Originally posted at seiu509.org
Local 509 members advocate for safer working conditions and a living wage
Over the last few weeks hundreds of Local 509 members have braved the cold to join together in rallies across the state. With chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, unsafe staffing’s got to go!” we brought the message to the public that while human service work is important to our communities, it is often not given the respect and dignity that it deserves. At each of the rallies, union members and allies from the community spoke of the often unsafe working conditions and inadequate pay that private-sector human service workers face in Massachusetts. A special thanks goes out to the numerous 509 public-sector members who attended and spoke in support of their union sisters and brothers in the private -sector.
The rallies kicked off with a mid-day gathering in front of the Malden Center MBTA station on Tuesday. Speakers from Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong (MASS), the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Greater Boston Labor Council, and a number of other community allies joined our private and public sector members to support human service workers.
Wednesday’s rally brought us to Lincoln Square in downtown Worcester at rush hour. As in Malden, there was tremendous turnout from SEIU Local 509 members and our community allies, including a strong contingent from MPower. Amidst numerous waves and car-horn honks of support, State Senator Michael Moore as well as representatives from MASS and MPower, spoke passionately in support of the hard work that human service workers do for the people of our state.
Continuing west, Springfield was the next stop on our tour of the commonwealth. Along with the 509 private- and public-sector members who staged the rally, representatives from Western Mass Jobs With Justice and the UAW stood with us to support human service workers in the Pioneer Valley.
In addition to the many passers-by, our message was also spread throughout Western Massachusetts with news reports airing that night on WWLP-22 (click here to watch), CBS 3 Springfield (click here to watch), and WGGB-6, and a radio broadcast on WFCR.
Our rallies concluded with a trip to New Bedford on Friday. With support from the Greater Southeastern Massachusetts Labor Council and other community allies, our members made a strong showing in front of City Hall. In fact, after the rally a group of 509 members were invited inside to meet with Mayor Scott Lang as well as a group of the local State Representatives and State Senators to discuss the issues facing human service workers in their community. We would like to thank the mayor and the state delegation for taking the time to listen to our concerns.
With a week of successful rallies bringing attention to our cause, the private-sector members of Local 509 are now organizing for the upcoming contract campaigns at a number of our facilities. In order to make sure that human service workers are treated with dignity and respect, we’re taking our fight for safe staffing and a living-wage to the State House and local legislators around the state.