House Committee Critical of Liquor Commission

A special House committee set up to investigate the state’s Liquor Commission released its final report Tuesday, which included several recommendations for legislative changes to the agency, most notably shifting from three to one commissioner.

In addition to allegations of illegal lobbying, mismanagement and the disappearance of more than $100,000 worth of wine, the House committee also addressed complaints that part-time liquor store workers weren’t being treated fairly.

Committee members were provided a copy of a memo that Liquor Commission Human Resources Manager Mathews wrote to all Commission employees which said the Commission was not going to follow the requirements of the collective bargaining agreement for paying part-time employees who worked on Sundays or holidays because they are considered temporary employees. However, RSA-98:A-1 defines a Temporary Employee as “an appointment made to fill a temporary position on a full-time basis for the period of appointment.” A part time employee is defined as an employee who works “less than 37-1/2 hours work in a normal calendar week or calling for less than 40 hours work in a normal calendar week with respect to positions for which 40 hours are customarily required.”

Though the SEA and Liquor Commission have agreed to try to settle the issue through collective bargaining, the SEA has expressed concerns that “that contract issuance and 16 percent spending on Commission operations have not been following the noted belt-tightening practices of other State agencies for the last few years.” According to the report, the Liquor Commission hadn’t responded to the committee on that issue.

SEA President Diana Lacey praised the committee’s work.

“We are grateful the committee, and Chairwoman Lynne Ober, recognized the poor treatment that the liquor store retail workers have been experiencing,” Lacey said. “They are such an important part of the commission’s work and yet are horribly undervalued; it’s just plain wrong!”

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