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.
- 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.
Workers at MRC Lowell were among the thousands of state employees wearing “Fair Contract NOW!” stickers on the first day of negotiations.
State contract negotiations are already in full swing, and Local 509 members are more prepared than ever for the potential fight ahead. Dozens of leaders prepped at Bargaining Team caucus meetings, and more than 1,700 members responded to our contract survey –- sharing their ideas, concerns and priorities for the upcoming negotiation sessions. This trove of information will serve as the foundation for many of the proposals we put forward in the coming weeks, and we are fired up and ready to go!
The first Alliance Contract negotiation session took place on July 31, and Local 509 members put their solidarity on full display. Thousands of state workers rocked their ‘Fair Contract NOW’ stickers to send management a clear message: let’s get this thing done! (Check out the Local 509 Facebook Page to see a few of the many photos members sent in throughout the day.)
With so much at stake in this contract — from wages to benefits to working conditions — it’s incredibly important that as many workers as possible get engaged in the negotiation process. A quick and easy way to get involved is to sign up for the Contract Action Team (CAT) for your chapter/worksite. As a CAT member, you’ll communicate important negotiation updates to co-workers at your worksite and help mobilize members for key contract actions as the process moves forward.
Workers have set a goal of building a 750-member CAT team in the coming weeks, so there’s no shortage of opportunities to make a difference. Together we can win a strong contract for all state workers!
Today, Wednesday the 15th, we will be filing suit against the Department of Mental Health in Suffolk County Superior Court. With this lawsuit, we are looking to secure the re-hire of the DMH case managers that were laid off in 2009.
During the privatization of case management duties in 2009, the department ignored their responsibilities under the state’s privatization regulations, commonly known as the Pacheco Law. The layoff of over 100 DMH case managers has had a serious impact on the services that individuals with mental illness receive in our state.
With the support of our allies at the Disability Law Center, MPower, mental health caregivers in the Local 509 Private Sector Human Services chapter, and the whole of Local 509, the DMH chapter is hopeful that these case managers will be re-hired.
Follow these links to view our press release and the details of the lawsuit
As the lawsuit progresses, we will work stewards and local union officers to get updates to the membership.
Candlelight Vigil for Stephanie Moulton
Wednesday, February 8th – 6:30pm
(5:30 in Springfield)
RSVP for the vigil here
SEIU 509, along with Stephanie’s Family and Friends, MassCOSH, and the NASW, is holding a series of vigils across the state to honor the life of Stephanie Moulton, a human service worker who lost her life while providing care last January.
The vigil marks Stephanie’s birthday and the one year anniversary of her death. Kim Flynn (Stephanie’s mother), family members and friends, human service workers, and peer advocates will call on the State to adopt statewide safety protocols.
Locations: (map below)
- Peabody – Buckley Field, 79 Central St
- New Bedford – Dept of Mental Health offices, 888 Purchase St – Previously listed as 800 Purchase St, the office has moved
- Springfield – City Hall Plaza, 36 Court St – The Springfield vigil will be held at 5:30pm
View February 8th Vigil Locations in a larger map
STATE HOUSE NEWS – Thirteen members of a task force convened after community-based mental health worker Stephanie Moulton was murdered in January are calling on the state to significantly increase funding in next year’s state budget.
In a letter Wednesday to Human Services Secretary JudyAnn Bigby, the task force members say their recommendations, released in June, point to the link between public funding of the mental health services system, the safety of workers and the quality of services provided to individuals with mental illnesses. The letter, signed by officials representing SEIU 509, the Pine Street Inn, The Providers’ Council and other groups, said funding increases beyond a $20 million increase this fiscal year are necessary over five years to implement the task force’s recommendations. Describing a system they say has been “decimated” and will take years to rebuild, signers cited a National Alliance on Mental Illness report asserting overall funding for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health has been cut by more than $55 million since fiscal 2009.
The Executive Office of Health and Human Services will host a 2 p.m. hearing Friday on fiscal 2013 budget issues at the Agganis Arena at Boston University. 4:20 p.m.
John Labaki - Chapter President
Dear Chapter Members,
This year, 2011, has been a busy one for the DMH Chapter. We have been working on several issues. Ensuring safety in the workplace and healthy environmental work conditions has been a priority.
Some uplifting news for our members:
- The DMH budget for the fiscal year 2012 was increased by $20 million. With the support of Union leadership, and our sisters and brothers from the private and public sectors, and by working in coalition with MH advocates and friends, we were able to communicate our message to the legislature and policy makers to increase DMH budget and forestalls cuts. Many thanks to all of you who attended state rallies, made calls, and sent letters.
- Safety Task Force (Community and In-Patient) committees: DMH Chapter won the lead on this endeavor. We had a seat and a voice in both committees. (Please read both reports on the DMH website.) We continue to maintain our pressure on DMH to execute the STF recommendations without delay. We plainly insist upon a safe work environment with zero tolerance for violence.
- It is important to point out that there has been concerted hard work by the Union and the Chapter mounted by members in their agencies/facilities to tackle environmental safety and concerns. Progress has been made and will continue to address this chronic problem.
- The Chapter membership continues to increase. Some positions were back filled since my last report. The Peer Specialists have joined us months ago, and as of this writing, we learned that DMH is looking to do some additional hiring in this title and in the MH Coordinator II position as well. We welcome all our new members into the Chapter as we continue our fight to: “Respect the work and Respect the workers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
- An agreement has been reached and signed relating to the Alternative Work Schedule Options for the Social Work Program at Worcester State Hospital. It may be useful in applications to different facilities in other areas.
- The Supplemental N Language guideline for Social Workers was noted by Deputy Commissioner Marcia Fowler and her Management Team as a great piece of work prepared by the DMH Chapter Committee. Several of the recommendations are already in progress. This document will have to be presented to the DMH Directors before final agreement.
- As you know, we have been urging DMH to restore all Case Managers who, we believe, were unfairly laid off. Please sign the Petition to Reinstate the CMs and send it back to me soon.
- Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital: DMH continue to say that they do not have any new information about what work force would be joining Worcester Staff at the new hospital. We are getting a meeting scheduled with DMH Management to talk about any potential issues. Also, there’s some related good news. We were told by DMH Management that there will be no layoffs among 509 titles at this time, and there will be no reduction in in-patient beds.
- Many different issues have been raised at the State Wide Labor Management tables, some focusing on coverage concerns while others are geared toward working to improve wages, work conditions, and others. Be assured when or if Management does not come around to seeing things our way we will aim at putting pressure on them.
- Many training opportunities have been made available to our members this year. A stewards training/retreat is scheduled for October.
Due to the great work and the long hours and efforts of energetic members, stewards, and Chapter leaders, we were able to successfully achieve the results mentioned above. Thank you.
I also want to express my gratitude to Local 509 for the unconditional support to our Chapter. All of the good results we’ve seen in the past year have been due to the hard work of the Executive Board members. Special thanks to the Chairs and Committee Members: Mary Stanton, Sheelagh O’Connor, Jane Malkiewich, Robert Carey, Cassadra Sampas, and Noel Johnson.
As always, I am interested in hearing from you about the issues that are vital to us.
Today, state workers voted overwhelmingly to ratify their contract!
3252 – YES
212 – NO
8 – blank
237 – YES
4 – NO
Thanks to all of the poll captains and volunteers who staffed the 26 balloting sites across the state. Your hard work was instrumental in making today’s vote a smooth process.
To see the details of the newly ratified settlement, click here to read the Memorandum of Understanding