Senator Jeanne Shaheen visited our monthly meeting this past Sunday. She took time to speak to the crowd about issues in this upcoming election and to ask for our members support. She has been in our corner on many issues in the past and would appreciate our votes this coming November.
On August 7, 2014, Business Agent Jeffrey Padellaro toured the Concord Prison for Men to meet with the members in the workplace. Correctional Officer Erik Turner escorted Jeff and Teamster Attorney Bill Cahill throughout the facility. The Correctional Officers and Corporals discussed many issues with Jeff and it allowed a free exchange of thoughts and ideas concerning the day-to-day issues facing the men and women working at this facility.
One of the many issues brought up was the forced overtime issue and what the state is doing to address this critical issue. Members were informed that Dave Laughton, Principal Officer of Local 633, met with Governor Hassan to discuss this issue and emphasized how critical the staffing levels currently are. The Governor acknowledged the problem and pledged to resolve same as soon as reasonably possible. CO Turner was able to communicate that the hiring process has been streamlined and he has observed the pace increase after the meetings with the Governor and the numerous discussions with Commissioner Wrenn’s office. The problem will not be resolved overnight, however; there is an academy class beginning in September and we are monitoring the ongoing hiring process to identify issues in the process.
Another question that was frequently asked had to do with the mandatory increases in pension contributions that is currently being decided by the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Oral arguments were made in May and we are all awaiting the written decision.
Another issue raised was whether the Commissioner could order bargaining unit members to work two scheduled overtime shifts. This would be a unilateral change in the Terms and Conditions of employment and, therefore, not allowable. To be clear, this was mentioned in a LMC meeting in a conceptual way but no one was discussing the implementation of any changes without going through the appropriate procedures. In speaking with our members they overwhelmingly came out against this concept of a work schedule and that message was relayed to the Commissioner’s office.
Finally, the status of the Letters of Warning for members who refused to work when ordered to do so was raised. After lengthy discussions with the Commissioner’s office, individuals who received such letters and have had no further infractions may request a meeting with the Warden after six months to have the Letter of Warning removed from their personnel files. Such requests should not be unreasonably denied.