President’s message: What’s the plan?

When big storms hit, state employees left out in the cold

As New Englanders, we’re programmed to handle snow. However, every once in a while we get a  storm so bad, it seems as though the entire state has shut down. The entire state – with the exception of the state itself.

Rich Gulla

Rich Gulla

State offices do not frequently close for snowstorms, and last Tuesday was no exception. Things got so bad Tuesday afternoon the state even closed its liquor stores. Unfortunately, state offices were kept open, leaving hundreds of state employees spinning their tires as they dug out and slowly trekked the dangerous roads home.

In hindsight, it seems pretty obvious the state should have followed the lead of employers across New Hampshire, and closed for the day. What’s it worth to keep offices open if you’re putting lives at risk?

It’s understood there are many public employees who work in essential jobs – including nurses, corrections officers, law enforcement and plow drivers. We’re all thankful for those workers who dutifully keep our state running, regardless of weather conditions. However, I don’t think we’re making the jobs of state troopers and plow crews any easier by unnecessarily sending more cars out on the roads.

Last Tuesday, surrounding states either closed state offices early or never opened altogether. We received the same forecast they did – so what’s the difference? Why is New Hampshire willing to put their employees’ lives at risk?

We closed the offices at the SEA on Tuesday for a simple reason: we didn’t want to put our employees’ lives at risk. To those who’d say it’s not fair  state offices remained open while our office was closed, I’d say this: You’re right – it’s not fair, but we should be setting a positive example and leading the way.

The state needs a better plan for dealing with major weather events such as this. Allowing employees “liberal use of leave” is not a plan – it’s a copout. Tuesday’s storm was a glaring example of a problem in desperate need of a solution, and we’d be happy to sit down with the state to find one to suit all state employees.

Hopefully before the next whopper of a storm.  

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