Advocate Torii Bottomley speaks with another advocate at the “Massachusetts: Face Workplace Bullying” display at the State House.
Legislation usually takes multiple sessions to pass. As the 2015-16 legislative session closes, let’s take some time to reflect on how we progressed the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill this session:
- Third Reading. The bill made it to a Third Reading in the House – a major accomplishment given the thousands of bills introduced each session. The Third Reading is a major milestone in the process. Once the bill reaches a favorable vote in the House Third Reading in future sessions, we have a great shot at getting the bill passed.
- Legislative sponsors. We gained a record 58 sponsors this session, up from 39 in the previous session and 13 in the prior session thanks to your calls, emails, and visits to legislators.
- Advocacy. The State House debut of Torii Bottomley’s “Massachusetts: Face Workplace Bullying” jumpstarted a flurry of activity. Advocates protested in Ashburton Place, Harvard Square, and Davis Square. They also flyered several commuter lots, including at Worcester’s Union Station, the second display of “Massachusetts: Face Workplace Bullying.”
- Supporters. We’re up to 20 official organizational supporters, including the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the National Association of Government Employees, whose lobbyists push the bill in the State House.
- Media. While “workplace bullying” gets more and more attention in such outlets as Alternet and Fast Company, WGBH reporter Craig LeMoult covered the Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Bill and the “Massachusetts: Face Workplace Bullying” display this spring.
- Opposition. “The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) — a powerful corporate lobbying presence — and a small group of ultra-conservative state legislators opposed the HWB. You know you’re making progress when the opposition comes out of hiding,” said professor and bill author David Yamada last session. An AIM executive weighed in on the bill in WGBH’s piece this session.
So how do we make the next session better than this one to get this bill passed?
- Share suicide stories. School bullying didn’t become legislated in Massachusetts until tragedy struck. If you’re aware of a suicide due to workplace bullying in Massachusetts, email us at email@example.com. We’ll check in with families of targets, and with their approval, let legislators know their stories and how urgent the need is for legislation.
- Get a group of people to visit the State House to speak with legislators. Get your co-workers or former colleagues to visit legislators to ask them to support the Healthy Workplace Bill.
- Make advocacy happen. Have an idea for advocacy? A skill? An audience? An event? A contact? Rather than question why we haven’t done an idea, realize your own power. Make it happen. We’re all volunteers using the skills we have to further the cause and make change. We need your skills and time to further change. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with how you can help.
“So many social movements leading to legal reforms — the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the LGBT movement, to name a few — have been fueled by people who have experienced injustice and abuse,” said Yamada. If you’re ready, speak out about your workplace bullying experience to heal and help prevent others from experiencing workplace bullying if enough people stand up and legislators pass the bill. If enough of us say ENOUGH, we’ll make history and move the needle on workplace cultures just like sexual harassment law did.
Advocates protest in Harvard Square with targets, scars, and bruises on them.
Our voices are getting louder and stronger, and it’s more important now than ever to keep the momentum going with only 80 days left in the two-year legislative session.
Anti-workplace bullying advocates aren’t stopping.
- We’ve put a label on it. We’re using the same language – “workplace bullying” – to describe the abuse at work.
- There’s more media coverage. Reporters cover more stories, and targets make more comments, validating others and creating a ripple effect for more targets to feel safe speaking out.
- The Healthy Workplace Bill campaign has brought attention to workplace bullying. The opportunity for targets to speak with their legislators brings even more focus on workplace bullying and its harm to targets and businesses.
Where we’re going
It’s taken only ten years to go from almost zero discussion of workplace bullying to where we are today. We have a lot to celebrate. But we’re not stopping. With 80 days remaining in the legislative session, we’re focusing on two main courses of action:
- Urging Speaker of the House DeLeo and Chairman of the Third Reading Committee Speliotis to make a priority of bringing the Healthy Workplace Bill to a floor vote. Face-to-face meetings work best. But you can also call them or touch base with your own state rep to urge him or her to contact Speaker DeLeo (617-722-2500, Robert.DeLeo@mahouse.gov) and Chairman Speliotis (617-722-2410, Theodore.Speliotis@mahouse.gov). You can also urge others to do the same by flyering commuter rail lots and other locations.
- Continuing to bring the term “workplace bullying” to the public’s attention. We’re increasing our number of bloggers to strengthen our social media voice and holding a protest/performance art display in Harvard Square later this month. We’d love to have you there in this live art display where viewers can symbolically tape the mouths of advocates and chain their hands. You’ll feel validated by meeting other advocates and hearing about their experiences.
While we need your help, remember that you can help in any way you see fit (or in any of the ways we’ve listed on your website). You can choose to not go public with your story or otherwise attach your name to the cause but anonymously post comments on online articles. You might also decide that you’re not ready to help at all, and that’s perfectly ok.
But if you’re ready and able, we need all hands on deck in the next 80 days to pass this bill in Massachusetts. Not a single person trying to pass this bill is getting paid for their efforts, meaning that each and every advocate is working out of their sense of personal responsibility for passing the bill. We’re taking initiative to bring our strengths to a greater cause in this newer, growing public topic. Email us with what skills you can bring to the table.
Let’s make 2016 a year for the history books. We’re in a position to be the first state in the nation to have workplace bullying protections for ALL employees – not just public ones. Let’s make it happen.
In our efforts to advance the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB) in the recently concluded Massachusetts legislative session, we started getting feedback from folks inside the State House at levels of frequency and intensity that we hadn’t heard before: Your advocates are making a difference.
In other words, when our outreach coordinator asked HWB supporters to contact legislators at different points in the process, those supporters responded by getting on the phone, sending e-mails, and scheduling visits. While we fell short of the success we had hoped for, at critical points the HWB made it to next procedural steps and overcame opposition because of the voices of our grassroots advocates.
This is a critically important development, and permit me to explain why.
Many advocates for the Healthy Workplace Bill have experienced workplace bullying. In other words, they have been targets, and they know firsthand what this form of interpersonal abuse can…
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The 2013-14 Massachusetts state legislative session ended last week, and the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB) made it to “second reading,” meaning it was approved through various committees and was poised to be brought up to the House of Representatives for a full floor vote. As the session approached its end, the HWB was still under discussion among House leaders, no small achievement given the thousands of bills introduced each session.
Those of us who support the HWB were hoping for more from this session, perhaps even making it all the way through to the Governor’s desk. Nevertheless, we are well primed for the next legislative session, and here’s why:
1. Legislative sponsors — The HWB has attracted increasing support in the MA state legislature. We went from one legislative sponsor in the 2009-10 session, to 13 in the 2011-12 session, to 39 in the just-concluded 2013-14 session. Our lead…
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Yesterday the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the flagship entity of a major public university system, publicly launched a workplace anti-bullying initiative with a campus symposium that attracted over 500 UMass employees. This remarkable turnout, which included staff, faculty, and administrators, was over triple the number of RSVPs for the event.
This very successful kickoff was the result of some three years of dedicated, steadfast, often very challenging work by a cross-campus Committee on Workplace Climate and Bullying and the strong support of a new Chancellor, Kumble Subbaswamy, who offered welcoming remarks at the symposium.
I had the privilege of presenting the keynote address, and one of the lasting memories I’ll have is that of standing at the podium and seeing the large auditorium fill with people, with some having to stand even after dozens of extra chairs were brought in to accommodate the overflow.
Other speakers, facilitators, and moderators included…
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Read the history of the Healthy Workplace Bill in Massachusetts from Professor David Yamada and how we’ve gained momentum in each legislative session.
In the new 2013-14 session of the Massachusetts legislature, the Healthy Workplace Bill (currently House Docket No. 517; awaiting assignment of a bill number) is roaring out of the blocks, with two lead sponsors and 37 co-sponsors signed on as supporters.
The Healthy Workplace Bill is legislation I authored that provides a legal claim for targets of severe workplace bullying and creates liability-reducing incentives for employers to act preventively and responsively toward bullying at work.
Here’s the list of sponsors, courtesy of Deb Falzoi (Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates) and House staff. The lead sponsors are Representative Ellen Story and Senator Katherine Clark, followed by co-sponsors in alphabetical order:
Representative Ellen Story (lead sponsor, D-Amherst)
Senator Katherine Clark (lead sponsor, D-Melrose)
Rep. Denise Andrews (D-Orange)
Rep. Brian Ashe (D-Longmeadow)
Rep. Ruth Balser (D-Newton)
Rep. Paul Brodeur (D-Melrose)
Rep. Christine Canavan (D-Brockton)
Rep. Gailanne Cariddi (D-North Adams)
Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz…
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Bill author and co-coordinator David Yamada gives more insight about workplace bullying. Learn about what the opposition says about the Healthy Workplace Bill, and then e-mail a link to this video to your legislators so they can learn why points made in letters to them from opposers aren’t accurate.