MA Healthy Workplace Bill hearing – June 25

June 25th, 2013

The public hearing for Massachusetts bill HB 1766 is scheduled for June 25 by the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. Follow the status of the Healthy Workplace Bill in MA on the MA State Page. MA residents connect with the citizen lobbyists through the MA Healthy Workplace Advocates — links to MHWA on the State Page. Good luck to MHWA and NAGE lobbyists!



Maine governor vetoes workplace bullying study bill

June 1st, 2013

Maine Gov. LePage vetoed the Maine bill which began as the full-version of the Healthy Workplace Bill, but was reduced to a bill calling for a study by the Workers Compensation Board. The amended bill passed both House and Senate. On May 31, 2013, the governor vetoed even the shell of a bill.

Visit the Maine State Page for details.



PA becomes 25th State — 10th in 2013

May 29th, 2013

Rep. Mark Cohen (D-202) is the prime sponsor of HB 1179, Pennsylvania’s first-ever introduction of the Healthy Workplace Bill, dubbed the Healthy Workplace Act introduced on April 15, 2013. There are 10 cosponsors.

The bill is the 13th bill to be active in the U.S. in 2013. PA becomes the 10th state to carry a bill this legislative session.

Visit the PA State Page at this website to use our E-Z Emailer to thank the sponsors and to encourage the House Labor and Industry Committee Chairs to schedule a public hearing for the bill.

Hurray!!



Gabby Giffords: Truth teller about cowardly politicians

April 18th, 2013

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords wrote in a New York Times guest editorial forcefully about her feelings toward (46) U.S. Senators who voted against the gun control package of bills on April 17. Excerpts from her Op-Ed article are below.

We advocates for anti-bullying legislation are told to tiptoe around lawmakers lest we offend them. Meanwhile the business lobbyists lie about bullying and the specifics of our bill. We get crushed by remaining civil and polite. It’s time for a change.

But Giffords reminds us that elected officials work for us and can be fired when they make wrong decisions. When their self-interest in re-election funds overwhelm doing the right thing for public safety and they coddle the NRA and Gun Owners of America and do their bidding instead. Her remarks are not delicate. Candor from this former politician is welcome.

We take her words as inspiration for all who help the campaign to enact the Healthy Workplace Bill. Giffords is a one-issue advocate now, like us. She spares no wrath when telling the truth. We should be so bold.

Here is some of what she wrote:

Read the rest of this entry »



Maine is 24th State to introduce the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill

March 25th, 2013

Maine state Rep. Sara Gideon, along with six House cosponsors and two Senate cosponsors, introduced HP 845. Details found on the Maine State Page. This is Maine’s first bill, making it bill number 12 across 9 states in 2013!



CT State Healthy Workplace Bill Coordinator and citizen advocate on community TV

March 13th, 2013

Watch Connecticut State Coordinator, Dr. Kathy Hermes, and citizen advocate Laura Lillian Dickerson (a friend of a bullied target), on Waterford CT community television.

See past activity in Connecticut.



NH Bill clears House Labor Committee

March 12th, 2013

By a vote of 19-0, HB 591 (amended) passed the New Hampshire House Labor Committee. Next step is a House floor vote.



NM Committee Hearing Wed. March 6

March 5th, 2013

In New Mexico, on Wed. March 6 at 1:30 pm in Room 309 of the capitol, the House Judiciary Committee holds a public hearing on the bill (HB 234) sponsored by Rep. Mary Helen Garcia. Please attend and support the bill if you can. Regardless, please write to the committee chair and vice-chair, urging them to support the bill. This can be done easily from the NM State Page using our E-Z letter writer.

We are grateful for all the support provided the NM State AFSCME union.



CA State Coordinator explains workplace bullying and the HWB

March 5th, 2013

Carrie Clark, California State Co-Coordinator, speaks on March 2, 2013 about workplace bullying and the need for the Healthy Workplace Bill in states.



HWB Legislative Campaign is focus of Associated Press story

March 1st, 2013

Growing Push to Halt Workplace Bullying
by Sam Hananel, Associated Press, March 1, 2013

Article excerpts …

On-the-job bullying can take many forms, from a supervisor’s verbal abuse and threats to cruel comments or relentless teasing by a co-worker. And it could become the next major battleground in employment law as a growing number of states consider legislation that would let workers sue for harassment that causes physical or emotional harm.

“I believe this is the new claim that employers will deal with. This will replace sexual harassment,” said Sharon Parella, a management-side employment lawyer in New York. “People who oppose it say these laws will force people to be polite at work. But you can no longer go to work and act like a beast and get away with it.”

Some employers have put into place anti-bullying policies, but advocacy groups want to go even further. They have been urging states to give legal rights to workers who do not already fit into a protected class based on race, gender or national origin.

More than a dozen states — including New York and Massachusetts — have considered anti-bullying laws in the past year that would allow litigants to pursue lost wages, benefits and medical expenses and compel employers to prevent an “abusive work environment.”

Gary Namie, a social psychologist who co-founded the Bellingham, Wash.-based Workplace Bullying Institute in 1997, is among those leading the charge, along with labor unions and civil rights groups. He says the economic downturn has made bullying even worse and argues that passage of the laws would give employers more incentive to crack down on bad behavior in the workplace.

“People are trapped; they don’t have the same alternative jobs to jump to,” Namie said. “They are staying longer in these pressured, stress-filled, toxic work environments.”

Business groups have strongly opposed the measures, arguing they would open the floodgates to frivolous lawsuits.

“We would look at a bill like this as overreaching,” said Marc Freedman, executive director of labor law policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He said the bill would punish an employer for acts of its employees that it may not be able to anticipate.

But Parella, the employment lawyer, thinks it’s only a matter of time before states begin passing these laws and bullying issues become a major factor in workplace litigation.

“Once it passes in a few states, there will be a chain reaction,” she said, noting that other countries such as England, Ireland and Sweden already have laws addressing workplace harassment.

In Massachusetts, the National Association of Government Employees Local 282 has been one the first unions in the country to include an anti-bullying clause in collective bargaining agreements.

“From a labor perspective, we want there to be remedies in place for corrections to be made, not to yell, scream, threaten or treat the person basically like a slave,” said Greg Sorozan, president of NAGE, which represents about 12,000 public employees.

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See an original posting of the full story with pictures and a graph.

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The anti-bullying legislation mentioned in the article is called the Healthy Workplace Bill. You can help enact it in your state by helping our State Coordinators. At this national campaign website, click on your state and see what is happening this legislative session or in years before.

Greg Sorozan is also HWB State Coordinator in Massachusetts. See videos of him and Suffolk Law Professor David Yamada, the bill’s author, describing the legislation on the MA State Page at this website.