A&R Picnic and Other Social Activities

- updated 8/27/21

SOLD OUT!   Both days of the A&R Drive Thru Pandemic Picnic are sold out.  We look forward to seeing you at the picnic.  Good weather will be ours(???)!

Reminder that the A&R Drive Thru Pandemic Picnic is being held on Friday 9/3 and another on 9/10...This year we will again have food, games, prizes, raffles, along with BlueChip Ice Cream...and we have added a raffle for FREE RedSox tickets for anyone coming to the 9/3 Drive Thru Picnic!
If you wear any RedSox gear or A&R gear to the picnic, we will enter you into a raffle to win tickets to Fenway for the game on September 8 against the Rays...so make sure you are available to go to the game on Wednesday 9/8, then wear your RedSox or A&R gear and you will get a chance to win. 

If you wish to attend the picnic on either date (9/3 or 9/10), simply complete and submit this registration form, the cost is $15/person; remember, our contract grants everyone a 1/2 day to attend a summer picnic, so you will not need to charge any time to vacation or PL...also, we will have an area for anyone who wants to "hang-out" so you don't have to drive thru and leave this year. 

Along the lines of social activities: we do have a few RedSox tickets still available for purchase, as well as seats to Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular on 11/6, and we just added a DoYourOwnThing in New York City on Saturday December 4th (the bus drops you off in NYC in the morning and brings you back at the end of the day, great for seeing the tree in Rockefeller Center, some shopping for the holidays, and a nice meal).

~8/13/21

New Telework Stipulated Agreement Effective August 3rd

- updated Aug 3rd to include SEBAC statement and Q&A

(links to agreement and Q&A below)

A new Telework Agreement has been reached and is effective immediately.  The key take-away in the new agreement is that you simply need to email your supervisor if you wish to revert to your pre-July 1 Telework schedule (some exceptions do exist due to operational need, but generally, those who do not work directly with the public can revert back to their pre-July 1 Telework schedule). This re-start period will last for 60 days (ends October 2).

Stipulated Agreement - Telework - Effective August 3rd, 2021

The new agreement comes in two parts: the first part runs for 60 calander days beginning August 3rd, 2021, and provides that employees who had teleworked during the pandemic telework period (beginning around March 2020 and ending July 1, 2021) will revert to the telework schedule worked prior to July 1.  The second part covers the period after the 60 days and ending on December 31, 2021 (basically October/November/December), and provides that eligible employees be allowed to telework 50% of their work hours per pay period.  Requests for telework schedules above 50% can be requested and granted, consistent with job duties and operational needs, subject to the discretion of the agency head, and with the input of the employee's supervisors or managers.  Additionally, if the employee or a member of the employee's household is COVID-fragile, provisions within the agreement allow eligible employees to request authorization to telework in excess of 50%.

We are recommending that members seeking to revert to their pre-July 1 telework schedule simply email their supervisor to indicate that they are returning to their pre-July 1 schedule.  If you, as an eligible employee, are instructed that you cannot revert to your pre-July 1 telework schedule, please inform us immediately.

If you are not permitted to revert to your pre-July 1 telework schedule please email us at telework@andr.org

Below is a link to a statement from SEBAC and a Q&A section regarding stipulated agreement.

https://www.ctstateemployees.org/news-interest/stipulated-agreement-reac...

- posted Aug 2nd

 

 

Updates 7/27

-7/27/21

Telework
The unions of SEBAC filed a suit in Superior Court contesting the Governor's failure to honor the Transitional Telework Agreement that we signed in mid-June 2021.  The Secretary of OPM sent the State into a confusing spiral when she blatantly and intentionally ignored the Transitional Telework Agreement and chose to release guidance on 6/30/21 which completely disregarded the Transitional Telework Agreement.  Our recourse was to file charges at the Labor Board as well as in Superior Court.  While this matter is before the court, the parties are proposing a resolution which would settle the suit.  We see ourselves close to a settlement of the lawsuit, however, we have not come to an agreement just yet.  Since we are engaged in active negotiations, we cannot divulge the discussions, but the revised agreement will in many ways mirror the original Transitional Agreement.  We will announce an update and next steps if/when we come to an agreement.

Contract Negotiations
Negotiations over our successor agreement continue at a somewhat rapid pace.  The parties have reached tentative agreement on several language issues.  Ours is a mature contract, with most issues having been explored and resolved through the years.  However, the parties have found common ground on some issues, with both parties recognizing the benefit of drafting mutually agreeable language.  However, differences remain on some key language issues requiring further negotiations.  Potentially we may require binding arbitration if agreement cannot be reached on those issues.  Formal negotiations over the financial package, including wages and increments, will likely commence in the coming weeks now that we have entered the new fiscal year.

Date of Pension/Healthcare Changes
The Comptroller's Office has released a memo which clarifies that the 2022 Pension COLA/Healthcare changes will apply to those who retire after July 1...meaning: if you retire June 30, 2022 (July 1 retirement date), you will avoid the changes to the Pension COLA and the Retiree Healthcare.  This memo is quite helpful in explaining the changes/impacts of 2022.  A&R will be holding discussions on this topic in the Fall, but this memo is worth reading if you are concerned about the impact of the 2022 changes.

Social Activities
A&R was forced to cancel most of our social activities in 2020 due to the pandemic.  However in 2021 our social committee has been pushing forward to bring these activities back...we started with the Yankees game in July and we have three more events scheduled for this year: the trip to Fenway for a Sox game on 9/8/21 and the trip to New York for the Christmas Spectacular on 11/6/21, as well as the New York City Do Your Own Thing on 12/4/21.  All bus pickups/dropoff locations are now at the A&R Office,  805 Brook St, Rocky Hill.

Our next scheduled event is the 2021 Drive Thru Pandemic Picnic!  This will be similar to last year's drive thru event.  The registration period is now open.  It will again be held in the parking lot at the A&R Office (805 Brook St, Rocky Hill).  We have two dates (9/3/21 and 9/10/21) with a maximum of 150 participants on each date.  We will again have games, food, prizes, music, etc.  This year, if you wish to stick around after you have driven through, please feel free to do so.  The cost is $15.  We will accept credit card payments as well as walk-in payments prior to the event.  For more details, view the flyer/form.

TopStepPayments
The State has determined they will not be paying TopStepPayments until we have a successor agreement in place.  Clearly, our intent in crafting the recently added language in our last contract was that the TSP become part of the annual salary, payable when the Annual Increment would normally be due.  As a result we have filed a grievance for those rare "July Anniversary" employees who did not receive their TSP and will press the grievance for the majority of those people at top step having a January anniversary should the need arise with the beginning 2022.

Hazard Pay: There is a pool of $10 million dedicated to Hazard Pay for State Employees.  This money does not yet have any definition or terms as to who qualifies for it, but the money has been earmarked.  How this pool will be distributed will be determined as the year progresses, but don't expect this to be a large sum of money for any individual.  While we are on the subject of Hazard Pay, keep in mind that COVID cases are on the rise again.  We will continue to monitor for clusters of outbreaks at an agency, but please continue to be vigilante with sanitizing and washing.  It should be noted that the cleaning regime put in place by DPH during the height of the pandemic has been lifted, so take the personal steps necessary to protect and safeguard yourself.

CT Superior Court Legal Filings - Telework

To view the legal filings made in Connecticut Superior Court regarding telework, click on the link below:

SEBAC Injunctive Relief Legal Documents

As everyone is fully aware, the State decided to ignore the Transitional Telework Agreement that they had signed with the Unions just a few weeks earlier.  We are clearly angry with the Governor's Office for their deception on the issue.  The Governor's office has disrespected the labor-management process, and the negotations surrounding it.  We also take note of the ease with which the Governor's Office willingly and deliberatley misled his Commissioners about the intent of the agreement  The administration’s approach to Telework is not only laughable in its blatant disregard for our ability to work outside of the office, but it is also ignorant to the economic value, infrastructure improvements, health benefits, and quality of life enhancements that Telework provides. We understand that Telework has been a tremendous success and A&R will continue to advocate for employee safety as well as maximizing employee free choice.

So while human resource officers and management across the state scrambled to undo the mess created by OLR's intentional misapplication of the Transitional Telework Agreement, A&R, along with the other SEBAC unions, have taken this issue to Superior Court for injunctive relief and demanding that the agreement be enforced as written (and intended).  We have also filed a prohibited practice charge at the State Board of Labor Relations (SBLR - a separate and distinct entity from OLR).  The Transitional Telework Agreement was reflective of the fact that telework works.  The Office of Labor Relations (OLR) and SEBAC entered into that agreement in good faith.  Why OLR decided to dishonor the agreement in such a blatant fashion is perhaps known only in the Governor's Office.  It was a disrespectful act and it was bad faith bargaining by our employer.  Faithless bargaining will not be tolerated. 

We still make the following recommendations to A&R employees:

  • Use this portal to submit your request for Telework.
  • Select and submit a schedule that is reasonable and consistent with your job duties and operational needs; regardless of any agency desire to limit you to only 50% Telework.
  • If your Telework Request is denied, then you can discuss an alternate schedule with your supervisor and file an appeal
  • If you wish to appeal a denial, use this email link and provide us with the below information.
    • Your name
    • Agency, unit, job title
    • Personal phone #
    • Non-state email address
    • Your requested schedule
    • Your denial form from the agency

posted 7/7

Contract Extension Signed

A&R has entered into a contract extension agreement with the State, ensuring the contract remains valid beyond the expiration date (which is today).  Click here to view the Contract Extension.  The extension runs through July 1, 2022, or until a successor contract is approved by the Legislature.  In essence, all aspects of the contract remain in force, the notable exceptions being the prohibition against contracting out (which should not be viewed as unusual), MOU VIII (snowday procedures), and member access to professional development and tuition reimbursement funds.  Please continue to submit tuition/prof development reimbursement requests realizing that we need to negotiate for retroactive funding.  Top step payments are part of the salary and therefore we expect that they will be paid in January as normal.  Future increments will need to be negotiated and therefore will not occur under this contract extension and A&R will pursue retroactivity as appropriate.  

It is too early to tell if we will have a settled contract to bring for a membership vote, or if we will need to seek an arbitration award that is binding on both parties.  Both parties have presented their suggested changes to the contract language and we have held 9 bargaining sessions with the State with no major areas of dispute to report, the possible exception being telecommuting language.  The number of meetings has risen above the threshold needed to declare impasse, but we continue to discuss the proposals as the discussions have been fruitful and honest. Initial financial proposal packages have been exchanged.  The initial proposals are starting points for further discussions.  However, as of today (July 1, 2021) substantive discussions regarding wages have not yet taken place.  So we have four meetings scheduled for July and we will continue to discuss language changes in areas such as service ratings, the reclass process, and Temporary Service in a Higher Class, along with the various other proposals, with both parties preparing to discuss potential financial packages.

7/1/21

Telework and the Big Lie

View the Transitional Telework Agreement

The Office of Policy and Management issued a Clarification of the Transitional Telework Agreement, dated June 28, 2021.  A&R leadership takes issue with several aspects of the so called clarification.  Most notably, the clarification does not accurately reflect the language of the Agreement, nor does it reflect the intent of the parties when the Agreement was entered into.  The discrepancies between what was negotiated, the terms of the Agreement, and the subsequent Clarification memo are so egregious that we consider the Clarification memo to be perpetuating what we are referring to as The Big Lie. 

THE BIG LIE: “The agreement allows for the granting of telework greater than 50% and was intended to address such unique circumstances at the discretion of the agency head that require a higher level of teleworking including but not limited to inadequate social distancing space for agency’s that have temporarily increased staffing for pandemic programmatic responses (i.e. Department of Housing and Department of Labor).”

The above language is quoted directly from the Clarification memo.  However, the above statement in no way is reflective of the explicitly stated intent of the parties when we entered into the Agreement.  The language of the Agreement is quite clear: “employees can apply for more than 50% when consistent with job duties and operational needs, but typically not to exceed 80%.”  Nowhere in the Agreement are references to “unique circumstances” made.  Nor should there be – for at no time did the parties discuss establishing “unique circumstances” as the threshold needed to warrant telecommuting above 50%.  Job duties, along with agency operating needs are the controlling factors to be considered when reviewing a request for more than 50% telework.  That is not just our opinion – it is the language of the Agreement, and worth repeating: “employees can apply for more than 50% when consistent with job duties and operational needs, but typically not to exceed 80%”.

A&R leadership is committed to firmly establishing telecommuting, and will insist on strict adherence to the Agreement.  The unions of SEBAC will be filing an unfair labor practice charge and pursuing injunctive relief from the bad faith bargaining.    

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS TO A&R EMPLOYEES:

  • Use this portal to submit your request for Telework.
  • Select a schedule that is reasonable and consistent with your job duties and operational needs; regardless of any agency desire to limit you to only 50% Telework.
  • Submit the request even if your agency has not distributed the form to you yet.
  • July 1: if your agency is directing you to report to the office on July 1, please do so. If the agency is not saying that, then follow the agreement which states that your current telework schedule stays in place until you receive a determination on your Telework Request. 
  • If your Telework Request is denied, then you can discuss an alternate schedule with your supervisor and file an appeal
  • If you wish to appeal a denial, use this email link and provide us with the below information.
    • Your name
    • Agency, unit, job title
    • Personal phone #
    • Non-state email address
    • Your requested schedule
    • Your denial form from the agency

Keep in mind that, pending a determination on your "new" request, you will continue using your "current" telework arrangement..."current" means your schedule prior to May 13th.  While the appeal process is on-going, your schedule will be whatever you and your supervisor can find agreeable (with a minimum of 50%).

BELOW ARE SOME OF THE MAJOR ISSUES WITH THE Q&A

While we can pick out many other issues within the Q&A, we have focused in on a few of the larger, more egregious misstatements below.   These are not minor discrepancies, these are statements which are inconsistent with the signed agreement.

3. Q:  What employees are covered by the TTA?

A:  The Transition Agreement applies to those employees who have successfully teleworked during that past 14 months.  This includes employees who consistently and steadily participated in some level of telework prior to May 13, 2021 in response to the COVID 19 pandemic. It does not apply to those who were given alternate assignments to get through the pandemic.  It does not apply to those who have had a steady in-office presence prior to the Governor’s May 13 announcement, including those in front-facing customer service operations.  It does not apply to those in hazardous duty covered positions.  Agencies are not obligated under the TTA to afford telework to new employees hired after June 17, 2021; that said, an agency is not precluded from granting telework schedules to new employees for the period specifically covered by the TTA.

The above “Answer”  is misleading, anyone can be granted telework beyond July 1, 2021, except Hazardous Duty employees.

 

4. Q:  The TTA provides that based upon operational need employees can automatically be granted a 50% telework schedule.  What if this does not meet operational need?

A:  Then the schedule should be adjusted consistent with the Agency’s operational need. The operational need cannot simply be based upon a distrust about whether employees are really working.  That is a performance issue and it should be addressed as such.

The above is misleading, for those seeking to continue teleworking, upon request, 50% is mandatory

 

5. Q:  Can employees request to telework more than 50% of the biweekly payperiod?

A:  Agency heads may authorize telework for more than 50% of the biweekly pay period, but typically, the maximum allowable telework time under the TTA is 80% of the biweekly schedule when it is consistent with operational need and due to social distancing requirements that cannot be accommodated in existing work space.  

This is false.  The “up to 80%” threshold is not at all related to social distancing.  It is simply just acceptable and should be granted when consistent with job duties and operationally feasible.  Any request above 50% which is denied is eligible for an appeal to a facilitator.

 

6. Q:  If employees’ productivity has improved while teleworking, and we want to keep that momentum going, can we allow employees to telework 100% of the time?

A:  That option is not sanctioned by the TTA, but such things as available space may require other measures.  Employees can be granted telework for greater than 50% of the biweekly pay period, under specific personal circumstances. For example, the employee may need to provide support to an ill or infirm family member, and the Agency may need that employee to continue to work through the ongoing pandemic period.  Granting an employee’s request to continue teleworking at greater than 50%, in such situations, may be in the interests of the employer and the employee rather than mandating the employee use sick leave and not work.  Such a temporary arrangement would be within the discretion of the Agency Head and must be consistent with job duties, productivity and operational need.

This is the most false statement in this document, >50% is NOT limited to “specific personal circumstances”.  We have no idea, where anyone got this idea by reading the signed agreement, it couldn’t be more inaccurate than it is.   No exceptional circumstances are required to be granted more than 50% Telework.  The accurate standard is that up to 80% should be approved when consistent with job duties and operationally feasible.  Even 80%-100% may be approved but will be atypical.