Professional Development 2021

For those who have already signed up for the May 28th Professional Development Day, the email with your Zoom links and workbooks was sent out today (Friday May 21st), so please check your email.

For those who haven't yet signed up but plan to do so for the May 28th or June 4th sessions, remember, you are now at agency discretion; they can deny your request due to lack of sufficient notice at this point.

However, there is still room, so if you wish to sign up, use this link: 

https://leadernet.aft.org/webform/ar-professional-development-day-2021

 

Governor Announces Return To Office

As we are all aware, the Governor communicated, via email, his desire for State employees to return to the office for at least some portion of the work week.   He has identified two dates for returning to the office:  June 1 for front-facing customer service and July 1 for all others.  This does not mean the end of Telework, the Governor specifically identifies the Interim Telework agreement and states “we will continue with the pre-COVID-19 interim telework guidelines, which allows eligible employees, in the covered bargaining units and others including managers, to work from home up to 50% of the time with manager approval”.   

What strikes us is that Gov Lamont’s return to the office directive appears to be more of a public consumption announcement as opposed to a logical policy position.  He presents his  “let’s plan for our new normal work environment” while unveiling a plan that simply states, let’s get back to 2019.  What he ignored is the obvious conclusion that high-frequency telecommuting should remain as the “new normal”.  It ignores that the telecommuting directives we have been operating under were actually exceedingly successful and far more efficient than the common office structure he wants us to revisit.  Even if we pretend the virus is no longer highly contagious and can no longer lead to serious health consequences, his “going forward” plan should recognize that we accomplished a tremendous amount of positive work-product while telecommuting, while at the same time reducing traffic congestion and lowering our carbon footprint.

That aside, the Telework Interim Agreement that the Governor addresses in his email is outdated at this point.  That agreement was designed as a way of testing Telecommuting; we no longer need to test it, telecommuting has passed the test.  Telecommuting works!!!   We expect that those who were able to telecommute last year will continue to telecommute at least 50% of the tme after July 1.  Many were already  working a hybrid schedule consisting of some in office work combined with telecommuting, such schedules should continue.  A&R and a few other unions will be meeting with the Office of Labor Relations very soon to negotiate the Interim Agreement into a much more relevant document.  Management’s prior assertions that telecommuting was impossible or too complex to manage have been shown to be demonstrably false.  It is our intention and our hope that we will have a better agreement with the Governor on the future of Telework now that all of our employees have proven that it is a success. 

-5/13/21

Final A&R Facebook Contest Ends Wednesday 5/12 8PM

Pandemic Premium Pay

COVID Premium Pay and Other Developing Rumors

As has been widely reported in the press, Governor Lamont has proposed what has been referred to as “combat pay” bonuses for state employees working on the front lines in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.  There has been much speculation, also reflected in the press, regarding the details of how that plan would be enacted, who will be eligible for the payments, and how much those payments will be per employee.  Similarly, there are legislative proposals at the General Assembly which would provide $5 per hour for state workers required to work on-site during the pandemic, and up to $10 per hour for those at specific risk due to the nature of their work (working in congregate settings such as nursing homes, group homes, corrections facilities, and etcetera).  Potential payments referenced in the press run the gamut, from a low of about $500 under the Governor’s plan to a high of up to $20,000 under other proposed legislation.  However, these are mere speculations. The ultimate outcome, of course, is subject to Legislative approval, and that approval does not appear near at hand.  Further, any bill under consideration by the General Assembly must navigate the legislative process and therefore is subject to change.  To be certain, this is a developing narrative.  To give some perspective, in Massachusetts last year, some front-line health care workers received “hazard pay’' bonuses of $500 related to the coronavirus pandemic.

To be clear, Governor Lamont’s plan does not specify which employees will qualify for pandemic Premium Pay, nor does it specify the amount of pandemic Premium Pay qualifying employees will receive.  While we appreciate the general sentiment of the Governor’s proposal as presented in his Plan for the American Rescue Plan Act, the proposal itself consists of a mere two sentences: “The Governor recommends $10 million for premium pay for front line state employees. This funding will provide financial recognition for the essential workers who gave us security during the COVID-19 pandemic”.  The state employee unions have collectively been seeking to compensate those employees who put themselves in harm’s way to carry out the onsite mission of the state throughout the pandemic.  We support the idea of premium pay for all employees, in both the public and private sectors.  This issue has been simmering “behind the scenes” throughout the course of the pandemic. We will continue to seek and support pandemic premium payments.  A&R’s position is that there should be funds made available and those funds should be distributed equitably to all state employees who were designated level one COVID essential and required to report onsite at work during the pandemic.

 

-5/4/21

HEP News: Complete the Diabetes Prevention Program & Earn $200

The Health Enhancement Program is sponsoring a diabetes prevention program.  Successful completion of the 12 month program can earn you a $200 reward.  Fellow union member Angie Russo (Department of Banking) can be seen in a brief video below describing the benefits of the program.

From the HEP program:

Did you know over 88 million Americans have prediabetes - and many don't even know it? The Digital Diabetes Prevention Program is being offered to state health plan members to help enact healthy habits and lifestyle changes to prevent the onset of diabetes. The program is run by the same group that administers the Health Enhancement Program (HEP).

This is a 12-month program focused on improving lifestyle behaviors to reduce diabetes risk. The program brings powerful education and motivating support right to your computer, smartphone or tablet. Successful completion of the program can now earn you a $200 reward!
 

To enroll, call the Health Enhancement Program
(HEP) at (877) 232-2674