Facing Wage Cuts, Workers Make a Special Delivery to the Governor

Concord, NH, September 24, 2012 – Earlier today employees from New Hampshire Hospital sent a message to the governor’s office.  Five members of SEA’s Chapter 4 (NH Hospital) delivered balloons to the governor in response to a policy change involving pay differential for employees who work 2nd and 3rd shift, as well as weekends.

On August 30, the state issued a memo that directs state agencies to apply shift differential pay in a way that does not agree with long-established past practice. Specifically, the change calls for individuals to be paid at their base pay regardless of the shift worked.  This means, for example, that if someone who works first shift volunteers for or is mandated to work during the second or third shift, they are no longer compensated at the increased rate.

“Some workers are seeing a loss of up to $300 per pay period because of this change,” said Laurie Aucoin, one of the workers who delivered balloons to the governor.  “We wanted to make sure the governor heard us loud and clear that this change is not acceptable.”  The NH Hospital workers delivered balloons bearing the name of affected co-workers, along with letters written to the governor.

Those employees who are most affected by this change include workers in the prison system, Glencliff, the state-run Veteran’s Home and retail workers for the NH Liquor Commission.

“I’m a single mom with three kids and every penny I make goes to supporting me and my children, so if I do overtime on a second or third shift, I really depend on that shift differential to make ends meet,” said Brigid Kourtis, one of the affected NH Hospital workers who visited the governor on Tuesday.

Another one of those workers is Dan Hutchison, a maintenance mechanic at the hospital. “For many years we’ve been getting our shift differentials, and we kind of rely on that money coming in,” he said.

“The state violated state labor law by not negotiating changes in working conditions/wages through the collective bargaining process,” said Diana Lacey, President of the State Employees’ Association. “The state cannot unilaterally implement a change that affects wages.  Wages are established through the contract that bargaining teams from the state and SEA members work to draft and accept. At this time, we are using the correct channels to convince the state to reverse these actions and to make these workers whole.”

Negotiations for the state employees’ next contract are slated to begin later this fall.  “We remain hopeful that we can resolve the issue of shift differential pay through the collective bargaining process,” said Lacey. “We are always willing to attempt to resolve these types of issues through bargaining.

 

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