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!
Israel Pierre, the new Treasurer of Local 509, has been accompanying me on visits to our DOR office sites. It has been great for both of us to see and talk with you all. If we haven’t been to your office yet we should be there soon!
The Career Ladder Committee continues to meet with management and seek ways to post upgrades. We were successful with more than 20 new promotional positions between HD and Enforcement work, and will now study the case initiate and CSB sides of the agency to see what we can come up with. As I type, workers are listing duties and will soon be provided with surveys to rate each duty.
It appears that we have finally convinced management that transfers are a good thing. Some of you have just received the good news — and as slots open, hopefully this opportunity will be available to others on the list.
The Local is doing a great job of making training available, so keep your eye on the web site for dates and places. Also, the long awaited Union member supervisors training will be available later in the year. We are actively seeking younger members who would like to become active in the Union as well.
There are many ways to participate in the coming months — a steward/active member day in September, our annual meeting and elections in October and a three-day conference next April to help plan the Union’s future.
Finally, as contract talks begin we are seeking more office coordinators to relay news and action requests to coworkers. This is a simple and rewarding way to become involved. The more people who are engaged in the process, the better the result. So please let one of the Union officers in your office know if you are willing to participate.
Unfortunately Local 509 has not been able to come to an agreement with Management regarding telecommuting for our members.. The basic reason for this can be found within the agreement itself which states: Employees will use only government owned computer equipment when performing official duties. Employees who are allowed to telecommute should never use their own equipment….
509 has only 15 members who have been issued company lap tops which represents only 3.5 % of our membership. These lap tops are currently being used for DTA and court duty.We offered many suggestions such as purchasing a limited number of rotating lap tops for each office but were informed this was not possible. With no hope of that number expanding we thought it best to leave the door open for a future agreement when many of our members could be eligible.
Maybe when it’s time to replace our current desk top terminals we can all be issued lap tops instead. Now that makes sense and could make us all eligible to participate in this program.
Thank you to those who have signed up to become Stewards and take the training which is offered. If you did not get into the current session there will be others in the near future.
Please take the opportunity to stop by the Union open house on Dec 11 from 5 to 7 and introduce yourself.
Wishing you and your families a Merry Christmas and happy holiday season.
Chapter Elections Update
Congratulations to Jim Cunningham who won the chapter election for Secretary of Grievances.
Thank you to all who participated as both candidates and voters.
The votes were as follows:
In the Union wide election Israel Pierre was elected Treasure with 794 votes to Arthur Casey’s 631. Chris Crean is our new Recording Secretary with 899 votes.
We are pleased to announce that the Local 509 Career Ladder Committee (John Tortelli, Keven Milan, Chris Landry and Nicole Poulin-DiCaprio) are currently engaged in talks with management on the possibility of trying to restructure some of our positions to merit a grade increase. This invitation to sit down came after our recent meeting with Commissioner Amy Pitter where we (the Local) stressed the need for some kind of a career ladder and separation of duties between grades. We are most appreciative of the opportunity and hope to make the most of it for our members. If you have any suggestions as always went want to hear them, please pass along to a Chapter Board member.
Another recent accomplishment has been reaching agreement with management on the use of travel time for those workers who wish to participate in Comets HD development. The Department should be issuing guidelines shortly and we hope this will encourage those of you distant from Chelsea to participate as this new system will be your future.
We continue to be hopeful on reaching an agreement on Telecommuting but the current offer on the table would only cover about 3% of the 509 membership. Hopefully this can be expanded to make all who want eligible.
A number of us on the Chapter Board are contemplating retirement in the next few years so this is a perfect time for younger members to come and learn the ropes. New ideas are always welcome and appreciated. The Union itself is also looking for members to become active on many different issues, many of which do not require much time on your part. Watch the Union emails and web site for opportunities to become the best member you can.
John Tortelli, DOR Chapter President
Derek Goodwin and I had the pleasure of attending the SEIU conference in Denver last week.
Some of the convention highlights were:
Both Derek and DCF President Peter MacKinnon gave inspiring talks to the convention from the floor regarding amendments, hopefully these will soon be available on the 509 web site.
Union leadership is listening to members on issues taking a bottom up approach instead of just dictating.
More training will be offered around Union issues and developing future leaders.
The attendance reflected the diversity of SEIU membership.
The 99 % issue is world wide for all those seeking a just society.
The Union will be devoting time and money to elect and reelect those politicians who support issues of the 99 % and hold them accountable after election.
President Obama addressed the convention via closed circuit television giving a moving speach to support our issues.
Elections were also held for internal Union officers. We can all be proud that our own President Susan Tougsinant was among those elected to national office.
There was also an ample amount of time to meet delegates from other areas. It’s good to be from MA as we are not facing the cuts and obstacles that many others are.
Next convention scheduled in four years for Detroit.
The DOR Chapter continues to hold its regular monthly Chapter Board meetings and regularly scheduled Labor Management meetings,If you have an issue that needs attention please let one of the Chapter officers know so we can schedule it for discussion.
This year is shaping up to be a very active and important year for Unions politically as many candidates are openly calling for taking away Unions hard won rights, be sure to learn all you can about someone running for office before you vote.
The Chapter board recently met with Union legal staff (thank you Kate Shea) regarding Civil Service which seems to be the fairest way to administer the promotional process. Exams are given and a list formulated based on passing marks. We would like to hear how the membership feels on this subject before we try to take it further.
We have set up a meeting with Kate Shea a Union Attorney to discuss the problems facing those who have been denied reclassification. The meeting is scheduled for March 1 in Watertown, release time should be available for a few member from each office to attend.
Hopefully some valuable insight can be gained into the classification process.
Unfortunately the line seems to be drawn that case management is an A/B position,
as I have mentioned before we have brought this issue up at Labor/Management, OER, contract talks, and Civil Service to no avail.
Recently there was a lot of wasted negative energy out there about having to wait a few weeks for funding of the new 1.5% pay increase. This is just normal practice as funding needs to be approved at the start of a new contract. I hope these same members will devote half that energy to Union causes. Remember your Union is only as strong as you want it to be, it is in unity that we get things done.
The Local will be offering monthly member education on different topics of use to stewards and members at locations throughout the state. One program of special interest will cover how to supervise and be a good Union member, I hope everyone in a supervisory position will plan to attend. Various levels of stewards training should also be offered. Union release time is available for attendance at these sessions so watch the Union web site for details and sign up.
It’s great to see so many promotional and transfer positions available at DOR. We have been asking for upward movement and worker transfers for a while now and I know members are pleased that management was finally able to respond. We expect to see the transfer process continue.
If you would like to become active in the Union at any level please get in touch.
All the best
Welcome to 2012 and hoping it will be happy and healthy for all
We continue our local office unity lunches with a visit to the Woburn office on 1/13/12.
Please plan to start the new year right by showing your Union unity and enjoying yourself.
The chapter will be holding its labor/management meeting on Wednesday 1/18 in Boston. If you have an issue that you would like considered bring it to the attention of a Chapter Board member. Some of the issues to be discussed are caseload size, hiring eco’s, additions to CSB bilingual staff, new q.c.positions, transfers and training.
As management continues to increase case load size I would like to remind our members again that you are contracted to work 37.5 hours. Complete the work you can in the time available, if a back log develops just let your supervisor know that you have to much work to finish. Anyone threatened with discipline should see their Union Rep immediately.
I would like to welcome Charles Penta of the CSB Unit to our Chapter Board. Charles has been an active Union Steward and will bring knowledge and experience to the position.
John Tortelli - Chapter President
We wish to welcome Will Tatten of our Brockton office and welcome back Mary Brawn from Worcester to the DOR Chapter Board. I am sure that our two latest members will bring hard work and dedication to the position. We also have one more vacancy so now is your chance to become active.
A big Thank You to Derek Goodwin and Chris Landry for doing a great job on the office visits to present the contract updates for me while I was out sick.
The DOR chapter continues to offer day long training for its officers and stewards. By now most of you should have had a opportunity to attend. I wish to thank Kevin Preston, Jeff Knopf, Darrel Cole, Elaina McDowell and Fred Trusten for the workshops and material that they presented. This was a good chance to meet others, share ideas and learn how to address workplace issues.
The Chapter Board continues to try and come up with a solution to the inequity of pay for the same work that has been prevalent at DOR since the inception of case management. If you have any new ideas please bring them to a Chapter officer. We have previously meet with DOR management, OER and Civil Service as well as seeking upgrades during contract talks, unfortunately we have come away empty. The only positive is that we were able to secure a number of C postings a few years ago, management has promised to look into obtaining more in the future.
We have also voiced our concerns to management regarding the amount of work and knowledge a case owner is expected to master. It’s like expecting every football player on the Patriots to be able to throw like Tom Brady wishful but not possible. I guess since none of them has ever managed a caseload they just don’t get it. Maybe they should try and see what the day-to-day reality is at CSE.
We continue to hold regular statewide labor management meetings so if you have a topic that should be discussed let us know.
We would like to wish the best to former Commissioner Navjeet Bal who was always open and a pleasure to work with and welcome back Amy Pitter whom we look forward to meeting with.
Wishing you all the best,
Through our work as a union, we’ve recently had a pair of victories for the DOR chapter:
- We are pleased to announce that nine of our members have recently received transfers via appropriate utilization of the transfer list by DOR management. Utilization of this list has been a topic at monthly labor / management meetings and we are optimistic that use of this list will continue and benefit both members and management. Six of our CSB members are now working closer to home making for a better work day. We also have several Unit 8 members transferring to the Comets HD project.
- If you too would like to be considered for a transfer fill out the form available on DORNET. Remember you must renew your request every year. At the October labor management meeting (Wednesday 10/19/11) the Union requested information on when successful applicants for the recent promotional positions would be notified. Management informed us that the positions were currently in the last stages of review for compliance with Civil Service law, the contract and affirmative action. Hopefully this will all be resolved soon. We were also informed that the agency hopes to post more D positions in the coming months.