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Posted By: Council 93

As an Environmental Health Specialist in the City of Manchester, NH, there's not much in the public health arena that Local 298 member Karen Sutkus hasn't seen or done.

In the course of her 17-year run working for the city's health department, Sutkus has assisted in the set-up of emergency shelters during natural disasters; helped to rid the city's parks and streets of dirty needles; conducted health inspections of restaurants, foster care providers and public swimming pools; and much more. "It's always something different, but we're always ready for it," she says calmly.

But the COVID-19 Pandemic has placed Sutkus in what is perhaps, the most important role of her career. For the past two weeks, she's been part of a small team of public employees responsible for staffing a drive-up testing site in Manchester, the state's largest city. The group, which includes AFSCME school nurses and public safety personnel, are working tirelessly to screen healthcare professionals, and a limited number of residents sent from their physicians, for the deadly coronavirus.

Sutkus serves as the first point of contact for people as they line up for the diagnostic test. Using a combination of paper forms and a phone app, she obtains critical information from each person, including their current medical condition; recent travel history; and other vital data aimed at tracking and reducing the spread of the virus. While most people are sheltering safely in the confines of their home, Sutkus estimates that she and other Local 298 members working at the site have had direct contact with upwards of 800 people who have lined up for testing. That number increases every day.

Still, Sutkus remains calm and focused. "This is what we are called to do. This is what we are trained to do. It's our time to step up," she says. Fortunately, unlike so many healthcare workers around the country, Sutkus has had the benefit of an adequate supply of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and she remains hopeful and optimistic that the city will be able to continue to secure the PPE they need to keep workers as safe as possible.

Local_298_Lisa_Keefe20200401170810Once Sutkus completes the initial intake and does her best to put people at ease, she moves them down the line for testing. That's where people like Lisa Keefe
(Pictured Left) step up. One of 23 AFSCME Local 298 school nurses that have been shifted to new roles since schools have been shut down, Keefe is responsible for administering the nasal swab test required to detect the virus. Like Sutkus, Keefe exudes the calm of an experienced pro as she describes the work. "We start by verifying their name, date of birth and current address and explain exactly what we are going to do in terms of the test while trying to keep them as relaxed as possible," said Keefe, who has worked as a middle school nurse for the past 18 years. "We give them all the information they need for post testing behavior, including self-isolation practices."

Keefe explained that testing is done in two-person teams with one person providing information, while the other, protected by PPE, conducts the swab. The person being tested never leaves their vehicle. Team members switch roles throughout the day as they change and sanitize the PPE, which continues to be in short supply around the country.

"The important work being done by Karen and Lisa on the front lines of this fight is truly incredible and just one of thousands of examples of the vital contributions AFSCME members are making every day throughout New England and across the country," said Council 93 Executive Director Mark Bernard. "The work at this one testing site alone will make a significant difference in ongoing efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and therefore, will ultimately save lives."

A past union leader in the City of Boston, Bernard knows firsthand about the important and difficult work of public health professionals like Sutkus and Keefe, having worked as a health inspector in the city and surrounding communities for more than a decade before joining the staff of Council 93.

Prior to becoming a school nurse, Keefe worked for many years in a hospital setting, experience she says has helped her to remain calm and hit the ground running in her new role. "I have a long history of working in an emergency room, we would do nasal swab testing for the flu virus all the time and as far as being safe, I know that as long as we follow CDC safety protocol we will be fine."

In addition to working at the testing site, Keefe noted Local 298's school nurses are also staffing public health hotlines, answering questions and guiding concerned residents to appropriate care and information.

Sutkus, who serves as a steward for her Local, says the backing Local 298 has received both from her employer and her union has made this difficult time a lot easier. "We've had great leadership and support from the city," she said, "and the union has been great. We've heard from our Local President Dennis Bourgeois and Council 93 staff several times – on everything from adjusting our schedules to just making sure we are ok."

Bourgeois expressed pride for all members of his local for their "courage and dedication" as they continue to work, noting that Local 298 public works employees such as trash collectors are still on the job too. Of course, his pride is mixed with concern. "They're on my minds constantly so I'm communicating with them as often as I can to make sure they're ok and have what they need," Bourgeois said. "Most people have no idea what our members are facing. They're not just putting themselves at risk, but their families too. But these are our jobs and we need to do our jobs right now. I hope this crisis comes quickly to an end but until it does, we will be there."

Going forward, Keefe is urging the public to remain vigilant and expresses concern that too many members of the public are ignoring the social distancing recommendations of professionals. "Ignorance and a lack of respect for other human beings is what spreads this virus," It's sad, but I think we have a long way to go."

When asked what advice she would give to the public or say to people who may be dealing with anxiety at home, Sutkus relayed a quote she said she heard over the past few weeks. "I would say try to remember you are not stuck at home, you are safe at home," she said. She added that people can still find ways to help while taking the appropriate cautions. "Maybe it is going to the grocery store for an elderly neighbor - or simply calling them to check in. People can stay safe and still rise up, simply by asking the question, how can we help each other out?"

Posted By: Council 93
Dear AFSCME Member:

Last week, I wrote to thank you for continuing to deliver the vital services you provide as we work through this global public health crisis, and to seek your input on how we can continue to address your needs.

So much has happened since then. All four governors in our four-state region have taken significant steps to increase social distancing practices by closing non-essential businesses and encouraging as many people as possible to refrain from leaving their houses. Yet, of course, the majority of AFSCME members remain on the front lines -without the luxury of taking shelter in the safe confines of their homes.

While the number of confirmed infections and fatalities continues to rise, AFSCME members throughout our four-state region remain on the job at state mental health, public health and developmental disability facilities throughout our region, as well as the Boston Medical Center. Our corrections officers continue to stand their posts behind the walls of our prisons and jails. Our public works professionals, 911 dispatchers, EMTs, and so many other municipal and school district workers also remain in the field with many being re-directed to perform new vital functions like delivering meals to school children and staffing public health hotlines. The examples are endless and too numerous to mention here, but suffice to say that never before has the old AFSCME slogan "We Never Quit" been more relevant and meaningful. I am truly proud to be part of our union and I want to thank all of you again for your dedication, perseverance and bravery.

I also want to thank you for continuing to contact us with your concerns. When I last reached out, many of you took time to provide feedback and the information you gave us has been extremely helpful as the Council 93 staff continues to work around-the-clock to meet your needs.

Given that things continue to change rapidly, I wanted to reach out again and ask you to take the time to review and complete this survey.

Of course, Massachusetts members are still welcome and encouraged to email their questions and concerns directly to Ed Nastari, Field Services Director for Massachusetts. And, our members in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont can still email their questions and concerns to Steve Lyons, who serves as the Field Services Director for those states.

However, this survey provides us with another method of identifying the issues and concerns you are facing and allows us to compile and analyze the information more effectively. As such, I ask that you take a moment to complete it and share it with as many AFSCME Council 93 members as possible.

Thank you again for your commitment, professionalism and courage. I hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe and remain that way.

In Solidarity,
Mark Bernard
Executive Director

Posted By: Council 93
To slow the spread of coronavirus, Governor Baker has issued an emergency order temporarily closing all early childhood education programs across the State of Massachusetts to suspend providing childcare by 11:59 P.M. on Sunday, March 22, 2020. This will remain in effect until April 6, 2020 and may be extended as needed.

This closure applies to all center-based child care and family child care programs. It does not apply to residential schools, community group homes, temporary shelters, transition-to-independent living facilities, teen parent programs, and DYS secure facilities.

Exempt Emergency Child Care Programs will be the only child care programs that are allowed to operate during this time. This prioritizes public health and safety while maintaining critical service.

MA Emergency Child Care


Do not contact an emergency child care program unless you require emergency, back-up, drop-in care. Priority must be given to people including but are not limited to health care workers, essential state and human service workers, COVID-19 health workers, grocery store employees, emergency response personnel, law enforcement, transportation and infrastructure workers, sanitation workers, DCF-involved families, and families living in shelters. To slow the spread of the coronavirus, all families should keep children out of group care settings to the greatest extent possible. Emergency Child Care Programs are for when all other non-group-care settings have been exhausted and families have no other options.

Posted By: Council 93
Dear AFSCME Members:

As you and your AFSCME Brothers and Sisters continue to work during these unprecedented times, I want to take moment to thank you for all that you are doing to help our states and communities move through this public health crisis.

As governmental leaders and healthcare experts encourage people to limit contact with others and practice "social distancing," I know that most AFSCME members do not have that luxury. While most people are taking steps to limit contact with others, the vital job duties of AFSCME members require that they do just the opposite. Here are just a few of many examples:

  • Our direct-care workers are providing around-the-clock care to the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. These workers are also dealing with the added emotional stress experienced by patients due to the need to suspend visitation from friends and family members.
  • Our members at the Boston Medical Center (BMC) are working as close as anyone can get to the front line of this fight. BMC welcomes and treats all those in need and for many years now, has operated the busiest trauma and emergency services center in New England. As this crisis intensifies, so will the public's reliance on all of the dedicated workers at BMC.
  • Our municipal public health nurses are preparing to staff drive through testing sites for area hospitals.
  • Our corrections officers are guarding inmates in state and county correctional facilities while dealing with the very real threat of exposure to the virus in the close confines of these often overcrowded facilities.
  • Our public works professionals in cities and towns across New England remain on the job, helping to ensure our highways, roads and bridges are safe for passage and vital public infrastructure such as water and sewer systems, solid waste removal, and much more remain fully operational.
  • Our EMTs and 911 dispatchers continue to serve as first responders for any and all emergencies in their communities.
  • In our public school districts, custodians are working day and night to sanitize and disinfect our schools during suspension of classes; support staff are preparing for new roles as districts move to online education; and school nurses have shifted to manning public-health hotlines and other important duties. Since so many kids rely on school districts for nutritious meals, our school cafeteria workers are working with our para-professionals to package and distribute meals for kids so they can continue to have healthy meal choices while schools remain closed.
I could list dozens of additional examples but suffice to say that while most people are taking the necessary steps to protect themselves and their families, AFSCME members throughout New England are putting themselves and their family members in harm's way – simply by doing their jobs.

As AFSCME members, you are used to being the unsung heroes of public-sector services. So it goes without saying that most members of the public may never fully realize the true level of your contributions and sacrifices during these difficult times. But I want you to know that I, and the entire team at Council 93, know how important you are to helping us all get through this crisis. And, I want you to know how much we respect and admire your courage and dedication.

I also want you to know that we are doing everything we can to address your concerns and ensure you get the answers and support you need from your employers. The entire Council 93 team continues to work hard and I'm happy to report that for the most part, state, county and municipal managers have been cooperative with us.

We are currently working to secure clear directives from management on issues such as sick leave policies; leave for unanticipated childcare issues resulting from school closures; policies on allowing some workers to do their jobs from home; defining and redefining essential and non-essential employees; and more. We are also in the process of negotiating/impact bargaining requests from management to make changes in shifts and start times, and working to ensure our members have what they need to minimize risk as they continue to faithfully fulfill their duties. Meanwhile, we continue to meet the more ordinary, daily needs of our members including grievances and arbitrations.

While most the of issues related to this crisis are shared by all of our members regardless of where they work, I realize that a number of unique situations exist and will continue to arise in the days and weeks ahead. With that in mind, I want to encourage all of you to bring any questions or concerns to us immediately.

Members in Massachusetts are encouraged to address any questions or concerns by email to Ed Nastari, Field Services Director for Massachusetts.

Our Members in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont can email their questions and concerns to Steve Lyons, who serves as the Field Services Director for those states.

If you have a suggestion or idea on how things can be done better, safer or more efficiently in your workplace, please share that information with us as well. We know better than anyone that the best ideas - particularly in times of crisis - come from people like you who serve on the front lines.

Thank you for all you are doing and will continue to do in the weeks and months ahead. We stand ready - any time day or night - to assist you with whatever you may need.

In Solidarity,

Mark Bernard
Executive Director
AFSCME Council 93

Posted By: Council 93
Council 93 offices in our four-state region are temporarily closed as part of the broad effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, we want to assure our members that our entire staff remains working and is available to address any and all concerns and questions from our members.

This directory provides phone and email contacts for all Council 93 staff in our four-state region. We are checking email and voicemail constantly throughout the day and evening and will return your calls and emails as soon as possible.

Posted By: Council 93
It's time once again to start looking ahead to the warm summer months and begin preparing for the 14th Annual Council 93 Memorial Golf Tournament.As you may know, the golf tournament is the premier fundraising event for the Council 93 Memorial Scholarship Fund, which helps AFSCME families meet the high cost of a college education. For more than 15 years, the fund has provided more than $66,000 in scholarships to AFSCME members, their spouses, children, stepchildren, grandchildren and legal dependents.

When: Monday, June 29th
Where: Black Swan Country Club Georgetown, MA

Download the Registration Form: http://cdn-ecomm.dreamingcode.com/public/244/documents/Current-14th_Annual_Council_93_Memorial_Scholarship_Golf_Tournament_Flyer_pdf-244-48950-1.pdf
Sponsorship Opportunities: http://cdn-ecomm.dreamingcode.com/public/244/documents/Current-GolfTourneyLetters_2020_pdf-244-48952-1.pdf
Find more info Here: https://www.facebook.com/events/134935244563191/

Posted By: Council 93
Field Services
Steward's Training
February 29th
9am to 3pm
Bellingham Memorial Middle School

AFSCME Council 93 will be conducting a Union Steward's Training for any AFSCME member that is interested in attending. All members and current or newly elected Union Officers and Stewards are urged to attend.

The training will cover such topics as:

  • Rights of Union Members and the Local Union Steward, such as "Weingarten Rights", Duty of Fair Representation, Information Requests, etc.
  • Source of the "Union's" Strength and Power
  • What constitutes a Grievance? Past Practice?
qGrievance administration, writing, investigating and presentation

Training runs from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Lunch will be provided. You will only need to bring a copy of your contract.

If you are interested in attending, please contact Brittany Alexander at balexander@afscme93.org or 617-367-6049.

*We must receive your name, phone number, mailing address and/or e-mail address and your Local #.

Posted By: Council 93
Council 93 has teamed up with Massachusetts lawmakers in our ongoing effort to ensure our police officers in AFSCME Local 1067 MA Higher Education are provided firearms so they can safely and effectively protect the students and staff at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston; and all campuses across the public higher education system.

MassArt is the only four-year public college in Massachusetts that does not have armed Campus Police Officers. In the event of an emergency, the school relies on the Boston Police Department to be its first responder. Despite numerous studies showing the need for armed Campus Police Officers at MassART, the president and Board of Directors have refused to provide the officers on campus with the tools necessary to protect the students, faculty, and staff at MassART.

Sponsored by State Senator Paul Feeney, State Senator Bruce Tarr and State Representative Hank Naughton, S2431- An Act to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff on the campuses of state colleges, community colleges and state universities allows for the Board of Higher Education to overrule an individual schools board and require the issuance of firearms and other safety equipment to campus police officers at any state college, community college or public university to protect the students, faculty, and staff.

Council 93 Local 1067 represents nearly 300 Campus Police Officers at the twenty-four state colleges, community colleges, and public universities across the Commonwealth. All Campus Police Officers go through the same rigorous training process as the Massachusetts State Police and are deputized as special state police officers, with licenses to carry firearms.

Read an article on this important issue from the Worcester Telegram HERE .

Posted By: Council 93
Attention members of AFSCME Unit 2

Sign up for FREE courses now!

You can register for a course in 3 easy steps!

1)Check out the Training and Career Ladder Program website, to view available courses.

2)Log into PACE, select the Course Catalog enter TCL in the keyword search box and select your bargaining unit.

3)Select the enroll button and you will be automatically be registered.

Please note, space in these courses is limited and requires prior supervisor approval.

Some of course offerings include:

  • Supervisory Skills Training
  • PESI Online Training for behavior health professions
  • Project Management
  • OSHA Training
  • Effective Communication Skills
  • Computer Classes
Additional courses are added to the TCL Course Catalog as they become available, so please check the Training and Career Ladder Program website often. Unit 2 Training Opportunities

In addition, there are a limited amount of LinkedIn Learning Licenses available to members of NAGE Units 1, 3 and 6, SEIU 509 Units 8 &10, and AFSCME and SEIU 888 Unit 2. Please email careerladderprogram@mass.govto request your license today.

If applicable, please complete your reimbursement by May 29th 2020. For more information please check out the Training and Career Ladder Program website.

Need Help? Contact careerladderprogram@mass.gov for assistance.

Posted By: Council 93
AFSCME Members in Massachusetts: Do you receive health insurance coverage through Group Insurance Commission (GIC)? Are you looking for an opportunity to urge decision makers to maintain quality coverage and prevent further increases in out-of-pocket costs?

If so, plan now to attend one of the upcoming "listening sessions" scheduled by the GIC Board of Commissioners in the coming weeks.

Sessions will be held in Worcester, Brockton, Springfield, Boston, Lawrence, and Barnstable.

RSVP Here- https://forms.gle/yjUFGsCa17gXRVtL6

Our health insurance costs have continued to rise year after year, while covering less and less. The ones who are feeling the pain are the dedicated state and municipal workers who are faced with uncertainty and confusion as plans are constantly changing and costs continue to go up.

You have a chance to make your voice heard by the GIC!

AFSCME Council 93 has been working in coalition with other public-sector unions on legislation that would help stop cost shifting by increasing labor's representation on the GIC board, cap annual out-of-pocket expenses, and place all state and higher education workers at an 80/20 premium contribution rate split. Council 93 is working hard at the State House, but it is important that the GIC hears from the workers that are directly impacted by the policies and decisions made by the commissioners.

You can make your voice heard and bring your issues directly to the GIC at one of nine GIC Public Hearings from January 22nd to February 4th throughout the Commonwealth.

RSVP Here- https://forms.gle/yjUFGsCa17gXRVtL6

Wednesday, JANUARY 22

Thursday, JANUARY 23

5:30 – 7:00 P.M.


Worcester State University Student Center - Blue Lounge 486 Chandler Street

Worcester, MA 01602

Parking: Any available lots on campus

5:30 – 7:00 P.M.


Massasoit Community College Lecture Hall - Liberal Arts Building One Massasoit Boulevard Brockton, MA 02302

Parking: Lot across from Business Building

Tuesday, JANUARY 28

Wednesday, JANUARY 29

5:00 – 6:30 P.M.


MassMutual Center Meeting Room 1, First Floor 1277 Main Street

Springfield, MA 01103

Parking: Civic Center Garage or MGM Springfield

5:00 – 6:30 P.M.


McCormack State Office Building 21st Floor Conference Rooms One Ashburton Place

Boston, MA 02108

Blue Line: Bowdoin Station Green/Red Line: Park Street Station Orange Line: State Street Station

Thursday, JANUARY 30

Tuesday, FEBRUARY 4

5:30 – 7:00 P.M.


Lawrence Public Library - Main Branch Sargent Auditorium

51 Lawrence Street

Lawrence, MA 01840

Parking: street parking on Haverhill & Oak Street

5:30 – 7:00 P.M.


Barnstable High School Knight Lecture Hall 744 West Main Street Hyannis, MA 02601

Parking: Ample parking in area campus lots

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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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