Guidance on Schools, Power Outages, & Travel

3 Items of Popular Interest: How to handle Back-to-School, the power outage from Storm Isaias last week, and the guidelines for out of state travel:

Power Outages From Storm Isaias (August 7):
A new Override Reason Code (ORC) has been created for use when an employee who has been teleworking during the COVID period is unable to do so, because of power/connectivity issues at the telework site.  The employee is responsible for contacting the supervisor to determine if the standard workplace can accommodate the employee’s coming to work while the power/connectivity issues persist, in light of current COVID guidelines for facilities.  For any day that the workplace cannot accommodate the employee’s reporting to the regular state worksite, the employee will be allowed paid leave in accordance with CGS 5-248(a).  The new Override Reason Code is PCC19 and is effective dated July 31, 2020.  The new ORC should be used in conjunction the Time Reporting Code (TRC) LOPD.

Back-to-Schools (August 10):
As the 2020-2021 school year approaches, employees are being informed that school districts in which their children are enrolled are offering multiple options, including returning to full-time in-school, remote learning, or a hybrid of in-school and remote learning methods; many are allowing families to select the method of learning they prefer.  As employees seek to address specific family situations, they may come forward to request a variety of scheduling options, including extended telework. How do we handle these various circumstances?  

Consideration of telework or schedule modifications that coincide with the academic needs of the child are made at the agency level on a case-by-case basis.  Decisions should be based on the organizational needs of the agency/agency operations, the agency’s approved re-opening plan, and the ability of the employee to remain
productive, including the employee’s level designation.   Employees should be encouraged to make such special requests as soon as possible, so that management may respond timely.

Out of State Travel (August 12)
An employee has returned to Connecticut after spending more than 24 hours in a state that is on the list of affected states. While the employee is quarantining, that state is removed from the list. Must the employee complete the required quarantine period, or can they return to work as of the date that state is removed from the list?
 
The employee must complete the quarantine period. If the employee is able to work remotely, the employee should work remotely; if not, the employee must code the absence in accordance with this guidance.

On June 24, 2020 Governor Lamont announced a travel advisory that individuals traveling from states with significant community spread of COVID-19 self-quarantine for 14 days from the time of last contact with the identified state. Many employees will continue to telework, so for those employees, resuming work after travel to an identified state does not involve return to the workplace. However, for those employees who must return to the workplace following travel to an identified state, the agency and the employee must recognize that additional time away from work will be necessary due to this reason. If paid leave under 5-248(a) has not been exhausted, then the employee may utilize that entitlement. Otherwise, leave accruals will need to be used or the employee risks being placed on an unpaid leave of absence. See Guidance under Level B.

The CDC recommends all nonessential international travel should be avoided.  Employees who travel outside of the U.S. must self-monitor at home for 14 days following their return. Many employees will continue to telework, so for those employees, resuming work after travel does not involve return to the workplace. However, for those employees who must return to the workplace, the agency and the employee must recognize that additional time away from work will be necessary due to this reason. If paid leave under 5-248(a) has not been exhausted,
then the employee may utilize that entitlement. Otherwise, leave accruals will need to be used or the employee risks being placed on an unpaid leave of absence. See Guidance under Level B.

 

Aftermath of Yesterday's Storm

If you are a teleworker today and you are unable to work from home b/c you don't have power at home, please contact your supervisor before simply going into the office.  Most agencies do NOT want hordes of people descending upon the building on a single day.  If your supervisor gives you the green light to come into the office, then feel free to do so.  If you contact your supervisor then you should be considered "on-the-clock" until you get a determination.   Also, (although untested), we believe travel time to the agency would count as time worked.  If you wish to use a PL/Vac time, you

A&R Picnic - Social Committee Update 7/17/2020

The Pandemic Picnic is sold out for 9/4 and 9/11

The unfortunate news is that all Social Committee events have been canceled through November 2020...this means no Maneeley's picnic, no Red Sox or Yankees games, no Christmas Spectacular, no Foxwoods, no events at all through November 2020...we are still leaving the door open for our annual Holiday Party at the Aqua Turf; we have not yet canceled this event.

So We Got Creative:

Since we couldn't hold our Lake Compounce trip nor our Maneeley's picnic, we put our heads together and worked out a way to hold a summer picnic anyway...so here is our plan:  we will be hosting a "picnic" of sorts in the parking lot of the A&R Office.  It is not the traditional gathering, but rather a "stay-in your car, drive through" picnic.  We will still have food, games, gifts, and prizes for all who attend.  This event is only open to active A&R members. 

This will be different than any picnic we have had before, but we think we can pull this off safely and still have some fun. The good part, everyone still has their LPRTY time available (the half-day for a summer picnic in our contract page 90), so here is your chance to use that time.  The event/s will be held on two consecutive Fridays: Sept 4 and Sept 11 (you choose 1 day) and we are limited to 150 people on each date.  The cost is $10 per person and we have 2 ways to register:

 

1) Pay by Check:  Fill out this form and mail the form and check as indicated
2) Pay by Credit Card: Register online and we will contact you for your credit card info (you MUST leave your phone number so our office staff can call you and take your credit card info over the phone)...don't call us, we will contact you for the c.c. info.

THERE ARE NO WALK-IN REGISTRATIONS...sorry, but, well, COVID.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS FRIDAY AUGUST 28th

Recently Accreted Titles

Over the past several months several job Classifications in the "managerial" (MP) pay plans have gone through the lengthy process of joining our union.  If you are in one of these titles, you know the effort and time it took to accomplish that task.  Endless hearings at the State Board of Labor Relations, a determination that your job titles were eligible to be in A&R, then unionization votes - in each case unanimously in favor of joining A&R.

Sundry Items - 7/15/2020

Paychecks:

  • Congratulations everyone, we made an agreement with the State in 2017 which "backloaded" our current contract with consecutive 3.5% General Wage Increases and I am happy to report that we have now received both of those 3.5% GWIs.  The most recent GWI was effective on 6/19/2020 and will appear in your 7/16/2020 paycheck.  Step Increases and TopStepPayments will be made in January 2021.
  • Also, many people will start to see the end of their 3% contribution to the Retiree Healthcare Trust Fund (also referred to as OPEB or RHTF).  Those who were hired between 7/1/2005 and 7/1/2009 began making contributions on 7/1/2010 (roughly, not exactly on that date).  This means the 10 years of contributions has expired (roughly) and the 3% payments will cease in this timeframe.  Those hired prior to 7/1/2005 did not start making payments until 7/1/2013 (roughly), so there are still 3 years (roughly) of payments remaining for this cohort.

HEP Compliance Requirements:

  • HEP compliance requirements for 2020 have been suspended but not necessarily indefinitely. 
  • Compliance requirements may be modified in the future
  • We will provide updates as they develop

Health Insurance Changes:

  • The Healthcare Open Enrollment period has been delayed to September, 2020 and the transition of all employees to Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield is delayed to October 1, 2020
  • The delayed transition means that all employees, retirees and dependents will remain in the plan and with the carrier that they currently have -  with no changes - until October 1, 2020.  There will also be no change to medical/prescription or dental rates until that time.  Any open enrollment events previously scheduled for in person or online will be rescheduled.
  • Increased annual costs to the plans (if any - plan costs fluctuate year-to-year) will be borne over 9 months (rather than 12) starting October 1st.
  • The transition from UnitedHealthcare to Anthem BC/BS will include a new, "less expensive" plan to choose from as well.  More details on the new plan are forthcoming.

Accretions

  • For those titles accreted into A&R after May, 2019 (DOI, DOB, DOL, DOT) we are continuing the negotiations process. Clearly the COVID crisis halted normal routines, but we are now back to negotiating with the State.

Kronos:

  • Although we are still pushing against Kronos, DCF has decided to forge forward with this expensive (and silly and unnecessary) time-tracking system   Right now, only 4 agencies (DCF, DESPP, DVA, DOC) are planning to deploy this system.  DCF will launch on 7/17 while the other 3 agencies will deploy in October/November.  We are still working to limit the impact of Kronos to the membership and the SEBAC unions have sent a Cease and Desist demand to the State.  We will keep everyone informed of developments.

Mandatory COVID 19 Testing:

In the interests of safety, the state is implementing a limited mandatory COVID-19 testing program.  The initial focus is on agencies with direct care/custody responsibilities.  In a nutshell, testing can be required.  If an employee tests positive, they shall be placed on mandatory paid leave for 14 days.  An employee refusing testing shall be immediately placed on unpaid leave.
Click this link to see the two page detailed workplace agreement.

Joint Labor Management Principles Regarding COVID-19 Return to the Workplace

Agencies are slowly starting to bring employees back into the offices.  We recognize that the mission of our employer, to serve the needs of the citizens of Connecticut, must go on.  As employees, we insist that the employer provides us with a safe work environment.  Via SEBAC, the state worked with labor to develop principles regarding COVID-19 and returning to the workplace.  Foremost is the principle of Safety First.  It is the first principle listed.  The second principle listed is Telecommuting First (there are 18 items listed).  Agency staffing needs should preferably be met through volunteerism.  If staffing needs cannot be met by volunteerism, seniority shall be a controlling factor, should that become necessary.   The document also addresses social distancing guidelines, personal protective equipment, office suitability, and a variety of other topics related to workplace safety.  Remember this: Safety Firs!.  Telework First!
Click this link to see the two page Labor/Management Principles Regarding COVID-19 Return to the Workplace.   

 

 

 

 

 

Rep Fishbein, Do The Right Thing, Step Down

Legislator Craig Fishbein, who represents Wallingford/Cheshire sent out a retweet this weekend that read:

"if you aren't setting fire to buildings...THEN YOU AIN"T BLACK". 

He has apologized for the insensitivity of the tweet, however, we are already familiar with Rep Fishbein.   His choice of which tweets he deems relevant doesn't surprise us.   We have trouble respecting any politician with such recurring failures of maturity and judgment.   In addition to having a fondness for bigoted tweets, he is also anti-union as he has filed multiple suits against unions in this state.   We knew his thoughts on unions, now we know his thoughts on race.  We don't know what else he is "anti-", but we do know that this guy should not be accepted by his colleagues in the Capitol.  To allow him to continue to be involved in crafting legislation on issues of justice and equality is an insult to the public and a disservice to the residents of Wallingford/Cheshire. 

Representative Fishbein should step down; he clearly doesn't represent, respect, or understand a large population of people in his district and has brought shame to the position he holds. 

There is a petition asking for his removal if you wish to send a message to Rep Fishbein.

Representative Fishbein, here is your class on sensitivity training and we can only hope you understand this (everyone should watch this tho...it is fantastic)...https://youtu.be/mXLS2IzZSdg