We are happy to announce we can offer reimbursement of certain training and certification expenses related to Unit 9 work that you may have incurred between July 1, 2016 and May 30, 2017. This program is limited to Unit 9 employees covered by the collective bargaining contract between MOSES and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (members employed by MWRA and MassDOT are not eligible for this program).
The current contract between the Commonwealth and MOSES ratified by the Unit 9 membership in August 2014, included provisions for $55,000.00 to be spent in 2015, 2016 and 2017 on training for Unit 9 employees. MOSES has been consulting with the Commonwealth's Human Resources Division (HRD) on developing and implementing a training initiative utilizing $55,000.00 that is acceptable to HRD and MOSES to benefit Unit 9 employees for Fiscal Year 2017. A portion of the money has been allotted to fund a Post Disaster Response course. Information on this time sensitive opportunity has been forwarded separately. The balance of the money will be allocated to reimbursement of a portion of members training and credentialing expenses. MOSES has agreed to implement this reimbursement initiative intended to distribute the available block of training money to as many members as possible.
The form to request reimbursement for expenses incurred by members in obtaining training and/or certifications or licenses that relate to Unit 9 professional or technical work is available here. (Click "read more" for program information and types of expenses covered.)
For more information on current legislation that would reform the GIC, contact Liz Murphy, legislative director, at (email@example.com) or call with (617.367.2727 ext. 318).
Once again, our healthcare is under attack.
On January 4, the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) released a report that included recommendations to increase deductibles, raise prescription drug costs and change the design of healthcare plans for public employees.
The following week, MOSES joined with other public employee unions in pushing to delay the implementation of these recommendations until after the GIC holds a public hearing on the proposed changes. Despite our collective effort, as well as support from House and Senate leadership, on Thursday, January 19, the GIC voted to provide provisional approval for these recommendations. These changes may cost your family hundreds of dollars each year.
Share this image. The chart below shows clearly how cost "sharing" is really cost shifting. Beginning in 2009, public employees have steadily taken on a higher percent of their healthcare costs while the state has steadily decreased its share. In 2016, public employees paid the highest share to date - nearly 28% - of the costs, while the state paid their lowest - 72%. The proposed GIC changes would continue and accelerate these trend lines in the wrong directions.
MOSES MassDOT members (volunteers at the conference); Highway Administrator Tom Tinlin (with tie); MassDOT Secretary & CEO Stephanie Pollack (in red); and officials from the Federal Highway Administration are pictured below at the 2016 Annual Meeting held in Boston. Considered one of the industry’s most important events that brings together transportation, government and commercial organizations, the Annual Meeting offers industry professionals the opportunity to network and share the latest in policies and innovations.
Key topics addressed at this year’s meeting included intermodal transportation development and its direct impact on statewide economics; examination of user fee alternatives to the traditional fuel tax framework; and the viability of automated vehicle technologies as a great potential for improving safety, mobility and efficiency within the transportation system, to name a few.
MOSES President Joe Dorant shared, “It was quite an event. Great minds and great people joined together, sharing state-of-the-art ideas and information, all in the name of improving transportation."
MOSES MassDOT members were recently featured in multiple news stories on WBZ-TV4, WCVB-TV5 and FOX25, as well as in the Boston Globe.
During the underwater inspection of a bridge over the Neponset River, Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack and Highway Administrator Tom Tinlin took time to praise the Underwater Operations Section for its unseen work to keep state bridges safe for the public.
“It’s very crucial for the safety of the public,” MOSES member Randi Bonica, the Underwater Operations Engineer, shares. “They don’t know what’s going on underneath the water. The only way to determine if there are any issues is if we inspect it.”
Brian Clang, also a MOSES member, is the State Bridge Inspection Engineer and oversees the dive team. He explains, "Underwater bridge inspection is likely the least visible role of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, but perhaps one of the most critical. Our 22-member team of full- and part-time divers take on tough conditions to inspect - below the water - the state's approximate 1,000 bridges. Additionally, we supply the labor and underwater repairs at no charge, so the savings to cities and towns to keep bridges not owned by the state safe is substantial."
The dive team inspects approximately 400 bridges annually throughout the Commonwealth. They dive year-round, making inspections, as well as repairs, as needed. The current dive team consists of five full-time divers and an additional 17 part-time divers, each of whom work in various engineering positions within MassDOT. All divers make at least 20 dives a year and must complete an initial 100-hour in-house dive training course, an 80-hour National Highway Institute bridge inspection course, as well as other ongoing dive and engineering training.
Joe Dorant, president of MOSES, observes, "The commitment by each of our members to this important and much-needed service provided by MassDOT is staggering. Their work is not only strenuous, but can be hazardous, as well. Yet, since 1973, when the Underwater Operations Section was formed, there have been no diving injuries. This fact alone is a testament to the extensive and continuous training each member completes."
Kudos to Randi and all the MOSES members of MassDOT's dive team, including Gordon Broz, Bill Colleran (eastern area dive coordinator), Brian Fitzgerald and John Mankowsky (western area dive coordinator), all full-time divers, as well as the part-time dive team that includes Steve Ausevich, Mike Bastoni, Allen Bondeson, Barry Courville, Mike Dostal, Bryan Engstrom, Bill Ferry, Steve Finck, Zach Gikas, Mark Griffin, Ali Jalinous, Carrie Lavallee, Dan Mastrangelo, Tom Prendergast, Dennis Simkhovich,Roger Wykes and Joe Graham with the United Steel Workers.
Watch the story by reporter Anna Meiler of WBZ-TV4 here: http://boston.cbslocal.com/2016/11/04/massdot-dive-team-bridge-safety/
The votes have been counted and the results are in. These results must be approved by the members present at the December 13, 2016 General Membership Meeting. Once the Election Committee report is accepted, the new Officers and Trustees will be sworn in for a new two year term. A total of 1,273 ballots were received (36% of membership).
For a complete election vote summary, please click here.
At-Large Contest results:
Joe Dorant (DEP)
1062 - Unopposed
Patrick Russell (MWRA)
742 - Elected
David Baker (MassDOT)
Allen Bondeson (MassDOT)
824 - Elected
Jennifer Marsh Baker (Military Div)
Jim Galvin (MassDOT)
948 - Unopposed
Trustees (3 Seats)
Mary Richards (Retiree)
849 - Uncontested
Paul DiPietro (Retiree)
820 - Uncontested
Vincent A Long (Retiree)
803 - Uncontested
For a complete election vote summary, please click here.
The Election Committee:
Louis Sciortino - Retiree MDC - Co-chair
Robert Danilecki - Retiree DHCD - Co-chair
Arne Carr - Retiree - DFW
Stephen Hawko - Reiree DEP
Norman Goldman - Retiree DOT
Paul Petrowski - EOL
Chuck Salemi -Retiree POL
As far as anglers are concerned, it is “reel” good news when 500,000 brook, brown, rainbow and tiger trout are stocked in rivers, streams, lakes and ponds throughout Massachusetts.
Each year, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (MassWildlife) oversees the state’s trout stocking program, a coordinated effort to raise and release hundreds of thousands of fish into roughly 500 rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. The Bay State began stocking its waterways with fish in the 1870s.
Raised at one of five fish hatcheries in the state, stocking runs through the spring months. MOSES member Ken Simmons, Ph.D., chief of hatcheries for the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, explains, “Without the stockings, there would be fewer trout to catch. Natural trout reproduction just can’t keep up with angling demands. By stocking our waterways, we provide enhanced recreation for all who fish in Massachusetts.” The stocking program is funded by the sale of state sporting licenses and federal reimbursements from taxes paid on sporting tackle. Annually, more than 500,000 people fish the state’s waters and visit the hatcheries.
(Pictured above (left to right): Joe Dorant, president, Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers & Scientists, with fellow MOSES members from the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife: Steve Hurley, Southeast District Fisheries manager; Adam Davies, fish culturist and Sandwich Hatchery manager; and Ken Simmons, chief of hatcheries.)
The stocking total for spring 2016 was close to 500,000 fish: 89,580 brook trout; 265,050 rainbow trout; 129,630 brown trout; and 2,900 tiger trout. The fish vary in size from 9-18 inches, depending on their age. Simmons points out, “More than half of our stock average over 14 inches in length, with the majority at least 12 inches long.” Fall stocking season begins around the last week of September and is completed by the second week of October depending on water temperatures. Fall 2016 will see more than 60,000 rainbow trout that are 12 inches or longer stocked in Massachusetts water bodies. As was the case with the 2016 spring season, anglers will be able to view daily stocking reports and search by water body or town. The interactive stocking map can be found here: Mass.gov/Trout.
Thanks to MOSES members advocacy, vetoes from Governor Baker (which would have negatively impacted MOSES members) were defeated. These included an override of a health insurance premium increase and restoration of $7 million in cuts to both the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation & Recreation budgets.
MOSES, along with other unions, turned out in full force in opposition to Governor Baker’s recent proposal to cap sick leave accruals at 1,000 hours for Executive Branch employees. His bill, House Bill 4341, An Act to Reform Sick Time, was filed in response to multiple stories in the Boston Business Journal which highlighted high-level personnel at campuses across the public higher education system cashing out hundreds of thousands of dollars in unused sick time at the end of their careers. Under Baker’s proposal, Executive Branch employee’s sick time would be capped at 1,000 hours. Those with more than 1,000 hours at the time the bill is signed would be grandfathered into keeping their sick time, but could not accrue any more.
2016 MOSES Scholarship winners were drawn at September’s General Membership meeting in Raynham, Mass. A total of 24 scholarships (23-$750 scholarships and one $1,500 scholarship) were distributed to help defray educational expenses.
Joe Dorant, president of the Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers & Scientists, shared, “I am proud that our board voted to increase each award amount by 50%. Member families count on this support to help pay higher education expenses and the MOSES leadership gets that.”
The U.S. Board of Geographic Names has labeled a brook on the Harvard Forest property in Petersham, Mass., as ‘Arthur Brook’ in honor of former MOSES member and environmental champion, Arthur John Screpetis (1950-2009). The brook is a 1.1 mile tributary to the larger Bigelow Brook.
Fellow coworker and MOSES member Warren Kimball, retired, submitted the petition to name the brook after Arthur.
Screpetis, a 37-year employee of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and a MOSES member, began his career with the Commonwealth working for the Division of Water Pollution Control. In 1974 he was one of the primary authors of operational protocols for water quality monitoring in lakes. He participated in the research and development of, and the funding for, numerous cooperative projects with State and Federal agencies, including the Massachusetts Stream Classification Project. His work on the development and implementation of the Mass. Watershed Initiative and the Mass. Estuaries Program was especially impactful.
Throughout his career, Screpetis received numerous recognitions for his “outstanding service,” including the prestigious Manuel Carballo Award for Excellence, primarily due to his work on the Watershed Initiative. According to Joe Dorant, MOSES president, “Arthur is remembered for his many years of dedicated service to both DEP and the many rivers, streams and wetlands that his work saved. The work he completed on the development of the state stream and lake inventories is still in use today. Just as important as Art’s devotion to his work for the Commonwealth was his interests as a naturalist and wildlife biologist.”
Mr. Screpetis belonged to many associations and organizations, including MOSES, The Wildlife Society, the American Society of Mammalogists, the Association of Field Ornithologists, the Eastern Bird Banding Association, the American Ornithologists Union, the New England Botanical Club, the Society of Wetland Scientists, and the Northeastern Naturalist-Humboldt Field Research Institute, to name a few.
A native of Lowell, Mass., Art was an experienced astronomer, avid runner, professional nature photographer and baseball enthusiast. Pictured below is Arthur (right) and fellow MassDEP “Water Wrats” (and MOSES members) Dave Howland (left) and Warren Kimball (center).