[act-ma] 7/26 - Union Rights for Public Defenders - Boston Rally

B Evans ben.c.evans at gmail.com
Tue Jun 26 13:15:47 PDT 2018


Join employees of the Massachusetts public defender agency, the Committee
for Public Counsel Services, at a rally in support of pending legislation
which would grant them the right to collectively bargain and seek the
protections of a contract. We are hoping for support from the progressive
activist community. Thank you!

WHAT:
Rally for Union Rights for Public Defenders

WHERE:
Massachusetts State House
24 Beacon St, Boston, Massachusetts 02108

WHEN:
Thursday, July 26 at 1:00pm

MORE INFO:
Join us at the Massachusetts State House on Thursday, July 26th to support
employees of the Massachusetts Public Defender agency (the Committee for
Public Counsel Services) as we continue our struggle to pass House & Senate
Bill 1426.

For the past decade we have been actively fighting to win the right to
collectively bargain and seek the protections of a contract - rights the
employees of other Massachusetts state wide agencies have had for decades.

Why support public defenders?

Public defenders ensure that poor people’s constitutional rights are
protected. They embody a commitment to justice shared by both liberals and
conservatives. They are on the front lines of the fight to reduce the
number of people warehoused in our state prisons and county jails,
including those awaiting trial, legally innocent, but too poor to post
bail.

Public defenders ensure that our Constitution is not just an empty promise,
by standing up for the rights of poor people the government seeks to
incarcerate. Our clients are disproportionately people of color, and too
often people struggling with mental illness, addiction, or both.

We are asking for fairness - the same right to collectively bargain as all
other state workers have. We have been building a movement which includes
not only attorneys, but ALL employees of the Massachusetts Public Defender
agency, called the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS).

How can you help?

Right now we have two bills pending on Beacon Hill - Senate Bill #1426 and
House Bill #1426:
https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H1426
https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/S1426

As we look to how we can reform the criminal justice system, and how we
address the opiate addiction epidemic, we feel strengthening the public
defense system and public defenders, including our staff social service
advocates, is one key. Everyday CPCS employees make a difference in the
lives of the most disadvantaged people in Massachusetts.

Moreover, in seeking fairness, we are not just advocating for ourselves, we
are also advocating for our clients, and the communities we serve. The
predictability of a contract and the stability of a collective voice at
work will help to reduce turnover, so CPCS clients can benefit from having
experienced advocates. Like other employees of state wide agencies in
Massachusetts, employees at CPCS seek to have a seat at the table when
policy decisions are made that affect our clients. Our hope is that input
from frontline lawyers will make for policies that better serve our
clients.

This is why we are asking that you support collective bargaining rights for
employees of CPCS. It would be wonderful if the teachers union could
provide a statement of support for our legislation. It would also be great
if the teachers union members could help us by contacting their elected
reps and asking them to vote in favor of our legislation.

Earlier bills allowing collective bargaining for CPCS employees have been
released favorably from the Joint Committee on Public Service twice since
2013. We hope that this time we can win!

We have been organizing across the state. Here are some recent articles:

http://baystatebanner.com/news/2017/nov/15/public-defenders-fight-bargaining-rights/

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2017/11/public_defenders_rally_outside.html

http://www.telegram.com/news/20171113/public-defenders-rally-at-worcester-courthouse-for-bargaining-power

Here's a link to some brief articles about our recent efforts.
http://www.seiu888.org/?s=defenders&submit-btn=Search

Our struggle is for fairness, not just better compensation. But the issue
of compensation is related. Public Defenders in Massachusetts are some of
the lowest paid in the United States.

Here's a story on that issue from a few years ago:
http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/05/21/indefensible/23OMcEGsJe1151YT0Q43PJ/story.html

After the rally, we will meet with our elected representatives, and demand
that they pass our bills now.  What's the hold up? Ask your elected reps.

Who are your elected reps? https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator
Did your Representative co-sponsor our bill?
https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H1426
Did your Senator  co-sponsor our bill?
https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/S1426


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