Category: Advocating

Your calls to ask for support for workplace anti-bullying legislation are working

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Your calls to your Massachusetts State Senators are working. In the last few days, these 12 senators signed onto Senator Paul Feeney’s Senate Budget Amendment #23 to make severe cases of workplace bullying illegal in Massachusetts (including Senator Paul Feeney, that’s more than one third of the entire State Senate). Note the six supporters who’ve never signed onto this bill in the past, including two Republicans, all thanks to your efforts:

Senator William N. Brownsberger (D-Boston)
Senator Julian Cyr (D-Cape and Islands)
Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Middlesex and Suffolk)
Senator James Eldridge (D-Acton)
Senator Ryan Fattman (R-Worcester and Norfolk)
Senator Cindy Friedman (D-4th Middlesex)
Senator Anne Gobi (D-Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire and Middlesex)
Senator Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover)
Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Shrewsbury)
Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Plymouth and Norfolk)
Senator Walter Timilty (D-Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth)
Senator James T. Welch (D-Hampden)

If your State Senator is listed above, we have your Senator’s official support.

Here’s who’s left to urge to sign onto this amendment:

Senator Michael J. Barrett (D-3rd Middlesex)
Senator Joseph A. Boncore (D-1st Suffolk and Middlesex)
Senator Michael Brady (D-Brockton)*
Senator Harriette Chandler (D-1st Worcester)
Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-2nd Suffolk)*
Senator Nick Collins (D-Boston)
Senator Cynthia Stone Creem (D-1st Middlesex and Norfolk)
Senator Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn)
Senator Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth and Barnstable)
Senator Adam G. Hinds (D-Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden)
Senator Donald F. Humason, Jr. (R-Westfield)*
Senator Patricia D. Jehlen (D-2nd Middlesex)
Senator John Keenan (D-Norfolk and Plymouth)
Senator Eric Lesser (D-1st Hampden and Hampshire)
Senator Jason Lewis (D-5th Middlesex)
Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Peabody)*
Senator Mark Montigny (D-2nd Bristol and Plymouth)
Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives (D-1st Essex)
Senator Marc Pacheco (D-1st Plymouth and Bristol)
Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-1st Bristol and Plymouth)
Senator Richard Ross (R-Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex)
Senator Michael F. Rush (D-Norfolk and Suffolk)
Senator Karen Spilka (D-2nd Middlesex and Norfolk)
Senator Bruce Tarr (R-1st Essex and Middlesex)
Senator Dean Tran (R-Worcester and Middlesex)

*Denotes past co-sponsor.
Here’s how you can help

It’s up to each of us to ensure protections for employees who will go through the torment at work we went through. We need your help to create a groundswell throughout every part of the Commonwealth to say STOP to bullying at work.

For those who’ve contacted your legislators about this bill, we thank you and ask you to take action again by making this specific request.

Respectful and dignified work environments start at the top. #ItStartsWithUs

PS — Join the Senate budget discussion online by using #SenBudget on Facebook and Twitter showing your support of Senate Budget Amendment #23 to make severe cases of workplace bullying illegal. Watch the feed while Senate budget discussions happen.

Want to spread the word? Forward this email or download the flyer.

Learn about what workplace bullying is »
Like us on Facebook »

PS – Did you see the bill in the news recently? It made:
The front page of the Boston Globe
The LA Times
Truthout

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With workplace bullying in the Senate, it’s time for Massachusetts legislators to take a stand

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The Senate Committee on Ethics on Wednesday, May 2, 2018 released its report concerning Senator Stanley C. Rosenberg and concluded that Rosenberg had ample evidence of workplace harassment but failed to remedy it for those who depended on him: his own staff, his fellow Senators and their staff, and ultimately his constituents, Commonwealth employees, and the people of the Commonwealth. Had workplace bullying without regard to protected class been illegal, Senate staff could have had clear and safe recourse to protect themselves from Rosenberg’s negligence that emboldened his husband’s toxic behavior — leading ultimately to threats, racial comments, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and costs to taxpayers through a thorough investigation.

Given legal protections from workplace bullying, staff would have been able to seek help when Rosenberg:

  • Failed to uphold the IT policy he didn’t read by giving his husband, who exhibited bullying behavior, full access to his email account — and asking his staff to do the same even when they expressed discomfort.
  • Excused his husband’s bullying behavior as “mental health issues” once he was aware of the harassment and concerned about where it might lead.
  • Emboldened the bullying behavior by continuing to inform his husband of Senate matters despite his husband’s prior harassment of staff.

Workplace bullying occurs in workplace cultures where leadership at the top allows it to happen. Rosenberg supported a bully culture by:

  • Exempting himself from Senate policies.
  • Failing to protect staff by excusing unethical and dangerous behavior.
  • Continuing to give a known bully access to tools that furthered his bullying.
  • Failing to implement a workplace bullying policy and to empower Human Resource staff to uphold it.

Had workplace bullying been illegal, Rosenberg’s staff could have felt safe to do their jobs in a respectful and dignified work environment. They would have had a clear and safe path to report violations of a workplace bullying policy and would have likely prevented Rosenberg’s husband from escalating his abusive behavior.

Now that they know their own policies fail to create a workplace free from harassment and its destructive consequences, Senators can:

In the words of the Senate Committee on Ethics, when leaders have evidence and fail to act in support of those who depend on them, “the most obvious sanction for a failure of leadership would be the loss of the relevant leadership position.”

Respectful and dignified work environments start at the top.

#ItStartsWithUs

Urgent Action: to make workplace bullying illegal in Massachusetts, ask your State Senator to sign onto this Budget Amendment

JumpingOverHurdle

With three months left in the legislative session, our new lead sponsor Senator Paul Feeney has added the workplace anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill as an amendment to the budget. In the next two weeks, we’re looking to flood our State Senators with phone calls and emails asking them to sign onto this amendment, Budget Amendment #23.

Here’s how you can help:

It’s up to each of us to ensure protections for employees who will go through the torment at work we went through. We need your help to create a groundswell throughout every part of the Commonwealth to say STOP to bullying at work.

For those who’ve contacted your legislators about this bill, we thank you and ask you to take action again by making this specific request.

Want to spread the word? Forward this email or download the flyer.

Learn about what workplace bullying is »
Like us on Facebook »

PS – Did you see the bill in the news recently? It made:
The front page of the Boston Globe
The LA Times
Truthout

Become part of the 10 percent — and change the course of history

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Author of The Bully’s Trap Andrew Faas gave this commencement address in June 2011. Keep his thoughts in mind as we make an announcement soon about action we’re taking in the Senate to move the bill forward in the State House — action we need your help with:

By many standards, I have lived a charmed a successful life. Like everyone, there have been setbacks, challenges, and personal tragedies, all of which helped define who I am and what I stand for.

Six years ago, being diagnosed with leukemia and given a life sentence was one of those challenges.

Were it not for a miracle drug, which turned what was a fatal condition to a chronic one, I would be dead today. This experience forced me to reflect on my reason for being, and discovering that, notwithstanding the success enjoyed, there was a void, which was, really, having made a difference. What was missing was lack of purpose.

Today, my life is full of purpose, reflected in part through my philanthropy but, to a greater extent, it is putting a stop to what I believe to be an epidemic—bullying in the workplace.

There is no need for me to explain what bullying is and the devastating impact it has, other than to say bullying in schools shares many characteristics with bullying in the workplace. As there are similarities, there are also differences. The most significant is that the tactics are subtler and there are fewer avenues for people to exit from the situation.

Bullies are masters of deflection. Usually they discredit their targets until the targets become the villains. They “kiss up and kick down.” Because they are viewed as high performers, they are treated like heroes who garner more credibility than the target.

In analyzing the demise of companies such as Enron, AIG, and Lehman Brothers, a common characteristic was that their CEOs were also CBOs—Chief Bullying Officers.

The global financial meltdown could have been avoided had people in the know reported wrongdoings. They did not, largely for fear of being retaliated against. In most cases, whistleblowers are viewed as traitors and subject to bullying as punishment for their treason.

Bullying has always occurred, however, it shames me to say that, largely because of greed, my generation has systematically created dictatorial leadership, where fear substitutes for motivation and positive leadership.

We have allowed tyranny and domination to dictate the culture in which we work.

This is the sad legacy that my generation leaves to you.

For us it cannot be a question of “Can it be stopped?” It must be an assertion: “It must be stopped.” For it to be eliminated, everyone has a role to play.

Everyone graduating today will, at some point, become a bully, and/or be bullied and/or be a bystander.

If history is any indicator, only a small percent of you will become defenders of those who are bullied.

Where there has been genocide, which is the most extreme form of bullying, only a small percent of the population became witnesses and defenders of those who were targeted. Had the small percent been a mere 10 percent, the course of history would have had a different outcome.

The revolutions in the Middle East, with the overthrow of tyranny, is proof positive that the course of history can be changed, and serves as an inspiration to have the small percent become 10 percent.

Over your career, you will be faced with choices. The most difficult ones for you will be whether or not to be a witness and defender of those who are targeted, becoming part of the 10 percent.

This choice involves risk and requires courage. The risks of being a witness and defender are obvious. However, in making the risk assessment, consider the risk of not being that witness and defender.

Consider never having to say, “I could have prevented the ruin of my coworker’s career.”

Consider never having to say, “I could have prevented the break up of a family unit.”

Consider never having to say, “I could have helped avoid the demise of an organization.”

Consider never having to say, “I could have prevented a suicide or attempted suicide.”

Consider never having to say, “I could have prevented someone going postal and killing others.”

Mahatma Gandhi put it so well when he declared, “It is possible for a single individual to defy the whole might of an unjust empire to save his honour, his religion, his soul, and lay the foundation for that empire’s fall or its regeneration.”

While this choice involves risk, it also yields rewards, the greatest of which is strengthening your sense of self, helping to make right what is wrong, and making the lives of others free and safe from the ravages of tyranny.

By becoming part of that 10 percent, you can change the course of history.

URGENT: Contact your State Senator to write to Senate Ways & Means to move workplace anti-bullying legislation forward

WalkingUpHands

After the resignation of the workplace anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill Lead Sponsor Senator Jennifer Flanagan, the new Senator Paul Feeney has stepped forward to champion this bill through the remainder of the two-year legislative session. We’ve recently found out that the bill has landed in Senate Ways & Means. With only three months remaining in this session, we’re looking to ask our State Senators to write to Senate Ways & Means Chair Karen Spilka to ask her to make the bill a priority.

How to schedule a meeting with your State Senator

  1. Call your State Senator and ask whoever answers the phone for the email address of the scheduler so you can schedule a meeting with your State Senator. 
  2. Email the scheduler to setup a meeting either in local office hours or at the State House as soon as possible. This step is huge. Some of you have asked why we’re not doing more at the State House as a group. The answer is simple: since our legislators care about getting their constituents’ votes in the next election, it’s most effective for us individually to meet with our own legislators one-on-one when it’s convenient for us. We’ve learned major insights from advocates after meetings with their legislators. Showing up as a group to legislators’ offices without an appointment simply isn’t as effective.
  3. Bring the flyers listed on this page with you to your meeting and summarize your workplace bullying story with your State Senator. Keep your State Senator armed with the facts and ask him or her to ask Senate Ways & Means Chair Karen Spilka to move the bill forward.
  4. Pass insights about their concerns onto us. Email us at info@mahealthyworkplace.com.

If you absolutely can’t meet with your State Senator, we ask you to do one of these two tasks (or both) in the next two weeks:

It’s up to each of us to make time to ensure protections for employees who will go through the torment at work we went through. We need your help to create a groundswell throughout every part of the Commonwealth to say STOP to bullying at work.

For those who’ve met with your legislators, we thank you and ask you to nudge them again while the bill is on their turf.

Learn about what workplace bullying is »
Like us on Facebook »

PS – Did you see the bill in the news recently? It made:
The front page of the Boston Globe
The LA Times
Truthout

Workplace anti-bullying legislation takes a step forward in Massachusetts

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We’ve recently received word that the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development gave the workplace anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill, Senate Bill 1013, a favorable report. Since the bill is a Senate Bill this session, the bill moves to the Senate instead of the House, where it landed in past sessions.

Five months left

We only have five months remaining in this two-year session, which means that while we wait to see where in the Senate the bill lands, we encourage you to put the pressure on your State Senators only (once the bill moves to the House, we’ll put pressure on our State Reps again):

  1. Call your State Senator and ask whoever answers the phone for the email address of the scheduler so you can schedule a meeting with your State Senator. 
  2. Email the scheduler to setup a meeting either in local office hours or at the State House as soon as possible. This step is huge. Some of you have asked why we’re not doing more at the State House as a group. Well, the answer is simple: we’re all volunteers trying to push this bill outside of our full-time jobs and other responsibilities, and since our legislators care about getting their constituents’ votes in the next election, it’s most effective for us individually to meet with our own legislators one-on-one when it’s convenient for us. We’ve learned major insights from advocates after meetings with their legislators. Showing up as a group to legislators’ offices without an appointment simply isn’t as effective.
  3. Bring the flyers listed on this page with you to your meeting and summarize your workplace bullying story with your State Senator. Keep your State Senator armed with the facts, and ask him or her to put urgency on Senate leadership to bring the bill to a floor vote.
  4. Pass insights about their concerns onto us. Email us at info@mahealthyworkplace.com.

It’s up to each of us to make time to ensure protections for employees who will go through the torment at work we went through. We need your help to create a groundswell throughout every part of the Commonwealth to say STOP to bullying at work. For those who’ve met with your legislators, we thank you and ask you to nudge them again while the bill is on their turf.

To reduce the number of mass shootings, we must also look at bullying

Bullying

Regardless of which side of the gun control debate we’re on, we can agree on one thing: at the root of mass shootings is either mental illness, abuse, or both.

Nikolas Cruz, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL
February 14, 2018
17 killed
“[Attorney Jim] Lewis said Cruz was a loner and ‘a little quirky,’ and the family hosting him knew there had been some disciplinary problems and fights, but Cruz had never expressed any discontent toward his former teachers or classmates. ‘He was a smaller kid and (there’s) some indication there might have been some bullying going on….’ the lawyer said.”
— Eliott C. McLaughlin and Madison Park, CNN
Omar Saddiqui Mateen, Pulse Night Club
June 12, 2016
49 killed

“Brice Miller went to Southport Middle School and St. Lucie West Centennial High School with Mateen and described him as non-violent. He also said Mateen was bullied. ‘You could tell it hurt his feelings,’ Miller said, ‘but he would laugh it off…. He was just dorky…. He was disliked, but he always tried to get you to laugh.”
— Rene Stutzman and Jessica Inman, Orlando Sentinel

 

Adam Lanza, Sandy Hook Elementary School
December 14, 2012
27 killed

“Adam Lanza was apparently bullied and beaten when he was enrolled at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn., where he shot and killed 20 students and six staffers, the New York Daily News reports.…”
— Andrew Averill, The Christian Science Monitor

Seung-Hui Cho, Virginia Tech
April 16, 2007
32 killed
“Long before he killed 32 people in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, Seung-Hui Cho was bullied by fellow high school students who mocked his shyness and the strange way he talked, former classmates said.”
NBC News

Bulling leads to isolation

We know bullying often leads to isolation. Here’s a bully’s typical recipe:

  1. The bully initially repeatedly reprimands the better than average target for trivial matters and those that would be described completely differently by the target. The bully repeatedly puts the target down.
  2. The bully convinces others that the target is incompetent, so others can begin to shun the target and unwittingly participate in the emotional abuse.
  3. The bully drives the target to go to report the problem to the bully’s boss or to Human Resources and then escalates the bully behavior.
  4. The bully makes their tactics so outrageous that the target’s support system (family and friends) doesn’t believe the target and can’t offer advice. Then these family and friends become tired of hearing the target obsessively repeat issues that can’t be resolved.
  5. The target is now very much alone and increasingly vulnerable to suicide. Targets try everything and then give up hope. If not stopped, the prolonged abuse causes depression and often suicidal thoughts. “Targets who sense that they’re about to be fired and cannot cope with that eventuality are vulnerable to suicide,” adds reporter Natasha Wallace in her article “Suicide, When Related to Workplace Bullying.”

The connection to workplaces

We can see the direct connection between bullying and violence (both homicide and suicide). The Center for Disease Control classified workplace violence as a national epidemic, and in the late 90s, the U.S. Department of Justice called the workplace “the most dangerous place to be in America.”

  • In the U.S., an average of 15 to 20 people are murdered weekly while at work (according to Andrew Faas in The Bully’s Trap).
  • Homicide in the workplace is the fastest-growing form of murder (U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health).
  • One million people are physically assaulted in the workplace every year. That number increases when verbal violence is factored (according to Faas).

If we as a culture take a serious look at bullying, we can reduce incidences of violence. When will enough be enough?