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Governor And Union Fail To Reach Agreement Leaving NH State Employees Without A Contract

The New Hampshire State Employees Association (SEIU1984) and the State of New Hampshire have failed to reach a contract agreement and workers are now working without a contract.

As of now the NHLN does not have any details on the negotiations other that what the SEA said in this brief statement issued on June 30, the last day of the fiscal year for the state of NH.

Today, our contract expires.

After months of bargaining, all Gov. Sununu can say is, “no.”

On June 28, 2017, our bargaining team met with the state for one last attempt in securing a contract. However, Gov. Sununu has shut the master bargaining team down at every turn – refusing any wage increases and responding with outrageous demands in return.

Wage increases? “No.” Keeping health care cost-saving incentives? “No.” The master bargaining team is even facing opposition in changing the capitalization of certain letters in the contract. Gov. Sununu’s team keeps saying “no.”

The governor and his team have made it clear they have no intention of working together to better the working conditions of state employees. They’re refusing to do anything to aid in recruitment and retention, dismissing improved standards for part-time workers, and threatening to end aspects of our preventive health care – even though it’s mutually beneficial. They’re willing to threaten the health and safety of state employees just to “get a win” for the governor.

We thought our top elected official would eventually work with us. We believed he had his employees’ best interests at heart. Our master bargaining team has worked tirelessly for over 10 months to develop a contract that benefits both state employees and the people they serve. We’re disappointed this administration doesn’t see the value in the individuals who keep this state running.

When it comes to helping real people—the people he depends on—Gov. Sununu’s favorite word is no.

The Governor had no problems cutting taxes in the State’s budget but his team is rejecting the idea of giving the people who actually do the work for the state a slight pay raise as unthinkable.

Our state employees deserve better than this. They deserve to be treated with respect and be allowed to bargain for fair wages and benefits.  If our state can afford to give tax breaks to the wealthy, then they damn well should be able to pay our state workers better.

Governor Hassan Highlights State Employee Energy Efficiency Efforts

Governor Honors State Employees Association (SEIU 1984) Member For Her Effort To Reduce Fossil Fuel Energy Consumption. 

CONCORD – In order to highlight state government’s efforts to improve energy efficiency, Governor Maggie Hassan presented the Governor’s Excellence in Energy Efficiency Awards at the State’s annual energy conference last week hosted by the New Hampshire Department of Administrative Services, Department of Environmental Services and the Office of Energy & Planning. 

This annual conference, which brings together state agency staff involved in energy, transportation and efficiency efforts, serves to celebrate the great work being done in state government to reduce fossil-fuel energy consumption, provide information on other ways to reduce energy use, and enable staff to network with their colleagues in other agencies.

“As a state, we remain focused on diversifying our energy supply mix and investing in energy efficiency and conservation – the cleanest and cheapest approach to reducing our energy bills,” Governor Hassan said. “Because of the efforts of our dedicated and hard-working state employees, the state is conserving more energy, which is saving valuable state resources and helping to preserve our environment. Together, we must continue to innovate and move our clean energy economy forward.”

In the last ten years, the State has avoided more than $10 million in energy costs through energy efficiency measures and by switching to lower-cost fuels. The state energy manager estimates the state saved nearly $5 million on its energy costs in Fiscal Year 2014 and Fiscal Year 2015 alone. Between Fiscal Year 2005 and Fiscal Year 2015, the square footage of building space used by state government increased by 11 percent while overall energy use has remained the same. This meant that the energy used per square foot of building space (i.e., the Energy Use Intensity or “EUI”) fell by 11 percent and the fossil-fuel EUI fell by nearly 21 percent.

“In order to build on our progress, we must keep pressing forward quickly and aggressively to make a new energy future a reality,” Governor Hassan said. “These award winners are helping to strengthen what makes New Hampshire unique and to maintain our status as a great place to work, live, visit and raise a family.”

The state has also been actively pursuing reductions in fuel consumption by its vehicle fleet. Since 2009, the State passenger auto and truck fleet has reduced mileage by approximately six percent, which has translated to 1.8 million fewer miles of travel, reducing costs across state government.

Awards this year were given to: Sharon Rivard of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services; the New Hampshire Adjutant General’s Department and the New Hampshire Army National Guard; and the Bureau of Court Facilities, under the Department of Administrative Services.

“We congratulate Sharon Rivard, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 member, Chapter 50, for her initiative and commitment to serving the people of NH in the most efficient way,” said Rich Gulla, President of SEA/SEIU Local 1984.  “We also recognize all of the state employees who work daily to find new ways to conserve resources and streamline their work, as they continue to provide services to Granite State residents and visitors.”

Individual Recognition Awardee Sharon Rivard works as a Design Review Engineer in the Wastewater Engineering Bureau in the Water Division at the Office at the Department of Environmental Services. In this capacity, Sharon has woven energy consciousness into her daily work, making changes to wastewater funding programs and design criteria, which result in energy efficiency improvements in the design and construction of all wastewater facilities going forward. The work that Sharon did in this regard has been showcased by the US Environmental Protection Agency as an innovative approach that other states might follow. Further, she is collaborating with the New Hampshire Office or Energy & Planning and New Hampshire’s electric utilities on a project that will help the state’s 84 municipally-owned wastewater treatment plants reduce their energy use and avoid 10,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, saving municipalities almost $2 million per year in electricity costs. 

The New Hampshire Adjutant General’s Department and the New Hampshire Army National Guard were chosen for this year’s Model Energy Agency award recipient for dedicating staff to energy efficiency and making efficiency everyone’s job. The department and the Guard have systematically been evaluating each of its buildings in order to identify energy-saving measures that can cost-effectively be installed. The Guard has also installed smart meters on its facilities and evaluated the potential for onsite renewables. These actions have helped the Guard improve its own operations and energy performance, while also helping to lead New Hampshire forward.

The final award, the Outstanding Project or Initiative Award, was presented to the Bureau of Court Facilities. The bureau took the initiative to investigate abnormally high energy use at one of its courthouses. They hired a consultant to do an energy audit and the resulting report gave them several large efficiency measures to tackle. Once Bureau staff understood the potential opportunities around them, they began to identify their own measures and act on these observations. Many of these energy retrofit projects have payback periods of less than five years.

At the conference, Governor Hassan also unveiled new energy efficiency goals for state government, including reducing fossil fuel usage by 50 percent over 2005 levels by 2030.

SEIU 1984 Host 5K Race To Raise Fund For Operation Santa Claus

Participate and/or compete in the
SEA/SEIU Local 1984, 5K Road Race

SEIU 1984 LogoThe 23rd running of the State Employees’ Association/Local SEIU1984’s 5K is set for April 2, 2016. This race, which benefits the SEA/SEIU Local 1984’s annual Operation Santa Claus program, follows a mostly-flat course through the State Office Park East on Hazen Drive in Concord. It’s a family-friendly event; and as the second race in the Capital Area Race Series, some rely on the course as an early spring warm-up event.

Date: Saturday, April 2, 2016. Race starts at 10 a.m. Race day registration and bib pickup begins at 8 a.m.
Location: State Office Park East, Health & Human Services Building, 29 Hazen Drive, Concord NH.
Entry fee: If pre-registering, fee is $20 for SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members, $18 for students and college students with school ID; $22 for all others; If registering after March 15,the fee is $25; no fee for children younger than 10.
Registration: Sign up online at www.runreg.com/sea-5k.

NH Politicians Continue Assault On State Retirees’ Health Benefits

Senator Gerald Little and Representative Ken Weyler
Lead Crusade against State Retirees’ Health Benefits

Earlier today, the NH Fiscal Committee voted to increase the monthly cost share (premium) of retirees who are under age 65. The amount is a 5% increase, which, when announced, caused an audible collective gasp from a room packed with State retirees.  These are the people who have served the State for decades and had planned their lives and retirement according to promises that had been made at the time of employment and are being broken today by state politicians.

The increase moves the monthly cost from 12.5% to 17.5% of the premium, which currently means retirees under age 65 will be paying an additional $46 per individual covered each month.

“This vote is a continuation of breaking promises that were made to people who spent their careers serving this state,” said Rich Gulla, president of SEA/SEIU Local 1984. “Today, a handful of politicians decided the fate of over 3,000 devoted, hard-working former employees and their dependents.  The committee kept talking about no other alternatives. There were plenty of alternative ways to fill the deficit in the retirees’ health benefit plan. They just took the easy way out today – on the backs of retirees.”

Committee members repeatedly attempted a blame game. They tried to blame the Governor, they tried to blame increasing medical costs; they tried to blame everything and everyone other than themselves. However, after all the grandstanding, they were the ones who voted for today’s state retiree’s health plan changes. They could have found another way to plug the budget hole including opening up the State budget and finding the dollars someplace else.

It was apparent to attendees that the outcome of the meeting was pre-determined prior to its convening. “They knew full well how they were going to vote, even before today’s meeting began. They had already made up their minds to put the screws to the retirees who are under age 65,” said Gulla.

Last month, the committee voted to increase the co-payment for prescriptions for all retirees. “In combination, these increases are going to present a significant hardship for our retirees. The average pension for a NH State retiree is about $13,000/year.  Our retirees will literally be deciding between paying their heating and grocery bills or paying for medical care. It just sickens me,” said Gulla.

“The only way to stop this assault on our retirees is to vote out those Representatives and Senators who voted for this atrocity today,” said Gulla.  Senator Little made the motion to accept today’s plan and Representative Weyler seconded the motion.

It is also important to know that Senators Lou D’Allesandro and Andy Sanborn and Representatives Daniel Eaton and Cindy Rosenwald voted against the increases and in favor and respect of our state retirees. “For that, we thank them,” said Gulla.  The remaining Fiscal Committee members voted against the retired workers.  “Our members will not forget this; you can be sure they will remember exactly who was with them and against them next fall as they cast their ballots.”

SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Response to Governor’s Compromise Budget Proposal

On Thursday morning, Gov. Maggie Hassan presented a compromise budget proposal and urged lawmakers to get to work quickly to reach an agreement.

The compromise proposal includes more funding for numerous key priorities, including winter road maintenance, fighting the addiction epidemic, overtime at the Department of Corrections, and the Community College System of New Hampshire. The proposal also includes funding for the new state employee contract negotiated by SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members; the Legislature cut funding for that agreement during budget negotiations.

Following the press conference, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 President Richard Gulla issued the following statement:

“We applaud the governor for proactively putting forward a budget compromise that incorporates priorities from both Republicans and Democrats, and including the funding necessary to fulfill the fairly negotiated contract for the hard working state employees who deliver quality public services to our state every day,” Gulla said.

“Throughout this budget process, our members have continued to do their jobs to make sure our roads are safe, our veterans and most needy are cared for, and that Granite Staters have the tools they need to compete for good jobs in today’s economy,” Gulla said. “Now it’s time for the Legislature to do its job, by coming back to the table quickly and reaching a bipartisan compromise by the target date of Sept. 16 so that we have a state budget that meets the needs of our state.”

Richard Gulla: New Hampshire Budget Reveals An ‘Ideological Assault’

By RICHARD GULLA
President of the State Employees’ Association (SEIU 1984)

Rich Gulla (SEA/ SEIU 1984 President) It’s been written that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This adage fits well with the New Hampshire Senate budget that was pushed through along party lines – the Legislature continues to cut revenue and then tell us we cannot afford to invest in our state.

Over the next few weeks, legislators from the New Hampshire House and Senate will work to iron out the differences in their respective budgets. Unfortunately for the state’s citizens, neither budget meets the basic needs of the state; and the finished product is likely to reflect that.

The Senate budget severely underfunds the state’s community colleges and universities; underfunds substance abuse programs; does not provide enough support for those living with mental health issues; does not provide for snow removal; and downshifts even more costs to towns and municipalities. Their budget also includes the closure of Health and Human Services district offices in four communities – Conway, Claremont, Rochester and Laconia. Some of the communities that are in greatest need.

The Senate also failed to honor the collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated in good faith between the state of New Hampshire and the State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire (SEA/SEIU 1984).

SEIU 1984 LogoIn fact, the Senate Finance Committee did not even discuss the contract in committee, even after Sen. Lou D’Allesandro requested that it be discussed more than once.

Despite several meetings between Senate leadership and SEA/SEIU 1984 representatives and assurances made by the senators, the collective bargaining agreement for thousands of hard-working state employees was not given the opportunity it deserved – to be heard and discussed. This disrespectful treatment of workers is disappointing, frustrating and disheartening.

The proposed budget provides a solid look at what today’s GOP supports: lower taxes for big out-of-state businesses. As a bonus, they are adding language in another bill for a special tax break for former governor Craig Benson and his wealthy friends at Planet Fitness. If you are keeping score at home: It is tens of millions of dollars for the wealthy and corporations, and zip for working families and people in need.

Ordinarily, our organization is bipartisan. We do not care if an elected leader is a Republican, Democrat or independent – if he or she supports public sector workers and the services they deliver to New Hampshire citizens, we are friends.

At this time, though, it must be clear to even the most casual political observers that we are facing an ideological assault that is unprecedented in its agenda and harmful to our citizens.

Every cut to expenditures and every cut in revenue is designed to hack away at our infrastructure; infrastructure that in many cases was built by the Republican party of yesterday – a party that believed in investing in our children, families and communities. They are bulldozing our future and then congratulating themselves because they cut needed services.

We cannot afford to continue doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results. We call upon our legislators to take this opportunity in committee of conference to build a budget that both parties can support, by funding these critical services and the hardworking people who deliver them every day.

Otherwise, the budget next year will look much like the budget this year, and all the budgets before it.

Senate Budget Writers Ignore State Employees Contract

An open letter from Richard Gulla,
President SEA/SEIU Local 1984

Rich Gulla (SEA/ SEIU 1984 President) On behalf of the thousands of state employees who daily give their best efforts to providing necessary services for the citizens and visitors of our state, I register our disappointment with the NH Senate Finance Committee for not including funds to provide a contracted cost of living adjustment for the employees in their budget.  Although included in Governor Hassan’s budget, the NH House of Representatives and the Senate did not include these funds in their respective versions of the state budget.

Several months ago, the state’s bargaining team and the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 team reached a mutual agreement that provides for a modest salary increase over the next two years.  This contract was negotiated in good faith by both parties.  In not including the funds necessary to meet this contract obligation in their budget, the NH House of Representatives and the Senate have revealed their disdain and lack of appreciation for the services these committed public servants provide.

Two years ago we heard loud and clear from Senator Morse that he was displeased with the state workers’ contract not being settled in time for consideration prior to the end of the budget process.  This time, we worked diligently to begin negotiations early so that the contract could be included sooner  in the budget timeline.  The state’s and the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 bargaining teams put in long hours of research, discussion, and negotiations to arrive at this mutually agreeable and  reasonable contract. And what is the result of that effort – first,  the funding is stripped from the Governor’s budget by the House of Representatives.  And, now the Senate has completely ignored the contract.  They did not even discuss the contract with the employees who help deliver many of the  services they restored funding to, such as Service Link, Meals on Wheels to name a few.

In not even discussing the merits or concerns they may have with the small cost of living raise for thousands of workers across the state, the Senate Finance Committee acted irresponsibly and state workers lose out. This is quite a message the Senate Finance Committee is sending to thousands of dedicated workers who have long been “doing more with less,” handling impossible caseloads, doing the jobs of two or three people, fueling the state’s economy, going the extra mile to serve the state’s citizens and visitors.

We call upon the full Senate to act responsibly when they meet next week to discuss and vote on the budget.  We are hopeful they will do the right thing – recognize the contract, talk about it and approve it.

Sincerely,

Richard Gulla
President, SEA/SEIU Local 1984

 UPDATE 2:45pm

Senator Lou D’Allesandro Comments on Failure to Include State Employee Contract in Budget

Concord, NH – As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Lou D’Allesandro made the following comments today following the completion of the committee’s work on the state operating budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017:

“I’m disappointed that in formulating the Senate budget, one item that was completely left out was the already negotiated pay raise for state employees,” said Sen. D’Allesandro. “The state’s collective bargaining team had come to an agreement with the State Employees Association on a modest 2% cost-of-living increase.  The House removed funding for the increase from its budget and the Senate failed to address the issue. This creates unfinished business.  What kind of a message does it send to our workforce that we take the time to develop tax cuts for big corporations but don’t fund a modest wage increase for our hard working NH employees?”

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