Override the Vetoes!

August 15, 2014 – Last week, the SEA/SEIU 1984 Council convened at a special meeting to discuss the membership’s next steps following the Governor’s vetoes of two key bills that would have bettered the working environment for state workers and enhanced the services they deliver.

The Council, which is the second highest governing body of the organization, discussed and committed to taking an active role in a campaign to override the Governor’s veto of these bills.

HB591 and SB391 had strong support from both legislative chambers. We now have the opportunity to work with our supportive legislators and make the bills law.  We need to ask our legislators to continue supporting these key pieces of legislation.

The Council is asking all members to help in this campaign and to begin reaching out to your state Reps and Senators either by phone or email.  It is important that they hear from you – their constituents.  Remember, the majority of legislators voted in favor of both of these bills.

If you do not know who the legislators in your community are and/or you don’t know how to contact them, you can find out who your state Representative(s) is here and your state Senator here.

Talking points to help guide your conversation or email follow the brief recap of both bills or you can skip to them here.

If you would like help in drafting your message, contact Beth D’Ovidio at bdovidio@seiu1984.org or (603) 271-3411 x105

Recap of Both Bills

HB 591 is a member driven bill, which would provide for a healthy working environment that is free of bullying in employee/employee or employee/supervisor relationships. Member legislator Rep. Diane Schuett introduced the bill. It was through her efforts and the efforts of a committed group of Executive Branch members that this bill succeeded in both chambers. Members courageously brought this problem to light and shared their experiences through testimony at Legislative hearings. Both the NH Senate and House were supportive of the bill and voted to send it along to the Governor for signature. The bill also called for each state agency to develop a policy that would address and put an end to this practice that is happening in state worksites.

SB391 would have addressed some of the workplace issues at the Sununu Youth Services Center that have been in the news for years.  The bill called for the revival and restructuring of a long-dormant advisory board that would help shape the future of the state’s juvenile justice system. Senator Sharon Carson and the House Children and Family Law Committee were strong advocates for this bill that would likely result in better outcomes for the youth residing at the Sununu Youth Services Center, as well as those who are delivering the services.

Senator Carson brought forward this bill following complaints about conditions at the Sununu Youth Development Center, the state’s juvenile detention center in Manchester.

General Talking Points When Calling Representatives and Senators

  • We are asking for your continued support of HB591 and SB391.  We believe both bills will help us deliver the critical services your constituents count on.
  • We hope we can count on you to help make HB591 and SB391 NH state law.
  • Both bills were overwhelmingly supported by both legislative chambers and had bipartisan support.
  • These bills are about protecting your constituents from ill treatment at their workplaces and about guaranteeing that state services are performed efficiently and effectively with appropriate oversight.

Talking Points Specific to HB591

  • Both chambers overwhelmingly supported this bill and acknowledged they believe this is an issue that shared across state agencies.
  • Currently, the state does not have a policy nor are there laws which protect employees from workplace aggression and bullying. The NH House passed HB 591 to prohibit the abuse of state employees in the workplace.
  • Workplace bullying refers to continuing, unreasonable actions of individuals (or a group) against a co-worker or subordinate (or a group of employees), which are intended to intimidate, degrade, humiliate, or undermine.
  • Workplace bullying is not a one-time dispute or personality clash. It is repetitive hostile behavior on the part of one party towards another over a period of time.  It is a pattern not an isolated event.
  • Workplace bullying is a serious problem that has been identified in most state agencies.  It is not a frivolous issue and should not be minimized.
  • The SEA/SEIU 1984 Council convened at a special meeting to discuss our next steps following the Governor’s veto. The Council, which is the second highest governing body of the organization, voted unanimously to take an active role in a campaign to override the Governor’s veto on this bill.
  • Continuing to ignore this problem is likely to diminish the quality of services NH citizens and visitors to our state receive.
  • Opponents of this bill say it will lead to lawsuits against the state. There are already lawsuits that have been settled or currently in play because of bullying. That argument is hollow. It is better to be proactive, have a law, have guidelines for recognizing the problem and resolve the problem before it rises to the level of litigation.
  • Victims of workplace bullying experience:
    • High stress, high blood pressure, sleep and digestive disturbances, musculoskeletal problems;
    • Increased absenteeism and medical leave;
    • Increased depression, self-blame, and reduced self-esteem; and
    • Family tension and stress.
  • Employers are also impacted because it:
    • Leads to low morale in the workforce and undermines productivity;
    • Causes employees to seek increased medical attention which drives up health care costs;
    • Results in additional costs to recruit, hire and train new employees when bullied employees leave; and
    • Leads to lost productivity and high absenteeism.

Talking Points Specific to SB391

  • Both chambers widely supported SB391 which would provide more structured oversight to the activities at Sununu Youth Services Center (SYSC).
  • Currently, the legislative oversight board is dormant. This bill would revitalize that board.  Oversight is positive and increases the likelihood of successful outcomes.
  • This bill would provide greater transparency surrounding the rehabilitation of our state’s most at risk youth.
  • Many of the residents are emotionally distressed and sometimes act out violently. Sometimes this may lead to their restraint.  Proper protocols should be followed.  Oversight will minimize potential liability in such instances.
  • The composition of the oversight board would include stakeholders, management and staff, which would foster better transparency; better outcomes and efficiencies; more consideration of issues from all points of view; and better employee/management relations.
  • Ultimately, revitalizing the oversight board will enhance the rehabilitation of the youth who otherwise would have very little chance of succeeding outside of the state system – juvenile justice today; corrections system tomorrow.
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