Updates 12/8/21

First, a "thank you" to our amazing Social Committee and all of our volunteers led by co-chairs Rhonda Salvatore and Donna LoCurto for a fantastic drive-thru Holiday Party.  It is not easy getting 500 cars thru a parking lot in 5hrs but we think it went well and we hope everyone enjoyed!  We had several raffles and a guessing game, our winners were:

Catherine Shepherd-DCF won the 65" TV for guessing the 301 ornaments on the Christmas tree
Catherine Leaper-DSS won the Breakfast Basket
Karen Rozum-DOT won the Comfort Basket
Lisa Burgio-DMV won the Wine Basket
Carole Levesque-DRS won the Italian Basket
Lisa Lewis-DCP won the Lottery Frame
Silvia Saenz-DRS won the Men's Basket
Barbara Giansanti- DOC  won the Wine Chiller

Next, we are still working with the State to settle a wage package for our successor contract.  This has now been on-going for a year and while both sides are finding these discussions exceedingly lengthy, we are not yet on common ground.  A&R has not declared our negotiations to be at impasse yet but we are running low on tolerance at this point.

Along with this, here are a few of contractual reminders: first, please do not forget to use your remaining Personal Leave by December 31st.  There is no extension nor is there carry-over.  If you do not use your PL time by December 31st it is lost and there is nothing we can do to get it back for you. 

Also, while we believe our contract calls for TopStepPayments to be paid on time in January 2022, the State does not seem to agree and most likely will not be paying them until we finalize our successor agreement.  We have filed the grievance on this issue already. 

Lastly, a reminder that HEP requirements need to be completed by December 31.  There is latitude to become compliant before being removed from HEP, however, make sure you schedule any necessary appointments and anyone with a "chronic condition" who does not complete their requirements by 12/31/21 will not be eligible to collet the $100 payment.

And of course, don't forget to sign up for Telework via the State's Telework Request portal.

Telework Applications for the period commencing January 1, 2022

A Couple of Quick Items Before Telework:

1) We are aware that some people may not have received a payroll deposit and some have possibly received more than one payroll deposit on 12/2/21, we are unclear on the extent of the non-payments or overpayments nor do we have any agreement on the payment/payback procedures; please do not sign any payback agreement until we appropriately addressed the issue with the State.  If you are requested to make a backpayment, please notify A&R.  Below is an email that has circulated to state employees from the CORE Division of the Comptroller's Office explainging the situation:

Core-CT Daily Mail
December 2, 2021

Payroll Issue
An error in the data file generating direct deposit amounts for state employee payroll resulted in some employees seeing duplicate payment amounts in their bank accounts. A corrected file was issued yesterday before state payroll posted, and employees should have access to their funds today.

While payroll funds are not available until Thursday, some banks display deposits a day early.   Users of those banks, and others, may see transaction activity showing duplicate deposits, followed by offsetting debits. The correct deposit amount should ultimately appear as normal at some point before the end of business today.

The correction to the data error was sent to every necessary financial institution, but we want to emphasize that each bank has their own internal processes and may reflect changes differently, or at different times today. Every bank should ultimately process the correct payments today.

Employees should give their banks some time to correct the account displays, but if any errors or anomalies appear as of this afternoon, employees should contact their bank directly. If the bank is unable to remedy the issue, employees can contact the Office of the State Comptroller by phone at 860 702-3471, or by email at osc.payroll@ct.gov.

We apologize to any affected employees for the confusion and inconvenience but want to stress that everyone will receive their correct direct deposit amounts, as they would for any other pay cycle. We are investigating the root cause of the error and will engage in a thorough review to make sure that any possible anomalies are addressed, and the issue will be resolved for future pay cycles.
 


2) Tomorrow is the A&R Drive Thru Holiday Party, for those who have registered to attend, please don't forget that we also run a ToyDrive/Food Drive for the United Labor Agency and if you donate an unwrapped toy/food, you will get an extra "guess" in the game for the 65" TV.

Telework Reminder:

The application portal for telework during the period commencing January 1, 2022 has been established by the state.  While some agencies have already notified their employees that the new portal has been established and applications can be submitted, other agencies have lagged behind somewhat, leaving their employees in the dark.  Here is the link to the application portal:
https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=-nyLEd2juUiwJjH_abtzi9IcHp9ll7JBrnjCSfaJhilUQjVKQzlFVlAwOTM5WllDUUtRSklYU1kxRS4u

And here is a link to a jointly issued statement to all Executive Branch Employees from the SEBAC Chief Negotiator and the Undersecretary for Labor Relations addressing the application process.  We strongly recommend reviewing the Joint Statement, as it addresses many of the questions regarding telecommuting.  We echo the sentiments conveyed in the Joint Statement that all employees interested in telework during the period commencing January 1, 2022 should apply as expeditiously as possible:
Joint Statement on Telework Applications for Period Commencing January 1, 2022

Here is a link to the full telework agreement.  Please note that section 4.10 will be determined via arbitration award and items 4.3, 4.4, & 4.5 establish the basic parameters for establishing reasonable requests.  There is no "cap" on the amount of Telework available, it should be guided by your duties and operational need, lastly, there is no list of "ineligible" job titles, however, Hazardous Duty employees and those who were considered Level1 Constant during the pandemic (meaning they couldn't telework during the emergency period of the pandemic) are at the complete discretion of the agency for their telework requests:
Full Telework Agreement

In the event you need to file an appeal, utilize this email address:
telework@andr.org

posted 12/1/21

Comptroller's Memo - Changes to Retirement Rules Effective July 1, 2022

Below is a link to an informative memo from the Comptroller's Retirement Services Division explaining the changes that will become effective July 1, 2022 as a result of the 2017 & 2011 SEBAC Agreements previously ratified by the membership in those years.  The Comptroller's memo discusses the changes in three broad categories: retirement age, retiree cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), and retiree healthcare rules changes.  As most members are already aware, these changes are somewhat complex.  Intended to provide instruction to Human Resource and Payroll Officers, the memo is a good source for all state employees in the SERS (State Employees Retirement System).

Link:
Retirement Services Division Memorandum 2021-03

Telework Update 11/24/21

By now, all State Employees should have received an email notification from their Agency regarding the next phase of Telework which begins on January 1, 2022 and runs through July 1, 2022.  This represents another step  towards a permanent Telework plan.  This plan will stand as the main guidance document going forward and allows for employees to request any level of telework they deem reasonable/operational for them to telework.  As of right now, there is no cap on the amount of Telework allowed (an arbitrator will decide what the limits on Telework will be and there should be a decision by the end of December 2021).  There are only 2 groups of employees that are restricted on telework: Hazardous Duty and those who were deemed Level 1 Constant and were required to report to work daily during the pandemic. It is important to note that Hazardous Duty employees and those deemed Level 1 Constant during the pandemic are allowed to telework but can be denied due to the operational nature of their duties.

It is recommended that employees submit their Telework schedules early utilizing the DAS web portal

The full Telework agreement is outlined here...provisions 4.3, 4.4 and 4.5 are the key provisions for understanding if your Telework request is reasonable and should therefore be accepted.

If your Telework application is denied, please submit any written correspondance of the denial to this email address:  telework@andr.org.  Please include in the body of the email: your name, contact information, employee id.  

ALSO:

Today is the last day to sign up for the A&R Holiday Party (the drive-thru holiday party is on Friday December 3rd and by contract everyone in A&R gets a half-day off to attend this holiday function)...if you have not already signed up, registration will be closed off so do it today using this link and pay by credit/debit card online.

Quick Updates

3 Quick Updates 11/15/21:

Telework: we continue to pursue a final telework plan and we have come to agreement with the State on most of the issues related to telework.  The main issue remaining relates to the "amount" of telework that will be allowed per week.  That issue (unfortunately) had to go to an arbitrator for a decision.  We have completed the arbitration and submitted our "Last Best Offers" and expect a decision from the arbitrator in mid/late December.  Unfortunately when items go to an arbitrator there is no "middle ground", we will either get the Union's plan or the State's plan.

Wage Negotiations:  the Unions have begun negotiating as a coalition with the State over the wage package for our next contract.  The State finally offered a reasonable wage package for us to consider.  The State's offer was not something we would accept but for the first time in this negotiations it was something that we could at least deem to be a serious offer.  Late last week the Unions made a counter-offer back to the State...so we are starting to see some daylight on the wage negotiations.  We are still at the table with the State on language issues in our contract and we continue to have quality discussions around those issues.

Holiday Party:  We are in the last few days to sign up for the A&R Drive Thru Holiday Party!  Remember, you do have a half-day to attend a Holiday Party each year and this year A&R will again be offering a drive-thru party at the Aquaturf with a great meal, prizes, gifts, and games!  If you haven't signed up, the deadline is set for Wednesday November 17!!!  You can sign up on line by following this link.

Separations to begin Tuesday Oct 12. SEBAC Negotiated Agreement Option Will Be Available

If you are in non-compliance with the Governor's Executive Order (vax or testing mandate), we urge you to speak with a Union steward! Separations appear imminent.

Separations from state service are to commence on Tuesday, October 12th.  The state's intent is to place any employee who fails to demonstrate compliance with Executive Order 13G on administrative leave, without pay or benefits.

Under an agreement negotiated by A&R along with the other unions of SEBAC, if you are in non-compliance, you can opt to preserve your specific position for 45 days.  If within the 45 day period you come into compliance, you may return to your position.  This 45 day return proviso cannot be accessed under the A&R contract.  In some respects it can be viewed as a last, good, option, which is why the coalition has negotiated on your behalf to make this option available to you. However, be aware that 30 days into the separation the affected person faces a decision, and their choice at that point may jeopardize their right of return under the Agreement.

The Agreement is somewhat complex.  It is important you read and understand the Agreement  before deciding whether or not to sign it.  Speak to a Union steward.

Read the SEBAC AGREEMENT.

COSTS of TESTS
The Agreement establishes that costs associated with testing shall be borne by the state for the duration of the Emergency Declaration.  Also, members subject to testing do not need to test while on vacation (or other extended leave), but must have proof of negative test taken no more than 72 hours prior to return.

SEPARATIONS
At the time the state informs affected members they are being separated from state service, the state will offer the person the option to avail themselves of the SEBAC Agreement. You can choose not to avail yourself of the Agreement, in which case the 45 day right of return will not be available to you. 

You do have the right under the A&R contract to dispute the separation.  We will represent your interests under our contract and argue the facts of your case through the grievance process.  Please be aware that if you are found to be in direct violation of the Executive Order, your rights at that point may become very limited.  A clear refusal to abide the testing or vaccine mandate likely represents just cause for discipline.  It is highly unlikely an arbitrator will reinstate an  employee terminated for such a refusal.

SPEAK WITH A UNION STEWARD!

To be certain, if you are not in compliance with the EO on Tuesday, you can expect to be immediately placed on unpaid leave.

We are making the following recommendations:

  • Consider becoming compliant before Tuesday
    • by having available on Tuesday morning proof of vaccination of 1st shot, or;
    • by having available Tuesday morning proof of COVID test results
  • If approached by management for non-compliance you should immediately ask for union representation
  • SPEAK WITH A UNION STEWARD BEFOREHAND
  • We will explain options available to you if facing separation

-posted 10/8
-updated 10/9