The Beginning - 2001
We began the push to enact anti-bullying laws state-by-state for the workplace in 2001 thanks to Suffolk University Professor of Law David Yamada who drafted the text of the Healthy Workplace Bill. The original bill grew out of his seminal legal treatise on workplace bullying and the need for "status-blind harassment" laws.
Gary and Ruth Namie, Carrie Clark, and Moe Tyler first lobbied California lawmakers in 2002. The HWB was first introduced in California in 2003 as AB 1582. A group of Californians subsequently formed the first of several HWB-affiliated groups -- the California Healthy Workplace Advocates. New York was next to organize. Many other state groups have formed since. The power of our movement is derived from its united message and the fact that regardless of state, we begin with the same bill language.
A Grassroots Campaign
The HWB has been introduced in 23 states, in over 60 versions, and has been sponsored by more than 300 legislators, thanks to the State Coordinator volunteer network directed by Dr. Gary Namie. The bill has successfully passed committee votes in Illinois, Washington, New York, and Connecticut; passed House floor votes in New York for a study-only bill; and passed both houses in Illinois as a Joint Resolution, establishing funding for a 1-year Task Force on Workplace Bullying. In 2010, the Senates in both the New York and Illinois legislatures passed the bill. We await the successful passage by floor vote in both chambers. Eventually, it will become law in one or more states and be replicated like the school bullying laws that snowball across our nation.
Discussions about a federal law were begun in 2010 with members of the U. S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
Read David Yamada's, insightful 10-year-summary of the U.S. legislative movement.
The Backbone of the Campaign
The simplicity of our network of State Coordinators is that they are residents and voting constituents of their states, who convince their district Representatives and Senators about the merits of the Healthy Workplace Bill. They are volunteers who argue effectively for the bill's introduction and enactment into law. They mobilize ordinary folks to contact elected officials with their personal stories and pleas to support the bill. They are super volunteers! Some have established groups that meet in person. All have committed groups of identified supporters (we call them Citizen Lobbyists).
All Coordinators begin each state's campaign with the same Healthy Workplace Bill language. We provide each volunteer with extensive information about being a coordinator, along with education and personalized lobbying materials. Coordinators then develop common educational materials and annually revise the nuanced talking points to persuade potential sponsors. We speak with a single, united (but locally active) voice.
Without Coordinators, the movement would have ended years ago when the first bill was introduced in California. The fact that 21 states have introduced over 60 versions of the Healthy Workplace Bill since the start of our work is a testament to the passion, power, and commitment of the State Coordinator network.
Coordinators educate lawmakers all year long, orchestrate Lobbying Days at the Capitol, testify at hearings, talk to the press, and represent the movement as voters in their respective states. Some maintain websites, facebook pages, blogs, and organize events during our annual Freedom From Workplace Bullies week. Coordinators are extraordinarily effective, despite not donating money to election campaigns. They are armed with a moral message. Work on the Healthy Workplace Campaign has transformed the lives of many Coordinators. They are certainly making a difference for the millions of bullied individuals to whom they have given voice.
Coordinators are the foundation of the national Healthy Workplace Campaign.