COPE

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 Calvin Feliciano for more information.

SEIU Endorses Hillary Clinton for President

Members: Clinton supports our movement to build a better future for working families

WASHINGTON — After a rigorous, months-long member engagement process, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) today endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, calling her a leader who will stand up for the working people building a movement to secure a better future for their families.

“Hillary Clinton has proven she will fight, deliver and win for working families,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. “SEIU members and working families across America are part of a growing movement to build a better future for their families, and Hillary Clinton will support and stand with them. This movement for economic, racial, immigrant and social justice is poised to turn out to vote in November with their families and communities and keep pushing elected officials to deliver once in office.”

“We are endorsing Hillary Clinton because she will stand up for working people like me when she’s in the White House, not the rich and powerful,” said Regina Sutton, a home care worker and member of SEIU Local 2015 in California.

SEIU’s member engagement included a 1,200-member conference in March, three national tele-town hall meetings in which more than 178,000 members participated, three national member polls from the fall of 2014 through the fall of 2015, more than 200 local executive board debates and discussions with thousands of local union officers and elected member leaders and local union member discussions representing 1.2 million SEIU members, which included leadership assemblies, live phone calls, worksite meetings, emails and text messages.

Hillary Clinton will fight to raise wages and has stood up for the rights of workers to join together in a union.  She has spoken out in support of the Fight for $15 movement: on the movement’s April 15 national day of action, during the New York wage board fight that resulted in $15 for all fast food workers in the state, for the $15 victories in Los Angeles city and county and again just last week, on Nov. 10, during the biggest day of action yet. 

“As cleaners, we roll up our sleeves every day and get the job done without complaint. When Hillary Clinton is president, she will do the same. She will fight tirelessly for working families. I like that she is not running to prove a point, she is running to make our country better,” said Pam Johnston, a cleaner, member of 32BJ SEIU in Pittsburgh and executive board member.

Once elected, Hillary Clinton will have the opportunity to address the epidemic of low wages and poor training standards for our nation’s airport workers, who keep travelers safe and airports clean. “Airport jobs should be good jobs — and together, we can make sure they are,” she wrote to airport workers gathered at a national convention last month in Washington. 

Clinton has recognized the value of care work in our nation, particularly the home care providers and child care teachers who help educate our future generations and allow our seniors and those with disabilities to live with dignity at home. In many places, these workers earn poverty wages with no sick or vacation time and few if any benefits. “One of the things I’m trying to do in this campaign is put raising wages at the center,” Clinton said at an August roundtable meeting in Los Angeles with SEIU home care providers. “I think your skills deserve a lot more pay and benefits than what’s currently being made available to you.”

“Hillary Clinton understands that child care teachers need living wages and that the care has to be affordable for people,” said Marites McLean, a child care provider and member of SEIU Local 509 in Massachusetts. “She gets it and she’s going to do something about it.” 

Clinton is also a leader on the core issues SEIU members care about in this election, including fighting for commonsense immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship, standing up for voting rights and criminal justice reform that prioritizes ending mass incarceration and supporting and strengthening the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Clinton’s commitment to quality, affordable healthcare goes back decades to her courageous efforts in 1994 to ensure coverage for all. SEIU members know she will fight hard to strengthen the ACA so we never go backward.

“I’m very excited about our endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president,” said Ann Byrne, a member of SEIU Local 199 and nurse at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics. “I’m going to caucus for her, door-knock for her and phone bank for her. As a nurse for 26 years, I know that Hillary Clinton will defend and strengthen the Affordable Care Act so our patients get the care they need.”

SEIU’s 2 million members will join hands with community partners in a broad movement for economic, social, immigrant and racial justice. Along with the 64 million people who work at jobs paying poverty-level wages, they will be a powerful force during the 2016 elections. SEIU members will use their strength at the grassroots and community levels to support the candidates who will stand with them. Hundreds of thousands of face-to-face and door-to-door contacts, millions of phone calls, robust digital engagement and other activities to get out the vote will counteract the efforts of billionaires and corporations to elect leaders who would answer only to the wealthy few.

 

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The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) unites 2 million diverse members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. SEIU members working in the healthcare industry, in the public sector and in property services believe in the power of joining together on the job to win higher wages and benefits and to create better communities while fighting for a more just society and an economy that works for all of us, not just corporations and the wealthy. More information at www.seiu.org.

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Springfield City Council Urges Clinical & Support Options to Value Mental Health Services, Providers

In unanimous vote, local elected officials join colleagues in Northampton, Greenfield in demanding a strong contract for Western Mass clinicians and crisis workers

Councilor Orlando Ramos, author of the Springfield Resolution. (photo via MassLive)

Councilor Orlando Ramos, author of the Springfield Resolution. (photo via MassLive)

SPRINGFIELD, MA – On the eve of what is expected to be a final negotiation session with agency management, the Springfield City Council voted unanimously Monday to support front-line clinicians and crisis workers in their fight for quality mental health care at the local branch of Clinical & Support Options (CSO). Authored by Council Vice President Orlando Ramos, the resolution sends a clear message that the City of Springfield stands with mental health workers who provide critical care – urging agency managers to return to the table “to reach a fair resolution that appropriately values these vital services and those who provide them.”

 A copy of the full resolution is available here.  

“The opioid epidemic is at the forefront of the local and national debate. These are the people who provide the services we need to tackle that crisis,” said City Council Vice President Orlando Ramos at Monday’s meeting. “We’re calling on Clinical & Support Options to negotiate in good faith with mental health and crisis workers – to value their important work.”

The Springfield resolution marks the latest call in a growing public outcry over the taxpayer-funded agency’s refusal to value essential mental health and crisis services in Western Massachusetts. City Councilors in Northampton unanimously passed their own resolution in support of CSO mental health workers in September, following similar action by the Greenfield Town Council in August. Community members throughout the region have sent more than 1,500 messages of concern to the agency’s Board of Directors and CEO as well.

“As mental health and crisis workers, we’re out in the community every single day working with some of Springfield’s most at-risk and vulnerable populations,” said Chassity Crowell-Miller, an outpatient clinician based at CSO’s Springfield facility. “This resolution sends a clear message that our elected leaders understand the importance of our work, and believe CSO must do more to support us in our efforts to keep communities safe and healthy.”

Clinicians and crisis workers staged their first demonstrations outside agency facilities in April to draw attention to near-poverty wages and severe workplace stress at CSO – serious challenges that have spurred high turnover that jeopardize the continuity and quality of client care. Agency managers rejected all attempts to address these grave issues in the ensuing months, ultimately leading to July’s three-day strike for quality care.

“The fact that these people are doing such critical work in our community and earning less than $15 an hour is unacceptable,” said Councilor Melvin Edwards. “The least CSO management can do is negotiate in good faith and come to a fair resolution.”

Despite public calls for action, Clinical & Support Options managers have refused to engage in meaningful dialogue over the serious challenges faced by the taxpayer-funded agency. The non-profit’s CEO, Karin Jeffers, has yet to attend a single negotiation session with front-line staff. A final negotiation session has been scheduled for the evening of Tuesday, October 6.

More than 350 clinicians and crisis workers at Clinical & Support Options provide vital services to over 14,000 at-risk children and families each year – from emergency mental health interventions and gang violence prevention to sexual abuse trauma and addiction treatment. With operations in Amherst, Athol, Florence, Greenfield, Northampton, Orange, Pittsfield and Springfield, their work is critical to the safety and wellbeing of families in more than 100 cities and towns throughout Western Massachusetts.

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Take Action to Stop the Attack on Earned Sick Time!

Urge your legislators to reject Senator Mike Rodrigues’ attempt to stall implementation of Earned Sick Time for working families!

Last fall, a vast majority of voters across the Commonwealth approved the Earned Sick Time ballot initiative. This critical legislation guarantees that every worker can earn up to 40 hours of sick time each year to care for themselves or the health of their families.

Despite overwhelming support in his own district and beyond, Senator Mike Rodrigues (Westport) is attempting to delay implementation of Earned Sick Time for working families. If his amendment is successful, more than a million workers could stand to lose a paycheck — or even their jobs — just for falling ill or needing to care for a sick child.

Rodrigues Earned Sick Time Attack Feature_580p

The vote on this amendment is coming up soon, so it is important that our Representatives and Senators hear from us right away. We need to send a clear message that Amendment 19 — and all other attempts to roll back Earned Sick Time for working families — must be defeated. Please take a moment to contact your Representative and Senator today.

As always, please feel free to contact Legislative & Political Director Chris Condon with any questions you may have.
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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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The REAL Charlie Baker Record: Get the Facts

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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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Human Service Workers Celebrate Election of Workers’ Rights Champion Marty Walsh as New Boston Mayor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Contact: Jason A Stephany, (617) 286-4430, jstephany@seiu509.org

Human Service Workers Celebrate Election of Workers’ Rights Champion Walsh as New Boston Mayor

SEIU Local 509 among the first organizations to endorse Walsh’s preliminary candidacy

BOSTON, MA – Susan Tousignant, President of the 17,000-member Massachusetts Human Service Workers Union, SEIU Local 509, issued the following statement following the election night victory of Rep. Marty Walsh as Boston’s next mayor:

“By electing Marty Walsh as the next mayor, the City of Boston voted for a true champion of working families.”

“Marty Walsh understands, first-hand, the struggles Boston workers face each and every day. He’s dedicated his entire career to tackling the tough issues that matter most to local families and seniors – strong schools, safe streets, real job opportunities and a secure retirement for all.”

“Human service workers were proud to be among the first to stand with Marty Walsh in the race for Boston mayor, and we look forward to continuing our work together to help our neighborhoods grow and thrive in the years to come.”

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House Bill 59: It Goes Too Far.

The personal stories of workers featured in the above video paint a clear picture of what’s at stake in House Bill 59 — Governor Deval Patrick’s proposed changes to retiree healthcare. Simply put, HB59 goes to far.

Under House Bill 59, workers just two or three years from retirement could see the rules changed so drastically they would have to work another 22 years to receive promised benefits. The legislation has its biggest impact on low-wage workers, and offers no real cost-saving measures other than spiking out-of-pocket expenses for seniors – meaning future retirees will bear 100% of the cost burden of these reforms. Even worse, HB59 penalizes workers who must take a leave of absence for the birth of a child or death of a loved one.

That’s why hundreds of workers across the commonwealth are taking action to educate their legislators about the negative impact of House Bill 59 — testifying at public hearings, sending letters to Representatives and Senators, and meeting face-to-face with key legislative leaders. You can take action today to protect retiree healthcare.

Retiree Healthcare Click Here Button Additional Resources

  • Read Local 509 President Susan Tousignant’s testimony on House Bill 59 here.
  • Access the proposed legislation in its entirety by clicking here.
  • Download the Special Commission’s report on Retiree Healthcare here.
  • Invite fellow concerned workers to contact their legislators here.
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