Last night, the Massachusetts Senate passed budget amendment #300, which would protect frontline social workers at the Department of Children and Families (DCF) from having their personal information, including their home address, publicly exposed. The following statement is attributable to Adriana Zwick, a social worker and SEIU Local 509 DCF Chapter President:
“Social workers at DCF dedicate their careers to keeping at-risk kids safe from abuse and neglect, and unfortunately, it can be a dangerous profession. Too often in the course of our work, social workers are forced to provide personal information, like our home address, when we visit our clients in hospitals, correctional facilities, or schools. Being forced to provide our personal information poses a safety risk to social workers and their families.
“If passed into law, this measure would keep social workers’ personal information personal and help protect their safety by allowing the use of state issued identification when carrying out DCF work. We are grateful to Senator Tarr for sponsoring this amendment and Chairwoman Spilka for her work on it. We urge the conference committee to include it in its final budget.”
Hundreds of Local 509 members at DCF wrote and called their Senators yesterday to urge the passage of this important amendment.
We STORMED the State House on Wednesday April 12, 2017. We visited our Senators and Representatives and communicated with them or their aides about issues that are important to us. We thanked them for supporting DDS and the services that we provide, but we advocated for a $5 million increase in the DDS Administration line-item (5911-1033). With this increase, the caseload crisis that we are facing will be lessened and our work load will be more manageable.
Thank you to everyone that came out — we had a great day and did a lot of important advocacy work! If you have any questions about how to become more involved in advocacy please ask your steward, and save the date for next year’s Lobby Day: April 11, 2018!
VACANCIES were published on April 18, 2017; nominations will be accepted until Monday, May 8 at noon.
Below you will find the list of opportunities to serve on the SEIU 509 Joint Executive Board (JEB) and Chapter Executive Boards (CEBs). If you are interested in running for a seat — or nominating a colleague — please follow these instructions:
Only members in good standing are eligible for nomination. Members may nominate themselves or be nominated by fellow SEIU 509 members. The member doing the nominating also needs to be a member in good standing.
Submit nominations for vacancies in writing to Jenny Bauer in the union office by fax (508-485-8529), email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or US mail (293 Boston Post Road West, Marlborough, MA 01752 ).
Again, nominations are due Monday, April 3 at noon.
Nominees who are unopposed shall be declared elected on that date. If offices are contested, election dates will be announced and candidates will be notified.
NANCY CHIERO WAS as devoted as she was patient with her son Lee. The 35-year-old Uxbridge man had spent his life struggling with psychotic delusions, which would periodically send him to the emergency room for a prescription for medications. Those brought a brief respite, but Lee, who lived in his mother’s basement, would soon cycle off the meds and the visions would return. In 2007, caught in the grips of paranoia, he pushed her down the stairs and fatally stabbed her in the eyes — capturing the murder on videotape.
The story of the Uxbridge mother and son is emblematic of the state’s failed policies for treating those with serious mental illness. In a powerful series called “The Desperate and the Dead,” the Globe’s Spotlight team chronicled decades of tepid response, persistent underfunding, and governmental neglect that has thrown mentally ill patients into the streets and left families, police, and ER doctors with an enormous burden of care.
Since 2005, the series reported, more than 10 percent of all state homicides in which a suspect is known were allegedly committed by people with a history of mental illness or its clear symptoms. The Globe built a first-ever database of such cases; the numbers show that over the past 11 years at least 139 people in Massachusetts have died violently at the hands of a person with a diagnosed mental illness, or strong signs of one.
The arc of mental health care was supposed to be different, especially in the Bay State, where Frederick Wiseman’s shocking 1967 documentary, “Titicut Follies,” exposed humiliations inflicted on patients at Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane and prompted pledges for change. State officials moved to shut down mental hospitals, with the aim of placing patients in more humane community clinics. The number of inpatient psychiatric beds in the state declined to 671 as of last year, from a peak of 23,560 in 1953, according to Spotlight.
But that robust system of community care never materialized. State officials slashed funding for inpatient mental health care by more than half from 1994 to 2013, at the same time that some treatment was being farmed out to private companies and nonprofits. But nearly a third of community mental health providers in Massachusetts reported closing clinics from 2013 to 2015, including the sort of intensive programs that could have benefited Nancy Chiero and her son.
Closing the gaps left by the legacy of deinstitutionalization is, front and center, an essential job of government. Cities like San Antonio provide a model, with aggressive funding of a system to handle psychiatric and substance abuse crises and move people from jails and ERs into treatment, Spotlight reports. There are other signs of progress in Massachusetts: In 2015, the state received nearly $1 million in federal seed money intended to establish pilot community clinics. And Governor Charlie Baker’s administration has put $41 million into MassHealth reimbursement rates — as private insurers seem to be fleeing in droves.
Finally, change is needed in state law in order to protect families, friends, and the public from mentally ill patients who pose a danger to others. Massachusetts, with its strong support for civil liberties, is one of only four states without a law that allows courts to compel patients with a history of noncompliance to undergo treatment. Such “assisted outpatient treatment” laws have led to better health outcomes in other states: patients are escorted to settings where they receive required medications. And while psychiatric medications can cause unwanted side effects — and research sometimes seems stuck in another era — they can also be effective in quelling symptoms.
It’s important to note that the vast number of those with mental illness are not violent, and feel stigmatized by any broad-brush approach. But legislators could couple the law with more funding for community clinics, as well as education and training. It could ultimately help patients like Lee Chiero and those who love them.
On the heels of our court victory on CBFS just a few weeks ago, I write with disappointing news on the future of state-run Emergency Mental Health and Crisis Intervention Services in the Southeast Region.
On Friday, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued its ruling in our case to stop the privatization of programs in Southeastern Mass, the Cape and Islands, Service Employees International Union Local 509 vs. Auditor of the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, the SJC ultimately deferred to Auditor Bump’s approval of the DMH privatization scheme, despite obvious flaws in the process and the negative impact on area families. Having exhausted our legal options to halt the process outright, it seems this ill-conceived plan will now move forward.
In her statement to reporters this weekend, our union president, Susan Tousignant, blasted the decision — and gave voice to what many of us on the front lines have felt for quite some time:
“Front-line clinicians have been clear in our view that any action that jeopardizes critical care for at-risk families is unconscionable — whether through unnecessary budget cuts or irrational policy initiatives. This holds especially true in a region that has been devastated by the opioid crisis and suicide rates that are four times the rest of the state.
“In deferring to the State Auditor’s illogical decision to allow cuts to vital services, the Supreme Judicial Court has played an unfortunate role in endangering the lives of thousands of children and adults throughout Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands.
“After ignoring months of warnings from front-line crisis clinicians, legislators, and affected families, Governor Baker and Auditor Bump must now accept the repercussions of their shared scheme to slash life-saving mental health and crisis intervention services throughout the Southeast Region.”
Given the significant gaps we all know need to be repaired in our broken mental health system, it remains terribly concerning that the Department has spent so much time and money on this harmful privatization effort. But now we must begin the work of addressing the impact of this unfortunate scheme — both on front-line staff and the communities we serve through our ESP and MCI programs.
Over the next few months, we will meet with DMH officials to discuss their next steps and work to mitigate the effects of any proposed layoffs related to the privatization effort. We are fortunate that our union contract contains strong language that grants employees threatened with layoffs very broad “bumping options” based on seniority. We expect many of the affected front-line workers in the region will be connected with comparable state positions soon.
We will certainly keep everyone posted with updates on our meetings and other available details regarding implementation of this plan. This is a difficulty time for all of us, so please do not hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns in the meantime.
DMH Chapter President
WASHINGTON—SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry issued the following statement on President-elect Trump’s intended nomination of Andrew Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants, to be Secretary of Labor:
“With the intended nomination of Andrew Puzder for Secretary of Labor, President-elect Trump has once again shown how out-of-touch he is with what working Americans need. Working families, including those who elected him, issued a mandate for economic change because they are sick and tired of working longer and harder than ever but still struggling to build a better future for their families. Puzder has proven he doesn’t support working people: he opposes raises to the minimum wage, even though every time Americans have been called to vote for raises on the ballot, they always do.
“Throughout his career, Andrew Puzder has shown he does not believe in the dignity of all work and has used his position to line his own pockets at the expense of workers. In 2012, Puzder made $4.4 million, a full 291 times more than the average food worker. He doesn’t support measures that would help families who work hard build a better life, such as the overtime rule, which would put more money in the pockets of millions of workers for the extra work they do. He wants machines to replace workers because robots ‘never take a vacation’ – even though robots can not ever replace the work that people do. He has stood with Republican congressional leaders who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act – even though his underpaid workers and millions of working Americans depend on it for healthcare.
“Working Americans aren’t fooled by the anti-worker Trump-Puzder vision for America. They know it threatens their ability to have a voice and to provide for their families. That is why millions of American workers continue to come together through the Fight for $15 movement to make President-elect Trump and his administration deal with our economic reality. Together, workers in the Fight for $15 movement have made the kind of economic change America is crying out for by paving the way for 20 million people to get a raise. SEIU members will not back down, we will stay in the streets to fight back against anti-worker extremism and we will not stop until all work in valued and every community in America has the opportunity to thrive.”
The results are in! With all votes tallied, SEIU Local 509 members have elected our next leadership team. Peter MacKinnon will serve as president of our union, alongside Israel Pierre as our treasurer and Ivette Hernandez as our recording secretary. (See below for more details about our many election results.)
Local 509 takes pride in our long-held reputation as a thoroughly democratic union. All members are encouraged to participate by supporting candidates of your choice, submitting amendment proposals, nominating colleagues for leadership positions or running for office yourself.
Nominations for these leadership positions were accepted on October 15 as a record number of human service workers and educators gathered in Westborough for the Local 509 Annual Meeting. In that gathering, we learned more about how we’re building our strength across Massachusetts, met with some of the Commonwealth’s leading elected officials. Dozens of us also stepped up to take action in support of the Fair Share Amendment, Fight for $15, and a host of other important causes.
It has been an exciting year for our union, with a promising string of victories in our new organizing efforts, contract negotiations and on the broader public policy front. We look forward to seeing how these leaders will build on recent organizing and contract victories to set a future course for our union and the communities we serve.
Congratulations to our newly elected leadership team!
Candidates will officially be sworn into office at our December 13th JEB meeting held at our union headquarters.
We are happy to announce the creation of a new pilot program that would allow Family Childcare Providers to provider short-term emergency childcare to DCF children awaiting placement. For several months, our union leadership team has been working with representatives from the Department of Children & Families and Department of Early Education & Care to develop the program — and we are excited to launch this important pilot initiative.
The Commonwealth has agreed to pay providers $35.00 per day to provide emergency childcare. Providers do not need to obtain referrals from Child Care Systems or CRR&Rs for this program — children will be referred directly from DCF, and payments will be made directly to you from the state.
The pilot program will take place the following areas — and providers who are interested in participating in the program or in learning more should contact DCF staff listed below:
including Belchertown, Chicopee, East Longmeadow, East Springfield, Granby, South Hadley, Hampden, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Monson, Palmer, Springfield, Ware and Wilbraham
including Auburn, Barre, Berlin, Bolton, Boylston, Brookfield, Clinton, East Brookfield, Grafton, Hardwick, Harvard, Holden, Hubbardston, Lancaster, Leicester, Millbury, New Braintree, North Brookfield, Oakham, Paxton, Princeton, Rutland, Shrewsbury, Spencer, Sterling, Warren, West Boylston, West Brookfield and Worcester
including Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Lowell, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough and Westford
including Allston, Brighton, Brookline, Chinatown, Dorchester, Dorchester Center, Downtown Crossing, Faneuil Hall, Financial District, Four Corners, Grove Hall, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill, North End, Roslindale, Roxbury, South Boston and Upham’s Corner
New Bedford Area
including Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven and New Bedford
If successful, there is an expectation that the pilot program will be expanded throughout the Commonwealth. So please be sure to reach out to Tara to indicate your interest — she can connect you with the appropriate local contact.
As always, If you have questions about union programs, or would like to learn more about the union and how to become involved please contact your union representative:
William Cano: email@example.com or 617-584-1222
Western MA, Central MA and Merrimack Valley (Lawrence, Lowell, Haverhill)
Ninfa Breton: firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-312-8195
Greater Boston (East Boston, Malden, Everett, Chelsea), Southern MA and North Shore (Lynn, Revere, Gloucester, Salem)
Estamos feliz de anunciarles la creación de nuestro nuevo programa que le dará el derecho a los proveedores de cuidado infantil que ofrezcan cuidado infantil a corto plazo para los niños en DCF quienes están esperando un puesto. Por varios meces nuestro liderazgo en la unión a estado trabajando con representantes del Departamento de Niños y Familias y el Departamento de la Educación temprana para poder desarrollar el programa- y estamos felices en comenzar esta iniciativa.
El estado se apuesto de acuerdo que le va pagar a los proveedores $35.00 dólares al día para que le proveen cuidado infantil de emergencia. Los proveedores no necesitan obtener referencias del sistema de cuidado infantil. Los niños serán referidos directamente de DCF y los pagos van hacer directamente del estado.
El programa va a estar en estos sitios — y los proveedores quienes están interesados en participar en el programa o en aprender mas deben de contactar los trabajadores de DCF listados aquí abajo:
Área de Springfield
incluso Belchertown, Chicopee, East Longmeadow, East Springfield, Granby, South Hadley, Hampden, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Monson, Palmer, Springfield, Ware y Wilbraham
Área de Worcester
incluso Auburn, Barre, Berlin, Bolton, Boylston, Brookfield, Clinton, East Brookfield, Grafton, Hardwick, Harvard, Holden, Hubbardston, Lancaster, Leicester, Millbury, New Braintree, North Brookfield, Oakham, Paxton, Princeton, Rutland, Shrewsbury, Spencer, Sterling, Warren, West Boylston, West Brookfield y Worcester
Área de Lowell
incluso Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Lowell, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough y Westford
Área de Dorchester/Boston
incluso Allston, Brighton, Brookline, Chinatown, Dorchester, Dorchester Center, Downtown Crossing, Faneuil Hall, Financial District, Four Corners, Grove Hall, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill, North End, Roslindale, Roxbury, South Boston y Upham’s Corner
Área de New Bedford
incluso Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven y New Bedford
Si tiene éxito, esperamos que este programa se expanda en todo el estado. Así que por favor asegúrese de contactarse con Tara para indicar su interés — ella los puede conectar con el contacto local apropiado.
Como siempre, si tiene preguntas acerca de los programas sindicales o desea obtener más información sobre el sindicato y cómo participar, comuníquese con su representante sindical:
William Cano: email@example.com o 617-584-1222
Western MA, Central MA y Merrimack Valley (Lawrence, Lowell, Haverhill)
Ninfa Breton: firstname.lastname@example.org o 617-312-8195
Greater Boston (East Boston, Malden, Everett, Chelsea), Southern MA y North Shore (Lynn, Revere, Gloucester, Salem)
As you may know, the Baker Administration has announced an incentive program to encourage state employees to volunteer to be laid off or retire earlier than originally planned. The Commonwealth is offering $5,000 for workers who will accept a voluntary layoff or $15,000 for those who choose early retirement.
Along with other state employee unions, SEIU Local 509 has signed onto a Memorandum of Understanding with the Administration regarding the execution of this incentive.
While the MOU offers details on the parameters of this incentive, here are answers to the more frequently asked questions we have fielded to date (as we best understand the situation at this time):
STATE INCENTIVE FAQ
Q: Will the Commonwealth offer years of service credit with this program?
A: No, this is a cash incentive only.
Q: Are any agencies or positions excluded from the incentive?
A: Yes, the Department of Children & Families (DCF) is excluded. While workers have not been provided with a specific explanation of this decision, we know the Department is still working to address caseload challenges. Existing vacancies and related funding levels for hiring likely played a role in this decision.
The agreement also states that the “Appointing Authority” (the agency or department) has discretion to approve or deny requests for voluntary layoff and early retirement. It is possible that applicants who work in human service positions may be denied based on the given agency’s need for that position or needs within an office/region.
Q: My position is federally funded, so I was not eligible for the last Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP). Am I eligible for this one?
A: There is no explicit exclusion in this program for federally-funded positions. But again, applications are subject to approval by each department or agency.
Q: What is the time frame for this program?
A: The program begins November 14, 2016 and ends January 2, 2017. Interested individuals should notify the appropriate Human Resource contact as soon as possible.
Q: What is the financial incentive?
A: For workers who elect for early retirement, the incentive is $15,000. For those opt for voluntary layoff, it is $5,000.
The Baker Administration has made clear that the incentive program is an attempt to shore up projected budget deficits by reducing the public sector workforce. In the event this incentive does not produce the results sought by Governor Baker and his Executive Office of Administration and Finance, we may face future layoffs among state workers.
We will be sure to share additional details as they become available, but please don’t hesitate to contact us in the meantime with any questions you may have.
Susan Tousignant, President
SEIU Local 509
P.S. Amidst all of this, state workers will soon return to the bargaining table to negotiate our next union contract. If you haven’t yet had the chance, please be sure to weigh in on our State Contract Survey. Your thoughts are incredibly important as we push for a strong agreement!
As you may know, longtime workers’ rights advocate Ralph White has decided to step down from his position on the State Retirement Board after more than 20 years of service. Alongside many other public sector unions, SEIU Local 509 has endorsed Frank Valeri, current President of the Mass Retirees Association for this important seat.
The 1996 Pension Reform law created a second elected seat on the State Retirement Board — an entity that is responsible for administering retirement benefits for public sector employees, now totaling over 149,000 retired and active individuals.
It is critical that we elect someone who truly understands the challenges facing state workers and retirees — and that person is Frank Valeri. In supporting Frank, current and future retirees will maintain excellent representation on the Board, someone who is dedicated to providing the best possible personal service to retirees and survivors.
Prior to his service as president of the Mass Retirees Association, Valeri spent nearly four decades in state government, including eight years as as the Deputy Executive Director of PERAC (the oversight agency responsible for implementation of the Pension Reforms Acts passed in 2009 and 2011).
“I feel that at this point in my career I can provide the best possible representation to protect the earned retirement benefits of the retirees and employees of the State system,” said Valeri. “From where I have been and where I now sit, I certainly understand that public pensions remain under scrutiny and feel confident in my ability to fight for the members rights.”
For more information on the work of the Mass Retirees Association, visit http://massretirees.com.