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RSVP for the 2017 Local 509 Annual Meeting: October 14!

Mark your calendar for the 2017 SEIU Local 509 Annual Meeting – coming up Saturday, October 14 in Westborough.
Join us at the 2017 Annual Meeting as we celebrate these important wins, learn about the challenges ahead, and plot our course for the future:
  • Hear how we are building our strength across Massachusetts
  • Reconnect with union brothers & sisters and meet new colleagues working across the state in human services and education
  • Learn more about our ‘Fair Share Amendment’ to raise funds earmarked for education and transportation
  • Join the Fight for $15, Paid Family & Medical Leave and other efforts to improve working conditions for Bay State families
The 2017 Annual Meeting marks the first step in our union-wide leadership elections. (You can find a full list of offices open for nominations here.) Plus, we need your participation as we vote on 15 constitutional amendments.
Starting at 9 AM, the daylong meeting will be held Saturday, October 14 at the DoubleTree Hotel — located at 5400 Computer Drive in Westborough.
 
Click here to sign up online — or call the Local 509 headquarters at (774) 843-7509. Please let us know if you require child care, have dietary restrictions, or need any other special accommodations.
We have a great deal to be proud of at Local 509, and an incredibly bright future ahead. Please join us October 14 as we set the agenda for the months to come!  Until then, read about 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 in our latest edition of 509 NEWS:
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A Message from the DDS Communications Committee!

Some of your DDS colleagues are working together to keep 509 members in the loop about important updates and opportunities to step up and speak out! Here’s a short video update for DDS members, and check this space for future updates.

SEIU 509 DDS YouTube

Last month, we put out the call for all members to wear purple in solidarity with state worker contract bargaining and the DDS chapter led the way! Check out the full set of photos by liking SEIU 509’s page on Facebook and make sure to tag yourselves!

DDS North Central 2Franklin-Hampshire DDS

 

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SEIU Local 509 Lauds Inclusion of Protection for DCF Social Workers in Final Budget

As the conference committee budget heads to Governor Baker’s desk, SEIU Local 509 released the following statement lauding the inclusion of a critical safety measure for social workers at the Department of Children and Families. Effective upon the Governor’s signature, DCF social workers will be able to use state-issued identification for all DCF business, protecting workers’ home addresses from becoming public record.

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.

“This measure keeps social workers’ personal information personal and helps protect their safety by allowing the use of state issued identification when carrying out DCF work. We are grateful to Minority Leader Tarr, Senator DiDomenico, Representative O’Day, and the Baker administration for championing home address protection for DCF social workers.”

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509’s Elise Simpson in the Worcester Telegram

A leader within 509’s MRC chapter, Elise Simpson, wrote a letter to the editor that was featured in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. In the letter, Elise responds to a recent story shining a light on private human service agencies spending a disproportionate amount of state funding increases on administrative growth and CEO pay. As Elise writes:

To me, this article showed that not only are human services agencies failing to invest in direct care staff, they also do not respect the people they are paid to serve. I think it’s an outrage that a CEO is paid nearly a million dollars annually while the workers caring for clients everyday do not even make $13 an hour. Yet this is exactly what’s happening right here in Worcester at Seven Hills. I fear this will continue unless our elected officials hold these agencies accountable for bringing their front-line workers closer to a living wage and a sustainable career.

Click here to read the full letter.

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Congrats to all 2017 scholarship winners!

Each year, our SEIU Local 509 Scholarship Program funds more than a dozen educational scholarship awards for fellow members and their dependents.
Each of these scholarships range from $1,000 to $1,500 — many awards are based on member’s demonstrated commitment to the union’s growth over the last calendar year. From this year’s pool of qualified applicants, winners were drawn at random.
Congrats to all the winners, and stay tuned for information about next year’s application process!

Daniel Connerty, DOC
Danielle Henry, DTA
Diana Pereira-Velez, DTA
Ethel Everett, DCF
Euphemia Molina, DCF
Italienne Guillaume, Bridgewell
Johnson Odewale, DMH
Joyce Girardi, DMH
Kevin Higgins, Old Colony Elder Services
Kimberly Daughtry, MassHealth
Kristen Tully, DCF
Lisa Rooney, DDS
Lori Cassier, DCF
Michael Grow, DMH
Paul Kelly, DTA
Raymond Obeng, DDS
Stephanie Klink, MRC/DDS Worcester
Stephen Beloa, Bridgewell
Tiana Davis, Masshealth
Umberto Uku, Bridgewell

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SEIU Local 509 Lauds Senate Passage of Amendment to Protect DCF Social Workers

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.

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DDS at 509 Lobby Day 2017

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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!

DDSLobbyDay1 DDSLobbyDay2

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Union Leadership Opportunities – September

Para leer más información en español, haga clic aquí. 

VACANCIES were published on September 14, 2017; nominations will be accepted until Saturday, October 14.

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 (jbauer@seiu509.org) or US mail (293 Boston Post Road West, Marlborough, MA 01752 ).

To view the Leadership Vacancies document in full screen, click here.

Again, nominations are due Saturday, October 14.

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.

Para leer más información en español, haga clic aquí. 

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Boston Globe Editorial | Mandate treatment, funding for mentally ill

Gerry Hill, father of David, an Eastham man suffering with mental illness who was shot and killed by police.

Gerry Hill, father of David, an Eastham man suffering with mental illness who was shot and killed by police.

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.

Read the full editorial from The Boston Globe.

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Disappointing SJC Decision on Emergency Mental Health & Crisis Intervention Services

Dear Colleagues,

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.

You can read a full draft of the Supreme Judicial Court decision here.

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.

In solidarity,

Kathy Prince
DMH Chapter President

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