NH State Employees’ Association (SEIU 1984) Opposes Privatization Takeover Of USPS, Joins Staples Boycott

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Concord, NH, June 9, 2014 – At the quarterly meeting of the SEA/SEIU 1984 Council, members unanimously resolved to support U.S. Postal workers and enter into a boycott of Staples, the office supply retailer.  Staples has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Postal Service to operate postal counters in more than 82 “test sites” throughout the country.  The Postal Service plans to expand this operation to more than 1,500 Staples store across the United States.

Staples plans to replace good-paying union jobs with non-union low-wage jobs held by workers who have no accountability for the safety and security of the mail. This is nothing less than a direct assault on good middle class jobs and on public postal workers.

“It’s clear the battle lines have been drawn in Corporate America’s plan to take over not just our politicians, but core governmental services.  And that’s why it’s also clear that more union brothers and sisters must step forward on that battlefield!  I will gladly stand with our US Postal Workers in their effort to stop Staples, the office supply retailer, from taking over trusted public services to boost corporate profit margins at the expense of hard working taxpayers, and I ask you to as well,” said Diana Lacey, President SEA/SEIU Local 1984 in an announcement of the boycott to members earlier today.

“We cannot thank SEIU local #1984 enough for joining our boycott of Staples. On behalf of Manchester Area Local President, Dana Coletti, and all people who believe in keeping the U.S. Postal Service as a public service, we appreciate this show of solidarity. Together we can and will end this drive to privatize all public services,” said Janice Kelble, Legislative Director, NH Postal Workers Union.

SEA/SEIU 1984 is latest labor union to join the cause to preserve this essential service.  SEA/SEIU 1984 joins NH AFL-CIO and AFT-New Hampshire in support of the postal workers.

SEA/SEIU 1984 is the exclusive representative of most state of NH employees, as well as county and municipal workers across the state.  The labor organization also represents workers at Hampstead Hospital.

Arbitrator Orders State to Make Workers Whole

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Justice for state employees – hundreds of workers will finally be compensated 

Concord, NH, March 18, 2014 – Yesterday, an independent arbitrator ruled in favor of more than 1,000 NH state employees in a key victory that reversed a unilateral change the state made to lower employee pay.  The decision directed the state to make the affected employees whole with back pay. The ruling corrects a violation of state law and the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the State and the Executive Branch workers represented by SEA/SEIU Local 1984.

The dispute began in August of 2012, when Matthew Newland, Manager of Employee Relations and a Governor John Lynch appointee, issued a memo to state human resource and payroll representatives rescinding a long standing practice related to shift differential payments that apply to more than 1,000 state workers.

State agencies with continuous operations face the challenge of recruiting and staffing employees to work beyond standard day shifts. An effective practice used by many employers to meet this challenge, including the State, is to adjust employees’ hourly pay. There are many state functions that require round the clock staffing, such as correctional law enforcement, emergency services, and providing direct care in health facilities, including New Hampshire Hospital and Veterans’ Homes.

After the state stalled for months a resolution that could come from less formal remedies, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 filed an Unfair Labor Practice petition with the Public Employees Labor Relations Board (PELRB), and then a subsequent ULP after the state further stalled progress.  Ultimately, the PELRB ordered the parties to go to arbitration and the state finally abided. After more than a year of wrangling, the arbitration took place in January of this year.

In yesterday’s decision, the arbitrator found the practice of paying shift differential was established through a state memo issued in 1989, and there was no evidence that the practice had been rescinded since. The practice had been in place and “occurred with such regularity and frequency that employees could reasonably expect the practice to continue on a regular or consistent basis.” Therefore, the practice could not be rescinded through a memo; the differential pay is subject to collective bargaining.

During the arbitration, the state asserted that ordering payment of the back shift differential pay would require a legislative appropriation and thus the arbitration decision would be advisory only. The arbitrator, however, addressed this in the decision saying that funds to cover shift differential came from the agency’s overtime budget. “When overtime accounts were deficient, the agencies reallocated funds to ensure that employees were paid their respective wages, including overtime pay and shift differentials….The agencies certainly have the discretion to reallocate resources and funds to comply with the make whole remedy in this Decision.”

“Making the affected employees whole was the desired outcome,” said Diana Lacey, President of SEA/SEIU Local 1984.  “For affected workers paying rent, buying food and heating their home is more challenging now than ever.  These employees work hard providing critical services such as caring for veterans, the elderly and the mentally ill; watching over prisoners and responding to emergencies. It is only fair that they be compensated for their time,” she said.  “This situation began under the Lynch administration. Governor Hassan inherited it. We hope she will fully uphold the arbitrator’s decision and make sure the funds are available to truly make the workers whole.”

The application of the shift differential payments has not been consistent in the various facilities; as each facility has unique practices and needs.  Each facility had handled its own payroll processing and there were provisions in each process to accommodate the shift differential payments.

In 2012, the state rolled out an off the shelf software product to consolidate payroll and leave accrual processing.  During arbitration, Newland acknowledged that the new computerized payroll system was incapable of processing the various benefits and payments for all agencies in a consistent manner. It was far easier to simply end the practice of paying shift differential than to admit the costly software was not compatible with the state’s payroll needs.

In his decision, the arbitrator wrote that “the fact that determining the overtime rates is complicated does not justify the unilateral elimination of the payment of shift differentials to employees” and “moving to a new computerized payroll process does not authorize the state to have unilaterally eliminated a two decade long practice of paying shift differentials.

The Video That Could Change Your Entire Outlook On The Casino Gambling Bill And The Gas Tax

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Once a week the State Employees’ Association (SEIU 1984) sends out their Statehouse Bulletin. The bulletin highlights what the SEA is doing legislatively in Concord.  Every week they post a summary of what bills passed, what bills failed, and what bills are coming in the next week.  This week had all of that, and a little more.

This week’s bulletin had a special video message from SEA President Diana Lacey.  The video is a ‘call to arms’ for all of the SEA members to help convince their state legislators to pass two very important bills, the Gas Tax bill (SB 367), and the Casino bill (HB1633).

While this video was intended for the SEA membership, I feel that everyone in New Hampshire should listen to what President Lacey has to say.

Whether you support expanded gambling and the gas tax increase or not you should know what this will mean to hundreds of state workers. Will it mean more devastating cuts, and more layoffs, or will it mean new jobs for public and private workers?

Please take five minutes to listen to Diana’s message.

Share this post with your friends and family throughout the Granite State to ensure that everyone knows exactly what is at stake if these two bills do not pass this week.

The SEA has started a ‘Save Our Roads’ petition, which you can sign here.

Use this link to find your State Senator and ask them to support the gas tax increase (SB 367).

Use this link to find your State Representative and ask them to support the expanded casino gambling bill (HB 1633).

 

 

The State Employees Association Endorses Mike Cryans For Executive Council

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SEIU 1984 LogoConcord, NH, February 20, 2014 – The State Employees’ Association/SEIU Local 1984 (SEA) has endorsed Mike Cryans as their Executive Council candidate of choice in the special election in Executive Council District One taking place on March 11, 2014. This special election is to determine who will succeed NH icon and longtime Councilor, Ray Burton.

Cryans served alongside the late Ray Burton on the Grafton County Commission where the two developed a close friendship in the 16 years they served together on the commission.

“I like the relationship we had, because it was a Democrat and a Republican who proved that party lines don’t always make the difference,” Cryans told SEA members at a meeting last month. “A lot of times, it’s how you view things. Our view was to get things done.”

Through his work as a Grafton County Commissioner, Cryans has a successful history of completing projects that invest in the local economy and create jobs. His priorities as a member of the Executive Council are protecting taxpayers’ interests, investing in the state’s economy and strengthening the middle class.

“Mike has demonstrated the commitment the people of district one deserve and we are proud to support his candidacy,” said Diana Lacey, President of SEA.

Cryans, the father of two said he’s spent most of his life, except for his college years, living Council District One, which encompasses the northernmost two-thirds of the state – everything north of Claremont to the west and Milton to the east. He currently lives in Hanover with his wife and youngest son.

Cryans said he’s driven to do well, something that will serve him well if he’s elected. At a meeting of the SEA Political Education committee Cryans told members, “I’m not trying to fill Ray Burton’s shoes, I’m just trying to do the best I can do,” he said. “I will try to do the very best I can if I’m elected.”

“I am confident that Mike Cryans will continue to advocate for residents of this district,” said SEA member Cheryl Towne who resides and works in Executive District One. “I work at Glencliff Home.  I’m confident that Mike Cryans will continue to remember the good work done at our facility and that he will represent the ‘little guys,’ like me. His dad was a union carpenter who taught him the value of hard work and the importance of treating everyone with respect and dignity. I think he will not forget his constituents who are ‘the little guy.’ I don’t think he will cave to special interest groups – he’ll do what’s right for his district.”

The SEA encourages all District residents to vote in the special election being held on March 11, 2014.

About The State Employees’ Association/ SEIU Local 1984

The State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire represents about 11,500 public and private-sector employees across the Granite State.  First formed in 1940 as a social organization, the SEA won passage of New Hampshire’s Public Employee Labor Relations Law in 1975.  Since then, the union has negotiated hundreds of contracts with state, county, municipal and private-sector employers.  The SEA affiliated with the Service Employees’ International Union in 1984.  With 2.1 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas.

All I Want for Christmas Is Health Insurance; SEIU 1984 Hosts ACA Enrollment Fair

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The State Employees’ Association of NH (SEA) and Manchester Community Health Center are jointly hosting an Affordable Care Act enrollment fair Thursday, December 19 from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Manchester Community College in Room 300. The enrollment fair is designed to help educate SEA members, students and working people about how to access new health care options available through the ACA Marketplace.

Trained representatives from the sponsor organizations will be onsite to help individuals research their plan options, determine if they are eligible for tax credits that will reduce their healthcare costs and enroll.

While the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act got off to a bumpy start, the process is now running smoothly. “It is so rewarding to help someone who has not had access to health insurance become enrolled,” said Joe Cicirelli, an SEA field representative. “The SEA remains dedicated to its plan to make sure all Granite Staters have access to quality, affordable health care. In pursuit of that goal, we have been hosting health care enrollment fairs across the state since the beginning of November,” said Cicirelli.

“Every one of our members has family, neighbors, or friends who do not have health insurance,” said Diana Lacey, President of SEA. “We believe that everyone should be able to visit a doctor when they are sick, or have the medicine they need to help manage chronic disease. We are pleased to be working with Manchester Community Health Center on this important campaign.”  The SEA has a long history of advocating for a healthy and financially secure middle class.  “That extends beyond our membership.  In lifting up all families, we will have a stronger and more vibrant NH population and economy,” said Lacey.

For more information, contact John Thyng at 603-271-3411 x106 or jthyng@seiu1984.org.

Nothing is more important than your health. Join us. Ask Questions. Get Answers. Get Covered.

Plymouth State University Educators Win First Contract

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lymouth, NH, December 14, 2013 – Earlier this morning and two years after Plymouth State University (PSU) adjunct faculty members voted to unionize, the State Employees’ Association (SEA/SEIU 1984), announced that the ‘Teaching Lecturers’ have ratified their first union contract by a 97% vote. “The path to obtain the rights necessary for empowered workers to level the playing field, as equally valuable partners in the workplace, including higher education, can be a long one that takes real commitment,” said SEA/SEIU 1984 President Diana Lacey. “We are so proud of the members’ work!”

The contract provides job stability, annual wage increases, access to health benefits and intellectual property rights over the next three years. Up until this point, the part-time faculty members were employees at will, did not have access to benefits, were not compensated well for their contributions, and were not treated respectfully. “Before we unionized, I was unable to see a career track, let alone our place at the university,” said the Teaching Lecturers Chapter President, Krisan Evenson.  “’How did we fit in here?’ was a question I asked myself. As we united our community through our union, I knew we could begin making changes.”

Members of the Teaching Lecturers’ bargaining unit believe their contract will encourage the university administration to preserve teachers, help keep Lecturers out of poverty and improve the quality of public higher education. This contract is one of two recent agreements in the NH higher education community that changes the standard of living for part-time teachers. Earlier this year, SEA/NH-SEIU Local 1984 won a contract for over 1,000 adjunct faculty members that teach for the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH).

“We are excited to join our colleagues who teach at CCSNH,” said Phil Inwood, Teaching Lecturer of Art at PSU. Our contract was designed to change standards for Lecturers and the university. This is the first time our voices really made a difference. “

The organization of part-time higher education faculty members is a growing trend across the nation. It is in response to years of sub-standard treatment and lack of appreciation. A 2010 survey of non-tenure-track faculty members by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce showed low median compensation rates for adjunct faculty, with little, if any, compensation based on credentials and minimal support for work or professional development outside the classroom.

Adjunct faculty now make up the majority of the higher education work force. As recently as 1969, 78 percent of instructional staff comprised tenured or tenure-track professors, with adjunct faculty making up the rest, according to information from the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California. By 2009, the figures had nearly flipped, with a third of faculty tenured or on the tenure track and two-thirds ineligible for tenure. Of those non-tenure-track positions, just 19 percent were full-time.

About The State Employees’ Association/ SEIU Local 1984

The State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire represents approximately 11,500 public and private-sector employees across the Granite State.  First formed in 1940 as a social organization, the SEA won passage of New Hampshire’s Public Employee Labor Relations Law in 1975.  Since then, the union has negotiated hundreds of contracts with state, county, municipal and private-sector employers.  The SEA affiliated with the Service Employees’ International Union in 1984.  With 2.1 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas.

Governor Hassan To Assist NH State Employees’ Association Load Gifts For Operation Santa Clause

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TOMORROW, Governor Maggie Hassan will help Operation Santa Claus load National Guard trucks with Christmas gifts for children across the state, highlighting the importance of giving back during the holidays and thanking volunteers and hard-working state employees for their commitment to serving the people of the Granite State.

What:  The State Employees’ Association’s 53rdt Operation Santa Claus Gift Delivery

When:  8:30 a.m., Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Where:  11 Stickney Avenue, Concord, NH

Who:  The State Employee Association’s Operation Santa Claus committee members; current and retired State of NH employees; National Guardsmen; Governor Maggie Hassan

The State Employees’ Association is gearing up to deliver thousands of gifts to NH children across the state.  At 8:30 Wednesday morning, a line of National Guard trucks will substitute for Santa’s sleigh, as “elves” from the S.E.A. Operation Santa Claus program and National Guardsmen & Women load the trucks with toys and clothing items.  The trucks will travel throughout the state making deliveries in every NH region to almost 3,000 children – just in time for the holidays!  This is the 53rd year the State Employees’ Association has spearheaded this charitable campaign for children who have been identified by NH DHHS case workers.  All of the children who will be receiving these gifts have either been neglected or abused; receiving some form of state assistance; in foster care; and otherwise would not have be receiving any gifts this holiday season.

Since 1960, members of the State Employees’ Association/SEIU Local 1984 have organized Operation Santa Claus to help children in need during the holidays. State employees, state retirees and other volunteers come together to provide two packages – one of items that are necessities and another of desired gifts – to more than 3,000 children across the state. For more information, visit http://operationsantaclausnh.tumblr.com/aboutOSC.

NH State Employees’ Association (SEIU 1984) Help North Country Residents Get Healthcare

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Berlin, New Hampshire,– Last Saturday, approximately 50 North Country residents took steps to get quality, affordable health insurance, some for the very first time. They attended the most recent of a series of Affordable Care Act (ACA) market place enrollment fairs sponsored by the State Employee’s Association (SEA). The event took place at White Mountains Community College in Berlin, an area of the state that has been especially hard hit since the great recession.

“The turnout was fantastic,” said Joe Cicirelli, a certified application counselor and SEA employee. “Many families enrolled in plans and everyone left with something tangible. From establishing a Healthcare.gov account to receiving an eligibility determination, all attendees moved forward in the process. The SEA is proud to have a role in making the ACA successful in NH.”

Almost unbelievably, a number of individuals were unable to obtain coverage because they earn too little to qualify for subsidies for ACA Marketplace plans. “Unfortunately, because the New Hampshire Senate Republicans refused to compromise and expand Medicaid, we were forced to tell our neighbors who were below the poverty line, that there were no affordable coverage options available to them.”

Last week, during a special session of the Legislature, the state Senate did not deliver a deal for expanding Medicaid to an additional 50,000 low-income adults, despite leaders on both sides of the political aisle saying they remain willing and eager to reach a compromise.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted on three amendments to its original bill, ultimately approving one, 13-11 along party lines, before tabling the bill in the early afternoon. Many expect the issue will come up again during the next legislative session that will begin in January 2014.

The State Employees’ Association of NH (SEA), working with community partners, has been hosting Affordable Care Act enrollment fairs around the state. The fairs are designed to help educate SEA members and the general public about how to access the new health care options. SEA members are moving forward and having worker-to-worker conversations, hosting events, and helping working people access the information about what their new options are. Attendees may receive assistance completing the application process.

While the rollout of the Affordable Care Act has clearly not gone as smoothly as one would like, the SEA remains dedicated to its plan to make sure all Granite Staters have access to quality, affordable health care. While most SEA members have insurance through their employers, thousands of part-time state workers and adjunct professors must purchase their own.

To learn more about enrollment, contact Chris Porter at cporter@seiu1984.org. For information about upcoming enrollment fairs open to the public, contact Brian Hawkins at bhawkins@seiu1984.org.

NH-SEA and Governor Hassan Reach Agreement For Employees Impacted By Federal Shutdown

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Association, Governor Agree to Allow Furloughs for Workers Who Would Otherwise Be Laid Off

The irresponsible and senseless shutdown of portions of the federal government has entered into its third week and state government is beginning to feel the effect on federally funded programs.  “As the funding for programs begins to dry up, the state of New Hampshire is left to mitigate the after effects to critical programs like WIC, which provides critical assistance for pregnant women, infants and children, or the Social Security disability determinations,” said SEA President Diana Lacey.

Working closely with Governor Hassan, the SEA and the State of New Hampshire have reached an agreement to reduce the harm the shutdown will cause to citizens and state employees if Congress continues its shutdown. The action provides workers that may otherwise face layoff the ability to be partially or fully furloughed on the temporary and unknown basis the shutdown has created. The agreement will only impact workers that are already in positions that are partially or fully funded by federal programs whose funding has run out thanks to the shutdown. The best way workers can help is to call Congress and demand that they end the shutdown. You can reach your representative and senators by calling 1-866-426-2631.

To see Governor Hassan’s press release, click here: http://bit.ly/1cpBY7e.

President Lacey addressed the shutdown’s impact at the SEA Board of Directors meeting on October 10.  After thoroughly discussing the options the contract provides and the uncertainty the shutdown poses, the Board authorized President Lacey to negotiate and enter into such agreement.  “I am so proud that we’re moving together to address this crisis in a way that will have the least impact on critical services.  The State Employees are committed to the work they do even if Congress is not.  We are putting people first, not politics,” said Lacey.

The agreement makes clear that the Board, the Governor, agency heads and employees are all going to work hard to protect NH’s citizens and employees.  A copy of the agreement can be found here: http://bit.ly/1cSdMgv.

NH’s Congressional delegation is working hard; there are at least four votes in Washington  that are keeping us all in mind. Depending on how long the shutdown continues, there may be efforts made to help citizens and employees through this crisis. SEA members have stepped up in other times of crisis, doing food drives for those hardest hit. That may happen again if things don’t turn around.

It is important to note that not all employees that are in federally funded positions will be impacted.  Even those employees that receive a furlough notice may not actually face furlough if the shutdown ends before their two week advanced notice expires.  Different federal programs will run out of money at different times, so employees should not anticipate widespread furloughs at this time.

Some workers may end up with a shortened or modified workweek, depending on which federal program is impacted, particularly if the workers are involved with multiple programs.  That’s why we are developing a frequently asked question document that will be released tomorrow.  Additionally, contracted services may be similarly impacted depending on the funding source, service delivery and payment schedule, and other provisions.  The agreement with the SEA will not prevent contracted services from being harmed; the Governor is working to minimize all impact from the shutdown and we will continue to work together through this crisis.

SEIU 1984 Part-time Workers’ Rights Upheld by NH-PELRB

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On Monday, the NH Public Employees’ Relations Board (PELRB) officially answered the issue of whether hundreds of part-time state employees are considered members of the Executive Branch collective bargaining unit. The PELRB ruled that the State has indeed committed an unfair labor practice and ordered the State to recognize these workers as public employees, re-establishing their important rights guaranteed by the contract.

As you may know, last fall, Matt Newland, the state’s Manager of Employee Relations, suddenly and arbitrarily made unilateral changes to the rights and pay of more than one thousand NH Liquor Commission employees and many other part-time workers in state service. He did so through a memo stating that part-time employees were not considered “public employees.” Newland also refused to hear any grievances about nearly all part-time employees and went so far as to order agencies to withhold and intercept union membership cards such workers were trying to submit so that they could join this fight.

Newland’s decision undid decades of past practice and created tremendous disharmony in the workplace. In response, the SEA filed an Unfair Labor Practice with the PELRB, which now finds the vast majority of these employees do, in fact, have the same contractual rights and protections as their full-time colleagues.

Since the beginning of the recession, full-time jobs are increasingly difficult to find. Many workers, including state workers, have been forced to piece together multiple part-time jobs to earn enough to support their families. At the same time, the NH State Liquor Commission is relying more and more heavily on the efforts of part-time workers to fulfill its mission to raise much needed revenue for the state.

“We are very pleased and grateful to the PELRB for standing up for the rights of the many frontline workers in our retail operations. As a NH liquor store manager, I see firsthand the outstanding work our part-timers put forth,” said Richard Gulla, SEA Director and Steward. “Retail hours are unlike those of 9 to 5’ers. We are open many hours each and every day of the week.  We are pleased the PELRB recognizes our part-time workers as being key to the success of NH liquor store’s operations.”

To be clear, this unfair labor practice petition (ULP) was filed well before NH Governor Maggie Hassan took office. “We encourage Governor Hassan to embrace this decision and to carry it forward as an example of employer’s responsibility to treat all workers with dignity, respect and whole people with lawful rights,” said Diana Lacey, SEA president. “She is the CEO of NH’s largest employer. Her good example will benefit all workers.”

Prior to Newland’s bold and unexpected move, a few grievances had been filed involving part-time employees. It is speculated that Newland’s challenge to their rights to representation may have been in response to this fact.  Further, a number of current grievances brought forward by part-time employees have been stalled, waiting for this important PELRB decision.  The process can now move forward for these workers who have been waiting to be made whole.

Note: In 1982 the NH State Liquor Commission employed approximately 276 part-time employees. Because of budgetary considerations and the numerous retail hours to be covered, there are now 916 part-time workers; and only 213 full-time employees.