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Member Wants Artists, Artisans to Step Up

Hope is to Create Community, Potentially a Show in the Spring

Chapter 24 member Julie Becker made these baskets and is looking for other artists and artisans among the union community.

Chapter 24 member Julie Becker made these baskets and is looking for other artists and artisans among the union community.

Artists and artisans: Julie Becker knows you’re out there and she’d like you to raise your hand.

Becker is a psychotherapist by trade, but she’s also an artist, currently focusing on basket-making, and she’s hoping to bring together a community of like-minded fellow union members and potentially set up a show in the spring.

“I’ve been with the state for about nine years, and throughout my time here, I’ve been floored by the talent,” she said. “I thought, how cool would it be to foster a community to recognize the art all of us are creating.”

Becker said she envisions the community being open to union members and their families, and she wouldn’t place limits on what people could bring to the table.

“Everything from farm-grown produce to culinary things to arts and crafts,” said Becker, who belongs to the League of NH Craftsmen. “My hope would be to eventually create a sort of manual that people could look at when they want to order a cake or buy a basket or some leatherwork.”

Creating a community would provide moral support “because our jobs can be kind of tough,” but it would also provide an outlet for artisans to sell their products.

“I found out the hard way when I joined the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, that to get my baskets in their shops, they take a percentage,” she said.

Becker —  who’s a member of Chapter 24 and serves as a steward — said she’s been thinking about the idea to reach out to her fellow union members for a while.

“I’d like to know if there is interest, and if there is, I’d like to put together a group of people to put together a show in the spring,” she said.

With all the talent she’s seen among her fellow union members, Becker said what she’s hoping will emerge is a sort of artists’ colony within the union to provide both an outlet and a venue.

“My hope is to build a support network,” Becker said. “It’s my stress reduction, my coping mechanism. There have to be other artists out there.”

If you’re an artist or artisan and are interested in getting involved, you can contact Laurie Gordon at 271-3411, ext. 100 or lgordon@seiu1984.org.  

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Producers Give Sneak Peek of Fish & Game Show

‘Northwoods Law: New Hampshire’ Highlights Work of the Department

If you don’t typically watch reality TV, you may want to consider making an exception next year. That’s when “Northwoods Law: New Hampshire,” which features Fish and Game employees, will begin airing on Animal Planet.

Earlier this month, the producers gave the public its first look at the show, which is expected to begin airing in 2017 (the launch date has yet to be announced). The show, as the sneak preview shows, heavily features the law enforcement side of Fish and Game, but the department has incorporated its wildlife projects as well. While the law enforcement angle makes for dramatic TV, it doesn’t provide a complete picture of everything the department does.

“I deal with species that don’t get a lot of press, so I was looking to provide some positive information about them,” said Mike Marchand, a biologist and Chapter 47 member who works in the Nongame and Endangered Species Program.

Marchand said he filmed for five days, showing some of the work that he does every day.

“I did a day on a peregrine falcon banding, a day on a bald eagle release, and a day on a timber rattlesnake release,” Marchand said. “We did a surgery to implant a tracker, so that should be exciting for people. And we did a couple of days on our turtle projects.”

Fish and Game protects our state’s fish, wildlife and marine resources so they can be enjoyed for generations to come. A part of the work the department does is educational, to encourage residents and visitors alike to get out and enjoy our natural resources. The department does this while being largely self-funded.

“Different departments bring in money in different ways, but a lot of it is grant funding,” Marchand said. “We provide a lot of services for the people of New Hampshire, and people probably don’t realize that we’re not fully funded from the state’s general fund.”

That’s what makes the publicity a show such as this provides very important and beneficial for the department, as Col. Kevin Jordan said when the project was announced.

“This program is an exciting opportunity to increase awareness and recognition of the complex duties of Department staff and the positive impact they have on natural resources, tourism and the state’s economy,” said Jordan, Chief of New Hampshire Fish and Game Law Enforcement. “The show has a lot of promise for improving community outreach, keeping youth and others involved in outdoor recreational traditions, and boosting interest in careers with Fish and Game.”

The department has the opportunity to review the episodes of the show, so Marchand knows he’s included in at least the first two. He said he’s not expecting to become a celebrity overnight — he’ll be happy if the wildlife he and his colleagues work with get a starring role.

“It’s mostly law enforcement that’s the focus of the show, but the goal is to get more positive stories of the work we do here in New Hampshire,” Marchand said.  

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Legislature Set to Convene Next Week

Gov.-elect Sununu’s Inauguration Day is Thursday

The House and Senate will convene on Wednesday and on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, Gov.-elect Chris Sununu will be inaugurated. After that, the legislature can get down to business. Legislative Service Requests, or LSRs, are becoming bills, and by next Friday, we should have fairly complete picture of what bills will be coming.

Sununu will host the traditional reception with state employees on Thursday morning from 7:30-9 a.m. in the Executive Council Chambers at the State House, and all are encouraged to stop by for coffee and conversation with the governor-elect. Inauguration ceremonies are set for noon on Thursday at the State House.

Stay in the Loop this Session with Political Updates

Early on we’ll be focused on so-called right to work bills and other proposed laws that will suppress working families. We’re also supporting some important legislation and we’ll be pushing for some changes during the budget process. We’ll work to keep you on top of it all on a weekly basis in our political update, Unstoppable Together. This update was previously known as State House Bulletin, so if you’ve subscribed to that, you don’t need to do anything else.

If you haven’t subscribed, we recommend you do so by clicking here: http://1984.seiu.org/page/s/opt-in-for-state-house-updates. In Unstoppable Together, we’ll provide political updates as well as items you can take action on. If you’re raring to go, we’ve already started making phone calls in support of our legislative agenda. You can join us for phone-banking from our office at 207 N. Main St., Concord every Wednesday from 5-7 p.m.

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Last-Minute Gift? Try the Corrections Retail Store

If you’re looking for a last-minute, hand-made Christmas gift, keep the Department of Corrections Retail Showroom in mind. Chapter 24 member Laura Williams, who works in the Correctional Industries department, offered a reminder that the store — which is just up the street from the State Prison — is open to the public five days a week.

The retail store sells goods made by inmates in the Correctional Industries program at the State Prison, as well as the Hobby Craft program, providing them with experience and skills they can use to get a job once they’re released. In the case of the Hobby Craft program, inmates receive a portion of the sale price that can be used to buy supplies for future craftwork.

The retail showroom’s regular hours are: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. You can call the showroom at 271-8299, and  read more about Correctional Industries at www.nh.gov/nhdoc/divisions/corrrectional/.

 

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Members Discuss Union’s Steps Forward

We’d Like You to Be Part of Continuing Discussions

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Last week, dozens of SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members gathered at our office in Concord to take the first steps forward after the election and into 2017 and beyond.

Alicia L’Esperance, a member of Chapter 45, said she came to the meeting after seeing what was a divisive election.

“It seemed important to me to unify and make sure we’re trying to be proactive,” she said.

After an introduction by President Rich Gulla, the group began by discussing the current reality and what we’re facing, with so-called right to work chief among them. Members then broke off into discussion and action groups to tackle the topics that emerged in the introductory discussions. L’Esperance ultimately settled into a discussion of member engagement, something she’d worked on as a member of the ad-hoc NHEW committee.

“It seems critical that we have enough people at the table, involved and stepping up, so that we’re listened to,” she said. “We get the most done when we support each other.”

Other groups discussed:

  • SEA messaging
  • Member recruitment and engagement
  • Mass transportation and infrastructure
  • Child protection and DCYF
  • Engaging conservative members
  • CCSNH
  • Coalition of all unions

Building upon the momentum created by these groups, President Gulla is asking members to continue their work. Stan Freeda, a member of Chapter 44, took part in the group discussion on messaging and says he’ll stay involved, happy to see this work as an outgrowth of the union.

“I think a lot of people are eager to do something, and what I’m seeing in the general population is people who’ve previously been apathetic are trying to start new organizations,” he said. “But there are so many organizations already set up. People should just join something and get involved.”

That’s what Freeda did and it’s what all SEA/SEIU Local 1984 member activists have done at one time or another. He thought efforts such as this would do well in attracting new members and getting them involved.

“All of the talking that was going on from leadership was all about ‘we want to listen,’” Freeda said. “I think that message was loud and clear and I appreciate it.”

L’Esperance said it was wonderful to see the number of people taking part in the discussions, and that the meeting was a step in the right direction.

“It was a helpful start to address the issues we’re facing, but there’s a lot of work to be done over the next few years,” she said.

We want you to be a part of that work. You can do so in many ways, one of which is getting involved in the work of the groups formed at this meeting. If you’d like to get involved, you can contact your field representative.

In the short term, you can come to our office and take part in phone banking around some of the more critical political issues coming up. We’ll be phone banking here at the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 office at 207 N. Main St. in Concord from 5-7 p.m. every Wednesday night.

You can find the full report from the meeting here.

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President’s Message: What Matters Most to You?

Rich Gulla

Rich Gulla

Over the next few days, whether you’re working or spending time with friends and family, my hope for you is a few quiet moments to reflect on what matters most to you.

I know that taking time to reflect sounds impossible when you’re running from one thing to another, but I’d like for you to give it a try, and here’s why. We’ve seen big changes over the last year – and we’ll see even more in 2017. As an organization, we’ll advocate for some changes and fight against others. When you know what matters most to you, you know what you’re willing to fight for.

What matters most to me? In no particular order: my family, my friends, our state and this organization. These are all things I’m willing to fight for, what I work for every day. I’m a believer that nothing good happens without hard work, so I’m willing to put in the hours to fight for things that affect the people that matter the most to me — things like Medicare and Medicaid, and for the ability for all hard-working Granite Staters to provide for themselves and their families.

Now, since this is a holiday message, I’d like to avoid the doom and gloom, but I need to say that there is legislation coming that threatens everything that matters most to me. I’ll be thinking about that in the coming days, and I know it will strengthen my resolve to fight what’s to come.

This brings me back to my original question, to which I’ll add: what matters most to you, and are you willing to work to protect it? I hope that in the new year, you’ll keep that in mind and you’ll fight for what matters most to you. If you do that, I’m confident that our families, our state and our organization will emerge even stronger.

Thank you for everything you do. Happy holidays to you and yours.

In solidarity,
Rich Gulla

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Do You Know the Five Signs?

SEA Council Supports Campaign to Change the Culture of Mental Health

John Broderick’s story would be familiar to many. That’s why when the former Supreme Court chief justice tells it, he asks for a show of hands from the room: who here has been affected by mental illness? Lots of hands shoot up.

The SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Board of Directors joined Chief Justice John Broderick in pledging to Know the 5 Signs.

The SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Board of Directors joined Chief Justice John Broderick in pledging to Know the 5 Signs.

The impact of mental illness is undeniable and widespread, yet it’s still not often talked about. But a new campaign is aiming to bring mental illness out of the shadows by identifying the five most common signs.

“Mental illness is the only illness from my childhood that remains in the shadows,” Broderick said. “We need to change the culture surrounding emotional suffering, and we need to begin by letting everyone know its five most common signs, and that early detection and treatment yield great success.”

Broderick is an ambassador for the Campaign to Change Direction, which launched in New Hampshire in May. Broderick spoke at the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 December Council meeting, talking about his son, who in 2002 attacked his father, after suffering for decades from depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.

As the senior Broderick noted, he didn’t just miss the signs, he ignored the signs. Knowing the signs is just half the battle — getting treatment is essential. This campaign is about changing the entire culture around mental health in America, so those who need care, like Broderick’s son, can get it.

After hearing Broderick’s appeal, councilors voted to support the Campaign to Change Direction. SEA/SEIU Local 1984 will work to get materials from the campaign, which highlight the five most common signs, into the workplace and into our communications.

We hope you’ll join us in making a pledge to know the five signs.

You can read more about the Campaign to Change Direction at www.changedirection.org/nh/.

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Legal Win Affirms Right to Representation

Arbitrator’s Ruling Upholds Your Weingarten Rights

One of the most fundamental rights for union members is the right to union representation in a meeting with management if the employee had a reasonable belief that the meeting might result in discipline. Known as Weingarten rights, this protection is open to anyone covered by a contract, regardless of whether they’re a member of the union.

Weingarten rights originated from a Supreme Court case in the 1970s, but in a recent case here in New Hampshire, an independent arbitrator upheld the principles of that original decision and highlighted a very important point: always ask for union representation.

In the case at hand, the employee asked for union representation for a meeting with management, but was denied. The union filed a grievance, as the contract specifically spells out Weingarten rights, and although it took a year, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 ultimately prevailed.

“This decision is important because the right to representation is the most basic right,” said SEA/SEIU Local 1984 President Rich Gulla. “It’s a protection against management, for whatever reason, trying to railroad an employee and circumvent other protections of the contract.”

The result of this case, much like a recent decision by the state Personnel Appeals Board, affirms a long-standing union right that’s spelled out in the contract. And just like that previous decision — which affirmed the ruling in a case known as Boulay —  this one will have implications for all SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members.

“Our legal department now has a binding decision that it can point to that says that the employer who denies union representation in a case such as this does so at its own peril,” Gulla said. “In other words, Weingarten is alive and well in New Hampshire.”

Having a contract is a good thing, but if no one defends the contract, it loses value. That’s why it’s not only essential that employees assert their rights under the contract, but that the union fights back when those rights are violated.

More information

 

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Student’s Project Brings Holiday Cheer Two Ways

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Arianna Jones raised money for Operation Santa Claus by caroling with classmates.

The stories behind Operation Santa Claus are largely what makes the program so compelling. Not just the stories of the children who need help but also the stories of the helpers. They’re an inspiration for us to do more and be better to each other.

That’s certainly the case with Arianna Jones, a senior at Coe-Brown Northwood Academy, who was able to spread a little Christmas cheer while raising money for Operation Santa Claus. Jones was looking for a charity project to undertake as part of her senior portfolio. Jones’ mom, Adina Bernier, is a Chapter 41 member and suggested Operation Santa Claus. Jones said she liked the idea of helping people in her community.

“I know that local charities need just as much support as international charities, so I chose to donate to Operation Santa Claus,” Jones said.

Jones said in talking with her mom, she came up with the idea to go caroling to raise money.

“I love singing and it’s one of my favorite hobbies, so I wanted to incorporate it into my project if possible,” Jones said.

After working out some details, she got case sheets for three children, then organized the caroling event with students in her school’s performing arts department. The group was able to raise $370 in cash, which she used for the gifts, as well as another $360 in checks for Operation Santa Claus.

“I love the feeling of knowing that more children will be able to experience the same Christmas memories of Santa that I cherish, as well as the knowledge that the children I sponsored will have a lot of the winter clothes that they might need this year,” Jones said.

Jones said the work involved in the project was well worth it, given the end result. Her mom agreed.

“It was nice to see her go around and spread Christmas cheer to our neighbors, and more importantly, to raise the money so she could make sure that the children have a wonderful Christmas,” Bernier said.

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With a Lot of Help, OSC Delivers Once Again

OSC delivery day 121416 076

On Wednesday morning, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members — aided by the National Guard and guests including Gov. Maggie Hassan and Miss New Hampshire — sent gifts to thousands of children in need around the state. The union’s holiday program, Operation Santa Claus, has been helping brighten the holidays for families every year since 1960.

Wednesday was the culmination of months of effort, from DHHS caseworkers who identify children in need, to SEA/SEIU Local 1984 member volunteers who make sure the requests for each child get filled, to everyone who donated or sponsored a child. Every package loaded into a National Guard truck was the fulfillment of a Christmas wish, and behind each package was a small army of people who truly care.

“It’s a combined effort that happens all year long,” SEA/SEIU Local 1984 President Rich Gulla said of the work done by Operation Santa Claus volunteers and sponsors. “And today we have the National Guard here helping distribute all these presents to these children.”

All children who are helped by Operation Santa Claus are receiving state services. Their caseworker must identify the need, then submit a case sheet for each child with suggestions for gifts. SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members, and the community at large, step up and meet the financial needs of the program.

“Thanks to these generous donations, from fundraisers held throughout the year, children get to have a better Christmas than they otherwise would,” Gulla said.

Gov. Maggie Hassan, in addressing the volunteers and Guardsmen during a brief ceremony, expressed her gratitude.

“You’re going the extra mile to make sure that children in New Hampshire know that there are adults who care about them, that no matter their circumstances, we’re going to be there for them,” she said. “That’s what kids need to know — that there’s an adult in their corner.”

Hassan, presiding over her final delivery day as governor, said we need to rely upon each other and Operation Santa Claus is a good example of that in action.

“The holidays are a time when the days are getting really short and, in this part of the world, it gets really cold, and I think that sometimes reminds people how much we need each other,” she said. “And in the darkness and cold, it’s human beings who create the warmth and light for each other. You’ve done that throughout the history of Operation Santa Claus, you’re doing it this morning and I couldn’t be more honored to join you, so thank you very much.”

After all the gifts were loaded into the National Guard trucks, the guardsmen brought them to DHHS district offices around the state, then the caseworkers who started this process back in the summer will start reaching out to families and guardians to get the gifts to the children.

Just like it has for the last 56 years, Operation Santa Claus delivered on its mission and fulfilled the holiday wishes of thousands of New Hampshire children.

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