Ballots Have Been Mailed Out to Members of Chapter 30 for Vote
The bargaining team of Chapter 30, the Plymouth State University Teaching Lecturers, recently reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with the college. This week, ballots were sent out to chapter members.
The tentative agreement comes seven months after their previous agreement with PSU ended in June. The agreement includes pay rate increases of $50 per credit for the current semester, to $1,250. That number gradually increases to $1,350 per credit by the spring 2019 semester.
Chapter President Philip Inwood said news of the tentative agreement’s wage increases has been met warmly.
“I think people will be happy to get an extra $50 a credit, which seems small but for adjuncts who live off slender means, it’s actually a lot,” Inwood said. “Wages were our focus, and we did improve things, but it’s still off as wage equity is concerned. It’s a step-by-step process.”
Inwood said he’s hoping the tentative agreement will also be a step in the process of growing membership in Chapter 30, and getting those members active in the union. As part of that campaign, the chapter will again be holding an Adjunct Awareness event on March 8.
Beyond the campus, Inwood said he’d like to see his chapter get more involved in state politics through the union and SEAPAC, the union’s voluntary fund that helps expand our voices at the State House.
“What we need to do is start working with the legislature, start talking with representatives about the money that’s apportioned for the university system,” Inwood said. “I think this is important to do before we start to look ahead to our next contract negotiations.”
Ballots for this current tentative agreement were mailed on Tuesday, and must be returned by mail with a postmark no later than next Thursday, Feb. 23.
If you’re not yet a member of the union and you’d like to join, you can do so by filling out a membership form.
Some wins, like a new tentative agreement, cover lots of people. Other wins, like the one that affected PSU Teaching-Lecturer and Chapter 30 member Kristin Stelmok, have a smaller reach. Whether it’s one or a hundred, though, any time workers win when asserting rights in the workplace, it’s worth celebrating. And for Kristin, being able to be a part of the union brings her full circle to where she was before this all started – trying to help bring a union to PSU for teaching lecturers.
Kristin’s story started last year when she sought to be a part of the PSU Teaching-Lecturer bargaining unit. The contract language defining eligibility was initially misinterpreted by PSU administration. After human resources told her she wasn’t eligible, Kristin checked with chapter president Philip Inwood and fellow-member Burrett McBee. As it turned out, they’d seen the exact same situation before. Philip got involved and after back and forth with the college, was successful in demonstrating the correct interpretation of the language.
“Ultimately, the dean agreed,” Stelmok said. “Her email said she wanted to respect my service to PSU and the spirit of the collective bargaining agreement, and agreed I was eligible.” Kristin said she truly appreciated that response from the dean, Cynthia Vascak.
For Kristin – who teaches English and women’s studies – being included in the bargaining unit means wage increases, but more than that, it means she can contribute to the larger cause.
“The pay is definitely a lot better, especially because I’m teaching so much – four courses a semester,” Kristin said. “But it’s important that I’m able to be a part of the team that’s helping support all of the other teaching-lecturers. I’ve always found a great deal of support from the other teaching-lecturers, and having the union has helped us come together even more.”
Kristin is now in her 11th semester at PSU, although not consecutively – she spent time away at UNH working on her doctorate. That gap was actually what caused confusion over her eligibility. Joining the union, though, has brought everything full circle for Kristin.
“When I was initially at PSU, I was one of the folks working toward getting a union,” she said. “It’s nice to finally be a part of it.”
Vote to Be Held at Next Quarterly Council Meeting on Saturday, March 11
There will be a special election for the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Board of Directors at the next quarterly Council meeting, on March 11 (please note that this is a Saturday).
This special election will fill the remainder of the term of one board seat, which is up for re-election this fall. Members who met the deadline for submission of self-nomination forms will have their names printed on the ballot. Nominations for write-in candidates can be taken from the floor.
The members who submitted their self-nomination forms by the deadline are:
The March Council meeting is on Saturday, March 11, at 29 Hazen Drive, with registration beginning at 9:30 a.m. The meeting is scheduled for a Saturday as a trial, a suggestion made by delegates to the annual convention last fall. We’ll be sending out a meeting-specific notice with the complete agenda to all councilors. We hope to see you all there.
President Rich Gulla released the following statement after the House Labor Committee voted to reject both so-called right to work bills.
“So-called right to work has no place in the Granite State, and I’m proud we were able to pack this hall today with those who agree. Both of these bills are tired, recycled legislation that does nothing for the real problems facing our state. We need the House to reject these bills so we can get down to working together on legislation that helps – not hurts – New Hampshire families.”
The House Labor Committee is holding a hearing for both so-called right to work bills this Wednesday, Feb. 8, starting at 10 a.m. We need to send a message by PACKING Representatives’ Hall at 10 a.m. as the hearings begin. Even if you can’t stay for the entire hearing, we need to make sure everyone is signing their name in opposition to both bills. We’ll be running shuttles to the State House from both Hazen Drive as well as the NH Hospital campus. Keep reading for more info.
– – – – – – –
We’ll have two loops running from 9:25 a.m. to around 2:30 p.m., with each shuttle loop taking 20-25 minutes. The stops are listed below. If you plan on taking the shuttle, please RSVP to lhenderson (at) seiu1984.org.
Hazen Drive loop (begins running at 9:25 a.m., last return route leaves State House at 2 p.m.): starts at DHHS/DES Building, proceeds to Fish and Game Building and then the Department of Transportation. This shuttle drops off and picks up on Park Street.
South Campus loop (begins running at 9:25 a.m., last return route leaves State House at 2 p.m.): starts at Main Building, proceeds to the lot between Toby Building and Brown Building, then to the Department of Education Building (Londergan Hall). This shuttle drops off and picks up on Capitol Street.
The House and Senate will each meet in session at 10 a.m. Thursday, and will convene in a Joint Session at noon to hear Gov. Chris Sununu’s first budget address.
You may have noticed that some bills are coming up rather quickly — for example, the two retiree health care bills heard last week. This is happening due to deadlines for bills that have to go to a second committee. Using the retiree health care bills as an example, because the bills have an expense attached (known as a fiscal note), they must go through both the original committee (in this case, Executive Departments and Administration) and the Finance Committee. That means each bill must be approved twice by the House. So while it seems like bills are being rushed through, there is still time to take action.
Very importantly, the House Labor Committee will be holding hearings (and possibly executive sessions) on the so-called right to work bills — SB 11 and HB 520 — on Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Representatives’ Hall in the State House; we’ll have more on those below. The other key hearing is for SB 215, a bill we’ve put forward that’s sponsored by Sen. Dan Feltes that would permit the Community College System to return to the state employee health insurance plans. The hearing for SB 215 is Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 10:20 a.m., in Room 101 of the Legislative Office Building.
Here are the full calendars for each chamber below:
Representative Neal Kurk of Weare introduced two bills in the New Hampshire House that, if passed, would destroy retiree health insurance protection.
HB 653 would institute a minimum of 12.5 percent health insurance premium contribution from over-65 and Medicare-eligible retirees, instating a tax on our retirees.
HB 645 would end retiree health insurance for any state employee hired after July 1, 2017, and puts ALL RETIREES IN THE STATE, present and future, into a voucher-style system, which rather than providing a defined insurance benefit, provides a set amount of money with which to buy insurance on the open market.
Read these bills here:
Both these bills are imminent threats to all State of NH employees. You must act! Contact your representative and tell them to VOTE NO on these bills.
The State of New Hampshire must live up to the obligations it has made to public sector workers. After dedicating years of public service, workers hope to retire with dignity and have the assurances made to them remain intact. Many spend years carefully planning their retirement around promises made to them when they began work. Instituting a premium contribution on our senior citizens will have a cruel impact – many will easily wind up spending their retirement years living in poverty.
The State of New Hampshire is grappling with recruiting and retaining a high-quality workforce across all segments of state service. The classification system is antiquated and ineffective, with many jobs lagging so far behind the pay scale some vacancies remain open for months. Reducing retirement benefits will only serve to increase the recruitment and retention gap that exists.
Finally, it is outrageous the supporters of these bills will force current and future retirees into poverty and reduce the state’s ability to attract quality candidates, so they can turn around and provide tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy. Giving tax breaks at the expense of seniors who dedicated their lives to public service is immoral and absolutely unacceptable.
Take action today.
If you are a nonmember, consider joining the SEA today. Because retirement benefits are not part of our collective bargaining agreement, we are prohibited from using agency fee funds to advocate for these benefits. The fight to protect retirement benefits is borne solely by members.
Please join today and add your voice to our growing chorus calling for the state to live up to the promises made to us.
If you know a non-member, share this message. Persuade them to join us in this fight.
Click here to contribute to SEAPAC: SEAPAC is our voluntary political-action fund that provides resources to protect your retirement benefits. A few dollars a week can make all the difference.
The House Labor Committee is holding a hearing for both so-called right to work bills — SB 11 and HB 520 — on Wednesday, Feb. 8, starting at 10 a.m. We need to send a message of solidarity by packing Representatives’ Hall at 10 a.m. as the hearings begin. Even if you can’t stay for the entire hearing, we need to make sure everyone is signing their name in opposition to both bills.
Shuttles running to State House: Parking around the State House can be a challenge on hearing days, so we’re running shuttles from the State Office Park East on Hazen Drive as well as the State Office Park South (NH Hospital campus). If you plan on taking the shuttle, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. The shuttle routes look like this:
Other ways to take action: Here are the other actions you can take to help defeat these bills:
The House held hearings for several bills we’re tracking last week including one that would drastically shrink the size of the Sununu Youth Services Center. Others include one to provide certain Department of Transportation workers with hazardous duty pay and one that would put certain Department of Corrections workers into Group II. In all cases, we had great testimony from members. As always, we thank the members that came to the hearings and testified.
SYSC bill (HB 646): The hearing, held last Tuesday, was lengthy and included testimony from several members. The most damning testimony for the bill may have come from a longtime supporter of SYSC, who was actually testifying in favor of the bill. Former Sen. David Boutin enumerated many potential problems with the legislation, as it was written. There is an executive session for this bill on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 1 p.m. in Room 206 of the Legislative Office Building. Please call the members of the Children and Family Law Committee and ask them to reject this bill. You can find their information here.
DOT bill (HB 426): This bill would provide hazardous duty pay to DOT employees working in harms’ way on our roads and bridges. We had strong testimony from members include Chapter 17 President Dan Brennan. There is no executive session scheduled yet, but you can start reaching out to the Public Works Committee to ask them to approve this bill. You can find their information here.
DOC bill (HB 593): This bill would correct in injustice, moving DOC employees who meet the criteria for Group II retirement into Group II (they are in Group I currently.) As with the DOT bill, there is no executive session set for this bill yet. We’d like all members to begin reaching out to the members of the Executive Departments and Administration Committee right away, though. You can find their information here.