Gov. Sununu signs pension COLA bill
On Sept. 6, Gov. Chris Sununu signed the long-awaited pension COLA bill, HB 616, into law. This is the first COLA pension system members will have received since 2010. This couldn’t have happened without the leadership of lead sponsor Rep. Dianne Schuett, herself a retired state employee and SEA Chapter 1 member. Fellow SEA retirees Rep. Art Ellison and Rep. Sallie Fellows were co-sponsors on the bill.
You can click here to read more about who will receive the COLA and when it will go into effect.
“Our retirees have waited a long time for this – when this goes into effect, it will have been 10 years since the last COLA,” said SEA/SEIU Local 1984 President Rich Gulla. “At the same time, these retirees expenses, including healthcare, have increased. While this is a great step forward, we know that more must be done to make sure that our retirees, who spent long careers in public service, are not left behind.”
Below is a short video member retirees put together to help legislatures understand the importance of this vote.
Governor Signs Child Protection Bill!
On June 3, SB 6 was signed into law. In the months leading to this moment, the Senate had unanimously voted in support of SB 6 that appropriates funds to ensure that case workloads are aligned with nationally accepted standards. Thanks to the members from the Department of Health and Human Services who gave compelling testimony before the committee in favor of the bill. As a result of everyone’s hard work, 77 new positions will be added at DCYF over the next two years.
Our members played an active role in ensuring this bill’s passage and we are holding a celebration with food and cake on June 25 at 6 p.m. All members are welcomed and encouraged to attend.
Strafford County Secures Contract
Since declaring impasse in December 2018, Strafford County Corrections recently signed a one-year contract extension in March 2019 that provided for pay raises as well as a significant reduction in employee health insurance costs. The bargaining unit successfully managed a comprehensive contract campaign that included an employee rally and an aggressive membership drive. This bargaining unit has reached 100% membership. To read the contract in full, click here.
SEA Wins Premium Holiday Pay for Members
In a major win for SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members, an arbitrator has ruled that the state improperly limited premium pay for certain state employees. The arbitration was held last week and the decision delivered Tuesday, a very quick turnaround time.
“This decision affirms what our legal department believed all along,” said SEA President Rich Gulla. “I’m proud of their efforts as well as those of our members who came forward and took part in the arbitration.”
The Executive Branch contract previously included language that limited premium pay that a flex or alternatively scheduled employee could make on holidays. Employees working a 37.5-hour schedule were limited to 7.5 hours of premium pay on a holiday, and employees working a 40-hour schedule were limited to 8 hours. For example, if an employee works a 40-hour week, 10 hours per day, 4 days a week, and worked on a holiday, then he or she would have been paid eight hours premium pay, two hours straight time.
During the last round of collective bargaining, the state proposed removing the language that limited overtime. With the language removed, our legal department argued that there was no longer a limitation, and affected employees should be paid premium pay for all hours worked on a holiday. The state refused, arguing that was not the intent, and the SEA filed a grievance and brought the matter to arbitration.
The arbitrator agreed with the SEA’s position and found the contract is clear on the matter. You can find the arbitrator’s decision here.
“This is a great decision that will impact a lot of our members, and it’s a great example of what can happen when workers stand up and assert their rights,” Gulla said.
Merrimack County Secures Contract
On March 2019, the Merrimack County Corrections Bargaining Team ended a two-year impasse and successfully negotiated a three-year successor contract that will provide for substantial raises over the life of the contract. Merrimack County will now employ the highest paid County Corrections Officers in the State of NH. To read the contract in full, click here.