Thank you all for doing such a remarkable job in these trying circumstances for our state. Please know that all of us at the SEA are incredibly grateful to you for your flexibility and professionalism in the face of uncertainty. Today Gov. Sununu announced a new leave policy consistent with the federal Families First Corona Virus Response Act to support employees balancing family obligations, health care concerns, and child support needs, effective for the pay period starting March 13. The plan allows for two weeks of emergency paid sick leave for full-time and part-time employees. You will be paid at 100% of your pay if you are sick, and up to two thirds of your pay if you are caring for another. Regarding employees with children experiencing school closures or interruption of child care, the governor clarified state employees will have twelve weeks of job-protected leave. The first two weeks of this leave may require use of accrued time in order to maintain income continuation; the remaining ten weeks of this leave will be paid at two thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay. These are positive updates and the SEA is working on drafting a detailed explanation, which we will send to you soon.
Additionally, the state is allowing for a negative sick leave balance, which is an extra leave pool for employees to supplement their normal leave balances or in lieu of. More information on this will be forthcoming as well.
It is important to note that the contract is still in effect, and the aforementioned policies are not reducing benefits, but are rather adding to them. These policies are not in conflict with the collective bargaining agreement, and in fact you may use your contractual leave benefits in concert with these newly adopted policies.
Finally, we are working furiously to address the following situations with the State:
- We have identified the agencies that are still lagging in implementing a work from home adjustment for employees whose jobs can be done remotely and/or agencies that are not properly following social distancing guidelines as set forth from the CDC
- Liquor store employees need to be provided with an alternative means of reducing contact between customers and staff. The state needs to implement an effective curbside pick policy immediately. Curbside pick up is consistent with the mandate that private establishments of food and beverage consumption are being asked to follow.
- The workload capacity for employees at NH Employment Security is unsustainable. The high number of unemployment claims filed in recent weeks cannot come at the sacrifice of the state employees who work there. They are experiencing burnout and it is incumbent upon the State to address staffing needs.
Please reply to this email if you have specific questions or concerns. We are working tirelessly to make sure that every member issue is addressed in a timely fashion. Again, thank you for your hard work and stay tuned for more detailed explanations on these new policies.
Public pressure on Sununu grows
Nearly three dozen medical professionals and elected officials penned an open letter to Gov. Sununu urging him to issue a shelter-in-place order in anticipation of COVID-19 cases. Monday’s letter reads:
The letter also urges the governor to limit liquor stores sales to drive-up pickup, and to close all DMV offices. To read the letter in full, click here.
Update: At Wednesday’s Executive Council meeting, the governor declined to issue such an order.
As our families and communities face the biggest crisis our country has seen in decades, public employees are on the front lines working together to defeat this historic and deadly pandemic. The national teleconference will feature one of our local member leaders– Cindy Perkins! If you have questions about the crisis and how our union is fighting to protect workers, join us tonight at 7pm at (855) 756-7520, please enter access code 57242#
Strafford County Corrections wins contract
Strafford County Corrections bargaining unit will sign their recently negotiated agreement with the Strafford County Commissioners. This momentous occasion caps a battle undertaken over many years by these employees from Chapter 52 to improve their overall work conditions. It will provide employees with health insurance funded entirely by the employer, and offers additional wage incentives. To read more about this victory, click here.
On March 12th the Public Employee Labor Relations board certified that the State Employees’ Association will serve as the exclusive bargaining representative following an election by the supervisors at the Strafford County Sheriff’s Office. This new bargaining unit raises the total number of bargaining units represented by the SEA to three in the county. We look forward to serving as the exclusive representative for our newest union.