Category: Leaders

What who’s in Senate leadership means for workplace bullying legislation

Sad businesswoman

For the first time ever, Massachusetts Senate Ways & Means is led by all women. And with women more likely to be bullied at work according to the Workplace Bullying Institute, timing couldn’t be better to get workplace anti-bullying legislation through the Senate, making it the furthest the bill would ever get in the Massachusetts State House.

We need your help to get there. With less than two months in the legislative session, which ends July 31, we ask you to help keep pressure on Senate Ways & Means to move Senate Bill 1013 to a vote in the Senate. 

We ask you to make these four calls TODAY:

  1. Call these Senators and ask whoever answers the phone if the Senator will make Senate Bill 1013 a priority to make severe cases of workplace bullying illegal in Massachusetts:
    Senator Karen Spilka (Chair), 617-722-1640
    Senator Joan Lovely (Vice Chair), 617-722-1410
    Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (Assistant Vice Chair), 617-722-1673
  2. Ask your own State Senator via phone or email to write to Chairwoman Karen Spilka asking her to bring the Senate Bill 1013 to a floor vote.
You can also:
  • Post on Facebook and tweet using #ItStartsWithUs #WorkplaceBullying #mapoli to keep the conversation going and to increase awareness of the problem. You can tweet at these Senators using @KarenSpilka @SenJoanLovely @SoniaChangDiaz @BarrettSenate @wbrownsberger @VinnyDeMacedo @SalDiDomenico @JamieEldridgeMA @adamghinds @SenDonHumason @senjehlen @SenJohnFKeenan @SenMikeMoore @KOconnorIves @SenRichardJRoss @SenatorMikeRush @Sen_Jim_Welch
  • Repost our Facebook and Twitter posts.

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

Let’s keep the pressure on Senate Ways & Means to make workplace bullying legislation a priority in Massachusetts


The legislative session ends in two months on July 31. We need your help in the next two weeks to keep pressure on Senate Ways & Means to move Senate Bill 1013 to a vote in the Senate. 

We ask you to call these Senators and ask whoever answers the phone if the Senator will make Senate Bill 1013 a priority to make severe cases of workplace bullying illegal in Massachusetts:

Karen Spilka (Chair), 617-722-1640
Joan Lovely (Vice Chair), 617-722-1410
Sonia Chang-Diaz (Assistant Vice Chair), 617-722-1673
Michael J. Barrett, 617-722-1572
William N. Brownsberger, 617-722-1280
Vinny M. deMacedo, 617-722-1330
Sal N. DiDomenico, 617-722-1650
James B. Eldridge, 617-722-1120
Adam G. Hinds, 617-722-1625
Donald F. Humason, Jr., 617-722-1415
Patricia D. Jehlen, 617-722-1578
John F. Keenan, 617-722-1494
Michael O. Moore, 617-722-1485
Kathleen O’Connor Ives, 617-722-1604
Richard J. Ross, 617-722-1555
Michael F. Rush, 617-722-1348
James T. Welch, 617-722-1660

You can also:
  • Post on Facebook and tweet using #ItStartsWithUs #WorkplaceBullying #mapoli to keep the conversation going and to increase awareness of the problem. You can tweet at these Senators using @KarenSpilka @SenJoanLovely @SoniaChangDiaz @BarrettSenate @wbrownsberger @VinnyDeMacedo @SalDiDomenico @JamieEldridgeMA @adamghinds @SenDonHumason @senjehlen @SenJohnFKeenan @SenMikeMoore @KOconnorIves @SenRichardJRoss @SenatorMikeRush @Sen_Jim_Welch
  • Repost our Facebook and Twitter posts.

The more people who ask for change, the more likely we’ll get it. It’s up to each of us to ensure protections for employees who will go through the torment at work we went through and to spread the word by forwarding this email onto colleagues, friends, and family. We need to create a groundswell throughout every part of the Commonwealth to say STOP to bullying at work.

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

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


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

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


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.


A new way to bring attention to workplace bullying


To build awareness for workplace bullying, advocate Torii Bottomley imagined and managed the “Massachusetts: Face Workplace Bullying” art display: 14 faces of workplace bullying targets with their moving stories. (Watch Torii’s story.)

Says Torii on the Inside Out project website:

Work shouldn’t hurt! Research shows bully bosses target the MOST SUCCESSFUL employees out of envy for their skills and ethics. This abuse comes at a proven cost to every state’s economy. We call on the great state of Massachusetts, with a history of “firsts” in progressive legislature, to FACE WORKPLACE BULLYING. By passing the Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Bill, the abusers, not the state, will be economically responsible for their actions!

Torii is booking locations across Massachusetts for the art display. Email Torii at if you know of:

A free location in your area to display 14 large posters (and a contact name and email, if you have it).

A contact at any of these locations recommended on by our advocates:

  • Boston City Hall
  • Boston Public Library
  • A college anywhere in the state
  • MA DOT Outside Advertising Agency
  • State House (Nurses Hall)

What we can learn from Rosa Parks to pass anti-workplace bullying legislation

From the Huffington Post

When we think of the civil rights movement, we think of Rosa Parks’ courage and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s charisma. We imagine their actions prompting change. But was history really that simple? If not, what really brought about social change?

In his Huffington Post blog post “How Change Happens: The Real Story of Mrs. Rosa Parks & The Montgomery Bus Boycott,” Paul Schmitz reveals what really happened to bring about social change during the civil rights movement:

Rosa Parks’ early years
Rosa Parks was the granddaughter of slaves “whose grandfather taught her to be brave during a wave of racial violence in 1919.” She was quiet but tough and strong-willed. When pushed, she fought back and wouldn’t back down. She married Raymond Parks in 1932. Raymond Parks was a politically active barber who stood up to racism and “was the first man Rosa deemed radical enough to marry.”

Her work with the NAACP
In 1942, E.D. Nixon registered Rosa and Raymond to vote. Nixon “increased the rolls of African American voters from 31 to more than 700.” With reluctance, Rosa Parks went to her first NAACP meeting in 1943 and stayed active with the group for more than a decade. Nixon became the first working class man to run for President of the NAACP. “She considered him the first person beside her family and Raymond who was truly committed to freedom,” says Schmitz.

While in the NAACP, Rosa Parks received leadership training from Ella Baker at events in Jacksonville, Atlanta, and Washington D.C.. Baker encouraged Parks to create an NAACP Youth Council in Montgomery. And Parks did just that. She encouraged teens to challenge segregation and write letters and took on bigger roles in the NAACP, leading marches and voter registration drives.

Parks networked, enlisting help or receiving inspiration from:

  • Fred Gray, a young attorney who Parks got involved with civil rights cases
  • Clifford and Virginia Durr, white liberals who funded Parks’ attendance at a workshop on civil rights
  • Myles Horton, the director of the school where the workshop was held
  • Septima Clark, the lead instructor who mentored Parks
  • Claudette Colvin, the 15 year-old secretary of her Youth Council who refused to move to the back of the bus and was arrested. Parks and Mrs. Durr raised money for her case.
  • Mary Louise Smith, another Youth Council member who refused to move to the back of the bus and was arrested.

The famous bus boycott
On December 1, 1955, Parks refused to give up her seat to a white person on a bus and was arrested. “The same bus driver, James Blake, had thrown Mrs. Parks off his bus in 1943 for refusing to move. She said ‘I had felt for a long time that if I was ever told to get up so a white person could sit, that I would refuse to do so,'” says Schmitz.

Parks was no accidental activist. She wasn’t simply a tired seamstress who just wanted to rest after a hard day at work. She was a civil rights leader. “She often said that the only thing she was tired of was being segregated and mistreated.”

The difference between Parks and her Youth Council members was that Parks was middle class and a respectable plaintiff to challenge segregation. After much debate, Rosa and Raymond Parks chose to step up to the challenge knowing they’d lose everything.

Mrs. Parks called Fred Gray, who she had had lunch with that day, and asked him to represent her. Mr. Gray called Jo Ann Robinson, a leader of The Women’s Political Council, a group of African American women who had been calling for a bus boycott. Ms. Robinson called E.D. Nixon, and they agreed to call a bus boycott for Monday, the day of Mrs. Parks’ arraignment. Along with another staff member and two students, she used the mimeograph machine overnight at Alabama State College to print more than 15,000 fliers…. This was especially risky since the university was funded by the segregationist state legislature. The Women’s Political Council members met her at dawn and fanned the community with the fliers Friday morning.

Bringing in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On Friday morning, E.D. Nixon called Rev. Ralph Abernathy of First Baptist Church and asked him to pull the pastors together that night for a meeting. “Rev. Abernathy suggested that he call the newest pastor in town, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church because he had no set alliances, enemies, and had little to lose if things didn’t work out. Dr. King was reluctant at first but eventually agreed with prodding from Rev. Abernathy. About 50 pastors met Friday night with Mrs. Parks and Ms. Robinson. They agreed to support the boycott from their pulpits on Sunday and announce a mass meeting for Monday night,” says Schmitz.

A white pastor Robert Graetz became highly involved but was an outcast among whites in Montgomery. Connected with Parks, Graetz helped get Time Magazine to cover the movement.

A growing movement
On Saturday, Parks hit a setback when only five students attended an NAACP leadership training. Two days later, the empty buses and the streets filled with African American citizens walking to school and work restored her hope.

Dr. King led the movement because businessman Rufus Lewis didn’t want E.D. Nixon to lead it. So he nominated his pastor, Dr. King, arguing he was a neutral choice. “That night, 15,000 people attended a mass meeting, and new 26 year old MIA President Dr. King’s prophetic oratory inspired them to commit to the boycott. Mrs. Parks never spoke or was consulted on strategy. Sexism and a desire to make her sound more sympathetic converted the experienced activist into a ‘tired seamstress,'” says Schmitz.

Dr. King assigned Rev. Bernard Simms and Rufus Lewis to put together a transportation plan that involved 350 cars providing thousands of rides a day for twelve months. A. Phillip Randolph, leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters union and dean of America’s civil rights leadership, helped out. Outsider Bayard Rustin mentored Nixon, Robinson, Parks, and King on nonviolent civil disobedience throughout the campaign.

More organizers raised funds for the movement. One fundraising event brought out 16,000 people. “Rosa Parks spoke and got to meet many leaders including Eleanor Roosevelt, who wrote about Mrs. Parks in her weekly newspaper column,” says Schmitz.

The end of segregation
Because Rosa Parks’ husband was active in an effort financed by the Community Party, leaders decided Rosa Parks might be a controversial plaintiff. “So another woman who had refused to move to the back of the bus was chosen to be the lead plaintiff, Aurelia Browder. Along with Claudette Colvin, Mary Louise Smith, and one other victim Susan McDonald, the case Browder vs. Gayle went to the Supreme Court, and on November 13, 1956, they struck down segregation. On December 20, 1956, 382 days after Mrs. Parks’ courageous stand, the boycott was over, and the Montgomery buses were integrated,” explains Schmitz.

What Rosa Parks’ story teaches us about social change
Rosa Parks didn’t solely lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Dr. King didn’t either. So who did? From Fred Gray to Aurelia Browder, they all led social change. “In our culture, we love stories about lone heroes, the single protagonist who overcomes obstacles to achieve his or her goal makes a better movie. The true story of change, however, is always far more complex. One could add many more names to this story or analyze any other social change effort and find a similar network of leaders. It does not diminish the courage of Mrs. Parks or the prophetic vision of Dr. King to acknowledge that their leadership was part of a larger leadership narrative,” says Schmitz. “But leadership is an action everyone can take, not a position few can hold, and there are ways each of us can step up to work for change we believe in.”

Leadership is a muscle that everyone has, and it only gets stronger with exercise and practice. Everyone has different gifts and can play different roles, but we need to build collective leadership muscle if we want to create change. When the Montgomery police interrogated Claudette Colvin about who was behind the boycott, she responded “Our leaders is just we ourselves.” That should be our call to action.

Find out how you can help pass anti-workplace bullying legislation. Or create your own way.