Now that the hearing in front of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development is over, we’re getting ready for next steps. Normally at this stage of the process, we’d be just past the third of eight steps, and next we’d land in the House. But this session, we’re hoping to jump to the Senate before the House to build support to end workplace bullying.
Here’s where you come in. Some of you live close enough to Boston and can make it to the State House in the morning without a problem. If you’re one of those people and have morning availability, we’re looking to you to help. Senators have both formal and informal sessions. We’re asking you to:
- Look at the Senate Session schedule and choose either type of session.
- Stand outside the Senate chamber around an hour or less before a session you choose and hand out these flyers to educate State Senators on workplace bullying and to put a face to the cause as they’re walking into the chamber. You don’t have to ask which ones are Senators. You can hand flyers out to aides or simply interested people. There are 40 State Senators, so bring around that many flyer copies or more for maximum impact.
You could hand out flyers every Senate Session, just once, or somewhere in between. Any time you’re willing to give will be a huge help in telling legislators that ending workplace bullying is still a priority and that there are actual, real people behind this cause looking to end the abuse.
It’s up to each of us in this all-volunteer group to do what we can to further this cause to end the suffering, so we thank you in advance if you decide to make the trek and reach out to legislators. If you do, we ask you to send us photos at firstname.lastname@example.org to help inspire others to take action.
In the meantime, feel free to write members of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development to thank them for listening to our testimony and urge them to read Senate Bill 1013 favorably out of committee:
Jason.Lewis@masenate.gov, Patricia.Jehlen@masenate.gov, Sal.DiDomenico@masenate.gov, John.Keenan@masenate.gov, Patrick.OConnor@masenate.gov, Paul.Brodeur@mahouse.gov, Tricia.Farley-Bouvier@mahouse.gov, John.Rogers@mahouse.gov, Liz.Malia@mahouse.gov, Aaron.Vega@mahouse.gov, Christine.Barber@mahouse.gov, Steven.Ultrino@mahouse.gov, Gerard.Cassidy@mahouse.gov, Juana.Matias@mahouse.gov, email@example.com, Keiko.Orrall@mahouse.gov
On Tuesday, I joined with other supporters of the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB) to testify on its behalf at a hearing before the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development of the Massachusetts legislature, held at the State House in Boston. Getting a favorable decision out of the Committee is the first critical step toward […]
We hope to fill the room with advocates to show support for the Healthy Workplace Bill.
At the hearing, legislators listen to testimony about several bills. Last session, legislators waited until the end of the hours-long hearing to listen to testimony from our advocates. We encourage you to speak at the end on behalf of the bill.
Dos and don’ts of speaking at the hearing
DO speak about your experience. Speak from the heart about how workplace bullying affected you, especially how it harmed your health and affected your personal relationships. Remember that legislators want to hear from you.
DO keep your testimony to under two minutes. By the end of the hours-long hearing, legislators may be tired. The last thing we want to do is turn them off, so stick to the facts and to your own experience and keep it brief. It’s difficult to summarize months or years of bullying into two minutes, but it’s important to do so.
DO stick to our talking points. Refresh yourself on the main points we want to get across:
- Accountability, not just training, is what will change behavior.
- There will be a high threshold for recovery.
- The bill is based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s definition of a hostile work environment for sexual harassment.
- The bill enters the picture only when the bullying behaviors have become severe and harmful.
- Employers can minimize their liability exposure by acting preventively and responsively toward bullying.
- The bill focuses on addressing the bullying behavior, not killing jobs.
- Many workplace bullying targets already lose jobs, choosing their health over daily suffering.
DO visit your state rep and senator that day. Before or after the hearing, stop by your legislators’ offices and ask them to support the Healthy Workplace Bill. That’s one State Rep and one State Senator. Try to make an appointment with them beforehand. If you can only speak with an aide, do that. Aides will pass along information to legislators. The State House is hard to navigate, so write down the State House room numbers before that day, bring them with you, and don’t be afraid to ask someone how to get to those offices. Bring a copy of each of these fact sheets (two of each, one for each legislator) to leave with your legislators:
DO email these fact sheets to your legislators if you can’t make it that day. Your legislators want to hear from you.
DON’T mention bully’s names or workplaces — unless asked. The goal is to pass the law, not to out a boss or workplace.
DON’T feel like you have to testify to show support. If you’re not ready to speak under two minutes about your experience, don’t feel obligated to speak. You may not be ready, and that’s ok. Showing your support by attending is much appreciated whether or not you speak.
Remember that perseverance is key. Most bills take years to pass, and we’ve come a long way with just 20 advocates six years ago to now more than 8,000. Help become part of history by showing your support and helping to fill the room today.
It’s day 5 of a 10-day window to obtain co-sponsors for the anti-workplace bullying Healthy Workplace Bill. Here’s who’s co-sponsored the bill so far:
Senator Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover)
Senator Thomas McGee (D-Lynn)
Rep. Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen)
Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead)
Rep. Louis Kafka (D-Stoughton)
Rep. Angelo Puppolo, Jr. (D-Springfield)
Rep. John Scibak (D-South Hadley)
Rep. Frank Smizik (D-Brookline)
Rep. RoseLee Vincent (D-Chelsea)
That’s nine sponsors. Last session, we had 58. So keep those calls and emails coming. We want to reach 70 co-sponsors by Friday, February 3.
What you can do
- Thank last session’s co-sponsors and ask them to sign on again. Email this list (we already removed current co-sponsors, retired legislators, and those who weren’t re-elected):
Sonia.Chang-Diaz@masenate.gov, Sal.DiDomenico@masenate.gov, James.Eldridge@masenate.gov, Jason.Lewis@masenate.gov, Brian.Ashe@mahouse.gov, Bruce.Ayers@mahouse.gov, Ruth.Balser@mahouse.gov, Christine.Barber@mahouse.gov, Paul.Brodeur@mahouse.gov, Gailanne.Cariddi@mahouse.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org, Angelo.D’Emilia@mahouse.gov, Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov, Tricia.Farley-Bouvier@mahouse.gov, Ann-Margaret.Ferrante@mahouse.gov, Sean.Garballey@mahouse.gov, Denise.Garlick@mahouse.gov, Carlos.Gonzalez@mahouse.gov, Ken.Gordon@mahouse.gov, Patricia.Haddad@mahouse.gov, Jonathan.Hecht@mahouse.gov, Mary.Keefe@mahouse.gov, Kay.Khan@mahouse.gov, Peter.Kocot@mahouse.gov, Stephen.Kulik@mahouse.gov, Kevin.Kuros@mahouse.gov, John.Mahoney@mahouse.gov, Paul.Mark@mahouse.gov, Mathew.Muratore@mahouse.gov, Harold.Naughton@mahouse.gov, Alice.Peisch@mahouse.gov, Denise.Provost@mahouse.gov, Dave.Rogers@mahouse.gov, Byron.Rushing@mahouse.gov, Alan.Silvia@mahouse.gov, Todd.Smola@mahouse.gov, Aaron.Vega@mahouse.gov, David.Vieira@mahouse.gov, Chris.Walsh@mahouse.gov, Danielle.Gregoire@mahouse.gov, Russell.Holmes@mahouse.gov, Kevin.Honan@mahouse.gov, John.Lawn@mahouse.gov, Paul.McMurtry@mahouse.gov, James.O’Day@mahouse.gov, Theodore.Speliotis@mahouse.gov, Nick.Collins@mahouse.gov
- Call your State Rep AND State Senator. Calling is much more effective than emailing. Legislators can’t ignore phone calls but can ignore emails in their inboxes. We’ll make it incredibly easy:
Text your zip code to (520) 200-2223. Within a few minutes, you’ll get a text back with your legislators’ phone numbers. Call the two bottom numbers and ask the person who answers to request that the Rep or Senator co-sponsor Senate Docket 768. It’s that simple!
We’re in close contact with Senator Jennifer Flanagan’s office to find out who’s signed on and who we need to nudge, so the sooner you can make these calls, the more co-sponsors we can sign on to end workplace bullying in Massachusetts. Email this post onto your contacts so we can flood our legislators with phone calls.
- Email your State Rep AND State Senator. If you absolutely can’t call because you can’t get away from work during business hours or if you want to back up your phone call, email both of your legislators. We’ve made that process simple, too:
If you don’t see both a Rep and a Senator in your text or you get a return email saying your message couldn’t go through, go to the Massachusetts Legislature website, find your State Rep’s and State Senator’s email addresses, and email them the old-fashioned way.
We have until Friday, February 3 to make urge our legislators to end workplace bullying, but the sooner you call or email, the more legislators we can ultimately reach.
On our growing Facebook page, more than 1,000 people supported the idea of workplace bullying becoming illegal. Roughly 27 percent of workers — more than one million in Massachusetts — will experience workplace bullying during their work lives.
Workplace bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of targets by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms:
- Verbal abuse
- Offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating
- Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done.
Workplace bullying is often subtle. It is:
- Driven by perpetrators’ need to control the targeted individual(s)
- Initiated by bullies who choose targets, timing, place, and methods
- Escalated to involve others who side with the bully, either voluntarily through coercion.
- Undermining of legitimate business interests when bullies’ personal agendas take precedence over work itself
- Domestic violence at work where the abuser is on the payroll.
A 2014 national survey by Zogby International and the Workplace Bullying Institute found that:
- 27% of workers have experienced workplace bullying
- 72% of employers who received complaints about workplace bullying either ignored the problem or made it worse
- 56% of workplace bullies are supervisors
Bullies can be managers, supervisors, co-workers, or clients. The bully’s target is usually a capable, dedicated person. 80% of targets are women.
Common bullying behaviors
- False accusations of mistakes and errors
- Yelling, shouting, and screaming
- Exclusion and “the silent treatment”
- Withholding resources and information necessary to the job
- Behind-the-back sabotage and defamation
- Use of put-downs, insults, and excessively harsh criticism
- Unreasonably heavy work demands
- Spreading rumors and gossip
- Making offensive jokes or comments, verbally or in writing
- Discounting achievements and stealing credit for ideas or work
- Disciplining or threatening job loss without reason
- Taking away work or responsibility without cause
- Blocking requests for training, leave or promotion
- Pestering, spying, stalking, or tampering with personal belongings and equipment
What bullying is not
- Enforcing workplace policies and procedures
- Evaluating or measuring performance
- Providing constructive feedback
- Denying training or leave requests with good reason
- Discussing disciplinary action in private
- Dismissing, suspending, demoting, or reprimanding with just cause
Why bullies bully
- Sideline someone they feel is a threat (the target)
- Further their own agenda at the expense of others
- Deny responsibility for their own behavior
- Mask their lack of confidence and low self-esteem
Types of harm from which targets suffer
- Stress disorders of all types, including anxiety
- Shock, anger, frustration, and helplessness
- Clinical depression or suicidal thoughts
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Loss of sleep
- Loss of focus, confidence, morale, and productivity
- Eating too much or too little
- Stomach pain
- Impaired immune systems
- Symptoms consistent with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Destructive impact on family and personal relationships
The anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill has made it to an historic level: the Third Reading in the House of Representatives. With half a year left in the legislative session, we’re hopeful that 2016 is our year to make workplace bullying illegal in Massachusetts.
Why we’re poised to pass the Healthy Workplace Bill in 2016
State House support. Nearly 1/3 of the entire State Legislature co-sponsors the Healthy Workplace Bill. Here’s how the numbers of legislative sponsors have grown since we first introduced the bill:
1 in the 2009-10 session
13 in the 2011-12 session
39 in the 2013-14 session
58 in the 2015-16 session
Organizational support. We have 16 organizational supporters, from the Massachusetts Teachers Association to longtime supporter SEIU NAGE Local 282, whose lobbyists have been instrumental in moving the bill forward. We’re currently working on a mailing to get Democratic and Republican Town Committees on board and spreading the word.
How we’ll pass the bill in 2016
We expect the Healthy Workplace Bill (H. 1771) to go to a floor vote in the House in January or February. So we need to keep the pressure on our State Reps to support the bill.
- Choose from one of two template letters to email to your rep and modify it or write your own letter asking your rep to support the Healthy Workplace Bill, H. 1771.
- Use this link to find your State Rep’s email address (listed as the “House” legislator).
Spread the word about the bill to family, friends, and colleagues so we can help combat workplace bullying.
Rep. Thomas Conroy has still not had HB1766 read out of committee. We understand that the deadline has now moved to March 19. Call your state rep (not senator) AND Rep. Thomas Conroy (617-722-2014) THIS WEEK:
1. Ask your state rep to support the Healthy Workplace Bill and to contact Rep. Thomas Conroy to have him read HB 1766 favorably out of committee.
2. POLITELY ask Rep. Thomas Conroy or ask his aide to ask him to move the bill out of committee with a favorable read.