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Priorities in the new legislative session

With the first hearings of the 2019 legislative session  taking place this week, we’re off and running for what will be a busy six months. In addition to the state budget, we’ll be advocating for legislation dealing with retirees, workplace bullying, staffing at state agencies and union rights.

Thanks to your help last year, we had one of our most successful legislative sessions in years. We’ll need your help to keep moving forward, and to do that we’ll need your engagement – if you’re not already subscribed to our State House Update, which will be sent each Monday starting in a few weeks please update your email preferences here. Our State House emails will include the latest legislative updates.

Our first two requests for members relate to bills addressing a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for retirees and workplace bullying. We’d like to hear from retirees in the state pension system about what a COLA would mean to you, and we’d like to hear from current and former state employees about any experiences of workplace bullying in state service. If you can help with either, please send an email to Brian Hawkins at bhawkins@seiu1984.org.

Here’s a quick look at some of the other issues we’ll be working toward solutions for:

  • Funding for positions at state agencies has never really recovered since the recession 10 years ago, leaving state workers to do more with less.
  • Paid family leave was a cornerstone of Molly Kelly’s campaign and Gov. Sununu endorsed the idea for state employees last fall, as well.
  • Independent legislative redistricting would attempt to remove partisanship from the drawing of legislative districts.
  • Protection of union rights in the wake of the Janus Supreme Court decision will include more than just fighting off bad proposals – yes, we’ll still see right to work bills. Legislation will push to codify protections for workers and labor unions.
  • Privatization of public services has increased as funding for regular positions has grown scarce, but contractor positions aren’t governed by collective bargaining agreements, lack benefits and often extend far beyond short-term needs.  

The legislation addressing these issues is still being drafted, but this is still a good glimpse at what our focus will be. Our focus for our legislative priorities is ensuring that we have a state that works for everyone, a state that leaves no one behind. That’s what unions are supposed to be about, and that’s what our commitment is. We’ll need your right there alongside us as we work to move our state forward.

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Family Friendly Game Night

Join us for the first game night of the new year. Details below:

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The Year in review: What defined us in 2018

In the midst of a lengthy contract standoff with the state, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members were joined by labor, faith and community leaders for a rally and march at the State House. In a tumultuous year, the eventual contract was a major victory.

In the midst of a lengthy contract standoff with the state, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members were joined by labor, faith and community leaders for a rally and march at the State House. In a tumultuous year, the eventual contract was a major victory.

This year was as consequential as any other in recent memory for SEA/SEIU Local 1984, and along the way, we experienced progress and challenges. But as we always have, we emerged united on the other side.

As we prepare for a new year and new challenges, we pause now to take a look back at the year that was.

So-called right to work finally became a reality in New Hampshire, after the U.S. Supreme Court found for the plaintiff in the case of Janus v. AFSCME. The decision strengthened the resolve of many union members to keep the fight for workers' rights going strong.

So-called right to work finally became a reality in New Hampshire, after the U.S. Supreme Court found for the plaintiff in the case of Janus v. AFSCME. The decision strengthened the resolve of many union members to keep the fight for workers’ rights going strong.

The Janus decision

On June 27, 2018 – four months and one day after oral arguments – the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. As expected, the court found that unions could not collect agency fees – also known as fair share fees – from bargaining unit employees who chose not to join the union. Fair share fees were used to help cover the cost of negotiation and defending the collective bargaining agreement.

The immediate impact of the Janus decision was that fair share fee-payers in unions with such provisions – including SEA/SEIU Local 1984 – no longer had fees deducted from their paychecks, leading to a drop in revenue for unions. This was the goal of the anti-worker forces that bankrolled the Janus case – starving unions of funds so that they could no longer help working people advocate for themselves.

Thankfully we were prepared to withstand this adverse decision and it has only strengthened the resolve of our members to stick together and encourage their colleagues to join.

Ken Roos, the SEA's stalwart First Vice President, died this summer after a brief illness. The effects of his loss continue to ripple through the union and the Concord community.

Ken Roos, the SEA’s stalwart First Vice President, died this summer after a brief illness. The effects of his loss continue to ripple through the union and the Concord community.

Losing Ken Roos

This summer, the union suffered a massive loss, as First Vice President Ken Roos died after a brief illness. As an executive board member, Ken had a massive impact on the union’s decision-making process, but Ken made his impact known every day with his constant presence.

Ken’s shock of curly white hair was ubiquitous at union meetings – he was truly everywhere. It’s because Ken was so deeply involved, in fact, that his loss was felt so deeply. In the time since his passing, his colleagues and friends in the union – and the community at large – have worked to help fill his shoes and honor his legacy.

In October, Ken was posthumously honored as Member of the Year at the annual SEA/SEIU Local 1984 convention, and in December the union partnered with Temple Beth Jacob in Concord to hold the inaugural Ken Roos memorial blood drive. We know that as we go forward members will continue to step up to help fill the void left behind, but we know we’ll never replace Ken.

Members took action at the Legislature in large numbers in 2018 to help secure incremental wins for child protection workers and retirees.

Members took action at the Legislature in large numbers in 2018 to help secure incremental wins for child protection workers and retirees.

Wins at the Legislature

Last year’s legislative session started with a roar, with the Republican leadership pushing a right-to-work bill as its first priority. That set the tone for a mostly defensive session, with members fighting to preserve their rights and get budget funding for their agencies. While we spent time this year fighting off some proposals, 2018 was marked by the union going on the offense.

Among the legislative wins were a pair of bills impacting CCSNH – one gave workers the right to bargain a tuition discount for part-time workers and the other created a process to evaluate whether the system should re-enter the state health plan. Some retirees in the state pension system received a one-time payment this year, the product of a bill that also sought a COLA. This one-time payment of $500 was the first such payment in eight years. Child protective service workers at DHHS fought for a bill that funded new positions to help relieve the massive strain on the Department of Children, Youth and Families. Finally, a group of clinicians organizing with the SEA were able to pass a bill that limits the amount of time in which insurers could retroactively deny claims.

Taken together, this was a hugely successful session. It couldn’t have happened without members taking action by calling their legislators, sending emails, and showing up to testify at the State House. While some measures fell short, it was not due to a lack of effort by members. Our agenda for 2019 will be just as ambitious and should be aided by the election of many new pro-worker lawmakers.

Bill Bolton was one of more than a dozen SEA members to run for county or state office this year. A Senate candidate, Bolton knocked on more than 3,000 doors throughout the district – an amazing effort – but fell just short in his attempt to unseat the incumbent.

Bill Bolton was one of more than a dozen SEA members to run for county or state office this year. A Senate candidate, Bolton knocked on more than 3,000 doors throughout the district – an amazing effort – but fell just short in his attempt to unseat the incumbent.

Flipping the Legislature (and Executive Council)

As the summer rolled around, the SEA turned its focus from the legislative session (and a long contract fight – more on that below) to the upcoming statewide elections. As is always the case, members were encouraged to seek office and this year, they sought office at the county level, in the state House of Representatives and the state Senate.

When all was said and done, we helped elect eight members to the House of Representatives – including several first-time candidates. Members across the state stepped up in impressive fashion to help flip the House, Senate and Executive Council to a Democratic majority focused on fighting for working people. In all, 200 members were involved in political activities this year, making 8,500 phone calls to members and knocking on 1,500 doors. In the final weekend before the election, 52 volunteers turned out to get out the vote.

What this means going forward is stronger support for initiatives that benefit working people and ensure our retired public employees aren’t left further behind. There will be plenty of work to do, but as this year’s legislative session and the election showed, our members are up to the task.

SEA President Rich Gulla speaks at a rally in April in support of securing a new contract for state employees.

SEA President Rich Gulla speaks at a rally in April in support of securing a new contract for state employees. A new contract was finally ratified later that month – 10 full months after the preceding contract expired.

A new state contract, at long last

In late April, 10 long months after the Executive Branch contract expired, the SEA reached a tentative agreement with the state. That agreement came only after a fact-finder’s report that favored state employees.

The master bargaining team worked for months preparing for negotiations, though that ultimately stalled when another union declared impasse. The team put in even more hours preparing for the fact-finding process and their dedication made a massive difference. Also making a difference were the hundreds and hundreds of members who took part in actions during that 10-month span.

Members organized visibility events not just around Concord, but around the state as well. Large signs in front of the SEA office noted the weeks without a contract and called on the governor to invest in his workforce. The new contract came with some victories, including cost of living raises and an extra step in the wage matrix. While this contract covers by far the largest group of SEA members, many of our smaller units worked hard throughout the year negotiating new contracts, and some have waited far longer than 10 months to get a new deal. One of the most notable wins came in the town of Hampton, where members successfully worked to convince residents to support a warrant funding their new contract. We thank all of our members who step up to bargain in support of their colleagues.

Looking forward to 2019

Overall our members spent the year doing what they do best – taking action. The results shone through.

Our strength lies in numbers. It’s what allows us to have an impact in our worksites, at the Legislature and the ballot box. We need to stay strong going forward and we need members to continue to step up and take action. Until then, we wish you all happy holidays and a great new year.

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Chapters holding elections in 2019

Here are all chapters scheduled to hold elections in 2019. Positions slated for election are president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, councilor and alternate councilor unless noted below (some chapters merge the treasurer and secretary positions). You can access self-nomination forms for chapter elections here. 

Chapter 1 – Retired Members (Pres, VP, Treasurer, Asst Treas. (50% Councilors, Alt Councilors in odd year)
Chapter 2 – Department of Labor
Chapter 4 – NH Hospital
Chapter 5 – Office of Information Technology
Chapter 6 – Hampstead Hospital
Chapter 7 – Town of Salem
Chapter 11 – NH Veterans Home
Chapter 13 – NHTI-Concord NH,  NH Police Trg, Planetarium (Secretary/Treasurer)
Chapter 14 – Manchester Community Technical College
Chapter 16 – Public Health, Substance Abuse, Racing Comm.
Chapter 18 – Merrimack County Dept of Corrections
Chapter 19 – Berlin Area Chapter
Chapter 20 – Concord Area Chapter
Chapter 21 – Youth Development Center Secretary/Treasurer
Chapter 24 – NH Department of Corrections-Civilians
Chapter 27 – Town of Meredith
Chapter 28 – Lakes Region Community College-Laconia (Secretary/Treasurer)
Chapter 31 – Ashland Town Employees
Chapter 34 – Littleton Area
Chapter 36 – Nashua Community College-Staff
Chapter 38 – Pease Fire Fighters
Chapter 39 – Judicial Branch
Chapter 45 – Department of Health & Human Services
Chapter 46 – White Mountain Community College
Chapter 47 – Fish & Game
Chapter 49 – City of Franklin
Chapter 50 – Department of Environmental Services
Chapter 53 – Coos County Corrections
Chapter 54 – Liquor Commission
Chapter 56 – Belknap County
Chapter 57 – Littleton Police Department
Chapter 59 – Nashua Community College
Chapter 60 – Keene Area
Chapter 62 – River Valley Community  College-Claremont
Chapter 65 – Strafford County Nursing Home
Chapter 67 – Derry PATE
Chapter 68 – Town of Exeter
Chapter 70 – Hampton Highway Department
Chapter 72 – Town of North Conway
Chapter 73 – OPLC (Secretary/Treasurer)
Chapter 255 – DOC-Sgts, Lt’s, & Captains

 

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Nominations open for 2019 chapter elections

The chapter election cycle is here. Members in chapters holding elections in 2019 should soon be receiving a notice of chapter elections and a self-nomination form. If you’re interested in running for a position, you must submit the self-nomination form by Feb. 8, 2019.

In most cases, positions up for election include:

  • President (one position)
  • Vice president (one position)
  • Treasurer (one position)
  • Secretary (one position)
  • Councilor (number depends on chapter size)
  • Alternate councilor (number depends on chapter size)

You can find a printable PDF version of the election notice/self-nomination form for all chapters except Chapter 1 here. You can find an online version of that form here (and submit entirely online). You can find the Chapter 1 PDF form here and an online version here

If you’re not sure which chapters are holding elections in 2019, you can find a list here. If you’d like to see an in-depth description of the chapter positions’ duties, you can find that here.

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Impasse declared with Strafford County

Laura Drew, vice president of Chapter 52, delivers the final membership card to President Gulla. Stafford County Corrections reached 100 percent union membership after the bargaining team recently declared impasse with the county in contract negotiations.

Laura Drew, vice president of Chapter 52, delivers the final membership card to President Gulla. Stafford County Corrections reached 100 percent union membership after the bargaining team recently declared impasse with the county in contract negotiations.

The union bargaining team at Strafford County Department of Corrections has declared impasse after three months of attempting to negotiate in good faith with the county. The bargaining team delivered a proposal for a successor contract that included a request for higher wages to reflect the considerable extra duties, including forced overtime due to persistent short staffing that have arisen at Strafford County Department of Corrections. The requests sought in the proposal would be proportional with raises and benefits given to other County employees. The county’s negotiator rejected the proposal in its entirety.

“We stand in solidarity with our members at Strafford County,” said SEA President Rich Gulla. “Their hard work and determination needs to be reflected in a new contract. Anything less is unacceptable.”

This recent setback has prompted 23 additional employees to join the State Employees Association, achieving 100 percent union membership for the unit. “On top of not wishing to compensate the hard work we do, the head of negotiations for the county chose to verbally abuse the team on numerous occasions. We shall prove that the compensation we ask for is deserved and prove the head negotiator incorrect in his view of our group,” said Corrections Officer Brian Veit, referring to the inappropriate and salacious comments made to the bargaining team during negotations.

The corrections facility recently received high praise in a standard inspection conducted by a private consulting group on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In addition to serving the needs of the local community, the facility also processes and houses immigration detainees. In a recent email sent to all county jail employees, a member of management wrote, “The inspectors praised the facility … and stated every staff member they spoke to — whether a veteran or a new officer — was kind, helpful and knew the answers to the question they asked.” Despite the commendation, Strafford County shows no signs of moving closer to a reasonable contract for its correction employees.

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Raise Up New Hampshire delivers petitions at the State House

Activists spoke and sang carols in support of raising the wage before delivering their petitions inside.

Activists spoke and sang carols in support of raising the wage before delivering their petitions inside.

Raise Up NH held a rally at the State House on Organization Day – when the elected House and Senate officials meet to elect leaders within their own bodies and are sworn in last Wednesday to urge Gov. Chris Sununu and incoming elected officials to raise the minimum wage in the Granite State. The group presented its petition, which garnered about 1,200 signatures to the governor, incoming Speaker of the House Steve Shurtleff and incoming Senate President Donna Soucy.

“These signatures demonstrate that our friends and neighbors understand that it is unjust and immoral not to pay working people enough to live with dignity and hope,” Raise Up NH member Rev. John Gregory-Davis said. “There is no excuse in a nation as wealthy as ours for anyone to be earning anything less than a living wage for a full day’s work and we’re happy to see how much support this simple idea has earned in New Hampshire.”  

Led by Rev. John Gregory-Davis and Rev. Gail Kinney of Meriden Congregational Church, about 75 activists filed in the governor’s office to give personal testimony to his policy adviser on their struggles with surviving on New Hampshire’s minimum wage. Many pointed out that New Hampshire’s minimum wage of $7.25 is not competitive with other New England states. 

As one attendee said, “Raise the wage, so we won’t need government assistance. It’s the fiscally responsible thing to do.”

Raise Up NH is an initiative of the NH Alliance for a Moral Economy of which SEA/SEIU Local 1984 is a community partner.

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Health Buzz: New year – time to take the HAT

Executive Branch members covered by the state employee health benefit are encouraged to take the Health Assessment Test every year, and now that we’ve turned the calendar to 2019, it’s time to get moving. Taking the HAT earns you $200 on a HRA debit card, money that can be used to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses. Completing the HAT also enables members to take part in the Health Rewards program, another great benefit.

This year there is a change in the way you take the HAT. Instead of logging into Anthem’s website, this year you’ll use the new Mobile Health Consumer. You can register either using the Mobile Health Consumer smartphone/tablet app or by using your desktop computer. Here is information on how to register:

2 Ways to Register for Mobile Health Consumer: (Register once and use the same username and password for both the app and website.)

From your Smartphone or Tablet: Download the “Mobile Health Consumer” app through “Google play” or the “App Store”

  1. Type in “Mobile Health Consumer” in the search bar of your app store.
  2. Click the green “Install” button.
  3. Register with your credentials (first and last name, last 4 of your SSN and your date of birth).
  4. You are all set to begin using the app!
  5. The HAT as well as other Mobile Health features will be available on Jan. 1, 2019.

From your desktop computer or laptop: Register online at www.mobilehealthconsumer.com

  1. Click on “User” in the top right hand corner of the webpage
  2. Click “Register Now”
  3. Enter your credentials (first and last name, last 4 of your SSN and your date of birth).
  4. You are all set to begin using the website!
  5. The HAT as well as other Mobile Health features will be available on Jan. 1, 2019.

You can find more information on Mobile Health Consumer in this printable PDF. You can find more information on getting started with the new service in this printable PDF.

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Operation Santa Claus Delivery Day is Wednesday

 

OSC delivery day 121416 063

Volunteers make OSC work – you’re invited to help lend a hand on Wednesday as we load up National Guard trucks to deliver gifts to children across the state.

After months of work, lots of shopping, wrapping and sorting, the elves at Operation Santa Claus have set Delivery Day – when National Guard troops deliver toys to DHHS district offices across the state – for 8 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12. You’re invited to join us and spread some cheer to children around the Granite State.

Operation Santa Claus is completely run by SEA/SEIU Local 1984 member volunteers. The process begins with caseworkers at DHHS who identify children in need. Next, volunteers match up potential sponsors with children. State employees are among the biggest supporters, with chapters often sponsoring hundreds of children. In all, the program will help around 3,000 children once again this year.

On Delivery Day, volunteers load pre-sorted gifts onto National Guard trucks, which will deliver those gifts to DHHS district offices. Caseworkers at those DOs will then connect with parents and guardians to coordinate the last leg of the journey.

You’re invited to join us Wednesday at 8 a.m. at OSC’s headquarters, the Department of Transportation warehouse at 11 Stickney Ave. in Concord. We hope to see you there.

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Inaugural Ken Roos blood drive exceeds goals

By mid-afternoon, turnout was so high that the Red Cross had to turn away walk-in donors.

By mid-afternoon, turnout was so high that the Red Cross had to turn away walk-in donors.

On Wednesday, Dec. 5, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 and Temple Beth Jacob hosted the inaugural blood drive in memory of Ken Roos. By all measures, the drive was a great success and the 2019 drive has already been scheduled.

Ken Roos' family brought a collection of photos and mementos.

Ken Roos’ family brought a collection of photos and mementos.

According to the Red Cross, the drive collected 49 units – a unit is roughly equivalent to a pint – far exceeding the goal of 28 units. Red Cross organizer Megan Nantel said that those 49 units will help as many as 147 different people.

Ken, who died this summer after a sudden illness, was a regular blood donor and Red Cross volunteer – he helped with disaster response after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina and served on the N.H. Red Cross Board of Directors.

We’re incredibly thankful to the dozens of volunteers, those who donated baked goods and door prize items, and the nearly 60 people who came out to donate blood.

The 2nd annual blood drive will be held Sept. 5 at Temple Beth Jacob. You can reserve your donation time slot here.

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