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Posted By: Council 93
Mental health workers press Baker to back metal detectors at DMH facilities

From State House News Service/Worcester Telegram and Gazette

By Andy Metzger, State House News Service

BOSTON — They are trained to treat those with the greatest behavioral problems, but workers at inpatient mental health facilities around the state fear they lack specific infrastructure to keep everyone physically safe and now they are asking Gov. Charlie Baker to step in.

Two officials from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees hand-delivered to the governor's staff a petition signed by more than 1,100 workers asking for the installation of metal detectors at seven facilities.

"We need his intervention," Jim Durkin, director of legislation for AFSCME Council 93, told John Tapley, the governor's constituent services director, on Friday. Durkin said metal detectors would not completely solve security challenges at the facilities but they would be an "immediate first step."

Tapley said he would make sure the governor received the request, which asks for "immediate action." The Department of Mental Health is "carefully reviewing and updating its procedures to maintain a safe workplace and treatment environment for staff, patients and visitors," a Baker spokesman said on Tuesday.

Knives and other weapons have been smuggled into DMH facilities, and a few months ago a patient used a pencil or pen to stab two workers at Taunton State Hospital, according to Joanne Cooke, president of AFSCME Local 72, who has photos of weapons found on campuses and photos of the wounds staff suffered from the attack earlier this year.
Cooke and Durkin worry that a patient prone to violence will obtain a weapon capable of seriously injuring someone at a mental health facility, posing a risk to staff, visitors and other patients.

"We can't wait any longer for this. It's only a matter of time, we believe, before a knife or a firearm falls into the hands of a patient and people are seriously injured or killed," Durkin told the News Service.

While metal detectors are a common security measure at government buildings and airports, they are rarer in health care settings. Mental Health Commissioner Joan Mikula has tasked her department with looking into the costs associated with installing metal detectors and the department is also surveying staff about their safety concerns, according to an official.

"The safety of staff, persons, and families served is one of the department's highest priorities," DMH spokeswoman Daniela Trammell said in a statement. "In order for our work to be successful, DMH must create and maintain a safe workplace and hospital treatment environment. We are assessing the department's needs to best address all patient, visitor and staff safety needs."

Health care safety concerns are not limited to DMH facilities. The Massachusetts Nurses Association is urging lawmakers to support legislation (S 1374/H 1007) that would require annual safety assessments at all health care facilities. Neither bill has passed the House or Senate this session.

On Friday DMH closed Westwood Lodge, a private hospital operated by Arbour Health Systems "due to issues concerning patient safety and quality of care," according to the department, and transferred 20 adult patients out of the facility. Westwood Lodge is not one of the DMH inpatient facilities but it is licensed by DMH.

The seven DMH inpatient facilities are Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital, Taunton State Hospital, Corrigan Mental Health Center in Fall River, Cape Cod and Islands Community Mental Health Center in Pocasset, Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center in Boston, Tewksbury Hospital and Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Boston, according to Durkin.

Some of those facilities use hand-held metal-detecting wands, according to the administration and the union.
Durkin said the wands are a "secondary tool" insufficient for screening all incoming visitors and patients. He claimed the administration is reluctant to install metal-detecting gates because of image concerns, which he said is "absurd."

"The only reason we can get out of them is it's an image concern," Durkin said. "They don't want their facility to have a prison-like feel. But if you go to any of these facilities, you'll see at Worcester, for example, 20-foot barbed wire fences surrounding the facilities."

Durkin said the union has been pressing for metal detectors for several years and over the past several months he has spoken about the issue with Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, her chief of staff, Leslie Darcy, and Mikula.

Cooke said that as officials have sought to expand treatment options in the community rather than inpatient settings, the patients treated at DMH facilities are "really the sickest of the sick right now."

"Let me tell you, these are tough characters," said Cooke, who said patients have told staff they are afraid of violence.

Posted By: Council 93
Council 93's Scholarship Committee is now accepting nominations for the Council 93 Memorial Leadership Award.

Awarded in memory of our late brother and sisters of Council 93, the award is given annually to a current member in good standing who through exemplary action or dogged determination, exemplifies the spirit of a true trade unionist. Nominations must be received NO LATER than SEPTEMBER 22, 2017.

Each Council 93 Local Union may nominate one member for the award based on the criteria cited above. Click here for detailed information and instructions on the nomination process. Employees of Council 93 are not eligible for this award at any time during their paid service to Council 93.

A plaque, together with a check in the amount of $100.00, will be presented to the recipient at Council 93's Biennial Convention in November.

Questions can be addressed via email to Anna Owen or by calling Anna at 617-367-6015.

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

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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.)

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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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