Council 93 Human Services Workers in MA Rewarded for Their 'Courage and Dedication' During COVID-19 Crisis

AFSCME members working on the front lines of the Covid-19 Pandemic will now receive some well-deserved financial recognition, thanks to an agreement reached this evening between AFSCME Council 93 and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Members working in state human services facilities and group homes will receive temporary pay increases of $5.00 or $10.00 per hour, as they continue to put themselves and their families at risk by delivering essential public services to the most vulnerable members of our society.

"We're pleased to deliver this hard-earned pay increase for our members," said Council 93 Executive Director Mark Bernard. "The agreement we signed with the state calls these increases 'pay incentives,' but we view them primarily as well-deserved recognition for the courage and dedication AFSCME human services professionals are exhibiting on the job every single day and night."

Under the agreement, workers holding licenses related to their occupation will receive the $10.00 increase. All other workers will receive the $5.00 bump in pay. The increases are in effect immediately and will remain in effect until "The Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) determines that the COVID-19 Crisis has abated." However, the increases will remain in effect until at least May 30, 2020, regardless of any determination by EOHHS. Approximately 6,500 AFSCME members will receive the increases.

The agreement also provides additional recognition to workers who have not missed a "shift or regular workday" since the March state of emergency declaration by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. These workers will also receive a one-time $500. bonus in addition to the hourly-pay increases.

Bernard noted that despite the fact that AFSCME members are working in high risk environments, employee absenteeism numbers among AFSCME members overall have been extremely low during the crisis, according to reports the union has received from local union leaders working at human services facilities. With visits from the public suspended indefinitely, patients in public health and mental health hospitals; residents in developmental disability group homes and facilities; as well as juveniles in the custody of the Department of Youth Services; have become even more reliant on the AFSCME members who care for them. "Our members know that they are needed now, perhaps more than ever," Bernard said. "And, they have really stepped up during the crisis. They have been wherever they are needed, whenever they are needed. We are grateful to the Baker Administration for acknowledging their contributions."

Bernard added that he viewed tonight's agreement as a "good start," noting that AFSCME Council 93 will continue ongoing efforts to increase compensation of members who are needed at work during the crisis, and extend pay increase benefits to additional members beyond those included in tonight's agreement. Bernard said AFSCME will also be working to have the increases paid retroactively to the start of the state of emergency in March.