Liquor Commission Sub-unit Bargaining at Impasse

SEA’s Team Working to Restore Rights, Benefits Taken from Workers

SEA members at the NH Liquor Commission have declared impasse in subunit bargaining with the state, and the process will likely now move on to mediation.

Article 39 of the SEA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement is dedicated to Liquor Commission employees, and the sub-unit team has been pursuing new contract language that would offer retail employees increased compensation for work performed outside of regular operating hours; a better system for employees to be able to transfer from their current store position to a vacant position of the same type in another store; and premium pay (time and one half) for Sundays and holidays for all retail employees. After the SEA and the state agreed on a master contract for the Executive Branch last year, sub-unit negotiations continued.

SEA Director Rich Gulla, who is a member of the sub-unit team, said the state was unwilling to negotiate.

“It seemed like the state was very unrealistic in its approach with the Liquor Commission workers, which is very unfortunate given all the trials and tribulations that we’ve been through over the last few years,” Gulla said.

The trials and tribulations that Gulla was referring to were at the heart of negotiations. He said the team was trying to memorialize rights and benefits that were indiscriminately taken away from workers 18 months ago.

“We’re hopeful that by doing this we’ll raise awareness to the plight of some of the lowest-paid employees,” Gulla said. “Some of the real sticking points were time and a half for part-time employees and fill-in pay for other employees, which is really cents on the dollar. Yet the state and the Commission keep boasting of record profits, made on the backs of low-wage earners.”

The decision to declare impasse means the SEA team believes that no further progress can be made without outside assistance. Current NH bargaining law (RSA 273:A) calls for the use of a mediator in negotiations when a declaration of “impasse” is made. Both the state and the SEA will mutually agree upon a mediator who will facilitate bargaining sessions between the two teams with the hope that an agreement can be reached. It is important to note that the mediator’s role is only to help the parties reach an agreement and that the mediator has no authority to force settlements.

We’ll bring you updates as this process continues.

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