Massachusetts Building Trades Council Launches Recovery Program

Industry Fighting Back Against Job-Site Drug Use
Published On
Nov 2, 2021

The Massachusetts Building Trades Council (MBTC), Malden, Mass., is making it easier for members to connect with their respective union’s addiction recovery program through Recovery, a new online portal.

The portal’s home page lists the weekly schedule of all participating unions’ recovery meetings for members and their dependents, as well as links to each of the unions’ programs and contact information for their recovery coordinator and 24/7 support services. Resources include comprehensive health and welfare benefits covering detox, counseling, treatment, weekly peer-to-peer support meetings at union halls and personal facilitation and advocacy by union recovery leaders and coordinators.

“We made this website because we just want workers to use the services of these union-led recovery programs,” said Daniel McNulty, MBTC’s point person on the initiative. “It’s an anti-stigma effort—so workers don’t think they’ll lose their jobs if they come forward.”

MBTC’s online portal piggybacks on the release of its Occupational Health Internship Program report that examines the effectiveness of the unions’ programs, particularly their peer-to-peer support meetings at union halls.

“The work being done to combat substance use and dependence in Massachusetts’ building trades unions is historic, and the path has been paved by the leaders who have come before us,” Francis Callahan Jr., MBTC president, said at the portal’s launch. “Union leaders have fought substance use stigma and helped found a culture of recovery among the trades.”

MBTC also kicked off a statewide public awareness media campaign for union members. The kickoff featured U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, who was formerly the head of Laborers’ Local 223 and mayor of Boston. Walsh recalled his own personal journey with recovery.

“As a former construction worker and someone in long-term recovery, I am grateful to my partners and friends at the Massachusetts Building Trades Council for taking their support for recovery to the next level,” Walsh said at the kickoff. “This report and these new initiatives will help countless workers get access to recovery services, reduce the stigma that prevents people from getting help, and advance our fight to end the epidemic of addiction that impacts every part of our country.”

Jillian Higgins, a fourth-year apprentice at IBEW Local 103, spoke at the kickoff about being an active member of her union’s weekly Sunday recovery meetings.

“I feel so grateful to be a member of a union that is doing everything it can to combat the stigma around addiction,” Higgins said. “[Recovery leader] Jay has traveled all over to job sites and late-night hotels and has gotten people into detox. Once treatment is completed, he’s working to get you back on a job. This isn’t some gimmick.”

MBTC’s public awareness campaign is made possible by contributions from numerous businesses and stakeholders in the region.

About the Author

Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert has more than three decades of experience writing about the construction industry, and her articles have been featured in the Associated General Contractor’s Constructor magazine, the American Fence Association’s Fencepost, the...

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