Committees

Member Committees of SEIU Local 509

SHNS | Study Examines State Spending on Employee Health Insurance

The average per-employee monthly premium for coverage of state government employees in the United States was $963 in 2013, according to a study of state spending on employee coverage, which pegged the average in Massachusetts at $1,089.

The study, by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the MacArthur Foundation, was released Tuesday with its authors hoping to inform public policy debates and decisions with new information. The study’s authors told reporters in a conference call Tuesday that management of state employee health benefits affects the fiscal health of states, the ability to recruit and retain employees, and the physical, mental and financial well being of workers.

The study found the average employer premium contribution percentage across 49 states at 84 percent, with the average state employee premium contribution percentage at 16 percent. In Massachusetts, that split was 75 percent employer and 25 percent employee. The average total premium across the states for employees plus dependents was $1,238, compared to $1,418 in Massachusetts.

States collectively spent $30.8 billion to insure 2.7 million employee households in 2013.

 

Other Resources:
Read the full study on State Employee Health Plan Spending via Pew Charitable Trust.
Learn more about state employee benefits through the Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission.

Leave a comment

SEIU State Council Endorses Warren Tolman for Mass. Attorney General

SEIU State Council Endorses Warren Tolman for Massachusetts Attorney General

State’s most politically active labor organization hails veteran legislator as a strong ally of working families

BOSTON – One of the largest grassroots labor organizations in Massachusetts, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), today announced its endorsement of Warren Tolman in the race for Attorney General.

“Working families have an incredibly strong ally in Warren Tolman,” said Cliff Cohn of SEIU Local 509, who serves as President of the SEIU Massachusetts State Council. “Whether it is fighting for a higher minimum wage, expanding healthcare access, or advocating for affordable housing, Warren Tolman has always put workers first – and SEIU is proud to endorse him for Attorney General.”

Representing nearly 90,000 healthcare and human service workers, educators, security officers, janitors and others across the Bay State, SEIU is a democratic union with an endorsement process driven by its members.

“The healthcare workers of SEIU are excited to be part of this endorsement, not only because of Warren Tolman’s track record on labor issues – such as raising the minimum wage and earned sick time – but also because of his pro-active consumer protection and anti-violence initiatives,” said Veronica Turner, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and Secretary-Treasurer of the SEIU State Council.

Tolman had previously been a paid advisor to the healthcare workers of 1199SEIU during several campaigns, including efforts to improve the quality of life for caregivers and patients in Massachusetts hospitals, nursing homes, and home care programs.

The SEIU Massachusetts State Council is a representative body of leaders who have been democratically elected by the membership to represent their Local and workers in their respective industries. The council includes SEIU Locals 1199, 32BJ, 509, 888, Chapter 3FO and the Committee of Interns & Residents

# # # 

- See more at: http://www.1199seiu.org/seiu_state_council_endorses_warren_tolman_for_massachusetts_attorney_general#sthash.TKKklggC.dpuf

Leave a comment

2014-15 SEIU Local 509 Scholarship Details & Application

The SEIU Local 509 Scholarship Program funds educational scholarship awards for members and their dependents. Dependents are defined as children of members, or children under direct care of the member — such as a grandchild or foster child.  Apply by June 1, 2014.

Leave a comment

Boston Globe | Not your grandpa’s labor union

Not Your Grandpa's Union ImageThe Ideas section of April 6th’s Boston Globe took on the challenges and opportunities presented by our 21st century workforce — a landscape where traditional employer-employee relationships have become more exception than norm. Author Leon Neyfakh details a host of new initiatives that aim to organize workers in this new reality, including those of healthcare professionals, adjunct professors and service industry subcontractors.

From the Neyfakh’s ‘Not your grandpa’s labor union’:

Unionization efforts have also been successful among some graduate students and medical residents, who have had to convince the institutions they work for to recognize them as employees, rather than categorize their teaching or hospital work as merely educational. Adjunct professors, who have been able to find only low-paying freelance teaching jobs after finishing degrees, have also formed unions recently. Meanwhile, the large number of doctors who in recent years have effectively gone from business-owners to employees after selling or leasing once-independent practices to hospitals are being targeted for recruitment by the Union of American Physicians and Dentists…

…In all these cases, labor experts say, what we’re seeing is evidence of a struggle to establish clarity about what constitutes employment, and an effort to reduce the ambiguity surrounding the relationship between workers and the entities that wield power over them. That is what’s happening with fast-food workers, who have been striking for higher wages since last December, and who have been told by industry executives to address their grievances to the owners of the individual franchises that employ them. Organizers counter that franchise workers should be recognized as employees of the parent companies, instead; if they were, they could potentially organize on a much larger scale.

Leave a comment

SEIU President: Supreme Court grants billionaires even greater political power

 After the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in McCutcheon vs. FEC, Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:

“This ruling is an unwelcome sequel to the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United which will further erode the ability of 99 percent of our citizens to meaningfully participate in the political process and to have their voices heard in the governance of our country. Today, in a 5-4 ruling, a majority of the Court twists the freedoms guaranteed under our cherished First Amendment to use them as a sword to further undermine the foundations of our democracy. In Citizens United the Court ruled that corporations can freely use their amassed resources to drown out the voices of real people in the political process. With today’s decision, the Court has eliminated the long-standing limitation on the ability of billionaires to buy the gratitude and loyalty of elected officials with a blizzard of separate campaign contributions to candidates and political party organizations. Taken together, these two decisions will effectively drown out the voices of working people in the political process and deny them access to their elected officials. To a Supreme Court which equates speech with money, only the voices of the rich are entitled to protection under the First Amendment.

“This is a disappointing opinion that puts the underlying values of our democratic system at risk.”

Read the New York Times’ take on the McCutcheon decision here.

Leave a comment

SIGN ON TODAY: Our Open Letter to DCF Commissioner Olga Roche

DCF Colleagues,

It’s no secret that front-line workers at the Department of Children & Families have faced unprecedented challenges in recent weeks. From ever-increasing caseloads to disjointed and inconsistent directives, the critical work we do has grown more difficult with each passing day.

While initial steps have been taken to address issues related to staffing shortfalls and technology deficiencies, it has become clear to those of us on the front lines that change has not come quickly enough. Even worse, many of the systemic problems that we have collectively raised for months — or years, in some cases — continue to go unaddressed.

Commissioner Roche and her management team need to understand just how severe these challenges have become – and they need to hear it directly from us, the front-line workers who are charged with protecting the safety of at-risk children.

That’s why we’re circulating this formal sign-on letter. With your help, we’ll be able to put in writing the concerns front-line workers have expressed across the Commonwealth — in a format that can’t be ignored.

There are three ways to sign on to the letter to Commissioner Roche:

  1. Download a paper copy, print and sign the third page along with your co-workers.
  2. Catch up with a Union Steward in your office. Stewards are circulating paper copies of the letter this week for signature.
  3. Comments Off

TAKE ACTION: Stop the closure of North Adams Regional Hospital

North Adams Regional HospitalNorth Adams Regional Hospital, a cornerstone of healthcare access for many Western Massachusetts families and residents for 129 years, is facing imminent closure.

This is a public health crisis — a matter of life and death for the impacted communities whose residents could lose access to emergency hospital services. The area of North Adams has a high poverty rate (22%) and many residents lack access to the reliable transportation they would need to drive up to an hour to the nearest emergency room.

Healthcare workers and community members — including our brothers and sisters at 1199 SEIU — are calling on state officials to immediately intervene and protect the vital, cost-effective services provided by North Adams Regional Hospital. The loss of 530 jobs will deal a critical blow to the area economy. This is a devastating development for patients and workers alike. This closure is unacceptable.

Click here to sign the petition to save North Adams Regional Hospital

Leave a comment

SATURDAY, MARCH 15: SEIU Massachusetts Governor’s Election Forum

Leave a comment

Lesley Adjunct Faculty Vote ‘Union YES,’ Join Adjunct Action/SEIU

Adjunct Action Boston LogoLesley University Adjunct Faculty Vote to Form Union, Join Colleagues at Tufts in Adjunct Action/SEIU

Lesley University adjunct faculty have resoundingly voted to form a union in Adjunct Action, a project of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The victory marks the second time in five months that adjunct faculty at Boston-area universities have formed a union to improve their profession and the quality of education.

Adjuncts teaching across Lesley’s four campuses stood together and overwhelmingly supported a union on campus by voting 359 to 67 to join SEIU.  The votes for the all-mail ballot election were counted at the Boston office of the National Labor Relations Board on Monday.

The win reflects an 84 percent vote in favor of forming a union – a landslide victory for adjuncts, and the entire Lesley community. Matthew White graduated from and now teaches graphic design at Lesley. He said, “Teaching is a passion for me.  Seeing students transform their ways of thinking and doing is what it’s all about.  With part-time faculty making up the majority of faculty, our working conditions are directly related to student success and that’s why I’m excited about forming our union today. Our union will help Lesley University provide students a richer experience and better education. “

This shift to a contingent faculty workforce in higher education has been dramatic. In the early 1970s, almost 80 percent of faculty were tenured or on the tenure track. Today, only 33 percent of faculty remain in tenured or tenure-track jobs. As a result, being a university professor, once the quintessential middle class job, has become a low wage one where instructors face low pay and no benefits or job security. Many do not even have access to basic facilities like office space, making it increasingly difficult for adjuncts to do their best for their students.

Lesley adjunct instructor Shira Karman said, “We, the adjunct faculty at Lesley, voted to form our union to be seen and respected as a vital part of the Lesley community.   Today marks a new day for us and the Lesley community.  I’m thankful for the heartening support from all corners of campus; full-time faculty, students, alumni and our local elected officials who stood with us as we voted to form our union.”

Over the past few months, adjunct and part-time faculty from coast to coast have engaged in conversations about forming their own union to raise standards for private, non-profit universities. Tufts University part-time faculty voted to join SEIU in September 2013 and are currently bargaining their first contract.  In December, adjunct faculty at Whittier College in Los Angeles voted to form a union with Adjunct Action.  Last Thursday, contingent faculty at Seattle University in Washington State filed an election petition with the NLRB.

The efforts to form unions come on the heels of victories by part-time professors in the Washington, D.C. area. There, contingent faculty significantly improved their pay, job security, benefits and working conditions after forming a union with SEIU.

Lesley adjuncts are joining a national movement to address the crisis in higher education where jobs are increasingly low wage and part time even while revenues and profits are increasing. Lesley adjunct Norah Dooley said, “Lesley is exceptional in the way it cares for its students as human beings. As an Alumna of Lesley, I love my alma mater yet I wish Lesley was equally as exceptional in its treatment of its adjunct faculty.  Teaching one course at Lesley does not even cover the costs of health insurance for me and my family during the 13 week semester.  While the crisis in higher education is complex, it is not intractable. Our overwhelming “yes” vote to form our union with SEIU/Adjunct Action is a great start on a solution. Adjuncts are raising standards not just for adjuncts and not just for Lesley. I truly believe we are raising the bar for all in higher education. Alumni like me want to see Lesley University take a leadership role in this movement.”

###

Adjunct Action is a project of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation’s largest and fastest growing union and home to over 18,000 unionized college and university teaching faculty who have won improvements in pay, job security, evaluation processes, and access to retirement benefits. For more information, visit www.adjunctaction.org.

Leave a comment

Boston Globe | The Invisible Professor

Adjunct Op-Ed ImageIn Sunday’s Boston Globe, Jay Atkinson lays bare the ‘Walmartization’ of higher education in the US, where reliance on a low-paid, no-benefit adjunct workforce has become pervasive at top colleges and universities:

“Adjuncts are referred to as ‘part-time,’ but that’s a misnomer. To make a living, adjuncts often work for abysmal pay at several colleges during the same term, without medical or retirement benefits, decent office space, or compensation for attending academic seminars or faculty meetings.”

Jay’s point is echoed by thousands of fellow faculty members who have gained a voice on the job through SEIU’s Adjunct Action efforts, which have steadily gained momentum in the Boston area in recent months. Here’s why: out of the 58 four-year private colleges in Greater Boston, 67% of the educators are classified as adjunct faculty.

So as tuition continues to skyrocket at most leading institutions, one has to ask: if the money doesn’t go to the classroom, where does it go?

Read the full Boston Globe piece here.
Follow Adjunct Action on Facebook and Twitter.

Leave a comment