2021 Year in Review: Telework Negotiations
SEIU Local 1000 and the State have spent much of the latter half of 2021 bargaining over the implementation of a Statewide Telework Policy that would apply to all Local 1000 represented employees. Since October, the State has made little movement from its initial position, meaning negotiations are ongoing into the new year on several key bargaining demands, including the telework stipend.
For the first time in its labor negotiations history, the State must commit the necessary resources to invest in ALL of our represented employees. We have repeatedly and in good faith told the State that there needs to be a major breakthrough on a deep investment in enforceable telework policies. Our current contract, written before the pandemic made the need for telework such an urgent matter of public health and workplace safety, does not fully address the complexities of a permanent and equitable telework agreement. As a result, we are fighting for a substantial side-letter agreement that state workers deserve after keeping the state running for two years.
Our current Union proposal is $100 per month for a telework stipend for all, as we believe all employees should be treated equally and should receive the same stipend amount. The State has never changed their initial payment proposal of $50 per month for “Remote Centered” employees and $25 per month for “Office Centered” employees. Our current proposal would allow all employees to receive the same telework stipend, regardless of the amount of time spent teleworking, as long as they have an approved telework agreement on file with their department. The State indicated it would be open to the concept of paying a single stipend amount to all teleworking employees, eliminating the “Remote” and “Office Centered” distinctions. However, the single stipend amount would be closer to $25 for all employees.
If SEIU Local 1000 and the State are unable to reach an agreement, it is possible an impasse will be declared. Although we may go to mediation, the State would be within its rights to implement its last, best, and final offer ($50 per month for Remote Centered employees and $25 per month for Office Centered employees), especially given that we are still under a current contract until June 30, 2023. Since the stipend cannot be paid until an agreement is reached, and there is a possibility that it will not be retroactive, this may provide some incentive for reaching an agreement sooner rather than later. However, any side letter agreement reached can be renegotiated when we enter full contract bargaining in 2023, so this fight for fair treatment for all employees is an important step toward establishing a precedent for future negotiations.