Committees

Member Committees of SEIU Local 509

Somerville Journal | Disparities in work and pay at Vinfen

Disparities in work and pay at Somerville group home overseer

By Danielle McLean

SOMERVILLE - While the people tasked with caring for clients at Vinfen’s group homes earn not much more than minimum wage and have frequent turnover, the non-profit’s upper management is earning six-figure salaries.
 
Vinfen’s staffing policies have come under question after Allen Harmon, a resident at the organization’s group home at 155 Central St., was charged with sexual assault and attempted murder after he reportedly attacked a woman in the B’nai Brith parking lot up the road last month. The victim in the alleged assault has sued Vinfen for $5 million in damages, claiming the company’s negligence led to her assault, and residents in the Winter Hill neighborhood had long complained about issues at the home.
 
Vinfen officials told the Journal that low wages – about $12.75 per hour – for counselors are due to the non-profit’s contract with the state Department of Mental Health, the state organization whose referrals account for nearly all of Vinfen’s more than $100 million income. Senior Vice President of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Susan Abbott said Vinfen has not had a structural cost-of-living adjustment to their contract with the state Department of Mental Health since 1988.
 

“As in any company, the lower people are paid, the less likely they are to stay. I don’t think we are unusual in that,” Abbott said. “Turnover is an issue for us and low wages is the cause.”

But a Journal review of Vinfen training and employment documents from 2011 show the company only requires high school or GED diplomas for its counselors, who are required to escort, restrain, evaluate, resuscitate clients, who can include convicted criminals with psychiatric disabilities. Several pages of one training document urge employees not to unionize.
 
State Representative Denise Provost said councilors earn less than what she pays people to clean her house and questioned the company’s pay structure.
 

“The rate of pay is inadequate. What is the most efficient way to house and provide services for the population served by the Department of Mental Health? I don’t know,” Provost said. “It’s clear we are not going to go back to confining people in hospitals but I would be interested in seeing how the cost of operating the system is broken down.”

 
Minimal experience, big responsibilities
According to Vinfen training documents obtained by the Journal, group home councilors are charged with a wide-range of responsibilities that essentially dictate the well being of the residents, some of whom have long criminal histories such as Harmon. The documents said councilors are responsible for giving clients medications, transporting clients, giving first aide and CPR, dealing with sexually active clients and protecting their basic human rights.
 
Documents also said counselors are tasked with helping administer individual support plans for clients, which outlines their goals and vision for their future. Abbott told the Journal those employees are trained to react the same way when a client presents a risk, regardless of their criminal history.
 
But according to Vinfen documents, the training job requirements for Vinfen group home residential counselors are a high school diploma or GED, and six months of experience in some capacity in the mental health field is preferred but not required. The training documents said no mental health experience is required or preferred for staff members tasked with watching group homes at night, however they are required to have a Massachusetts drivers license and a “good” driving record for three years.
 
What is not preferred, though, is union representation. Vinfen orientation materials from 2011 urged new hires not to sign a union card, citing large union dues, potentially losing the right vote on union representation, and possibly being forced to go on strike. It also said if the workers unionize, jobs or programs could be cut.
 
Jason Stephany, spokesman for the Massachusetts Human Service Workers Union, which represents human service workers, said the rate of $12.75 an hour amounts to a “poverty wage.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the federal poverty income threshold for a four-family household in 2013 was slightly less than $23,834 per year. At $12.75 per hour, full-time Vinfen employees earn $25,500 per year before taxes, which is slightly above the poverty level.
 

“Front line human service workers are caring for some of the most vulnerable and at risk populations in the commonwealth,” Stephany told the Journal. “We need to ensure that their compensation, their benefits, and the policies and procedures that are in place, recognize the valuable services these individuals provide for the community.”

 
More money at the top
Vinfen executives, on the other hand, earn six-figure salaries. According to figures compiled by state Representative James Lyons of Andover, CEO Bruce Bird earned $353,151 in 2013, its former Treasurer Yi J. Jung earned $227,151, and Psychiatrist Kenneth Duckworth earned $205,943. Abbott earned $170,358 in 2013.
 
Michael Weekes, president and CEO of the Boston-based Providers Council of Health and Human Service Providers Inc. told the Journal the state covers $163,682 of employee’s salaries. The rest is covered by non-state related revenues. Vinfen did not immediately respond to questions from the Journal asking how the remaining amount of Bird’s salary is funded.
 
The Providers Council is a human service trade association, which Vinfen is a member of. Weekes said employee salaries are decided by the company’s board of directors and comparable to similar positions at other organizations. He said the salary levels of non-profit employees are subject the IRS and state Attorney General’s office review.

Weekes said paying direct care staff higher wages is not tangible, due to a lack of funding by the state. He said a state law passed in 2008 was supposed to provide additional state funds to service providers such as Vinfen, which would help boost salaries. But he said the state has been slow in implementing the law.

Human service providers with the state, “Have historically been low and confining and been restricting service providers across Massachusetts in providing salaries that are truly sufficient wages for the direct care workforce.”

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Mass. Residents Overwhelmingly Vote ‘YES on 4′ for Earned Sick Time!

YesOn4_300pThe Yes on Question 4 coalition issued the following statement about Question 4, which was approved by Massachusetts voters November 4 — and will ensure access to earned sick time for hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts families.

“Ted Kennedy said that ‘no one should have to choose between the job they need and the family they love.’ With passage of earned sick time, no parent in Massachusetts will be forced to choose between going to work to put food on the table and staying home to take care of a sick child. No worker will risk losing their job because they need to see a doctor.

This vote shows that the people of Massachusetts fundamentally believe that the ability to care and provide for themselves and family members is a right, not a privilege. Earned sick time will help small businesses succeed by making employees healthier and more productive, and will keep money in the hands of consumers who spend it in their neighborhoods, helping grow our local economies. For the almost one million workers in Massachusetts who today can’t take a single day of paid sick time, this vote is a major victory.”

When it takes effect on July 1, 2015, Question 4 will guarantee every worker in Massachusetts access to the benefit of earned sick time, and prohibit employer retaliation against workers who take time off due to illness.

  • At companies with 10 or fewer employees, workers will earn up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time to visit the doctor or take care of a sick family member.
  • At companies with 11 or more employees, workers will earn up to 40 hours of paid sick time.

Along with SEIU Local 509, Question 4 was supported by over 250 community organizations, religious groups, labor unions, businesses, and civic leaders, including the state’s leading hospitals and healthcare providers and the Alliance for Business Leadership — a group of 200 business leaders.

 

Raise Up Massachusetts, a coalition of more than 100 community organizations, religious groups, and labor unions, collected more than 360,000 signatures to put Question 4 and a minimum wage increase on the ballot. In June, the Legislature passed and Governor Patrick signed legislation giving Massachusetts the highest minimum wage in the country. Raise Up Massachusetts then led the campaign to ensure access to earned sick time for all workers in the Commonwealth by passing Question 4.

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2014 General Election Endorsements

Believe it or not, General Election Day is today — and the outcome of this race will have a major impact on the issues that matter most to important to human service workers and educators. It’s important that each and every one of us get out and vote!

To help inform these important decisions, the Local 509 Committee on Political Education (COPE) spent several weeks interviewing many of the candidates who will appear on the November 4th ballot. Members questioned incumbents and challengers alike on their stances on issues ranging from social service caseloads and earned sick time to collective bargaining and private sector wages. Based on these face-to-face interviews, candidate questionnaires and voting records, COPE has endorsed a host of workers’ rights champions for offices up and down the ballot. 


For polling locations, voting information and to view which races are on the ballot in your neighborhood, type in your home address at www.wheredoivotema.com.

Local 509 Endorsements:
Statewide
MA House
MA Senate

Check out the current Legislature’s voting record on the issues that matter to 509 members:
MA House Legislative Scorecard
MA Senate Legislative Scorecard


STATEWIDE ELECTION ENDORSEMENTS

Martha Coakley Headshot_rs

Governor

Martha Coakley

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Kerrigan_200p
Lieutenant Governor

Steve Kerrigan

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Healey Headshot_rs

Attorney General

Maura Healey

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

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MA HOUSE ELECTION ENDORSEMENTS

 

Alphabetical by Last Name

509 Support Grade

Rep. Denise

Andrews

100%

Rep. James

Arciero

87%

Rep. Brian

Ashe

100%

Rep. Cory

Atkins

100%

Rep. Bruce

Ayers

88%

Rep. Ruth

Balser

100%

Christine

Barber

NA

Rep. Carlo

Basile

94%

Doug

Belanger

NA

Rep. Jennifer

Benson

100%

Rep. John

Binienda

95%

Rep. Garrett

Bradley

96%

Rep. Michael

Brady

100%

Rep. Paul

Brodeur

100%

Rep. Antonio

Cabral

100%

Rep. Tom

Calter

89%

Rep. Linda Dean

Campbell

84%

Rep. James

Cantwell

93%

Rep. Gailanne

Cariddi

100%

Rep. Evandro

Carvalho

100%

Matthew

Castriotta

NA

Rep. Tackey

Chan

100%

Rep. Nick

Collins

100%

Rep. Edward

Coppinger

100%

Rep. Michael

Costello

100%

Rep. Claire

Cronin

100%

Rep. Daniel

Cullinane

100%

Rep. Sean

Curran

84%

Rep. Mark

Cusack

100%

Rep. Josh

Cutler

100%

Michael

Day

NA

Rep. Marjorie

Decker

100%

Rep. Robert

DeLeo

100%

Rep. Brian

Dempsey

96%

Rep. Marcos

Devers

100%

Rep. Stephen

DiNatale

95%

Rep. Diana

DiZoglio

100%

Rep. Daniel

Donahue

100%

Rep. Paul

Donato

96%

Michelle

DuBois

NA

Keavin

Duffy, Jr.

NA

Rep. James

Dwyer

94%

Rep. Carolyn

Dykema

94%

Rep. Lori

Ehrlich

94%

Rep. Chris

Fallon

88%

Rep. Tricia

Farley-Bouvier

100%

Rep. Robert

Fennell

92%

Rep. John

Fernandes

94%

Rep. Ann-Margaret

Ferrante

100%

Christopher

Finn

NA

Rep. Michael

Finn

100%

Rep. Carole

Fiola

100%

Rep. Gloria

Fox

100%

Rep. William

Galvin

100%

Rep. Sean

Garballey

100%

Rep. Denise

Garlick

100%

Rep. Colleen

Garry

83%

Rep. Thomas

Golden

96%

Rep. Kenneth

Gordon

100%

Rep. Danielle

Gregoire

100%

Beverly Ann

Griffin-Dunne

NA

Rep. Patricia

Haddad

100%

Rep. Jonathan

Hecht

100%

Rep. Paul

Heroux

100%

Ari

Herzog

NA

Rep. Kate

Hogan

100%

Rep. Russell

Holmes

100%

Rep. Kevin

Honan

100%

Rep. Daniel

Hunt

100%

Rep. Louis

Kafka

100%

Rep. Jay

Kaufman

100%

Rep. Mary

Keefe

100%

Rep. John

Keenan

100%

Rep. Kay

Khan

100%

Rep. Peter

Kocot

100%

Rep. Robert

Koczera

95%

Rep. Stephen

Kulik

100%

Rep. John

Lawn

100%

Rep. David

Linsky

100%

Rep. Jay

Livingstone

100%

Rep. Timothy

Madden

100%

Rep. John

Mahoney

100%

Rep. Liz

Malia

100%

Rep. Brian

Mannal

100%

Rep. Ronald

Mariano

96%

Rep. Paul

Mark

100%

Rep. Christopher

Markey

100%

Joe

McGonagle

NA

Rep. Aaron

Michlewitz

100%

Rady

Mom

NA

Rep. Frank

Moran

100%

Rep. Mike

Moran

100%

David

Muradian

NA

Rep. James

Murphy

92%

Rep. David

Nangle

88%

Rep. Harold

Naughton, Jr.

100%

Rep. Rhonda

Nyman

100%

Rep. James

O’Day

100%

Rep. Jerald

Parisella

100%

Rep. Sarah

Peake

100%

Rep. Alice

Peisch

100%

Rep. Thomas

Petrolati

95%

Rep. Smitty

Pignatelli

100%

Rep. Denise

Provost

100%

Rep. Angelo

Puppolo

90%

Gene

Rauhala

NA

Rep. David

Rogers

100%

Rep. John

Rogers

92%

Rep. Dennis

Rosa

93%

Rep. Jeffrey

Roy

100%

Rep. Byron

Rushing

100%

Rep. Daniel

Ryan

100%

Rep. Jeffrey

Sanchez

100%

Rep. Tom

Sannicandro

100%

Rep. Angelo

Scaccia

96%

Rep. Paul

Schmid

100%

Rep. John

Scibak

100%

Rep. Alan

Silvia

100%

Rep. Frank

Smizik

100%

Rep. Theodore

Speliotis

96%

Rep. Thomas

Stanley

88%

Rep. Ellen

Story

100%

Rep. William

Straus

96%

Rep. Benjamin

Swan

100%

Matthew

Terry

NA

Rep. Walter

Timilty

88%

Rep. Timothy

Toomey, Jr.

100%

Jose

Tosado

NA

Rep. Cleon

Turner

95%

Rep. Aaron

Vega

100%

Rep. John

Velis

100%

Rep. RoseLee

Vincent

100%

Rep. Joseph

Wagner

91%

Rep. Chris

Walsh

100%

Rep. Jonathan

Zlotnik

100%

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MA SENATE ELECTION ENDORSEMENTS

Alphabetical by Last Name

509 Support Grade

Sen. William

Brownsberger

90%

Sen. Gale

Candaras

95%

Sen. Harriette

Chandler

96%

Sen. Sonia

Chang-Diaz

100%

Sen. Cynthia

Creem

100%

Sen. Sal

DiDomenico

100%

Sen. Kenneth

Donnelly

100%

Sen. Eileen

Donoghue

90%

Sen. Linda

Dorcena-Forry

100%

Sen. Benjamin

Downing

100%

Sen. James

Eldridge

100%

Sen. Barry

Finegold

100%

Sen. Jennifer

Flanagan

89%

Rep. Anne

Gobi

92%

Dylan

Hayre

NA

Sen. Pat

Jehlen

100%

Sen. John

Keenan

100%

Sen. Thomas

Kennedy

94%

Barbara

L’Italien

NA

Patrick

Leahy

NA

Eric

Lesser

NA

Sen. Jason

Lewis

100%

Sen. Joan

Lovely

100%

Sen. Tom

McGee

100%

Sen. Mark

Montigny

88%

Sen. Michael

Moore

89%

Sen. Pres. Therese

Murray

89%

Sen. Kathleen

O’Connor-Ives

100%

Sen. Marc

Pacheco

92%

Sen. Anthony

Petruccelli

95%

Sen. Michael

Rodrigues

92%

Sen. Stanley

Rosenberg

100%

Sen. Michael

Rush

91%

Sen. Karen

Spilka

96%

Sen. James

Welch

100%

Sen. Daniel

Wolf

100%

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Questions? Need additional information? Contact the Local 509 Legislative & Political Department at (617) 924-8509 x515 or email ccondon@seiu509.org.

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The REAL Charlie Baker Record: Get the Facts

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MacKinnon: “Charlie Baker’s DCF failed our kids; we can’t afford to fail them again.”

Remarks of Peter MacKinnon, DCF Chapter President

As prepared for delivery October 6, 2014

Good morning. My name is Peter MacKinnon. I’ve worked in child protection for nearly twenty years – now as a social work supervisor in DCF’s Lowell office. I also serve as President of the Department of Children and Families Chapter of SEIU Local 509.

For much of the last year, there has been a lot of attention paid to child protection efforts in Massachusetts – from the worsening caseload crisis to outdated policies and technology. And while the issues involved were not new, recent tragedies brought light to challenges child protection veterans have raised for many years.

As Election Day approaches, voters rightly want their next Governor to be able to tackle these challenges – to provide the resources, leadership, and accountability that the Department of Children and Families needs to keep at-risk kids safe from abuse and neglect. This is a vital test, as so many innocent lives depend on the decisions and priorities of our elected officials.

When Charlie Baker had the chance to lead, he failed that vital test.

First as Secretary of Health & Human Services and then as Secretary of Administration and Finance, Charlie Baker was responsible for the Department of Social Services, now called DCF.  With Charlie Baker in charge, DSS was in turmoil.

So Baker’s boss – Governor Weld – appointed a Special Commission to perform a full investigation of the department.  It was tasked with conducting an extensive independent review of child protection efforts in the Commonwealth.

What they found was an agency on the edge of collapse. A caseload crisis worse than today’s. Widespread management failures and a total lack of support for front-line social workers and investigators. Kids exposed to repeated abuse and neglect.

You don’t need take my word for it.  These are the conclusions of commission investigators, direct from their report on Charlie Baker’s DCF. Among their observations:

“DSS is in the midst of an organizational breakdown”
“The department stands virtually paralyzed”
“Unable to effectively service children and families”
“years of deterioration…recently exacerbated to the edge of collapse by leadership and management failures”
“Staff deprived of needed resources, unsupported by management, and overloaded with critical cases”
“As a result of those multiple failures…children have suffered increasing developmental failures and behavioral disturbances…”

These problems did not all begin and end with Charlie Baker. But, like all leaders, the actions Baker took – and didn’t take – in response to these findings were, and are, 100% his responsibility.

The Legislature, in response to this report, allocated additional funding to hire more social workers, reduce caseloads, and help stabilize the agency.  That put the ball in Baker’s court.

So what did Charlie Baker do while leading an agency on the verge of collapse? What did he do now that he had the financial resources and support to begin fixing it? He ignored all the warnings and sent millions of dollars back to the General Fund – money that had been dedicated to child protection.

So even when he was given the chance to fix this colossal mess at DCF – a mess he played a role in creating – Charlie Baker’s priorities were elsewhere.

Child welfare advocates actually had to sue to force Baker’s Administration to do the right thing – and an Arbitrator awarded nearly $2 million in damages as a result.

The simple fact is the failures of DCF under Charlie Baker set the stage for the crisis we face today.

There are a bunch of Republicans in Washington DC spending millions of dollars to hide the truth about the candidates’ records on child protection. But no matter how much they may spend on ads, they can’t paper over the truth of Charlie Baker’s failed record at DCF.

When faced with a real opportunity and real resources, Charlie Baker’s DCF failed our kids. And today, we face a similar opportunity with real resources and the will for reform. We can’t afford to fail our kids again.

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SEIU 509 COPE Endorses Steve Kerrigan for Lieutenant Governor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 5, 2014
Contact: Jason A Stephany, (617) 286-4430, jstephany@seiu509.org

SEIU Human Service Workers, Educators Endorse Kerrigan for Lieutenant Governor

Kerrigan speaks to human service workers at LifeLinks, Inc. workers before joining the picket line. (Aug 21, 2014)

Kerrigan speaks to human service workers at LifeLinks, Inc. workers before joining the picket line. (Aug 21, 2014)

Union cites hands-on leadership style, outspoken advocacy on behalf of workers’ rights

WATERTOWN, MA – The Mass. Union for Human Service Workers and Educators, SEIU Local 509 Committee on Political Education (COPE), today announced its endorsement of Steve Kerrigan in the race for Lieutenant Governor – citing his hands-on leadership and outspoken advocacy around key issues of importance to working families.

SEIU Local 509 represents more than 17,000 human service workers and educators throughout Massachusetts, and is among the Commonwealth’s most progressive and politically active labor organizations. The union has a proud history of aggressive primary endorsements that have made a difference in major electoral contests – from the first campaign of Governor Deval Patrick to the recent election of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

“From our shared efforts to improve child safety to the fight to expand access to early education, Steve Kerrigan isn’t afraid to stand up and speak out on the issues that matter most,” said Christine Crean, Chair of the SEIU Local 509 Committee on Public Education (COPE) and a longtime social worker. “Working families have a true champion in Steve Kerrigan, and we are proud to endorse him as our next Lieutenant Governor.”

SEIU human service workers and educators participated in a transparent, member-driven endorsement process for races up and down the ballot – including forums, questionnaires and face-to-face meetings with the candidates. In the race for Lieutenant Governor, Kerrigan stood far above other candidates in his willingness to directly engage with workers and seek solutions to complicated challenges.

“Steve Kerrigan was right there with us on the picket lines, doing everything he could to support workers in our fight for fair wages and dignity on the job.” said Deborah Martin, a veteran day habilitation specialist who helped lead the successful August strike at LifeLinks, Inc. “That’s exactly the kind of Lieutenant Governor we need – someone who will roll up his sleeves and do whatever it takes to get the job done.”

 

“As someone who was raised in a strong union household, I’m proud to have stood with working people my entire career – in local, state and federal government – and I’m thrilled to have the support of the human service workers and educators of SEIU Local 509,” said Kerrigan. “The issues facing these front-line workers are real and they need a voice in the Corner Office who will be with them, work with them and, when needed, stand with them. I’m honored to be that candidate and I’ll be honored to be that Lieutenant Governor.”

 

The Union for Human Service Workers and Educators in Massachusetts, SEIU Local 509, represents over 17,000 workers throughout the commonwealth. SEIU 509 members provide a variety of educational and social services to at-risk children, elders and people with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities. Local 509 is part of the Service Employees International Union, the largest and fastest-growing labor union in the United States.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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