May 08, 2015

NAGE Local President to Present at APA Conference

Greg Sorozan, president of NAGE Local 282 and national vice president of the union, will be a key presenter at a conference for the American Psychological Association in May.
Sorozan will be part of a panel featuring Ruth Namie, one of the leaders of the Workplace Bullying Institute, and two practicing psychologists at the APA’s Work, Stress and Health Conference on May 6-9, 2015 in Atlanta. Their presentation is entitled, “Counseling Individuals Bullied At Work Across Venues: Internet, telephone Coaching, Union & Therapy Practice.”
Sorozan will talk about his experiences as a union leader and NAGE’s success with Article 6A of the NAGE contract with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, believed to be the first such article in any American labor contract mandating resolution of “behaviors that contribute to a hostile, humiliating or intimidating work environment”.
Why presenting at APA is so important
The APA is the nation’s primary professional association for people in the psychological and counseling professions. This event will be the APA’s eleventh annual conference on work, stress and health.
“When the 800-pound gorilla that determines what’s acceptable in the counseling profession puts its name and weight behind the cause of workplace bullying, that cause takes on tremendous credibility,” said Sorozan. “People in the counseling professions will take the subject more seriously with APA’s ‘stamp of legitimacy’ on it, and that translates into better support for targets out in the world.”
Sorozan credited NAGE National President David J. Holway and the national executive board for recognizing the important of workplace bullying and supporting the growing movement to combat it. “President Holway and the other elected leaders at NAGE jumped in to support the fight back when most people would have taken a sit-back-and-wait approach. It took real leadership to do that.” 
What we have learned from NAGE’s Article 6A
“The experiences we have had at NAGE in using Article 6A to address workplace bullying are simply groundbreaking,” said Sorozan. “For the first time, we have a contractual tool to validate and legitimize the idea that workplace bullying is real, that it’s detrimental, and that the employer has a responsibility to stop it.”
Sorozan, who experienced workplace bullying early in his social work career, said that both his own experience and his training have helped him understand situations that are often misunderstood. “I’ve observed many of the diagnostic criteria of PTSD in people who have suffered workplace bullying,” said Sorozan. “Untrained investigators won’t always know it when they see it, so the bully gets labeled ‘victim’ and the target gets labeled ‘problem.’”
Part of his work, said Sorozan, is to prevent those incorrect attributions and to help targets survive and recover from the prolonged exposure to stress.
Article 6A has also produced benefits in productivity, health care costs, and even budget savings, said Sorozan. He cited one example in which the Commonwealth of Massachusetts saved more than $11 million in development costs for a computer system that was unsuitable for the job it was being developed for, but was still in development because of a severely abusive work environment.
The Healthy Workplace bill
Another way Sorozan and NAGE are working to address workplace bullying is through support of the Healthy Workplace bill, a bill that would allow the targets of the most severe workplace bullying to pursue civil action against employers who failed to take reasonable steps to address it. NAGE has lobbied extensively in support of the bill, which now has more than 50 sponsors in the state legislature. Sorozan is the head of the state’s volunteer advocacy group supporting the legislation. [The bill’s author, Suffolk University law professor David Yamada, will host a separate presentation on coaching targets of workplace bullying earlier in the conference.]

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