On Independence Day, let’s honor public service
Tomorrow is Independence Day, and many SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members will be serving their state by reporting to work. They’re the ones who are there to make sure everything keeps working, even when most people have the day off from work.
Patriotism comes in many forms. For those who have the day off, I hope you enjoy your time and celebrate with friends and family, but I’d encourage you to think of your fellow union members all across the state who’ll be at work today, serving their communities and their state. It’s the work that our members selflessly do that keeps our state running, and I think that’s pretty patriotic.
Please have a safe and fun holiday; know that I deeply appreciate the work that you do.
A letter to state employees from legislative leaders
I read with frustration the governor’s letter explaining his side of the budget process to defend his risky choice to veto a fair and balanced budget. While I can appreciate that the governor signed a continuing resolution to fund state government and has committed to no layoffs of state employees, this is not enough.
The governor made a political choice to side with wealthy corporations over the needs of the citizens of our state, and the rest of us will pay the price. The budget the governor vetoed was a compromise between the legislature and the governor meaning neither side got everything they wanted. Also, the vetoed budget has strong support from the SEA and many stakeholders in the process. This budget provided important funding for enhanced and greatly needed state services, creating hundreds of new positions to help alleviate the chronic and dangerous understaffing which plagues our agencies to better meet the needs of our state and fellow citizens. With his misguided veto, the governor is delaying response to critical needs in our communities. Delays that will hurt our neighbors, friends, and families.
It’s not lost on me that the governor praised dedicated state employees in his letter. This is well-deserved praise, but rings hollow as the governor attempts to force concessions from you in collective bargaining. These concessions include instituting a “fail first” prescription drug policy. Does that make you feel valued and respected? If the governor truly wants to appreciate you he can start with a fair contract that helps the state attract and keep great workers like you. Simply saying “you’re the best” is shameless pandering.
I have had conversations with legislative leaders who want to provide context for the budget story the governor is telling. Late yesterday, those leaders sent me a letter and I have decided to share it – you deserve the full story and the opportunity to draw your own conclusions. Please read the letter here.
STATE HOUSE UPDATE
It’s not often that we get to celebrate a win as monumental as the passage of SB 6, the child protection bill. Celebrating that win – which will add 77 positions at DCYF over the coming years – was what drew dozens to the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 office on June 25. Joining the celebration were more than 20 SEA members from across the state; DHHS Commissioner Jeff Meyers, DHHS Associate Commissioner Chris Tappan; DCYF Director Joe Ribsam; and State Senators Donna Soucy, Dan Feltes, and Jon Morgan, the prime sponsor of SB 6.
The bill was the result of years of work – organizing, lobbying, and activism – that exemplify everything unions exist to do.
“Workers at DCYF have one of the most challenging and important jobs in state service – protecting our children. And yet you’ve found the time to attend meetings, take part in conference calls, contact legislators, and testify at the State House,” said SEA President Rich Gulla. “Your energy and determination are inspiring and essential, and we thank you.”
There were acknowledgments that this is just another step in the process. Indeed, simply adding positions isn’t going to fix a broken system. But it’s a big step in the right direction.
“Retention really is key, and I think that’s the next thing,” said Joanne Coles, a member at DCYF who spoke at the event and testified in support of the bill. “We have a bunch of positions that just got filled, I think, in every district office. We have some really good momentum to work towards improving culture in the offices and working on better self-care of us individually. I think that continued emphasis and positivity – along with the added resources – is going to allow us to (retain staff).”
We salute everyone who has pushed for positive change in DCYF over the past several years. We promise to be by your side as we move forward.
Mohegan Sun bus trip tickets now on sale
You’re invited to join us for an all-day excursion to Mohegan Sun in Connecticut on Saturday, Sept. 28. The trip, which is sponsored by the Social Activities Committee, is a great deal at $35 per person. That covers round-trip transportation (with six hours on site), plus a $15 meal voucher and a $15 betting voucher. This trip is a benefit for SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members, but you can bring guests with you. You can get your tickets here.