Membership Meeting Recap

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Following is a full recap of the UHP Membership Meeting of Sept. 14, 2016.

BILL GARRITY, PRESIDENT

Personal time does not require supervisory approval. Remember, when you take personal time, you are not asking your supervisor for the time, you are informing him/her you are taking it. Personal time is “personal.” You are under no obligation to tell your supervisor why you are taking the personal time. NOTE: If you are denied P-time, notify the union immediately. But you still should report to work, and we will grieve the denial.

Negotiations for the next contract are on hold. The last bargaining session was March 31, 2016. Labor Relations has indicated it does not want to start meeting again until November (we suspect they want to wait until after elections). Our chief negotiator, Ben Wenograd, is meeting with Bill and Ivonne to start preparing for the restart of negotiations.

SEBAC’s position on reopening the contract that covers benefits and retirement remains this: No intention of doing so.

No word yet on the SAG ruling from the IRS. It’s our understanding once the ruling comes down, if it in fact allows us to do so, we will have 60 to 90 days to make the irrevocable decision to leave the Alternate Retirement Plan (ARP -- defined contribution plan) and switch into the State Employe Retirement System (SERS -- defined benefit plan). Consult Jessica Van Alstyne in Human Resources to run the numbers. This is a very personal decision. UHP is prohibited from advising its members on this matter.

We have met with AFT CT and AFT National to discuss membership engagement and how to get our members more involved, and improving the flow of information to and from members. Officers’ business cards have their cell phone numbers on them.

IVONNE HAMM, 1ST VICE PRESIDENT

Rundown of the officers’ roles:

  • Recording Secretary (Laura Didden) -- Responsible for elections (officers, delegate) and recording of the minutes. Will need volunteers to help with elections and taking minutes. There are a lot of meetings.
  • Membership Activities (VP Shawn Brown) -- Committee has met once so far to discuss different activities. This month’s bake sale raised almost $500, and there will be another one for Halloween (bakers needed!) This is one way to get more involved and engaged. Other plans include a wine and paint night, Lake Compounce trip, and casino bus trip. The scholarship committee will be looking for volunteers to help read the applications.
  • VP Tier I (Ray Bennettson) and Tier II (Trung Le) -- In charge of the monthly union representative assembly. Reps are responsible for bringing information back to the members, and bringing their concerns to the officers. About 10 new reps have joined since July 1. We are working toward an ultimate goal of having one rep for every 10 members. A list of union reps is posted on our website, www.uhp3837.com.
  • Treasurer (Michelle Proper) -- Michelle has been your treasurer for 10 years. She’s responsible for the finance, investment and compensation committees. If you are interested in seeing the budget and how UHP funds are spent, make an appointment with Michelle and she’ll be happy to go over it with you.
  • Political Activities (VP Robin Washington Addison) -- Important elections are coming. While we do put information on our website that we get from AFT CT and AFT National, UHP does not endorse political candidates. But Robin, Bill and Ivonne have been involved in interviewing candidates seeking endorsement from AFT CT. We are looking for volunteers to help with phone banks and labor walks (see website and Facebook for opportunities).
  • Community Outreach (VP Ed Roden) -- Reach out to the community members and outside organizations and let them know our concerns. Educate them regarding the issues. State elections are very important. Get involved and informed. Those elected to office at the state level are the ones who determine our pay and benefits.
  • 1st VP (Ivonne Hamm) -- Handles internal office organization, supports the President, co-chairs Steward Committee with the Chief Steward (Lucille Miller).

This is OUR union. This is YOUR union.

CHRIS DeFRANCESCO, VP FOR COMMUNICATION

Communications Committee already has a solid group of members, but really everyone who’s a union rep and anyone who’s an engaged UHP member can be an extension of the committee by helping expand the reach of what we’re trying to accomplish.

We’re trying to build a list of folks so we have a person or two in every building, not just in Farmington, but all sites, so we have a conduit of information for all our members, not just those in the main building. If you have friends in any of the other buildings or off-site locations who might be able to help us with that, please put them in touch.

Thank you for going to the website, www.uhp3837.com. It’s a very difficult job, to try to get a hold of 2,600 people and get them to pay attention, to be able to try to mobilize a group when we need to mobilize. One of the tools we have is our website. It’s not an ideal platform as far as modern websites go, but it’s what we have, and I’m working with my committee to try make it something that our members can rely on for timely information. We’re not there yet, we’re getting there. We’re going in the right direction, but I would encourage you to please be patient and bear with us, make a habit of going to the UHP website, bookmark it, try to check in at least once a week, talk it up to your friends. Share links on social media. The more interactive we can be, the better. And that brings us to Facebook. Not everyone is on Facebook, and that’s fine. But a lot of people are, and for those of you who are, please like our page, please share it with all your friends who are members. Whenever we post something on Facebook, please share them with your network of people -- NOT ON WORK TIME, NOT ON YOUR WORK COMPUTER.

We need your help. We can make a newsletter, we can update our website and use Facebook, but if people don’t know where to go for the information, if people aren’t in the habit of looking, there’s only so much we can do. Really the work of the communications committee is to build a network of members who are engaged, who are paying attention, and who can help us reach fellow members who are maybe less so.

Anybody who can just help us get the word out, that would be really helpful, not only for me personally but for the leadership team and really for everybody, because the more engaged members we have, the more powerful we are. There may be times in the future when we’ll need to mobilize, we’ll need to reach people and we’ll need to reach them fast, and move and show a sign of strength.

LUCILLE MILLER, CHIEF STEWARD

Ivonne and I are responsible for collective bargaining and grievances. We assign grievances to our stewards, do steward training, and conduct the steward meetings we hold monthly. Note, there is a difference between union reps and union stewards. The union reps disseminate the information to everyone, get information, and bring it back to us. A steward actually has the authority to represent you, and they are protected as stewards. So as a union rep you don’t want to go in with management and try to defend somebody. When you do have some kind of an issue, if you need union representation, your union representation is in the form of a steward. Call the union office and one of us will make sure you have that representation.

We have 36 active grievances right now. They range from performance issues to discipline to unsatisfactory evaluations for attendance. I think it’s unbelieveable that if someone is sick, that you are disciplined for being sick. They have come up with an arbitrary number that it’s OK to be sick six times, but if you are sick more than six times, that’s when they say that’s unsatisfactory. We want to make sure you let us know immediately if they start to counsel you or reprimand you for being sick. Our contract states that you shall be granted sick time if you are incapacitated for duty. And I think the CDC would have something to say about a nurse coming in and taking care of an immunocompromised patient when they’re coughing and sneezing germs all over them. I think the Health Center’s gone a little too far with this issue.

Another thing we have to be careful about is using state computers for personal use, and cell phones. Try to cover each other, help each other out here. If you see a coworker using the phone, rather than immediately running to the supervisor, try to talk to that person. If you are the one using the phone, be receptive to your fellow union brother or sister trying to help you out. And do not use the computers for any personal use. Do not use Facebook on Health Center time. Some people are allowed to take 15-minute breaks, that’s paid time, it’s not a break that you can go and use your Facebook. They will come and say that you were using Facebook on state time, and they’re right. The only time you can use your cell phone and Facebook is on your lunch time. That’s unpaid time and that’s your time to what you want. But any other time during the work day, please be careful, and please help your coworkers on this. We have a lot of people getting in trouble for this.

We also have informal issues. We have 50 that we actually have on a log. There are many more that have come to us that we’re able to resolve quickly. There are types of things like performance and protocol. Another thing that has come up, and people don’t always know this, and spread this word: If you are legally separated or divorced -- this is something that you probably wouldn’t even think about -- but if you don’t remove them from your benefits, the Department of Administrative Services comes after the Health Center big time, and they come after you. We have had people terminated for not removing their spouse from the insurance when they should have. And they end up owing back thousands of dollars. Please spread the word to your coworkers.

BILL

The 11 of us can’t do everything. We need help from everybody. I wanted to make sure everyone knows who all the officers are. We can’t do what we do without everybody, and we can’t do it without you, the members, and the Health Center can’t do its work without us.

(Bill did a visual where he shows ripping up one membership card as very easy. But when you put 25 of the membership cards together in a stack, you can no longer rip the cards.) This is true for the membership. When we stand together, it is hard to knock us down. Put 2,600 members together, we have a lot of power. We have to stand together and have to stop throwing each other under the bus. Work together!

Q&A:

SAG AWARD

There are concerns that the IRS has come back to the state regarding some concerns in higher education and alternate savings plans, 403b plans and things like that, where pension plans weren’t addressed at the immediate time but deferred savings were. Those issues are being corrected now. At this point the IRS is looking at our specific needs and requests. That doesn’t make it any clearer as to when we’ll have an answer, but they’re at least looking at the question.

MED CERTS/DOCTOR’S NOTES

Your supervisor does have the right to ask for them. You have to submit it to human resources, but not to your supervisor. They can always ask.

TARDINESS COUNTS AS AN ATTENDANCE OCCURRENCE?

That is not right. BUT… if you are hired to be here at 8 o’clock, you need to be here at 8 o’clock. Not 8:01, not 8:04, not 8:08. There is no “7-minute rule,” that you have 7 minutes after your start time to start your shift. Anything after your start time is considered tardy, whether they pay you for it or not (because you will get paid for your 8 hours even if you punch in at 8:05), but they’re counting it as a tardy. If you’re tardy 10 percent of the time, you will get a counseling, they will try to reprimand  you for it, so just keep that in mind. They should be coming to you before that point and saying that, “You’re having tardiness issues, we need to talk about this” before they reprimand you.

SWITCHING SCHEDULE

3rd shift, bring back 2nd shift the next night?

The reason they’re asking you to switch hours is, they’re trying to save money. In nursing, if you pick it up as an extra shift, it’s $10 an hour more. If it’s an emergency staffing situation, it’s double time.

A lot of people are getting disciplined because of procedural mistakes or policies that they’re not following. These nurses are working 16 hours, on short rest, and then they’re getting disciplined for petty things. Do not volunteer to switch your shift. If you’re not scheduled to work, make them pay you the time.

PERSONAL TIME OR UNPAID TIME TO AVOID TARDINESS

You’ve got to let them know before hand, before your shift starts, that you want to use personal time. You can’t ask for unpaid time if you have time on the books. If you come in late and don’t have personal time, they don’t have to approve vacation or comp time, they will then make it unauthorized unpaid time.