The road to collective bargaining was not easy. First, CSEA had to change the State collective bargaining law to allow us to organize into a union. The law in the late 1990’s barred anyone at the rank of lieutenant and above from forming a union. The law considered those law enforcement personnel to be managers. Once CSEA successfully lobbied the General Assembly to change the law by deleting the word “lieutenant”, lieutenants in the Department of Correction (DOC) organized into a union represented by CSEA. Our organizing led the way for captains, counselor supervisors, parole managers and eventually deputy wardens to join our new union. It also led the way for
supervising judicial marshals, and lieutenants and captains in State Police to form their own union with CSEA. Lieutenants and captains in State Police had to go to the Connecticut State Supreme Court and back to secure their collective bargaining rights.
When captains and counselor supervisors in DOC tried to organize and join the lieutenants in CSC, the then Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner ran the first anti-union campaign in Connecticut state service. Prior to the captains and counselors supervisor organizing with us, State government remained neutral on whether or not workers should join a union.
Before- Until our last contract, every one of our contracts had to be decided by binding interest arbitration. Even recently, the inclusion of the deputy wardens had to go to interest arbitration. While the issues from pay to work schedules to transfer rights had to be decided by a neutral arbitrator, at its core, these issues were about respect and dignity.
After lengthy negotiations and interest arbitration for our most important first contract, the Rowland Administration and DOC administration led a full court press to have the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee reject our contract and arbitration award. They argued against our wage increases, work schedules and transfer and shift assignment rights. For over an hour, they painted a horrific picture of our first contract. After the administration went, it was our turn. Member after member gave compelling testimony that our first contract was about respect and dignity for the work we performed as the frontline supervisors in our prisons and jails. In the end, both Republicans and Democrats on the Committee voted for our first contract and we had won. Let’s look at several important contract provisions and what existed before and after collective bargaining.
Before – For most of the time, the State passed on wage increases that were negotiated for unionized state employees to non-unionized employees. Under the Rowland administration, this began to change and non-unionized employees were getting wage freezes while unionized employees were getting raises.
After – CSC had negotiated and arbitrated cumulatively larger wage increases over that period of time than any other bargaining unit in state service since 2001.
Before – Lieutenants and captains could only accrue compensatory time off and had great difficulty scheduling the time off and could not be compensated for the time upon retirement. Parole managers would not receive compensatory time off if they were called at home by parole officers to provide supervision and direction.
After – Lieutenants and captains receive overtime pay. There is a system for voluntary overtime before mandatory drafting. Parole managers receive compensatory time for calls received while not at work.
Transfer Rights and Shift Assignments
Before – Management had the unilateral right to transfer members from one facility to another and from one shift to another without regard to seniority.
After – Members have the right to put their names on facility lists including shift assignments. Management must use the list based upon seniority for filling vacant positions. Management can no longer manipulate these lists to allow junior members to work days shifts while senior have to work the off shifts.
Before – Management had the unilateral right to change work schedules. During the first negotiations, management changed the work schedule, so that lieutenants would only have a weekend off every nine months. CSEA won a labor board case on this unilateral change during contract negotiations.
After – Union won its preferred work schedule. The schedule is part of the contract and cannot be unilaterally changed by management.
Workshop and Conference Fund
Before – None
After – A $10,000 workshop and conference fund for members.
Before – None
After – A $20,000 fund that reimburses employees up to 75% of the UConn rate for tuition and fees.
Grievance Procedure and Discipline
Before – Members had to file their own grievance before management’s employee review board. Members could only grieve discipline or violations of Connecticut statutes.
After – Members have the Union representing them in a grievance procedure ending with arbitration before a neutral arbitrator. Discipline cannot be imposed until after a Step 3 hearing decision.
Before – Members were allowed two weeks of annual field training and up to seven days of ordered training.
After – Members are now allowed two weeks of annual field training and no limit on the number of days for ordered weekend drills. Members are no longer required to use their own time for ordered training.
Sick Leave Bank
Before – No sick leave bank
After – Sick leave bank for those employees with long term illness or injury if they run out of their own sick leave.
Acting Shift Commander Pay
Before – None
After – $26.40 per shift for each shift a lieutenant is the acting shift commander
Before – None
After – Stipends for obtaining an Associate’s, Bachelor’s or Master’s degree
Before – None
After – $650 per year supervisory stipend
Health and Wellness
Before – None
After – A $10,000 annual fund for the promotion of health and wellness of members and an annual wellness day for members to attend training on health issues. To date, trainings have been held on sleep, mental health, nutrition and substance abuse. The programs initiated by CSC have received national recognition and are being replicated in other states.
There were many leaders in our fight for respect and dignity in DOC. Cathy Osten was the first elected president, followed by Chuck Lemelin, then Julius Preston and now Millie Brown. Bob Rinker, retired Executive Director of CSEA, had been our chief negotiator for all our contracts. He even came out of retirement to serve as Chief Negotiator for our most recent contract (2016 to 2021). Bob Krzys, CSEA’s legal counsel, now retired, presented our issues in numerous interest arbitrations including the most important one, our first contract. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who came before us and paved the way to a better work life.
On January 27, 2021, the American Journal of Industrial Medicine published a peer-reviewed article on the groundbreaking survey of CSEA’s Correction Supervisors Council (CSC) health needs. The authors of the article were Julius Preston, former president of CSC, Vincent Steele, former executive vice-president of CSC, Robert Rinker, retired CSEA executive director, along with CSC’s colleagues at UConn Health; Dr. Alicia Dugan, Dr. Sara Namazi, Dr. Martin Cherniack, and Dr. Jennifer Cavallari.
In 2015 and 2016, a design team composed of then current leadership of CSC, Dr. Dugan and Dr. Namazi used a participatory process to conduct a health needs assessment of the members of CSC. In most intervention research, the researchers leave out the input of the workers to be assessed in the process. This participatory process used by CSC resulted in a health needs assessment that was tailored to meet the needs of our correctional supervisors.
One hundred and fifty seven members participated in the survey. The findings yielded new insights about supervisors’ lived experiences of work and health. This novel approach allowed CSC leadership to identify health issues that would not have been detected using conventional health assessments.
The survey results have given CSC the opportunity to develop health interventions that address the root cause of poor health. So far, using the newly negotiated contract language on health and wellness, CSC along with UConn Health has provided training on sleep, mental health, nutrition and substance abuse.
Sleep training was the first intervention implemented by the group. Sleep training was chosen because the survey showed that correction supervisors averaged less than 6 hours of sleep per night and only 2.5 hours of sleep when the supervisor worked a back-to-back shift. Ideally, adults should get about 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night or whenever their work schedule dictates their sleep hours. The training focused on sleep hygiene and a guided meditation to help supervisors fall asleep faster.
The mental health training was the next intervention because the survey showed high levels of work/family stress and exposure to workplace trauma. High levels of stress and trauma can lead to anxiety/depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The number of supervisors exposed to suicides of fellow workers and inmates, whether successful or not, far exceeded any comparable law enforcement occupation. The training focused on mental health literacy, how to access mental health services and more importantly to break down the shame, stigma, silence and solitude that a person with a mental health illness suffers through in our society. Mental illness is like any physical illness in that when properly treated the person can recover and lead a normal life.
The last training that was recently completed was on nutrition and substance abuse. The survey showed that more than 80% of correction supervisors are overweight or obese. While this may not be much different from the normal population, it is significant in that being overweight or obese was not present when they were hired into the Department of Correction. In an earlier study, normal weight correction officers who became overweight or obese did so by the third year on the job and this carried forward to their retirement. The training focused on nutrition literacy; how to eat the right foods. Because of COVID, the 173 members that participated in the training did so by Zoom, a first for our correctional supervisor members. The training was spread out over a ten day period so that more supervisors could be released for their yearly contractual day of training on health and wellness.
The current CSC design team includes Millie Brown, CSC President, Tara Keaton, CSC Interim Executive Vice-President, Wayne Cole, Captain and Julie Stewart, Captain.
It’s election time for CSC! The election will be held on Tuesday, June 1, 2021.
Nominations will be accepted for all positions.
Nominations will be open from Monday, February 8, 2021 (8:00am) through Friday, April 16, 2021 (4:00pm). Nominations should be submitted via email to Jason Webster @ JPWebster@csea760.com.
In December, the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee sent out a request for testimony from frontline workers who had contracted COVID-19 on the job.
CSEA had two members submit testimony, Department of Corrections (DOC) Captain Timothy Newton and DOC Lieutenant Samuel Quintana, whose testimony is below.
“Hi my name is Lieutenant Quintana . I work for the Connecticut Department of Corrections. I was diagnosed with COVID-19 back in April when the nation really didn’t have a plan in place to combat this awful viruses. I was infected at work, within the correctional facility and as a first responder, there was even less planning within the walls. I wanted to tell you my story, not to scare you, but with the hopes that as a nation, we can grow from our mistakes.
I spent 9 days in the hospital 3 of those days was in ICU and while I was there I saw that even the hospitals were behind on there procedures and desperately short on staff. It took the hospital almost 72 hours for me to get a positive test result. I asked the hospital staff why I wasn’t given any medication for my worsening symptoms and they stated that due to the timing of my test, there was a delay in results and treatment. I couldn’t receive my meds until the test was confirmed and in the meantime, I suffered in that room, lonely, high temp, vomiting, diarrhea and coughing. I was worried because all I hear on TV is people dying from this virus, I wasn’t confident that I could be a success story of survival.
As my COVID worsened, the positive result finally came in and my physician came into my hospital room to tell me I was finally going to be administered the medication that would help me fight the virus, but that there was still a chance I wouldn’t make it. In the event that I was to pass from the virus, I wouldn’t be resuscitated.
When I took the medication my body rejected it immediately. There were times I was so weak I passed out in the room. With an extremely short staff, it took a while to get help. As my condition worsened my physician made the determination that I needed to be escorted to the Intensive Care Unit. On my short trip through the hospital to the ICU unit, I glanced through the glass partitions to see patients intubated with tape closing there eyes shut. When I arrived the nurse on duty was thrilled that I could still talk, I would be the only one on the floor still able to. I grew even more nervous. But after 3 days in ICU and with the help of the overstretched hospital staff and all the love I received from my family, I got better.
We need personal protective equipment, we need standardized cleaning guidelines, we need workers to be tested regularly and treated when they are infected on the job. We can’t wait. We must have a plan in place. Unfortunately though, having a plan and being better prepared involves money. But we must stop being reactive and finally become proactive. It could be the difference between life and death.”
♦ NEW! NP-8 Seniority List_3_2021 March 2021 PDF Format
Previous Seniority Lists
NP-8 Seniority List_10_2020 October 2020 PDF Format
NP-8 Seniority List_7_2020 July 2020 PDF Format
NP-8 Seniority List_4_2020 April 2020 PDF Format
NP-8 Seniority List_01.2020 January 2020 PDF Format
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