From time to time, I like to provide you with an update about how my work time is spent. I think it is important for there to be accountability to you, the union.
Much of my time over the last few weeks has been devoted to monitoring the activities of the Committee of Conference related to the state budget. As you likely know, neither the House or Senate included the funds in the state budget to fund the Executive Branch employees two percent raise in January 2016 and another two percent cost of living adjustment in January 2017.
I spent three full days watching and listening to the Committee members. Other SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members sat vigil, as well. Our presence was a constant reminder that we are watching and counting on them to do the right thing – fund the contract that has been bargained in good faith between the Governor’s team and the Executive Branch team. Sadly, they didn’t come through. The budget that went to both full chambers for approval did not contain the funding for state employees. It also did not provide funding for NH First, which has allowed tens of thousands of NH citizens access to affordable health care. Their budget did include tax breaks for big out of state corporations, though. The vote on this budget was along party lines.
Governor Hassan lived up to her word and vetoed the budget she was handed by the NH politicians. Along with other community leaders, I attended a meeting with the Governor before her veto. The Governor was straightforward and candid in her comments and in her request for our support.
One of our key areas of concern in the budget process is the legislative mandate for DHHS to trim more from its budget and to curb the costs of the Sununu Youth Services Center. I attended a meeting between DHHS Commissioner Toumpas, representatives from SYSC, and representatives from the Governor’s office to discuss the situation. I commend DHHS for including SEA/SEIU Local 1984 at the beginning of this process. The Dept. also committed to keeping us informed over the coming months as they fully develop their plan for SYSC.
Basically, DHHS is looking at a three-pronged approach at SYSC to decrease their budget goal – providing the same services as they now do and opening the facility to youth who are currently at the Anna Philbrook Center; adding youth who have substance abuse issues; and accepting youth from other states. The Governor’s representative, Pam Walsh stated that the Governor will not support any privatization at SYSC.
Our members at CCSNH have been dealing with another round of lay-offs of full-time faculty members and staff. I have been part of a team who are carefully examining the process the administration used for the lay-off procedures. We have not yet identified any procedural errors.
I have met with a number of members and SEA/SEIU Local 1984 staff on some worksite issues that have come up of late. There was a recent safety issue at Glen Cliff Home. Some construction was taking place and the air was full of work dust and other particulate matter. There was no barrier between the construction area and areas where workers needed to utilize. This created a health issue, particularly for anyone living with breathing disorders, such as COPD or asthma. Once we identified this issue and reported it to management, the situation was quickly corrected.
Emergency dispatchers at 911 are concerned about some proposed scheduling changes. We will be having a consultation with management about this issue. I have also been participating in planning meetings for the next NH State Liquor Commission Labor Management Committee meeting to address some workplace issues there.
I had the opportunity to greet and thank nine new stewards who attended a Steward 101 workshop earlier this week. Being a steward is a multi-faceted position and I am very appreciative of the willingness of individuals to take on this important job.
I also had the opportunity to attend a Progressive Summit where two of our members, Jeremy Dupuis and Judith Brideau presented on the international fight for a minimum wage of $15/hour. They did an incredible job with their presentation.
On the administrative side, I receive frequent updates from our political staff, our legal staff, our organizing staff and our business administrator
I am honored by the faith you have entrusted in me to represent you. I have an open door and phone line and enjoy hearing from you. Please feel free to contact me with your concerns, suggestions and ideas. And, remember that you are the union…we are SEA/SEIU Local 1984.
Have a happy and safe holiday!