Mandatory Vaccination Goes Into Effect

Thursday August 19, Governor Lamont signed Executive Order 13d which requires that all State Employees be vaccinated by September 27.

The Executive Order has several stages to it:

First and foremost is the vaccination aspect by which all employees either:

  1. be fully vaccinated by 9/27/21
  2. have one dose administered by 9/27/21 AND have a 2nd dose scheduled
  3. apply for a medical or religious/spiritual exemption.  These exemption requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and include supporting documentation.  In the case of a medical exemption, this would require a determination from an MD, a PA, or an APRN.

Second, each State Agency shall create a policy which requires employees to either show proof of vaccination or submit to weekly COVID testing.  Agencies are also required to validate and maintain records of the vaccination status of employees (including maintaining records of those who obtain exemptions).

Third, vaccinated individuals must show proof of vaccination status by showing their vaccination card, a photo of the card, Immunization Records, or other health care records validating their vaccination status.  It is explicitly stated that self-attestation is not acceptable.

Fourth, the EO contemplates enforcement of the EO.  For State Employees, unvaccinated employees will not be allowed on the premises of a State Agency.  While the EO does not state it directly, b/c each agency is required to create a policy regarding vaccination, any employee who violates the policy could be subject to "just cause" for discipline.

That is the Executive Order from the Governor, but that is not the end of the story.  Now that the EO is out and clearly it is a change in working conditions, we can negotiate the impact of this. Since this is a statewide mandate for all executive branch agencies, most likely, the state employee unions will negotiate collectively with the State.

 

 

Potential Vaccine Mandate

We want to set the record straight:  It has been publicly reported that Governor Lamont is in talks with labor representatives regarding mandating COVID vaccinations for state employees.  To be absolutely clear, A&R has not been involved in any such talks with the Administration on any level.  Nor are we aware of such talks at SEBAC. We don’t mean to refute the Governor's statements that talks have been held.  However, we must go on record here:  A&R has not been approached and no such talks have occurred.  We are aware that Executive Order 13B was signed and went into effect earlier this month mandating vaccinations for long-term care facility staff.  We are also aware that UCONN implemented a similar mandate for its employees this week.  Clearly the subject has come to our attention, but no discussions have taken place with our employer, nor have we discussed an impending vaccination mandate.

We view any potential employee vaccination mandate a matter that must be the subject of negotiations.  We consider this potential mandate a change in our working conditions, and as such our employer MUST negotiate the impact of any such changes with our union.  We will demand that the state honor its fundamental obligation to negotiate with the union on issues such as rules for compliance, exemptions to be allowed, timeframes for implementation, how the privacy of health records will be ensured, and other conditions of our employment, including regular COVID testing as an alternative to vaccination for those wishing to remain unvaccinated.  A&R’s goals include securing reasonable and fair working conditions and safety for all workers.

-posted 8/18/21

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