they leave the welfare rolls.

But the parents have been not been getting the child support checks they are owed because the computer systems at the Department of Revenue and the Department of Transitional Assistance, which oversees welfare, are not communicating properly, union officials said.

Peter MacKinnon, president of Service Employees International Union Local 509, said he has received e-mails from 100 revenue department workers “overwhelmed with people coming to the offices” to complain about not getting child support after they get off welfare.

“Our concern is . . . that people aren’t getting their money,” MacKinnon said. “At the end of the day, we can bemoan a lousy computer system that needs to be fixed, but this is about families needing income to be able to take care of their kids, and we have a system where people aren’t getting what is owed to them, and that’s not OK.” – Boston Globe


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Celebrating Our Union: A National Day of Action

On February 26th, Local 509 members came together for a national day of action to speak out for good union jobs. In over 600 cities in 23 states, working people across America rose up to defend their freedom to join a strong union for a better life. #WeRise

We had an excellent line-up of presenters and speakers at our six rallies in Boston, Lawrence, Springfield, Worcester, New Bedford & Fall River. Here are some highlights:

SEIU Local 509 President Peter MacKinnon at the U.S. Supreme Court

SEIU 509 President Peter MacKinnon spoke out on the steps of the Supreme Court [Watch 9:00 minutes into the Facebook Live Video].  Our Supreme Court legal brief was mentioned in the Boston Globe.

MacKinnon stated that through unions: “[w]e have the power to come together and win for working families. When unions are strong, our communities are strong .”


SEIU Local 509 News Coverage

Our actions were featured in the Boston Globe, Fall River Herald News, Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, Telemundo Boston, Worcester Magazine & Detroit News.

SEIU Local 509 Event Photos:

Here are some event photos. Check out our Facebook page for more photos:






It is inspiring to see SEIU 509 members join together to support our unions for dignity and respect on the job. We thank our members and partners who made the six rallies possible.


Leoule Goshu



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