The Committee On Political Education (COPE) is part of SEIU Local 509 and serves as our political action fund. Money contributed to COPE goes directly toward electing pro-worker, pro-labor politicians as well as working for or against ballot measures that would affect our union.

Because many of our members are employed by the state, or agencies which receive funding from the state, having supportive politicians in office is important to funding strong and fair contracts. Contributing to COPE is a great way to invest in your future as a union human service worker in Massachusetts.

Because we do not use members’ dues to give to political campaigns, COPE is funded by voluntary contributions from our members. As little as $1/week makes a big difference. If you do not currently contribute to COPE, or would like to increase your amount, Click here to request that a COPE card be mailed to you.

COPE Committtee, which decides how funds are distributed, meets on the 1st Wednesday of the month, all Local 509 members are welcome to join and be a part of deciding how we can work together to elect pro-worker politicians, contact Deputy Political Director Melody Hugo for more information.

Our Voices. Our Votes. Sign Up to Get Involved!

There’s a lot at stake for working families on the November Ballot — and we’re not sitting on the sidelines!


On November 4, voters will decide who will lead Massachusetts into the next four years as our new governor — as well as whether a million workers will have access to earned sick time to care for their families. Polls are tightening in contests up and down the ballot, so our actions in the coming days will make a big difference.

Here are two great ways to get involved in the coming days:

SEIU human service workers and educators are supporting Martha Coakley for governor — a proven fighter for working families.

Coakley has been an outspoken advocate for the need to invest in quality, affordable childcare and early education. She is committed to eliminating wait lists, and has stood side by side with front-line workers in our fight to improve child safety. Coakley has also fought to expand access to mental and behavioral health services – and she has pledged to improve compensation for front-line human service workers.

Click here to help elect Martha Coakley and other pro-worker candidates.


Question 4 — our initiative to secure Earned Sick Time — is another top priority for working families on November 4th.

Currently, a million Massachusetts workers aren’t able to earn a single paid sick day to care for themselves or a loved one. These workers face the loss of pay and perhaps their jobs if they’re ill, forcing many to go to work sick.

When we Vote YES on Question 4, Massachusetts workers will be able to earn up to 40 hours of earned sick time a year — providing families with the security they deserve and improving our our overall public health.

Click here to join the effort to secure earned sick time for all workers.

Our efforts will go a long way in ensuring working families’ voices are heard on Election Day. Even an hour or to at the doors or on the phone will make a big difference in close contests up and down the ballot. Please take a moment to sign up for upcoming actions!

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2014 General Election Endorsements

Believe it or not, General Election Day is just around the corner in Massachusetts — and the outcome of races in November could 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. Be sure to check out the Local 509 COPE endorsements in key races below!

Note: For polling locations, voting information and to view which races are on the ballot in your neighborhood, type in your home address at and select your party.


Martha Coakley Headshot_rs


Martha Coakley
Website | Facebook | Twitter


Lieutenant Governor

Steve Kerrigan
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Healey Headshot_rs

Attorney General

Maura Healey

Website | Facebook | Twitter


5th Congressional District

Cong. Katherine Clark

Website | Facebook | Twitter

6th Congressional District

Seth Moulton
Website | Facebook | Twitter


1st Essex

Sen. Kathleen O’Connor-Ives

Website | Facebook | Twitter

2nd Essex & Middlesex

Barbara L’Italien

Website | Facebook | Twitter

2nd Hampden & Hampshire

Patrick Leahy

Website | Facebook

Norfolk, Bristol & Middlesex

Dylan Hayre

Website | Facebook | Twitter

2nd Suffolk

Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz

Website | Facebook | Twitter

1st Worcester

Sen. Harriette Chandler
Facebook | Twitter

Worcester & Middlesex

Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (write-in)

Website | Facebook | Twitter


9th Bristol

Rep. Christopher Markey

Website | Facebook | Twitter

14th Essex

Rep. Diana DiZoglio

Website | Facebook | Twitter

8th Hampden

Rep. Joseph Wagner




25th Middlesex

Rep. Marjorie Decker

Website | Facebook | Twitter

31st Middlesex

Michael Day

Website | Facebook | Twitter

33rd Middlesex

Steve Ultrino

Website | Facebook | Twitter

34th Middlesex

Christine Barber

Website | Facebook | Twitter

10th Plymouth

Michelle Dubois

Website | Facebook | Twitter

2nd Suffolk

Rep. Daniel Ryan

Website | Facebook | Twitter

5th Suffolk

Rep. Evandro Carvalho

Website | Facebook | Twitter

7th Suffolk

Rep. Gloria Fox

12th Suffolk

Rep. Daniel Cullinane

Website | Facebook | Twitter

14th Suffolk

Rep. Angelo Scaccia

15th Worcester

Rep. Mary Keefe

Website | Facebook

16th Worcester

Rep. Daniel Donahue

Website | Facebook | Twitter

17th Worcester

Doug Belanger

Website | Facebook

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

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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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MEMO: Five questions for Charlie Baker on his record of failure at DCF

Click here to download a printable version.

TO:                   Interested Parties
FROM:            Jason A. Stephany
DATE:             October 3, 2014
RE:                   Five questions for Charlie Baker on his record of failure at DCF

Despite widespread calls from child protection experts and victims’ rights advocates, Charlie Baker has yet to disavow a false attack ad launched by national Republicans. But even more disturbing is Baker’s own record at the very agency his fellow national Republicans target in their ad – the Department of Children & Families (then Department of Social Services). In the spirit of the transparency Baker often invokes, here are five key questions Massachusetts voters have yet to receive answers to regarding Charlie Baker’s record of failure at DCF:

1. Why was the DCF caseload crisis worse under Baker’s Administration than it is today?  
On Charlie Baker’s watch, child protection caseloads consistently outpaced safe standards. Each month, as many as half of department workers carried crisis-level workloads of 20 cases or more. Baker watched the caseload crisis unfold – a situation that outpaced even today’s crisis – yet relief only came after front-line workers filed suit to force his Administration to act. (DCF caseload data, Commonwealth of Mass., 1990-97)

2. Why did the Baker Administration mislead legislators on the severity of his caseload crisis?
Baker’s caseload crisis spiraled so far out of control that front-line social workers and investigators mounted a legal challenge, hoping to force the Administration to take action. An independent Arbitrator ruled that Baker’s Administration “repeatedly failed to request funding to meet the standards” of child safety contracts – and that “the legislature was also given misleading information” about the caseload crisis at DCF/DSS. (DSS Caseload Arbitration #2022, OER 94-0672 & OER 94-0690)

3. Why did the Baker Administration refuse to sufficiently fund child protection programs?
The Baker Administration repeatedly refused to request and allot sufficient funding to safely staff the state’s child protection programs. In fact, Baker’s Administration returned funds allotted by the legislature for DCF/DSS child protection programs and staffing, sending the money back to the general fund through a process they termed ‘reversion’.  (DSS Caseload Arbitration #2022, OER 94-0672 & OER 94-0690)

4. How does Baker explain the $1.9 million in damages awarded as a result of his ‘reversion’ scheme?
Despite the Baker Administration’s refusal to request adequate funds, the legislature allotted millions to boost child protection staffing and related resources in the 1995-96 budget. But the Baker team rejected much of the funding, instead sending the money back to the General Fund to be used for other purposes. An independent Arbitrator ultimately awarded nearly $2 million in damages over Baker’s reversion scheme.  (DSS Caseload Arbitration #2022, OER 94-0672 & OER 94-0690)

5. Why did Baker allow a ‘systemwide breakdown’ in key services that improve child safety?
As Secretary of Health & Human Services, Charlie Baker oversaw repeated cuts to preventive and treatment programs that play a large role in overall child protection. Among the key services slashed were those in the Department of Youth Services, mental health treatment and substance abuse abatement programs.

A prominent Globe Editorial referred to Baker’s cuts as “chilling figures that suggest a systemwide breakdown,” and warned that the situation “will worsen if the state’s health and human service officials continue to focus on savings at the expense of good clinical care.” (An Abandonment of Decency, Boston Globe, 6/14/1995)


SEIU Local 509 represents front-line social workers, investigators and supervisors at the Department of Children & Families – along with more than 17,000 other human service workers and educators throughout the commonwealth.

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Local 509 Endorses Martha Coakley for Governor

LAWRENCE — Martha Coakley today received the endorsement of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509, based on her commitment to providing all of our children with early education and our workers with earned sick time.  The endorsement builds on the campaign’s momentum following Coakley winning the Democratic nomination for governor last week.
“From our efforts to improve child safety to the fight to expand access to early education, Martha Coakley has been with us every step of the way,” said Susan Tousignant, president of the Massachusetts Union for Human Service Workers and Educators, SEIU Local 509. “We need leaders like Martha Coakley who understand the issues that matter most to working parents — and we are proud to endorse her as our next Governor.”
“Martha Coakley understands the important fight to eliminate the wait list for affordable early education and child care. Educators and parents, all of us, have a great partner in Martha Coakley,” said Dulce Espejo, a veteran early childhood educator from Lawrence.
“I look forward to continuing my work with the hard working men and women of 509, as we create a more fair and prosperous Commonwealth by providing all of our children with quality early and ed and our workers with earned sick time,” said Coakley.
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.
The 509 endorsement adds to the thousands of workers across the state working to elect Coakely, including Teamsters 25, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 103 and 223, Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) 369, Massachusetts Coalition of Police, Massachusetts Police Association, Sheetmetal Workers Local 63, 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers East., New England Regional Council of Carpenters, Painters and Allied Trades District Council #35, AFSCME Council 93 and 32BJ SEIU. 
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SEIU 509 COPE Endorses Steve Kerrigan for Lieutenant Governor

Friday, September 5, 2014
Contact: Jason A Stephany, (617) 286-4430,

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

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Remembering Kenny Gorman

Ken Gorman

Kenneth (Kenny) Gorman, Jr.

Local 509 is sad to share news of the passing of longtime member and union leader Kenneth (Kenny) Gorman, Jr.

A celebration of Kenny’s life was held on Tuesday, January 14 in Spencer, MA.  Details can be found here, or in the Worcester Telegram.

While he recently retired as a correctional program officer at the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, Kenny was a larger-than-life figure at SEIU Local 509 for many years. He served in a variety of union leadership roles throughout his career: steward, chapter president, chair of our Committee on Political Education (COPE), and most recently as a trustee of the local.  Many members, both in his chapter and beyond, are grateful for Ken’s willingness to mentor and support them in their work — along with his encouragement to become more active in the union.

In addition to bargaining for and representing working families in countless forums, Kenny maintained a true passion for politics. Prior to his storied years of work in the union, Ken served as a legislative aide on Beacon Hill and maintained several close friendships from his time there. Ken volunteered many of his own hours helping to elect candidates who understood and prioritized issues impacting working families — most recently helping to elect Marty Walsh as Mayor of Boston.

Both Kenny’s day-to-day work and his activism were firmly grounded in the desire to lift up all working families — and his dedication to the cause knew no boundaries. Whether here at home or halfway across the country, Kenny was always ready to lend his voice and energy to the fight for workers’ rights. When union workers in Wisconsin came under attack from  Governor Scott Walker, Kenny passionately rallied a large crowd in Boston in support of his brothers and sisters. His words and actions will continue to inspire our work for years to come.

Kenny Gorman was a great leader, a dedicated public servant, and a kind man who will be greatly missed by all of us at local 509.  The SEIU Local 509 COPE Committee has established an annual $1,000 scholarship to be given in Ken’s memory.


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Help ‘Raise Up MA’ with Katherine Clark for Congress!

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