Health & Safety – Public Sector

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SEIU President Mary Kay Henry: It’s About the People behind the ACA Numbers

Marketplace Enrollment Infographic 111313SEIU President Mary Kay Henry offered this statement today in response to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ release of enrollment numbers for the federal marketplace under the Affordable Care Act:

“Before the new federal marketplace opened on Oct. 1, the vast majority of Americans knew very little about the Affordable Care Act and the that fact that it offered a future of more secure, lower-cost healthcare coverage that could transform their lives and their health.

“By now most people have heard about the insurance coverage available under the new law, and today’s figures show that more than 26 million people are exploring their options. More than 500,000 Americans are well on their way to affordable coverage, based on individuals who have picked a plan or qualified for expanded Medicaid coverage.

“Today’s numbers also show that in states where governors, healthcare providers, faith leaders, labor and business are working together, the law is working and saving lives. Where obstructionism and foot-dragging rule the day, hard-working Americans are being left behind.

“For the past six weeks, thousands of SEIU nurses, doctors, librarians and child care providers and our partners in local communities have done everything we can to close this knowledge gap about the benefits of the law, while far-right Republicans have done nothing but convene hearings to obstruct, delay or take away healthcare from the very people they are supposed to represent.

“They are supposed to represent Americans like Cecilia Fontenot of Houston, who is uninsured and cannot afford a follow-up mammogram. Ms. Fontenot is not a number; she’s a person whose life may be hanging in the balance.

“And when working Americans have had serious questions about how the law works for them, SEIU nurses and doctors on the front lines of healthcare have not said the law is perfect, but instead, ‘we will do everything we can to address your concerns and help improve the law.’

“Given all that is at stake for individuals like Ms. Fontenot, working families are wondering why more Republicans in Congress are not capable of standing up and doing the same thing.”


Additional Resources

  • View the official press release from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services here.
  • Read the full enrollment report here.
  • Check out a user-friendly infographic on Affordable Care Act/ObamaCare progress here.
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Important Workplace Safety Documents for DCF Members

Have you ever been made to feel that your safety at work is minimized — or that administrators aren’t listening to valid concerns?

Safety of our members during the workday is of the utmost importance to our Union. And to make sure appropriate attention is devoted to workplace safety, we have negotiated a Workplace Violence Prevention Policy with DCF — designed to ensure that everyone stays safe while carrying out our important work in the community.

Our Union leadership team has also put together a Member Safety Tip Sheet to ensure that everyone is fully aware of what is expected of the agency to keep members safe. Please take a moment to review this tip sheet and get up to speed on the existing violence prevention policy.

Together, we can ensure that worker safety remains the agency’s top priority.

Thank you again for all you do!

Peter MacKinnon
DCF Chapter President

Anthony Labo
DCF Vice President & Safety Committee Chair

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Caseload ‘Crisis Point’ Prompts Protest by Whitinsville DCF Social Workers

Dozens of social workers and community allies staged a protest in Whitinsville recently over what they call ‘crisis point’ caseloads at the Department of Children & Families (DCF) South Central Mass facility. The delegation elevated its demand for immediate action to reduce skyrocketing family caseloads at the DCF South Central Offices on Church Street. Caseloads at the facility have continued to rise in recent months, leading front-line staff to worry about the quality of care they are able to provide for the children and families they serve.

For years, social workers and support staff have expressed concerns over ever-increasing caseloads at the Department of Children & Families facilities – with many worried that the commonwealth’s most vulnerable children would not have access to the quality of services they require and deserve. The South Central DCF office has ranked among amongst the highest, with some social workers handling as many as 26 families at a time. Workers ultimately secured a monumental agreement with DCF that would reduce caseloads to more manageable levels, but have been told implementation could take up to two years. Front-line social workers penned a letter to DCF leaders outlining these issues and urging prompt action, hoping for some level of progress in the coming weeks.

“The South Central region has some of the highest caseloads in the state, and the problem is only getting worse,” said Peter MacKinnon, DCF Chapter President for SEIU Local 509. “We’re at a crisis point right now, and social workers need more help to ensure we can protect at-risk kids and keep families together.”

The Church Street facility provides a variety of services to Department of Children & Families clients throughout South Central Massachusetts – including domestic violence counseling, supervised visits for families and case management for children in foster care. Social workers advised concerned families to contact their legislators at (617)722-2000 and urge immediate implementation of the caseload reduction agreement at Department of Children & Families.

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Sick Building Syndrome

The Health and Safety Committee is alive and well. Unfortunately, so is sick building syndrome. This is the biggest issue we face. We have a carbon dioxide machine that can measure how much carbon dioxide is present. The higher the carbon dioxide, the less oxygen you are getting.

Besides a lack of oxygen, a building, or HVAC system can be contaminated with mold, or other harmful chemicals; diesel fumes from idling trucks; carbon monoxide from cars near the intake openings; roofing tar, etc.

Please notify SEIU 509 if you feel like you are having medical side effects from the air quality in your building.

For more information about the Health and Safety Committee, please contact the union office.

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