Unsung No More

December 03, 2014

On December 3, MassCOSH celebrated its 38th anniversary to a packed house of workers, labor activists, public officials and health, safety and legal professionals.  The organization presented awards to unsung heroes who played a distinguished role in protecting the safety and health of the state’s workers.
Guests mixed and mingled over live jazz while enjoying hors d’oevres from a worker-owned East Boston restaurant, Sabor Centro Americano. The event  raised a record amount of donations, thanks to the generosity of labor, legal and community sponsors and individuals.  Click here to view MassCOSH’s digital ad book.
Representative Thomas P. Conroy and Senator Daniel A. Wolf received the distinguished “Public Leader” award for their leadership on key employment and workforce issues during 2013/14 legislative session. Lisa Field, the director of Field Operations for SEIU Local 888, was recognized with the “Buddy Adams Award”, in memory of a union shop floor activist who championed health and safety in his workplace.  Joe Carlson, President of the Central Massachusetts AFL-CIO presented Field with the award for her groundbreaking efforts engage and protect the safety and well-being of municipal workers.
Jamie Tessler received the Health Tech Champion award for her tireless volunteerism on behalf of workers.  Elise Pechter, who chairs MassCOSH’s Health Tech Committee, noted Tessler’s dedication and wide-ranging talent– from helping housekeepers document the poor conditions at a hotel to producing educational materials for clinicians, workers and unions. 
Flor Rivillas and other temporary workers employed at the factory Fulfillment America received the Immigrant Worker Award of Courage for standing up to defend their rights to safe conditions and to their hard-earned pay.   Their attorneys, Tom Smith and Elizabeth Tully of Justice at Work and Steve Churchill of Fair Work Project, noted the efforts that Flor and her coworkers undertook, with MassCOSH support, to ensure justice for the workers, engaging in rallies, participating in a mediation through the night and actively reaching out to ensure all workers were reached.
Representative Conroy and Senator Wolf were recognized as champions of critical pro-worker issues including: extending safety protections to state employees, increasing benefits for families of fallen workers, increasing the state’s minimum wage, and securing protections for domestic workers.  MassCOSH executive director Marcy Goldstein-Gelb congratulated the legislators for their tireless efforts on behalf of the workers of the Commonwealth.
“The day that Representative Conroy learned that there were bills to protect the safety of public employees and to ensure that families can bury their fallen loved ones, he immediately went to work ensuring that the bills were passed,” said Goldstein-Gelb. “Senator Wolf, as well, was instrumental in navigating MassCOSH’s top worker safety bills, and the proof is in the pudding:  State employees now have the same safety protections as those in the private sector; families now can bury their loved ones without shouldering the enormous costs of a funeral.”