This Mother’s Day, Advocate for Pregnant Workers’ Rights

Current Massachusetts employment laws don’t provide critical protections to keep pregnant workers healthy and on the job.


That’s why we need YOU to contact your elected officials and ask them to support the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a commonsense bill that would prohibit employers from making hiring and firing decisions based on a woman’s pregnancy status. The bill would also require employers to provide pregnant workers reasonable accommodations such as allowing more frequent bathroom breaks or using a stool while working at a cash register. 

Take action today!

Voter Intimidation and the Tea Party

(This particular story seems to have slipped under the media spotlight–so I’d love a signal boost on it.)

The Tea Party has resorted to voter intimidation in Worcester, Massachusetts. This happened at a Democratic Primary a week ago–though speculation is that it was a warm up for the November election. Voter intimidation is a simple and nasty trick. You just need to find the people on the margins and do something to make voting a bit scarier.

Here’s how the Tea Party group did it in Worcester:

  • They photographed or videotaped people in the polling stations.
  • They raised fake challenges to people’s credentials.
  • They chalked sidewalks outside housing complexes claiming, falsely, that people needed an ID to vote in the election.
  • They slid fliers under residents’ doors making the same false claims about fliers.
  • They asked voters to provide identification.
  • Chastising” voters and their helpers for speaking Spanish

This is all, of course, illegal.

There’s really no dispute about why the Tea Party spin-off Activate Worcester is doing this. As the organizer of this effort wrote, “Worcester has just registered at least 3,000 new voters thanks to the Voter Participation Center and the Secretary of State — these are welfare recipients and disenfranchised people.”

Public Accommodations: They’re More Than Just Restrooms!

Did you know that transgender people have no legal protections against discrimination in places of public accommodation in Massachusetts? We can fix this problem by passing the Equal Access Bill.

A “public accommodation” is any establishment, public or private, that is open to the general public and that provides, or endeavors to provide, some type of goods and/or services to the general public. The Massachusetts Public Accommodation Law (M.G.L. c. 272, s. 92A, 98 and 98A) defines a place of public accommodation as “any place, whether licensed or unlicensed, which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public.”

Why is passing the Equal Access Bill important? Check out these places where trans people can still be discriminated against in Massachusetts. The list may surprise you.

Hotels, motels, campsites, and other places of lodging

Restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other establishments serving food or drink

• Retail establishments, including stores, shopping centers, car rental agencies, and other retail establishments

Theaters, concert halls, sports arenas and stadiums, and other places of entertainment

Convention centers, lecture halls, and other places of public gathering

• Museums, libraries, galleries, and other places of public display or collection

• Parks, zoos, amusement parks, beaches, and other places of recreation

Public transit and bus stations, train terminals, airports, platforms, and other transportation facilities

Public streets, highways, sidewalks, boardwalks, and other public ways

• Service establishments, including laundromats, dry cleaners, banks, gas stations, barbershops, beauty salons, travel agents, funeral parlors, and employment agencies

• Providers of professional services such as law offices, accountants, and insurance agents

• Health care facilities, including medical and dental offices, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, nursing homes, and other health care facilities

• Public spaces and offices of state and local government agencies including, court rooms, hearing rooms, meeting rooms, waiting areas, lobbies, entrances, polling places (where you vote), public information counters and displays

Think it can’t or won’t happen to you or someone you know? Think again. Massachusetts transgender youth and adults routinely experience discrimination and harassment in public accommodations and services.

58% of surveyed transgender people were verbally harassed or disrespected in a place of public accommodationor service, including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies.

Imagine what it would be like if you the Basketball Hall of Fame wouldn’t let you in, even with a ticket, because “they don’t serve people like you.”

Imagine being refused admission to Plimoth Plantation because you are transgender.

Imagine a bus driver verbally harassing you and being so openly hostile that you have to get out miles ahead of your stop for fear of your own emotional and physical safety.

Worst of all, imagine being denied admission to an emergency room because they “can’t help people like you.”

How you can help

February 1 is the deadline for Massachusetts senators and representatives to cosponsor the Equal Access Bill. Please call your legislators NOW and ask them to commit to cosponsorship.

Check out our Call to Action for easy instructions on how to find your legislators and what to say to them.

Another way that you can help is to talk up #MAtransbill online.

Congratulations to the first openly gay attorney general in the country and the new attorney general of Massachusetts, Maura Healey!

This is a huge victory in Massachusetts and we’re so proud to have stood with Maura Healey all the way to Election Day - THANK YOU for voting and standing up for women’s health and rights.

As reported by the Boston Globe:

Edward M. Kennedy Institute aims to inspire

By Victoria Reggie Kennedy I MARCH 27, 2015

“TO SAY that I love the Senate does not begin to convey what that institution means to me.” My late husband, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, wrote those words in his memoir, “True Compass.’’ And it’s true. Ted didn’t just love the US Senate. He revered it. He believed in it. He knew that, within that chamber, our leaders have the power to make a difference for citizens in every corner of this country and to impact lives throughout the world.

On Tuesday, following our dedication ceremony, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate will open its doors to the public. At a moment when civic knowledge is at an all-time low, this institute is a reminder of everything the Senate was designed to be — and everything it can be again.

Today, only one-third of graduating high school seniors even knows that we have three branches of government. The Institute seeks to change that with a hands-on, interactive experience. Visitors will have the chance to be senators for a few hours — to debate issues, to vote, and, most important, to come together face-to-face to try to find common ground.

The heart and soul of the institute is a full-scale recreation of the Senate chamber. This was Ted’s vision — something he imagined when he first thought about the institute 12 years ago. Ted believed that the majesty of the Senate chamber — the carved wooden desks; the magnificent ceiling; the fabric-covered panels on the walls — inspired awe and a sense of duty in those privileged to serve in that hallowed space. He believed that those surroundings naturally stirred people to serve the national interest — to do the right thing.

In Washington, when the Senate is in session, visitors aren’t allowed on the Senate floor. But in Boston, Kennedy Institute visitors will have the chance to walk onto the floor, cast a vote, and have their voices heard.

The institute is a fitting tribute to a centuries-old institution — but its approach is cutting-edge. Everyone will be issued a computer tablet when they enter, so that, as they pass through the exhibits, they will have information literally at their fingertips. All the exhibits are projected on the walls so they can remain current.

As new generations of Americans pass through its doors, they’ll have a chance to learn, engage, and, hopefully, be inspired. That’s the aim of our unique Senate Immersion Module, which allows up to 100 visitors, primarily students, to become senators for a fast-paced two-hour simulation. They’ll have the chance to make floor speeches, pass amendments, even filibuster. But the overarching goal is for the participants to pass legislation by finding common ground — despite their differences.

The response to the simulated Senate experience has already been extraordinarily powerful. Young people take on the personas of senators from different states and different parties, and in the process they learn about different points of view. They learn how to respect and understand the contrasting views of their colleagues, while still forging agreement and winning a vote.

That search for consensus is one of Ted’s most important legacies — and it permeates every aspect of the Institute that bears his name. But, as was his wish, this institute is not about one man; it is about the nearly 2,000 men and women who have served in the Senate since it first convened in 1789 and those who will serve in the future. It’s about the hopes and dreams of Americans — and people around the world — who look to that chamber for guidance and leadership.

It’s no secret that many Americans seriously doubt whether our leaders can work together – or whether our governing institutions can even function anymore. In times like these, it’s more important than ever to remember that we have faced and overcome difficult periods since the founding of the republic. Ultimately, throughout history, men and women of good will, have come together across the party divide to address the great challenges facing our nation.

Ted once said: “We are Americans. This is what we do. We reach the moon. We scale the heights. I know it. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. And we can do it again.” The Edward M. Kennedy Institute’s mission is to inspire a new generation of leaders. Because we know that we Americans can do it again.

Victoria Reggie Kennedy cofounded the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate along with her late husband. She is president of the board of trustees of the institute.


Something Rotten in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has apparently decided that families aren’t really homeless unless there are children who have slept in a place not fit for human habitation. Notice the past tense. If a family is seeking emergency shelter as an alternative to sleeping in a car the answer appears to be, “Go sleep in the car. Then come back later. Then we’ll send somebody around to inspect to make sure you actually slept in the car eventually when we get around to it and hopefully you’ll still be parked in the same place.

While it’s great to hope that everybody can have stable, affordable housing, there’s an immediate need for safety. Nobody wants to live in a homeless shelter. Nobody is going to opt for a shelter over stable, affordable housing. And forcing children into danger doesn’t solve homelessness.

The video above is pretty good summary of what’s going on and what you can do about it. (As a warning, some of the stories are pretty upsetting1.) If you’re in Massachusetts, call some legislators

  1. TW: Everything.