The Belknap County Circus Is Still In Town

Earlier this week, there was an emergency meeting of the Belknap County delegation and Commissioners resulting from a lawsuit that was decided in August. Several SEA/SEIU 1984 members were in attendance, including Belknap County Chapter President, Tanya Phillips; chapter 56 members; Chapter 1 member, Thea Aloise; and SEA/SEIU Local 1984 President, Diana Lacey.

We have previously written about the ongoing tension between the two sides of the table. The crux of the discord between the two sides is the funding of the employees contract and the budget to run the county operations of the County Nursing Home, Corrections, Sheriff’s office, and Police Department. The Commissioners bargained in good faith with the members and SEA/SEIU Local 1984 and an agreement was reached. Members of the delegation, who are political extremists and led by Representatives Frank Tilton and Collette Worsman, refused to fund the contract, which included a modest raise for the workers.

The judge issued a ruling that requires the County Commissioners to seek approval for any line item transfer over $300. Prior to the ruling, the Commissioners were able make management decisions about line item transfers themselves and things ran smoothly.

Monday night’s meeting was about approving budget line items that impacted the ability of the County to pay workers’ wages and provide quality care to the residents in the Nursing home and inmates. Public safety was also in the crossfire.

During the nearly three hour meeting, the delegates ultimately approved all but one of the line item transfers; however, each transfer, no matter the size or nature, was questioned and scrutinized down to every detail. Witnessing this was painful, as the tone and meaning of the comments made by the elected officials were appalling. Their communication was belittling, demeaning and humiliating. No one should ever be subjected to such treatment. Further, the one item they denied impacted Count Administrator Deborah Schackett’s wages. There was obvious animosity toward Ms. Schackett on the part of the delegation. By singling her wages out was very telling that the situation is not about the County’s best interests at all, it’s personal.

What’s at Stake?

Inmate care and rehabilitation, patient care, and public safety will all be compromised by the heavy handed interference of the Delegation. They are inserting themselves where they clearly do not belong and are leaving behind a trail of collateral damage, people, due to their micromanagement of the Commissioners.

Due to a number of valid reasons, as with any budget containing areas of uncertainty, such as patient and inmate census, certain line items need to be adjusted in order to meet obligations. The obligation to pay the workers’ their deserved and hard earned wages was in jeopardy since the August decision. The lack of ability to make transfers resulted in understaffing, which led to a lockdown at the prison and less than optimal staffing at the Nursing Home. The situation is unacceptable and we urge all members to take action by making phone calls or canvassing.

If you can help make phone calls or canvass, please contact Brian Hawkins at bhawkins@seiu1984.org or at 271-3411 x120.

Phone calling Thursday, October 9 5:30 – 7:30 Thursday, October 23 5:30 – 7:30

Canvassing Saturday, October 11, 10am Sunday, October 12, 10am Saturday, October 18, 10am Sunday October 19, 10am

Diana Lacey was interviewed following the meeting by WMUR.  You can see that interview and more coverage about this situation here.

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