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

Vax Mandate - a respite

As reported in the CT Mirror, Governor Lamont has opted against immediately suspending employees not in compliance with his vax mandate.  In raw numbers, it is reported that as of Tuesday, of the 32,000 state employees under the Connecticut vax mandate, approximately 23,600 (78%) were vaccinated, 5,500 (18%) had opted for weekly testing, and about 1,200 (4%) had yet to provide documentation of any sort.  Approximately 96% of the workforce is in compliance via testing or vaccination.  Read the entire story at  CTMirror.  We note the Governor's leniency in not suspending non-compliant individuals.  We also note the high rate of compliance of the workforce and its impact on health and safety.

We are still advising members to comply with the order:

  • If you submitted records indicating you are fully vaccinated, you are all set.
  • If you submitted records indicating you have had the first dose of a two dose regimen, you must submit proof of second dose no later than 3 days after the second dose is due (generally 21 days after the first dose).
    • in the interim period you do not need to submit test results
    • however, if you do not provide proof of second dose within 3 days of when it is due, you must at that point submit weekly test results.
  • If you submitted test results, you must continue to submit test results weekly.
  • If you have not complied with the order, we advise that you do so.  Despite this apparent respite, those who fail to comply risk separation from state service; action can be taken against you at any time.  If you receive such notice, contact the union immediately so that we can best represent your interests.

- posted 10/6

2021 Holiday Party Registration is Open

The A&R Holiday Party registration has begun!  We had hoped to have an in-person celebration at the AquaTurf this year, but unfortunately, it isn't going to work out that way...so we will again hold a Drive-Thru Holiday Party at the Aquaturf on Friday December 3rd!

This year will be very similar to last year: games, prizes, gifts, hot cocoa and of course a nice meal from the AquaTurf!

The cost is $20/person.
There will be 3 "waves" of attendees so we can reduce the wait time (an 11:30 wave, a 12:30 wave, and a 1:30 wave).
A choice of registration methods : 

We will notify everyone by mail of their registration status.

Remember, by contract, you get a half-day of LPRTY time by contract so you do not need to use PL or Vacation time to attend.