For Immediate Release - December 18, 2009

Governor Patrick Announces Union Agreement to Save Tens of Millions of Dollars, Protect Key Services

SEIU Local 509 is first union to agree to contract changes to help solve budget gap

BOSTON - Friday, December 18, 2009 - Governor Deval Patrick announced today that the Patrick-Murray Administration has reached agreement with nearly 8,000 union workers on new contracts that will save the Commonwealth millions of dollars, helping to mitigate employee layoffs and preserve essential services.

Members of the Service Employees International Union Local 509 voted by a 4 to 1 margin Thursday night to contract revisions that will save taxpayers an estimated $28.5 million over the next three years, including roughly $11 million this fiscal year. It is the first time since collective bargaining was established in the Commonwealth that a Governor has successfully negotiated statewide concessions across multiple agencies.

The Governor called for renewed union negotiations and concessions in October, as the Administration identified a $600 million revenue shortfall in the current fiscal year. To date, the Governor has reached tentative agreement with four state employee union bargaining units. SEIU is the first to ratify the agreement.

"The workers of SEIU Local 509 understand that we are all in this together," said Governor Patrick. "I thank them and their leadership for sharing responsibility for the solutions to get us through this unprecedented economic crisis."

"We greatly appreciate SEIU Local 509 working with us as we address the challenges of these difficult economic times," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "This kind of partnership will help benefit the entire Commonwealth as we move ahead on road to economic recovery."

If approved by the Legislature, the new contracts will save tens of millions of dollars through a combination of delayed wage increases, furloughs, and eliminating some payments to the Health and Welfare Fund. Members affected are predominantly social workers at the Department of Children and Families and Department of Transitional Assistance, as well as employees of the Department of Developmental Disabilities, Department of Mental Health, Department of Revenue, Department of Corrections, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, MassHealth, Department of Public Health, Department of Education and Department of Early Education and Care.

The savings from these employee concessions will allow the Administration to protect key programs and services, prevent some employee layoffs and keep the Commonwealth on a path toward long-term recovery.

"State workers have contributed significantly to help address our challenges over the last two years, and we thank them for that," said Administration and Finance Secretary Jay Gonzalez. "As we head into another difficult budget year it is important that we all make the necessary sacrifices that will help us climb out of the recession and position the Commonwealth for long-term economic growth."

Last month the Governor reached agreement with the bargaining units of SEIU Local 509, SEIU 888, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees and the National Association of Government Employees. These four unions cover roughly 30,000 union employees - or 75 percent of unionized state executive branch workers. The Governor is continuing to seek agreements with the remaining state unions.