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Posted By: Council 93
More than 350 current and retired members of AFSCME Local 851 in the City of New Bedford, MA are now sharing a total of $1.845 million in back pay that was illegally stripped from their paychecks in 2011 by the city's former mayor.

The money arrived in the workers' paychecks in mid-August, nearly eight years to the day that former Mayor Scott Lang announced he was implementing the furlough despite clear language in the law that required the union's consent. It was a hard-fought win for the union and a shining example of AFSCME Council 93's "never quit" attitude when it comes to fighting for members.

"This win sends a loud and clear message that we will fight for a long as it takes to achieve justice whenever our members our treated unfairly," said Council 93 Executive Director Frank Moroney. "We're pleased that we were finally able to force the city to pay this long-overdue debt to the hard working men and women of Local 851."

The long road to victory started with a November 2011 ruling against the furlough by the Commonwealth's Employment Relations Board (CERB). Lang left office a few months after the CERB ruling but his successor Jon Mitchell continued to fight AFSCME in court, forcing a long legal battle that ended with a showdown in the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

In December of 2016, the state's highest court ruled in AFSCME's favor and the city began identifying the workers who were owed the money and calculating the amounts due. On July 20th, the $1,845,942 in payments were approved by a unanimous vote of the New Bedford City Council. A month later, the funds were finally in the hands of AFSCME members.

Donna Cordeiro, who worked for the city's library for more than 38 years, received a check totaling $5,976. (before taxes) – even though she retired from her position two years ago.
Cordeiro, who said she will use the money to pay down some debt and build her savings account, praised the union for continuing to fight and ensuring that retirees would receive all the money they were shorted during the furlough. "I think AFSCME did a great job, Cordeiro said. "They did all they could for us and they fought until the end. They stuck with us and didn't give up."

Cordeiro added that she felt fortunate to have AFSCME fighting for her, noting that non-union management employees cannot recoup the lost funds. "If you weren't in the union, you lose," she said.

Local 851 member and Steward Shelley Avila-Martins is among the current workers who received the long overdue money in August. A zoo keeper at the city's Buttonwood Park Zoo for the past 16 years, Avila-Martins recalled the difficulty the financial hardship placed on her family when her pay was drastically cut. "It was rough, she said. "I just had a baby and we already had a two-year old. At the time, the loss of money every week hurt me really bad."

Avila-Martins knew her union was fighting for her, but admits she was doubtful at times that city leaders would ever pay their debt. "Honestly, sometimes I figured I'd be dead and gone and my kids or my grandkids would end up having to fight for it," she said with a laugh.

For Avila-Martins, who received $6899. in back pay before taxes, the money will ease the transition to a new apartment for her and her family. "It's nice not to have to struggle to come up with that security deposit and first and last month rent," she said. 'And, I even have a little left over for a rainy day." Avila-Martins said she continues to hear stories from co-workers about the difference the money is making for her union brothers and sisters. "It's been a blessing in a lot of peoples' lives," she said. "People are going through tough times and this is making a real difference."

She added that the victory is just one of many examples of why workers need union protection and has "earned us respect" from members who, from time-to-time, question the value of the union. "As a steward I tell people all the time that the union is only as strong as its members and if we stay together there is nothing that we can't accomplish."

Posted By: Council 93

Imagine what you can achieve with the AFSCME Free College Benefit.

There are always points in your career — and your life — in which you want to move forward. You want to improve; you want to feel inspired and reach new goals. Perhaps you want to qualify for a promotion, finish your degree, or enrich your life through learning. Whatever your motivation, a quality education can be the catalyst to get you where you want to go.

It's AFSCME's mission to give you every advantage to get ahead. That's why we've partnered with Eastern Gateway Community College. Through the AFSCME Free College benefit, you and your family members can now earn an associate degree completely online–for FREE.

Eastern Gateway is an accredited community college, a member of the University System of Ohio, and is one of the fastest-growing public colleges in the country. It's an open access public college governed by the Ohio Board of Regents and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Click here to find out more today!

Posted By: Council 93
Massachusetts Senate votes to expand death benefit for public employees
Mass Live

BOSTON -- The state Senate on Thursday approved a budget amendment filed in honor of Longmeadow Department of Public Works foreman Warren P. Cowles that would expand a benefit for family members of public employees killed on the job.

The vote moves the measure, proposed by Sen. Eric P. Lesser, one step closer to making the $300,000 benefit available to the family of Cowles, who died in a collision with a train while plowing snow on March 14.

If it survives negotiations in the Senate-House conference committee and the governor's final budget review, the amendment will retroactively benefit the Cowles family.

Under current state law, only the family of first responders who die in the line of duty are eligible for the benefit. Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill in March doubling the benefit from $150,000 to $300,000.

"A life is a life, and if a public worker dies in the line of duty, their families should be eligible for the same benefit," Lesser, D-Longmeadow, said in a statement. "This amendment is about equity and fairness to all those who do the public's work and put their own safety at risk to serve their communities."

As written in the amendment, those who would qualify for the benefit include "any public employee working for state or county government, a Massachusetts public higher education institution, a municipality, public school department, or public school district or public authority who, while in the performance of his/her duties and as a result of incident, accident or violence, was killed or sustained injuries which were the direct and proximate cause of his/her death."

The benefit would not apply in the case of a worker who dies of a health issue that happens to strike during work hours, according to Lesser's office.

"Other examples of eligible public workers would be a teacher attacked by a student or a forest ranger who has a tree limb fall on him after a storm," a spokesman for the senator wrote in a follow-up email to The Republican. "The point of this is to protect public workers who go to their job on an otherwise normal day with no expectation of harm and die while they were in the process of doing their work on behalf of the public."

In the statement released by Lesser's office, Frank Moroney, Executive Director of Council 93 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the amendment recognizes "the unsung heroes of the public-sector workforce."

"It's clear that different workers face different degrees of hazards on the job," Moroney said. "But there is an element of danger in every public-sector job and when that danger results in death, then everything should be equal and the spouses and children left behind should be treated with the same dignity and respect as public safety workers."

Lesser filed the amendment after State Rep. Jay D. Livingston, D-Boston, introduced a similar bill last year. Livingstone's proposal was referred to the Legislature's Committee on Public Service in January.

Money for the benefit would come from the public employees' pension fund -- so, according to Lesser's office, it is "revenue neutral."

The amendment was part of the Senate's $40.8 million budget proposal for fiscal 2018 passed Thursday night. The fiscal year begins July 1.

Posted By: Council 93
Click to read the latest edition of the 93 Beacon! While the links in the .pdf are not live, you can find them below:

PEOPLE Program

Radio Commercial 1

Radio Commercial 2

11th Annual Golf Tournament Registration form

Posted By: Council 93
Please join us for the 11th Annual Memorial Golf Tournament! Click here for the registration form which is due by June 23, 2017. The cost is $150 per person or $600 for a foursome. Please mail check and registration to:

AFSCME Council 93 Memorial Scholarship Fund
8 Beacon Street, 9th Floor
Boston, MA 02108

  • Slots filled on a first come, first served basis
  • Lunch served on side during awards presentation & raffle prize drawings
  • Prizes awarded for: (1) 1st Place Team, (2) Closest to Pin, (3) Longest Drive
  • Raffle prizes include: 50/50 drawing, sports memorabilia, golf supplies, big screen TV and other great items
  • If an individual is unable to play after payment is received, he or she will be responsible for finding a replacement
  • All proceeds to benefit the Council 93 Memorial Scholarship Fund
  • No refunds will be given

*Sponsorships available!*

Posted By: Council 93
Today is Workers' Memorial Day, a time to remember and honor workers who lost their lives due to job related accidents, injuries and illnesses. It's also a day to renew our commitment to fighting for safer working conditions and passage of laws and regulations that protect the safety of our members.

The name of our brother Jason Sanderson was among those read in remembrance at a ceremony at the State House in Boston earlier today. Jason, who was an active and valued member of Local 1700, lost his life in a work related tragedy last November while working a second job in construction.

In recent years, Council 93 has also mourned the loss of Jason Lew, a nurse in Local 72, who died in 2011 of injuries sustained in a violent attack by a patient in his care at state facility in Pocasset, MA. We also suffered the loss Carlos Tabares, a member of Local 851, who died in 2012 after being pinned between the bucket and the cab of a bobcat he was repairing at the New Bedford, MA Water Department.

Council 93 continues to fight for safer working conditions and fair and equitable line of duty injury and death benefits for our members. We are actively engaged in efforts to address the problem of violent attacks against our members in the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services and Massachusetts Mental Health facilities to name a few. We are also pushing for passage of legislation that would provide the same line of duty death benefit currently provided to public safety workers.

We use the sacrifices made by brothers Lew, Tabares and Sanderson as inspiration and invite all members to join us in our efforts. If you have a workplace safety issue that needs to be addressed or are interested in joining our fight to provide safer working conditions please email Jim Durkin or call at 617-367-6012.

Posted By: Council 93
We have heard from many of you that you'd like to see additional programs offered through the AFSCME Free College Benefit. To that end, we are pleased to announce that our partner, Eastern Gateway Community College, is now enrolling students for Summer and Fall for the following online Associate Degree and Certificate programs.

HealthcareThese programs will get you started in the dynamic, growing field!

  • Healthcare Management (Business Management Degree Concentration)
  • Patient Navigator Certificate An excellent program designed to train students for patient-centered work in healthcare.
Business The changing economy means workers need to regularly update their skills. These programs will help you do just that.

  • Business Management Degree with additional Concentrations in
    • Human Resources
    • Health Care Management
    • Marketing
    • Finance
  • EGCC is also offering a Business Management Certificate
    • Option for accounting concentration
  • Accounting
Paralegal The Paralegal Program is designed to prepare students for employment in a law environment in both public and private sectors.

Associate of Individualized Study Degree A flexible program designed for students who have substantial previous college credit.

Criminal Justice DegreeMany of our members can receive college credit for their Corrections or Peace Officer Training certifications.

Associate of Arts Degree A great way to get started on your college degree.

Early Childhood Education Degree Many courses will count toward state education standards points and help providers earn more pay.

Visit www.FreeCollege.AFSCME.org or call 888-590-9009 now to enroll. Summer classes begin May 30 and Fall classes begin August 21. All full-dues paying AFSCME members and their families* are eligible. Take just one class or go full-time. And you'll never have to pay for tuition, fees or e-books. Get started today!

(* Family is defined as children and grandchildren, step children and step grandchildren, spouses, domestic partners and financial dependents.)

Posted By: Council 93
The failure of the House to pass the American Health Care Act last week was an important win for working families. This, and our collective defeat of Trump's pick for Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, represent significant setbacks to Trump's harmful agenda. Both happened because thousands of people, including AFSCME members, attended town halls, made calls, and stood up and made their voices heard.

While the fight against this administration's extreme agenda is nowhere close to over, we now have some powerful momentum and a real opportunity to stop another attack on working people by stopping Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Here's how you can help:

  • Please call your U.S. Senators to demand they oppose Gorsuch. AFSCME has set up a toll free number to make the calls, (1-877-582-2913), or you can click here to call.
  • Sign the petition urging the Senate to oppose Neil Gorsuch's nomination here .
  • Share this widely with your members!

Posted By: Council 93

A pair of impressive arbitration wins against the City of Manchester, NH has led to the promotion of two AFSCME Council 93 members and a combined total of 33 months in back wages.

Thanks to the hard work and high quality representation of their union, Local 298 members Walter Madej and William Cote have both been promoted to supervisory positions in the city. Madej will take on the job of highway supervisor in the department of public works while Cote will serve as a shift supervisor at the wastewater treatment plant.

The decisions, handed down last month by arbitrator James S. Cooper, reaffirm the strength of seniority language in collective bargaining agreements and send a strong message to management officials who may try to bypass the seniority process.

The cases started in the summer of 2015 when the vacant positions were first posted. Cote and Madej were among a number of applicants for the positions and both possessed the skills and experience needed to perform the job. But the pair also had something else that no other candidate could claim – seniority. Despite the fact that both Cote and Madej had skills and experience equal to or better than the other applicants and despite clear seniority language in the contract, the city opted to give the promotions to two other candidates. Grievances were subsequently filed by AFSCME and after more than a year, both matters were placed before independent arbitrator James S. Cooper for a binding decision in accordance with the contract.

After hearing the arguments and viewing evidence presented by both sides at hearings in January, Cooper ruled in favor of the union and ordered the immediate promotion of Cote and Madej. He also directed the city to make both workers "whole for loss of pay and benefits retroactive to the date of the grievance." Madej will receive 15 months of the difference between his current pay and the promotional level pay. Cote will be compensated for 18 months of the difference in pay.

In his written decision Cooper sharply criticized management for their actions calling the system used to deny Madej the promotion "a façade of objectivity designed to provide the department a basis for promoting the department's favored candidate." But Cooper's strongest language came at the end of the Madej decision which read, "perhaps someday, (the other candidate) will enjoy the application of this standard when he has seniority and ability to perform the job and some hot shot new employee tries to edge him out of a promotion. Seniority means something and in this case, it means Walter Madej should have been promoted."

The arbitrator's decision translates into a well-deserved pay day for Madej and Cote but the cost doesn't stop there for the Administration of Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas. Due to language in the contract stipulating the loser in arbitration pays the full cost of the arbitrator's services, the Gatsas Administration is also responsible for nearly $13,000 in arbitration costs.

Posted By: Council 93

Council 93 is pushing for passage of new legislation in Maine that would provide state and county corrections officers with well-deserved worker compensation benefits in the event that the stress of their dangerous jobs results in heart disease or hypertension.

The bill (LD777) was filed at the request of AFSCME by State Representative Ralph Tucker (D-Brunswick). The proposed law would create what is known as a "rebuttable presumption" that any heart disease or hypertension suffered by a corrections officer was caused by the difficult work they do. In other words, the burden would be on the state to prove the illness was caused by other factors. If the state is unable to do so, the officer would be entitled to worker's compensation. In the event an officer dies from the illness, his or her family would also be entitled to a death benefit.

A public hearing on the bill was held March 23, by the legislature's Joint Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development. In testimony submitted in person and in writing to the committee, Council 93 highlighted the experience of Local 2968 member Phil Newth, a 20-year veteran officer at Maine State Prison in Warren. The 45-year-old Newth suffered his first heart attack at age 32. A second heart attack followed in 2015 requiring Newth to undergo open-heart surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Because he did not qualify for worker's compensation, Newth exhausted all accumulated sick and vacation time, including 81 additional hours donated by his fellow officers. The ordeal pushed Newth and his family to the brink of financial disaster. While recovering from his 2015 heart surgery, he was forced to go to court in an attempt to stop foreclosure proceedings on his home. At the time, Council 93 was in the process of working with the legislature to successfully override Governor Paul LePage's veto of AFSCME legislation that provided all corrections officers with a $2.00 per hour wage increase. While Newth did not have the additional money in his paycheck at the time of the court hearing, the promise of it coming was enough to convince the judge to give him more time to save his home. Fortunately, Newth was able to keep his home and continue on the road to recovery. He is now back to work and will be working with the Council to gain support for the new legislation in the coming months.

This isn't the first time Newth has worked with Council 93 on legislative issues. In 2012, during the first attacks on unions by Governor LePage, he agreed to be interviewed for a series of radio commercials sponsored by the Council, which helped stop attacks on pensions and other benefits. Although they aired several years ago, the message is still relevant today. Audio files of the commercials are below.

Radio Commercial 1

Radio Commercial 2

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AFSCME Council 93

AFSCME Council 93 represents more than 45,000 state, county and municipal employees in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.

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