Southeastern Massachusetts Legislative Alliance Letter On Employer Paid Family & Medical Leave

Employer Paid Family & Medical Leave Is a Step Too Far!

The Southeastern Massachusetts Legislative Alliance, comprised of the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce and the SouthCoast Chamber, is strongly in opposition to the proposed Employer Paid Family & Medical Leave mandate on Massachusetts businesses. State lawmakers are seriously considering several employer paid family and medical leave proposals. If passed this legislative mandate will require Massachusetts businesses to grant up to 26 weeks paid time off in a calendar year to workers for their own illnesses; as well as up to 12-16 weeks paid time off to care for family members (spouse, child, parent, parent of spouse, grandchild or grandparent). These legislatively imposed benefits are at the expense of Massachusetts businesses.

The threat of an Employer Paid Family and Medical Leave law comes on the heels of a lawmaker encouraged ballot initiative that now requires Massachusetts companies to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of work to all workers. The employer paid family and medical leave proposals will further harm businesses by allowing their workers 26 weeks paid time off to care for themselves and 16 weeks for family members. Both benefits would allow for intermittent and extended periods of time with pay. The paid benefits will be employer financed and could cost small businesses as much as $1000 per week, per employee. This is in addition to the expense of finding and paying for alternative workers that will be needed to make up for the individuals taking employer paid time off.

While four other states, which include Rhode Island and New Jersey, have enacted medical and family leave provisions, their programs are strictly funded by employee payroll deductions. No state in the United States mandates that employers must pay for employee medical and family time off. Massachusetts would the only state to place such an incredible financial burden on its own businesses.

For the Massachusetts program to work, it will be funded from a new tax assessed on small businesses. One small instrument of relief being considered by legislators is to allow employers an option to shift up to 50% of the assessment costs to their employees. The revenues raised from the new assessment, which acts as a tax, will be used to fund and create another state agency to administer the program.

No one can deny that the expense of this legislatively imposed mandate will impact every business in Massachusetts. Please keep in mind that Massachusetts is already a high cost state to do business within. It is also important to recognize that the current Legislative Session includes bills that if enacted would mandate 3 weeks in advance employer scheduling, establish a $15 minimum wage, establish a millionaire’s tax that is a masked tax on limited liability companies and S corporations and further increase the cost of energy in the state that already has the highest cost for electricity in the continental United States. The employer paid health care assessment hidden within the state budget is an additional hit to businesses. Another is the proposed increases to Unemployment Insurance. All of these hardships are coming at Massachusetts companies at once.

In the days ahead it is hoped that state lawmakers take the time to contemplate the impacts of what employer paid family and medical leave will do to their constituent businesses. They should also balance the totality of the impacts when considering additional anti-business burdens such as the employer health care assessment within the state budget, strict scheduling legislation and a $15 Minimum Wage. Hopefully it will be recognized that all of these employer paid mandates are too much for Massachusetts businesses to absorb at once.


Robert A. Mellion, Esq.
President & CEO
Bristol County Chamber of Commerce
Voice of Business Since 1911
200 Pocasset Street
Fall River, MA 02721
Telephone: (508) 676-8226

Rick Kidder
President & CEO
New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce (d/b/a SouthCoast Chamber)
Proudly Serving New Bedford and the Towns of the South Coast
794 Purchase Street
New Bedford, MA 02740
Telephone: (508) 999-5231

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Good Morning SouthCoast!: “Preparing Our Future Workforce: Challenges and Opportunities”

This edition of Good Morning SouthCoast is dedicated to “Preparing Our Future Workforce: Challenges and Opportunities” and will focus on grades K – 12.  The event will be held on Thursday, June 22nd at the Wamsutta Club at 7:30 a.m. and a full breakfast buffet will be served. This is going to be an interactive program with a panel of experts and professionals who will share their ideas and knowledge on how we collectively educate and retain today’s talented students within the area. The panel will include local Superintendents from local schools and professionals working directly in the area school systems.  The event will have be a seasoned moderator who will facilitate questions from the audience to the panel.   Panelists include:

Dr. Pia Durkin, Superintendent New Bedford Public Schools

Dr. Robert Baldwin, Superintendent Fairhaven Public Schools

Mr. James O’Brien, Superintendent-Director Greater New Bedford Voc Tech High School

Mr. Aaron Polansky,  Superintendent-Director Old Colony regional Vocational Technical High

Mr. Thomas F. Aubin, Superintendent/Director Diman Regional Vocational Technical High

Dr. Stephen Furtado, Executive Director Global Learning Charter School

Event sponsor BayCoast Bank will also be at the event promoting “Get On the Bus”. BayCoast Bank and EdUp invite you to Get on the Bus with us as they roll through the SouthCoast in thier big blue bus, recording the experiences and stories of the people they meet as they relate how education has impacted their own lives and the community. Whether teacher, student, mentor, parent, child – you are invoied to share your ideas wherever you see the bus.  As they hear them, they will be randomly selecting schools and educational programs for cash awards up to $1,000 each.

Can’t wait to visit the bus and record your story? Just use your own smartphone or other device to create your video – share your experiences, or tell about the teachers or mentors who made a difference to you – and upload it to:*.

*Complete guidelines for video submissions can be found at

The cost to attend which includes breakfast is $27.50 for members, $45 Non-Members and $250 for a table of ten. Registration is required online here or by calling 508-999-5231. For more information, contact Deven Tillman at (508) 999-5231 ext 26.

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New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce Joins Other Statewide Chambers, MBAE, in Advocating For Quality Statewide Education and Standardized Testing

By Ian Abreu

The MBAE Affiliate Network let Senators know this week why employers oppose Senate budget amendments that would dismantle education reforms that have made Massachusetts number one in the nation in student achievement.

The Network urged the Senate to reject budget amendments which are addressed in bills that will be reviewed through the regular legislative process and receive a public hearing with the opportunity for greater deliberation and all perspectives to be considered.

The MBAE Network and its partners urged Senators to:

Oppose limitations on use of data essential for district and school leaders to make personnel decisions that are in the best interest of students, particularly in struggling schools.  Amendments of particular concern would:

  • Remove a school leader’s ability to weigh performance more heavily than seniority in teacher tenure decisions (#94);
  • Eliminate state requirements that districts evaluate teachers, at least in part, on their impact on student learning, growth, or achievement (#99); and,
  • Gut the state’s education accountability system that has provided actionable data essential for school improvement (#95).

Oppose a moratorium on MCAS testing.  Statewide standardized tests are essential because they:

  • Ensure that the same bar for learning is set for every student, in every district across the state;
  • Provide critical information to parents and educators about whether students are meeting those expectations;
  • Shine a light and therefore create urgency to address persistent racial and socio-economic achievement gaps; and,
  • Provide essential data about school and district performance that can be used to correct course if necessary, or to highlight best practices that can be replicated.
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Chambers Agree to Establish a Legislative Alliance

The SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce and the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce today agreed to form the Southeastern Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce Alliance (SMCCA). The purpose behind the two regional chambers partnering together on government affairs is to address regional challenges and opportunities in current and future legislation at the State House in Boston and Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

“For too long, the communities of the Southeastern region of Massachusetts have worked separately to address legislation. This alliance brings together two very strong chambers to let our legislators know that we are united in improving the business climate by advancing business-friendly legislation affecting our region,” said Carl Garcia, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce.

The Southeastern Massachusetts Alliance, while begun by the two chambers, will invite other chambers in the region with common interests in business-friendly policy to join. The intended objective is to goal increase the visibility of chamber member businesses on Beacon Hill and Washington D.C.  Also foreseen are future joint events designed to highlight issues of importance where all business stakeholders may take an interest.

Joe Michaud, Chair of the Board of Directors of the SouthCoast Chamber added, “Bringing together the top business organizations of the region makes intuitive sense. We will only address issues where there is agreement. The two chambers represent nearly 2,000 businesses and tens of thousands of employees. Their collective economic impact translates into real clout on Beacon Hill. As our ranks swell with other chambers in the region, it is envisioned that SMCCA will become one of the largest pro-business advocacy entities in Massachusetts and New England.”

The alliance is also intended to serve as a platform to work with members of the legislative delegation on policy formation as well as response to existing initiatives put forth at the statewide or national level that directly affect Southeastern Massachusetts.

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SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce Endorses the National Park Service Legacy Act (S. 571)

By Ian Abreu
The SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce that, along with other Chambers of Commerce, Business Associations, and public and private sector agencies throughout the nation,  has formally endorsed the “National Park Service Legacy Act” (S.571), which establishes a fund in the U.S. Treasury to direct dedicated monies each year to draw down the National Park Service deferred maintenance backlog and helps to protect our park treasures and create jobs.
The National Park Service (NPS), which turned 100 years old last year, manages more than 400 national park units-iconic landscapes, historic and cultural sites, trails, military battlegrounds, monuments, and memorials-throughout the country.
As a result of aging facilities, strain on resources caused by increased visitation, and unreliable funding, the NPS has been unable to keep pace with park infrastructure repairs. Based on 2015 data, the agency estimates it would cost nearly $12 billion if it were to fix all of the items on its deferred maintenance list. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) has introduced bipartisan legislation, the “National Park Service Legacy Act,” which would provide dedicated annual federal funding to national park deferred maintenance needs, ensuring that parks continue to preserve our nation’s heritage and recreation opportunities, and that local communities who depend on park visitors for revenue will continue to flourish.
The National Park Service Legacy Act would:
* Establish a federal fund in the U.S. Treasury-named the “National Park Service Legacy Fund”-to draw down the national park maintenance backlog.
* The Fund would be financed using revenues from the on-shore and off-shore production of oil, gas, coal, and other mineral operations that are not already allocated by law to other programs.
* Monies would ramp up over time, based on the schedule below, to address highpriority national park deferred maintenance needs:
(1) $50,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2018, 2019, and 2020
(2) $150,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2021, 2022, and 2023
(3) $250,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2024, 2025, and 2026
(4) $500,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2027 through 2047
* Eighty percent (80%) of the Fund would be used for the repair and rehabilitation of NPS assets including: historic structures, visitor facilities, trails, water utility systems, and assets that impact disability access, health and safety, and recreation.
* Twenty percent (20%) of the Fund would be used to restore transportation-related infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, and tunnels.
*Prohibit allocated funds from being used for land acquisition or to replace discretionary funding for NPS facility operations and maintenance needs.
*Protect the authority of Congress by requiring review of proposed maintenance projects by appropriate committees.
*Promote public-private collaboration by incentivizing projects which have a private donation cost-share component.

The legislation was introduced on March 28, 2017 and was referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Original co-sponsors include Sens. Portman (R-OH), Kaine (D-VA), and King (I-ME).

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SouthCoast Chamber Presents 2017 APEX Awards

By Brieanna Wood, Intern

The SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce and BankFive are pleased to recognize the significant contributions and achievements of our region’s businesses with the presentation of the 2017 APEX Awards in the categories of Small Business, Large Business and Non-Profit/Educational Institution. Although this recognition ceremony has been around for quite some time, this past Thursday was the event’s debut as its own occasion – separate from the Chambers esteemed Good Morning SouthCoast.

With over thirty nominees this year, the painstaking task of narrowing down one of the largest turnouts to date was no easy one. Each nominee has played a unique role within the community and contributed to the economic development of the SouthCoast.

“Large Business of the Year” for 2017, was presented to LifeStream.

Presented with “Large Business of the Year” award for 2017, was LifeStream. Established in 1976, the founders of LifeStream aimed to improve physical and mental healthcare, whereas many viewed this form of care with a stigma, and much of it institutionalized – so many afflicted were left with little quality of life and fulfillment. Today, LifeStream has grown as the region’s leading human services organizations and employs over 500 people in 39 different office and program locations.

The six runner-ups for this year’s Large Business of the Year award were as follows: AFC Cable Systems, Inc., Brahmin Leather Works, Fernandes Masonry, Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP, Summit Retail Solutions, and Tegra Medical.

Presented with “Small Business of the Year” for 2017 was SEASTREAK.

Presented with “Small Business of the Year” award was SEASTREAK. Located on New Bedford’s historical waterfront, SEASTREAK offers high-speed catamaran transport to metropolitan New York, New Jersey, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. In addition to their commuter services, SEASTREAK offers an array of special events, such as sightseeing cruises and tours, daytrips, and year round getaways.

Twelve other businesses were nominated for this year’s award, which include; Acorn Management Inc., All Friends Smokehouse, Century House, Darn it! Inc., Days Health and Sports, Dorothy Cox’s Chocolates, Gaspar’s Sausage Company, H. Loeb Corporation, Hampton Inn of Fairhaven/New Bedford, Jim’s Organic Coffee, Poyant Signs, and SERVPRO.

Presented as “Non-Profit Organization of the Year” was Child & Family Services, Inc..

Presented with “Non-Profit Organization of the Year” award was Child & Family Services, Inc.. Being one of the oldest non-profits in Southeastern Massachusetts, Child & Family Services, Inc. opened their doors in 1843 as the New Bedford Orphans’ Home to help children left homeless or without families. Since then, the New Bedford Orphans’ Home has had many faces, changing their name alongside changing times and attitudes towards the aid of disadvantaged children. Between 1910 and 1948, New Bedford Orphans’ Home became New Bedford Children’s Aid Society. Then, once again, during 1948-1999, New Bedford Children’s Aid society became known as New Bedford Child & Family Services. Which leads us into present time, where the organization goes by Child & Family Services, signifying their extended footprint well beyond New Bedford. The non-profit now offers more services than ever before, such as Outreach & Counseling programs, Psychiatry, Support Groups and many more.

“Educational Institution of the Year” for 2017 was presented to Bristol Community College.

In addition to “Non-Profit Organization of the Year”, comes the “Educational Institution of the Year” award, which Bristol Community College had the honor of receiving. Chartered in 1965, Bristol Community College has become a staple in the community. Offering more than 150 career and transfer programs that lead to Associates degree’s in science, arts and applied services, along with certificates of accomplishment and/or achievement. With five accessible locations and comprehensive programs such as their online eLearning alternatives, Bristol Community College offers many enrichments within the community.

Seven other non-profit and educational institutions were nominated for this year’s award, including Alma del Mar Charter School, Burgo Basketball Associations Interise, Mercy Meals and More, Our Sisters’ School, Veterans Transition House, and the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center.

Nominations solicited from within the community, and reviewed by a selection committee comprised of Chamber members undertook this responsibility. The selection committee looked for companies who have balanced success with a strong commitment to the community. Each nominee rated on five criteria: number of employees, staying power, growth, social responsibility and innovation. To meet just a few of these goals is a significant accomplishment.

The SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce extends its appreciation to BankFive for being a partner in this important program. Their commitment as the founding sponsor of the “Business of the Year Awards” program reflects their dedication to our community and their commitment to providing services to small businesses. The Chamber would also like to thank those individuals who submitted nominations for the awards.

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2017 SouthCoast Women’s Forum – Trailblazing Women

The 2017 SouthCoast Women’s Forum will be held at Rosebrook Event Center, located at 50 Rosebrook Place, Wareham, MA 02571 on Wednesday, May 3rd from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

The SouthCoast Women’s Forum is the ideal setting for leading business professionals, and aspiring women in business to connect, learn, and be inspired by other women! The dynamic panel discussion will be moderated by Ashely Bendiksen, Inspirational Speaker, Activist, Writer and Consultant.

The four inspiring women panelists are Anastassia Gonye, of Tuff Kookooshka; Lauren L. Lemieux, ACC, CPC of Coaching to Fullfill Dreams; Milagros Sanchez-Gaton of the Marion Institute/SouthCoast Energy Challenge and Sheri Weintraub MS DABR, Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care.  These driven women will elaborate on their professional and personal journeys, hurdles they’ve overcome, as well as their future career goals and everything in between. Get ready to connect with these inspirational women!

Anastassia Gonye

Anastassia Gonye, a Russian born American artist, and fashion designer, is the creator and owner of Tuff Kookooshka, founded in 1999. ” My Grandparents were both theater artists for The Russian theater in St. Petersburg. My grandmothers’ costume design paintings hang in my studio for inspiration. My mother worked in ateliers of the leading couture houses in Moscow. She was also the Master of Embroidery for the Russian Olympic figure Skating team.”

Tuff Kookooshka has steadily grown from very humble beginnings. ” I started to design my line at my kitchen table, sewing in the basement, using discarded fabrics sold at the factory by the pound.” Now many years later, Tuff Kookooshka is sold in stores and boutiques across America, in Canada, and Japan. Tuff Kookooshka also participates in several high end juried art shows per year, and operates a Retail Shop / Design Studio in Cataumet, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. All of their clothing is MADE IN USA, using locally manufactured fabrics and notions. We use Polartec fleece produced in Lawrence Massachusetts and add other fun materials for embellishments.

Lauren L. Lemieux

Lauren L. Lemieux, ACC, CPCC, provides Whole Life Coaching through her business Coaching To Fulfill Dreams. Lauren graduated from Dartmouth High School and UMass Dartmouth with a Bachelor’s degree in Humanities and Social Science.   After spending 18 years working in the family business, Lauren resigned in January, 2013, to find her true calling and soon discovered the profession of coaching.  Lauren is now a certified life coach from both the Coaches Training Institute and the International Coaching Federation.  Coaching To Fulfill Dreams is her coaching business, where she engages her clients to evoke their confidence and courage to embrace what is truly possible in the personal and professional lives.  She also works part time at Catholic Social Services coaching clients who are or were recently homeless to support them as they transition to stability.  Lauren and her family reside in Acushnet.  Lauren is very involved in the community including volunteering for the Acushnet Youth Athletic Association’s and Global Learning Charter Public School in New Bedford. She is on the Board of Directors for both the Acushnet Federal Credit Union and Community Boating Center in New Bedford.  Lauren has also been a mentor for EforAll (Entrepreneurship for All) and the LifeWork Project.

Milagros Sanchez

Milagros Sanchez is originally from the Dominican Republic and moved looking for the “American Dream”. She graduated Bristol community college and is working in her BA at Simmons College. Her passion is to help, Advocate, and make a difference in the community. Because of her community involvement and academic success she was the winner of the “29 who shine Award” And represented Bristol Community college at the state house. “Millie” as she likes to be called, has experience working as a peer educator and as a facilitator for the Girl Scouts. Millie works as SouthCoast Energy Challenge Community Outreach Manager for the Marion Institute. You can find Millie Volunteering or spending time with her twin daughters.


Sheri Weintraub

Sheri Weintraub is the chief physicist and director of radiation oncology at the Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care.  She has been a physicist since 1999 and has served long-standing leadership roles where she has balanced administrative duties along with clinical physics work.  Effective communication is vital in any organization, but she particularly enjoys the challenges of bridging these two very important and distinct areas.  Sheri has a particular passion for patient safety and currently serves on a national health care advisory committee to review medical incidents in radiation oncology.  She is pursuing her PhD in Health Science at Nova Southeastern University and is looking forward to expanding her patient safety work through that academic environment. She serves on the alumni network committee for Leadership Southcoast and remains active in her hometown community of Easton, MA.  In her spare time she enjoys kickboxing and other physical fitness activities.  Sheri’s primary and favorite role is as a mom to nine and eleven-year old daughters, to three canine “children”, and as a wife to her high school sweetheart.

All of these inspiring and accomplished women have been trailblazers and overcome challenges with perseverance and resilience, which has allowed them to pave the way for all women professionally!

Admission for the event is $45.00 to SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce members and $55.00 for non-members.  Tables of ten are also available.   For more information, please contact Deven Tillman, Events Manager, at the SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce, 508-999-5231, ext. 26 or visit REGISTER ONLINE HERE.

The 2017 SouthCoast Women’s Forum is hosted by the SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce with supporting sponsors Cox Media and Sylvia Group and Small Business Sponsors; Advance Air & Heat Company, BayCoast Bank, Care Free Homes Inc., Katie Brown Educational Program, Partners Insurance, Plimouth Investment Advisors, Urgent Care | American Family Care and media sponsor New Bedford Guide.


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SouthCoast Chamber Joins The Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education

By: Ian Abreu

The SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce recently announced that it has signed on as the newest Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) “Affiliate,” signaling the Chamber’s commitment to driving statewide educational improvements that will ensure all students get the education they need to in pursuit of their “college and career readiness.”

The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Concord Chamber of Commerce, Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce, Neponset Valley Chamber of Commerce, Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce, Springfield Business Leaders for Education and TechNet have also recently joined this coalition.

“We never want to see our local employers having to outsource for its talent,” said SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce Business Development & Public Policy Manager, Ian Abreu. “By working closely with all of our local area high schools, vocational high schools, employers in the private sector, and our new partners over at the MBAE, we hope to help create a more streamlined workforce ‘pipeline’ which can help not only meet the hiring needs of these companies, but additionally, help get these students a little more ‘college and career ready.'”

Groups that have joined are responding to their members’ concerns on education and the workforce expressed through their responses to a recent statewide employer survey.  72% of Massachusetts employers say the schools need major or moderate change.  Employers believe that there is much room for improvement in preparing our youth for success in postsecondary education and the workforce. Deep inequities in education that leave far too many students on the economic sidelines and a widening skills gap that makes it difficult for employers to find qualified candidates to fill open positions, must be addressed.

Education is emerging as a key policy issue this year. The Massachusetts business community has played a significant and successful role over the past three decades in calling for improvements in education.  With efforts underway to roll back education reforms that have made Massachusetts number one in the nation in student achievement and with a need to better prepare all young people for a competitive economy, business groups are joining with MBAE to have a greater impact on that debate.

MBAE is finalizing its legislative priorities and positions and looks forward to working with its Affiliates to be effective advocates in the years ahead.

About the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education
The Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education was founded in 1988 by employers concerned about the educational attainment and skills of graduates entering the workforce.  Driven by the business community’s commitment that all students graduate high school prepared for success in college, career and citizenship, our core work is influencing state education policy to improve the quality of all public schools in Massachusetts.

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More than Certificates of Origin! Export counseling, assistance available to local businesses

Businesses in the New Bedford area that are interested in expanding into developing markets overseas have the opportunity to take advantage of export assistance through a partnership between the SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce and the Massachusetts Export Center, part of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network.

The Massachusetts Export Center, the state’s leading provider of export development services, operates a satellite office at the SouthCoast Chamber of  Commerce. A senior international trade advisor from the Massachusetts Export Center is available by appointment to meet with local companies interested in exporting.

Services available to local companies include export counseling, export regulatory compliance assistance, international market research and assessment, international business development assistance, linkages to trade promotion opportunities (such as overseas trade shows and offices), export publications, and export training programs. Most of the services provided by the Massachusetts Export Center are free and are available to businesses of all sizes, ranging from experienced exporters to small businesses just considering exporting.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment with a counselor, please contact the Chamber of Commerce, or Nancy Lowd at the Massachusetts Export Center at -508-999-1388.

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