CSEA SEIU Local 2001
Telework Update for State of Connecticut Employees
Updated On: Aug 03, 2021

TELEWORK FORMS:
Stipulated Agreement Signed by SEBAC and the Administration
The Agreement was signed on Monday, August 2nd with a start date of August 3rd. 


Motion for Temporary Injunction and Emergency Order to Show Cause
On Tuesday, July 6th CSEA, in concert with SEBAC, filed a motion to require the State to abide by fully executed temporary telework agreement.
 

Review the Status of the Injuction
As we wait for the result of the legal filings, you can review the status here.
 

Temporary Telework Agreement Between SEBAC & State of Connecticut
Review the temporary telework agreement that was reached between SEBAC & The State of Connecticut. 

State of Connecticut Telework Arrangement Application
Use this form to apply for your individual telework arrangement through your agency. 

CSEA SEIU Local 2001 Telework Steward Request Form
Use this form if you were wrongfully denied for telework arrangements or you have experienced difficulties with the process, a steward or staff representative will be in touch shortly. 

CSEA SEIU Local 2001 Member Experiences Request Form
CSEA is collecting telework stories from members to help remind the Administration of the positive outcomes of telework. 

TELEWORK COMMUNICATIONS FROM CSEA:

Below, please find the member messages that have been sent out regarding telework for State of Connecticut Employees. 
MISSED A MEMBER EMAIL? Update your contact information HERE so you never miss another update!

MESSAGE SENT 8/2/2021:

History:  As members know, the question of what Telework Policy will apply to participating bargaining units has been a work in progress since the approval of the SEBAC 2017 Agreement.   SEBAC 2017 called for bargaining and, if necessary, interest arbitration (the same process we use to determine contracts) to “create policy and policy guidance to agencies regarding telework policies and implementation thereof”; the Agreement further required that the policy consider “the legitimate operational needs of the affected agencies as well as the interests of the affected employees,” and required that denials of telework requests would be arbitrable.  Since SEBAC 2017 was already approved by the General Assembly, no further legislative approval is required to implement a Telework Policy unless the policy requires a legislative appropriation, which always needs approval by the General Assembly.

In 2019, the parties agreed to Interim Telework Guidelines (which did not require a legislative appropriation or approval) and that policy was in effect in March of 2020 while the parties were continuing to bargain about a final agreement.   At that time, while the parties disagreed about whether and what sort of cap on weekly or biweekly telework should apply in the final agreement, the Interim Telework Guidelines included a cap of 50%.  

In March of 2020, the Governor issued his “Stay Home, Stay Safe Order”, and all state employees were directed to telework up to 100% of the time to protect their health and safety during the pandemic.   On May 13, 2021, the Governor sent an email to certain state employees (those directly under Executive Branch authority), advising of a plan for certain state employees to return to a “new normal work environment,”    That email indicated the Administration’s intention to return to the pre-COVID Interim Telework Guidelines, but to “continue discussions with the unions in an effort to finalize the telework guidelines that contemplates the considerable experience gained during this challenging period.”    The Coalition disagreed that the state had the authority to make the return-to-worksite decision without first bargaining with the Coalition.    As a temporary solution to this disagreement, the parties on the 17th of June entered into a Telework Transition Period Agreement which would have expired on September 1, 2021.   That Transition Agreement covered employees in bargaining units “for which the Office of Labor Relations is the Governor’s designated collective bargaining agent” -- essentially those directly affected by the May 13th email.    With certain exceptions, the Transition Agreement allowed members who had been teleworking to continue to telework at 50% of their schedules and to “apply for more than 50% when consistent with job duties and operational needs, but typically not to exceed 80%”; it provided for facilitation when such requests were denied, and included a provision to continue telework for employees who were medically counseled not to return to the worksite because a serious medical condition made either themselves, or a family member COVID-fragile.  The Transition Agreement also left the parties to their respective positions as to what would happen on September 1st when that Agreement was to expire, and so left everyone uncertain as to what would happen with telework following that date.

Profound disagreement about the meaning and implementation of the Telework Transition Period Agreement between the parties quickly emerged, and on “July 2, 2021, SEBAC filed a grievance under the parties’ collective bargaining agreement and a prohibited practice charge pursuant to section 5-274 of the Connecticut General Statutes.     The Coalition also filed an injunction action in Connecticut Superior Court.

New Agreement:     The parties have now agreed to settle the grievance, prohibited practice charge, and companion injunction action.  Rather than continue to argue about the Telework Transition Period Agreement, the parties have agreed to a new agreement covering the same bargaining units for which the Office of Labor Relations is the Governor’s designated collective bargaining agent, which now runs through December 31, 2021.  The following are the three core components:

  1.  A 60-day “reset period”.    For 60 days following the execution of the new agreement, employees who were teleworking prior to the Governor’s May 13th email (which had the July 1, 2021, implementation date for return to worksite) have the choice of returning to their pre-July 1 schedule (i.e. the one that was in effect during the approximate period of March 2020 through July 1, 2021), or they can continue with whatever is in place currently.  It should be noted however, that as with the Transition Agreement, this choice to return to the pre-July 1st schedule does not apply to hazardous duty employees, or “those whose consistent presence at the work site or in the field is now required because of the reopening of in-person operations which were suspended during the pre-July 1, 2021, period.”  In other words, if operations have reopened at an employee’s worksite or in the field and those operations can’t be performed by teleworking at their pre-July 1 schedule, the employee will only be approved for the amount of telework, if any, that can be performed from the employee’s home.  

  2. During the Post-Reset period through December 31, 2021, employees covered under the “reset period” will be eligible to apply to telework at as high a percentage of their scheduled hours as they believe is consistent with operational needs and job duties.   These applications will actually be submitted during the reset period so that there will be time for review prior to the expiration of the 60 days.  A request of 50% of scheduled work hours or less by these employees will be granted.  Over 50% may be approved “if, in the opinion of the agency head, following review of such request and the input of the employee’s supervisors or managers, job duties and operational needs support such action.”  These decisions regarding over 50% during the post-reset period are not subject to challenge.  The essence of the compromise through December 31st is that employees get the guarantee of 50% and the review of any requests for more than 50% based upon the Agency’s assessment of operational needs and job duties, informed by the employee’s application and supervisory recommendations, but uninfluenced by either the Administration’s or the Coalition’s views about whether telework of more than 50% is appropriate.   The Administration gets Agency discretion not subject to challenge.   And all gain from a provision in the new agreement which extends to the COVID-fragile employees (due to their own or a family member’s serious medical condition) telework of up to 100% through December. 

  3. A structure for negotiation, and if necessary, arbitration of a final agreement expected to be effective by 12/31/2021.    The parties have agreed to immediate implementation of that new agreement or award, (except to the extent a particular provision requires a legislative appropriation and approval, which would then be expected before Mid-March of 2022).    Unless the parties find common ground, the issue of “what, if any, cap shall be imposed on the number of days or percentage of the scheduled work hours, during the biweekly pay period, an eligible employee may telework” is one that will be arbitrated this Fall.

Given the differing views of the parties, this has been a very difficult process.   We hope that the combination of the 60-day reset period, the post-reset period through December, and the structure to reach a final agreement will result in a simple, stable, fair, and effective telework policy that captures the many advantages such a policy can bring to state employees, the public they serve, and the environment upon which we all depend.   It remains a work in progress until then, and we urge all members to keep their stewards/delegates or union staff informed of any questions or concerns they may have.  A brief Q&A on the 60-day reset period is available on the next page.  A Q&A on the post-reset period will be forthcoming:

Question

Answer

When does the 60-day period start and end? 

It starts August 3, 2021, and ends on October 2nd.   

Do I need to apply to return to my pre-July 1 Schedule

No.   You have the choice to remain on your current schedule, or return to your pre-July 1 schedule.  If you make the return to pre-July 1 choice, you just need to let your management know by emailing whoever you would usually deal with about your schedule.

Does this reset period apply to all executive branch bargaining-unit employees who were teleworking before July 1, 2021?

The only two exceptions are any hazardous duty employees who were teleworking during the pandemic, and employees whose regular duties were not conducive to teleworking, were given an alternate assignment prior to July 1, and now have returned to their pre-COVID assignment.     There may, however, be a small group of workers who will not be able to telework as much as they did prior to July 1.   If operations that were suspended prior to July 1 have reopened at an employee’s worksite or in the field and those operations can’t be performed by teleworking at their pre-July 1 schedule, the employee will only be approved for the amount of telework, if any, that can be performed from the employee’s home.  

What happens if my supervisor claims an exception or limitation applies and I disagree? 

Please let your union steward or delegate know immediately and ask that it immediately be relayed to union staff or leadership.   Your union will work through the Coalition and the Office of Labor Relations in an effort to produce a rapid informal resolution.  The SEBAC grievance procedure is available if it can’t be resolved informally.

What happens if I or a family member is COVID-Fragile During the Reset Period

For the 60 days, since you can return to your pre-July 1 schedule, you can use that choice to work the same schedule you were working pre-July 1.   After the reset period, a provision in the new agreement extends to the COVID-fragile employees (due to their own or a family member’s serious medical condition) telework of up to 100% through December 31, 2021.

Does this apply to the Judicial Branch or Higher Ed Units?

No, the settlement applies only to the Executive Branch bargaining units that bargain directly with the Administration through the Office of Labor Relations.  Telework issues involving other bargaining units are being addressed directly with those employers.

MESSAGE SENT 7/8/2021:

Throughout the past several weeks we have been updating you on the status of the temporary telework agreement for State of Connecticut employees. Last week, we reported that the Lamont administration had chosen to renege on the commitments made in that agreement. 

On Tuesday, we took the first legal steps to file a Motion for Temporary Injunction and Emergency Order to Show Cause through the Superior Court. This important step, taken by CSEA and the other unions in SEBAC, pursues legal action to force the administration to honor the commitments they made to us. 

In the meantime, members should continue to apply for a schedule that is reasonable and consistent with your job duties and operational needs, regardless of any agency desire to limit you to only 50% telework. If members are denied, they should immediately appeal the denial by clicking this link and filling out the form.  Members should also discuss the situation with their supervisor to ensure at least 50% telework until the appeal is adjudicated and/or our pending legal actions are resolved.

We will continue to keep members updated on the status of this legal action, but please check out our website to learn more and review the complaint in its entirety along with all of the other updates and forms we have sent along throughout the past few weeks. 

If you haven’t already, make your voice is heard by sharing your telework experience so we can highlight the many positive aspects of telework and make clear to the administration that, simply, telework works!

What has come to pass over these last few weeks is just plain wrong.  We won’t stand for it.  Together, as always, we must fight for reason, fairness, and common sense. 

Stronger Together, 

Stephen Anderson
CSEA SEIU Local 2001
President

SEBAC STATEMENT 7/8/2021:

Statement from SEBAC on the Filing of an Injunction over the Temporary Telework Agreement

SEBAC union leadership remains confident in the merits of our position and are optimistic that the Lamont Administration will review the facts of the case and agree to abide by the temporary telework agreement that was signed by both parties on June 16.th Following that,   we look forward to work together on a long-term solution. 

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve heard member success stories clearly outlining the benefits of a flexible teleworking agreement -- benefits to the State as an employer and the public we serve. From increased productivity and quality performance to the positive environmental impacts like reduced emissions, improved air quality and public health, the benefits of telework are clear and something that the Administration should be taking a proud step in leading. 

The Lamont Administration must do everything in its power to address the existential crisis our state, our country and our world is facing with climate change. We already know that telework had a huge impact on our state’s reduction in carbon emissions and we must continue to reap these benefits wherever we can.   Our is and should continue to be a model employer in that regard, and the Administration cannot ignore the clear environmental benefits of telework while publicly committing to doing everything in its power to address climate change at the state level. 

The positive experience that many of our members have had with telework has been an unexpected silver lining during the pandemic.  Many have been able to telework throughout and have been more productive, better for the environment, while protecting against the spread of the virus.  The program has been good for the missions of our agencies, good for the environment, and good for the state’s bottom line. 

MESSAGE SENT 7/1/2021:

It is with great frustration and anger that I write to you today about the status of telework for State of Connecticut employees.  Over the last week or so, I’ve communicated the positive news that we’ve reached a temporary telework agreement with the Lamont administration.  But today, I must inform you that, despite the fully executed agreement, the Lamont administration has inexplicably decided to renege on the commitments made to us all.

Specifically, the administration has unilaterally altered the standard for evaluating and granting telework applications.  The agreement clearly allows for employees to apply for greater than 50% telework consistent with job duties and operational needs. This unambiguous provision simply means that an employee can gain access to maximum telework as long as it works within the context of their job.  We know that many of our jobs are not public facing and are perfectly suited to telework.   

The administration has unilaterally revoked this agreed-upon standard and instead will only grant greater than 50% telework if there is a “lack of physical space or with an FMLA/ADA qualifying issue.”  In other words, the administration has advised agency heads to blatantly violate the agreement by only allowing employees to telework “up to 50%.”  Incidentally, the addition of the phrase “up to” is another violation of the agreement which clearly provides a guarantee of a minimum of 50% telework.  Most agency heads, not wanting to disagree with their boss, have decided to be complicit with this overt act of bad faith.

The telework agreement also includes a provision that, while an employee’s application for telework is pending, their current telework arrangement remains in place.  This provision was important to all of us in part because the administration dragged its feet so long on producing the application form.  As July 1 loomed, we did not want members to be forced to come back into the office simply because there was not enough time to respond to requests for 80% to 100% telework.  The administration, in clear contractual language, completely agreed.  Then, yesterday, the administration redefined “current telework” to be the 50% telework standard effective on July 1, effectively forcing hundreds of members back into the office.

The administration has violated other aspects of the agreement, but the ones I’ve outlined above are among the most obvious and problematic.  

Of course, just talking about our frustration with this astonishingly dishonorable behavior on the part of the administration is not going to make progress on our problem.  That’s why CSEA, in concert with SEBAC, is pursuing immediate legal action against the administration to force them to honor their commitments.  We will keep members updated in the coming days as this strategy progresses.  In the meantime, members should apply for a schedule that is reasonable and consistent with your job duties and operational needs, regardless of any agency desire to limit you to only 50% telework.  If members are denied, they should immediately appeal the denial by clicking this link and filling out the form.  Members should also discuss the situation with their supervisor to ensure at least 50% telework until the appeal is adjudicated and/or our pending legal actions are resolved.

What has come to pass over the past 24 hours is just plain wrong.  We won’t stand for it.  Together, as always, we must fight for reason, fairness, and common sense.  Our state and our nation has come a long way from the darkest days of the pandemic.  But we must make sure that we learn from what we just lived through. 

Make your voice heard by telling your telework experience so we can continue to collect member stories of the positive aspects of telework to help make clear to the administration that, simply, telework works! 

Yours in Solidarity,

Stephen Anderson
CSEA SEIU Local 2001
President

MESSAGE SENT 6/28/2021:

Since learning about the temporary telework agreement between the State and SEBAC, our members have been waiting for the very form that the State claimed would make requesting individual telework arrangements straightforward and streamlined. 

As of this afternoon the State has finally released the form, which can be found HERE (NOTE: YOU MUST FILL OUT THIS FORM TO REQUEST INDIVIDUAL TELEWORKING ARRANGEMENTS). 

We have been disappointed in the time that the State has taken to release this form, but urge our members to fill out this form as quickly as possible to avoid any lapses in the process. If your request is denied, you may request immediate facilitation.  In order to do that, just fill out this form and a CSEA Staff Representative or Steward will be in touch (NOTE: THIS CSEA FORM IS NOT THE TELEWORK REQUEST FORM YOU MUST FILL OUT THROUGH THE STATE). 

As a reminder of this temporary agreement, I want to underscore the following concerns and questions we have received from members:

  • What if I already sent in a telework request by emailing my supervisor?

    • Some supervisors were accepting teleworking requests, others required that you wait for this request form to be released. If your teleworking request has already been approved, then there is no need for you to fill out the form. However, if your supervisor requires that you wait for the request form, then please fill out the form as quickly as possible. 

  • Can I only apply for 50% telework? 

    • Some members believe or have been told that they may only apply for 50% telework.  This is not accurate.  Rather, if you are currently teleworking, you are guaranteed to be granted the ability to telework at least 50% of the time.  The agreement specifically allows members to apply for greater than 50% telework “when consistent with job duties and operational needs.”   While the agreement indicates this will “typically not exceed 80%” it contemplates members seeking as much telework as they want and deem best consistent with the “job duties and operational needs” standards.   As such, we strongly encourage any member to request as much they want and deem most consistent with this standard,  which may be up to 100% telework.

  • What if I’m considered COVID-fragile or someone at home is?

    • The agreement indicates that employees who are COVID-fragile (with a doctor’s note) or those asserting risk to a family member who is COVID-fragile at home, are able to maintain current teleworking arrangements. While the precise process for implementing this provision hasn’t been determined yet, we encourage members who are seeking to telework in accordance with this provision to so-indicate on their request, and to either provide a doctor's note or specifically offer to provide on.

  • What if my request for telework is denied?

    • If your request is denied, you may request immediate facilitation.  In order to do that, just fill out this form and a CSEA Staff Representative or Steward will be in touch (NOTE: THIS CSEA FORM IS NOT THE TELEWORK REQUEST FORM YOU MUST FILL OUT THROUGH THE STATE).

Telework has proven to be a viable arrangement for so many members who have been equally, if not more, productive while improving the missions of our agencies, our environment and the bottom line. 

Together we will continue to fight to ensure that the state doesn’t ignore the good lessons we have learned from the pandemic and the undeniable and considerable benefits of telework. 

Stronger Together, 

Stephen Anderson
President
CSEA SEIU Local 2001

MESSAGE SENT 6/25/2021:

In recent days, many members have raised questions and concerns about the state of telework arrangements and the Governor’s approaching deadline of July 1st.  As I wrote last week, we’ve reached a temporary telework agreement with the administration (which you can find HERE) that includes several beneficial provisions, but there are certainly issues and problems that have arisen as well.

In response to the questions and concerns that have been raised, I want to underscore the following:

  • Our agreement includes a much less onerous application process than the one that was in place prior to the pandemic.  The problem is, while the state has been promising a link to the new short form for several days, it is still not available.  Considering how close we are to July 1st, you should feel free to submit a written request to your supervisor right away (without the form) outlining your requested telework arrangement. This advice is inline with our prior recommendation from last week’s announcement. 

  • Some members believe or have been told that they may only apply for 50% telework.  This is not accurate.  Rather, if you are currently teleworking, you are guaranteed to be granted the ability to telework at least 50% of the time.  The agreement specifically allows members to apply for greater than 50% telework “when consistent with job duties and operational needs.”   While the agreement indicates this will “typically not exceed 80%” it contemplates members seeking as much telework as they want and deem best consistent with the “job duties and operational needs” standards.   As such, we strongly encourage any member to request as much they want and deem most consistent with this standard,  which may be up to 100% telework.

  • The agreement also indicates that employees who are COVID-fragile, with doctor’s note, will be accepted as a reason for maintaining current telework. Those asserting risk to COVID-fragile family members at home are included. While the precise process for implementing this provision hasn’t been determined yet, we encourage members who are seeking to telework in accordance with this provision to so-indicate on their request, and to either provide a doctor's note or specifically offer to provide on.

  • Some members have submitted telework requests but have not yet received a response.  It is important to note that the agreement provides that, absent a response to a telework request, the member’s current telework arrangement continues.  If your request is denied, you may request immediate facilitation.  In order to do that, just fill out this form and a CSEA Staff Representative or Steward will be in touch. 

The wonderful experience that many of us have had with telework has been an unexpected silver lining during the pandemic.  Many of us have been able to telework throughout and have been more productive while protecting against the spread of the virus.  The program has been good for the missions of our agencies, good for our environment, and good for the bottom line.  

Together, we have to fight and push to make sure that the state doesn’t ignore the lessons of the pandemic and the undeniable and considerable benefits of telework.  

Yours in Solidarity,

Stephen Anderson
President
CSEA/SEIU Local 2001

MESSAGE SENT 6/18/2021:

I am happy to announce that, after discussions between SEBAC and the State, we have reached a temporary agreement regarding telework.  The agreement can be found HERE for your review and use.  This agreement will be in place at least until September 1st, while the parties continue to negotiate a long-term agreement.

This temporary agreement reflects the very positive experience with telework that many of us have had throughout the COVID 19 health crisis and it is a major step forward from the telework agreement that was in place prior to the pandemic.  Here are a few highlights:

  • If you are teleworking now, you may request to continue teleworking as much as 100% of the time.  You are guaranteed to be granted the ability to telework at least 50% of the time.  If you request more than 50% and you are denied, you may request immediate facilitation to resolve the dispute through your union steward. Of course in any such facilitation CSEA and SEBAC will represent you.  We strongly encourage any member to request as much they want and deem best, including 100% telework.

  • The pre-pandemic telework application process was complicated and onerous.  The process under this temporary agreement includes a very simple and straightforward form.  We expect the link to this quick form will be made available by mid-next week, so please stay tuned. Considering how close we are to July 1st, you should feel free to submit a written request to your supervisor right away (without the form) outlining your requested telework arrangement.

  • The pre-pandemic telework agreement excluded certain bargaining units and job classifications.  The temporary agreement dispenses with those restrictions so long as you have been teleworking during the pandemic.

  • If you can provide documentation that you have a medical condition that makes you COVID-fragile, you will be able to maintain your current telework arrangement, including 100% telework.  If members run into any problems regarding this issue, please contact your steward right away and we will work with you to resolve the problem.

Despite the positives of this agreement, it is far from perfect.  The most problematic aspect is the very temporary nature of this arrangement and the possibility that, if a new agreement is not reached by September 1, that unnecessary uncertainty and disruption will be created which is neither in the interests of the membership nor the public we serve.

As such, in the meantime, please work with union leaders in your workplaces to document your positive experience with telework and to pressure agency heads to embrace a fair, long-term solution on this issue that incorporates the lessons learned over the last year and a half.

As always, please contact your steward should you have questions or concerns.

Yours in Solidarity,

Stephen Anderson
President
CSEA/SEIU Local 2001


-
Contact Info

Top of Page image
Powered By UnionActive - Copyright © 2021. All Rights Reserved.