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.
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!
For the ISTs and Vocational teachers, particularly in the Department Of Corrections, 2011 ushered in a year of uncertainty. We had no directors, and were down 2 principals and several teaching positions. There appeared to be no end in sight as the economy continued to look bleak and the assumption was that the DOC was trying to save money by not filling positions. The burden it placed on existing staff was large as principals had to try and anticipate how the directors would respond when problems arose and deal with them as they saw fit, and students’ needs went unmet when teaching positions were not filled. Therefore, we were all pleasantly surprised when the position for the deputy director for the Division of Inmate Education was filled over the summer, and two principals’ positions were posted and filled in the same period. We continue to be surprised, still pleasantly, as other positions which have languished on the back burner for a while are being posted and filled. This includes a possible O3 conversion which appeared to be stymied for many years, and now has a new lease on life, as will the teacher when it happens. We continue to meet over the extended school year to 52 weeks, still strictly voluntary, and contingent upon funds which the DOC does not have right now. Although we are close to an agreement, there are still a few issues to iron out. Your chapter board members will keep you posted.
I look forward to meeting with our fellow Chapter members at the Mass Hospital in Canton in the very near future and hope that we can learn how best to meet their needs.
Happy Fall everyone.
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