UE 228 BBQ

At the July membership meeting members voted for our local to cover the cost of burgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, buns, and condiments for our BBQ. As such we need a headcount to purchase food, and all other items will be provided by attendees potluck style.

Where: Four Tree Island – Portsmouth, NH
When: Sunday, 22 August 2021

Please RSVP using the button below. We need a headcount for food, there is also a potluck necessities list you can use to help us keep track of who is bringing what and what needs still exist, additionally the City of Portsmouth needs a headcount as they will need to assign staff if we have enough attendees.
The following City of Portsmouth rules apply:

  • No dogs allowed
  • No alcohol allowed
  • Leave the park as you found it (Clean)

Things to note:

  • Current members, retirees, and former members are welcome to attend
  • It is approximately 250 feet from the handicap parking to the park, let us know if you will need assistance
  • If you are a smoker, please be respectful to those around you as they may have respiratory issues. Please make sure to dispose of extinguished smoking materials
  • Please label if a dish has meat/ shellfish/ nuts for dietary and allergy purposes
  • You are more than welcome to bring a BBQ/ Picnic dish that is not listed
  • Anyone over 12 should be counted as an adult in the RSVP
  • There are shaded picnic table areas, but it is advised that you bring chairs.
  • If you want you can bring an EZ-Up/ portable gazebo, but please do not set it up in the middle of the field
  • We will need volunteers to help. They are listed on the potluck list, but the more that chip in the less work there is to do
  • If you have a yard game that will be playable in a small windy area you are welcome to bring it
  • If you, or an accompanying guest, have not been vaccinated we ask that you wear a mask or get vaccinated beforehand. Several current members are high risk or have someone at home who is, we ask that you think of others and do what you can to help protect them.
Sign Up!

July 10 Membership Meeting

This month we will be having our first in person meeting in over a year, we will be simultaneously be holding it via Zoom. We ask that you bear with us in case of any technical difficulties. Details were emailed to all members, make sure to check your spam folder. If you have never received any emails from us you can sign up for our updates/ newsletters here.
July 10, 1:00PM
155 West Rd. Portsmouth, NH

LDRM Doubles Down

After LDRM was informed by UE International Representative Zach Knipe that their actions “are in direct violation of the rights of union members to engage in protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act.” Also informing LDRM that “If not, I will be obliged to escalate the issue to the NLRB.” LDRM decided to follow PAE’s suit of hiding behind DOS and releasing the same guidelines that PAE agreed were not enforceable because of the National Labor Relations Act. PAE backing down on their claim of violating DOS policy, and correcting the issues addressed by the membership in those campaigns were the only reasons that UE 228 withdrew our Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). How will LDRM respond?

Take a look at some of the protect activities we have at work, then think to yourself “How many times has LDRM or a member of the management staff violated one of these?”

Section 8(a)(1) of the Act (NLRA) makes it an unfair labor practice for an employer “to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7” of the Act. For example, you may not

  • Threaten employees with adverse consequences if they engage in protected, concerted activity. (Activity is “concerted” if it is engaged in with or on the authority of other employees, not solely by and on behalf of the employee himself. It includes circumstances where a single employee seeks to initiate, induce, or prepare for group action, as well as where an employee brings a group complaint to the attention of management. Activity is “protected” if it concerns employees’ interests as employees. An employee engaged in otherwise protected, concerted activity may lose the Act’s protection through misconduct.)
  • Coercively question employees about their own or coworkers’ union activities or sympathies. (Whether questioning is coercive and therefore unlawful depends on the relevant circumstances, including who asks the questions, where, and how; what information is sought; whether the questioned employee is an open and active union supporter; and whether the questioning occurs in a context of other unfair labor practices.)
  • Prohibit employees from talking about the union during working time, if you permit them to talk about other non-work-related subjects.
  • Spy on employees’ union activities.
  • Create the impression that you are spying on employees’ union activities.
  • Promulgate, maintain, or enforce work rules that reasonably tend to inhibit employees from exercising their rights under the Act.
  • Discharge, constructively discharge, suspend, layoff, fail to recall from layoff, demote, discipline, or take any other adverse action against employees because of their protected, concerted activities.

PAE as a company learned from it’s mistakes for the most part, excepting when existing members of management went out of their way to cause issues. Unfortunately for LDRM they have the same management team that refuses to learn anything. They especially seem unwilling to learn that we are a union and they can no longer do as they please.

Solidarity Days

One of labor’s most useful tools is floor actions. While we are prohibited from taking some actions (work stoppages) by the “No Strike, No Lockout” article of our contract, we are well within our rights to perform other job actions. Actions such as hanging cubicle signs, changing your Teams profile’s picture to the UE logo, doing informational pickets (which would be organized beforehand), and wearing UE gear.

We want to show the company that we all feel that these “production standards” are unfair and we know it. The best way to do that as a group is by performing floor actions, we start with signs, buttons, and shirt/ clothing days.

It is with this in mind that we would like to introduce LDRM to Red Alert Wednesdays, and Black Out Fridays. A simple idea to show solidarity and unity on the shop floor. Every Wednesday wear red to show our passion for the work we do, and our steadfast commitment to ensure quality. Wear black on Fridays to show the strength in our resolve that doing things right the first time turns out more quality work instead of just doing as many as you can.

Until Wednesday, June 23rd you be able to put in an order for a UE shirt of your choice. These shirts will be COD, so if you submit an order you will need to pay for the shirts when they arrive. You can order yours here.

You can find cubicle signs here.

LDRM presents “Phase 2” production standards to local leadership

Summary: On Thursday LDRM met with UE 228 representatives (via phone) to present the company’s “Phase 2” production standards. 
LDRM’s Phase 2 plan includes both increases to production rates and a new focus on discipline for failure to reach those rates. While taking some factors into account in multiple areas, other areas that have backlogs LDRM plans to implement standards that are simply unachievable. Read on for details.

UE 228 E-board and stewards, along with our field organizer Zach Knipe met via phone with LDRM to discuss their Phase 2 proposal for “production standards” aka quotas. Representing LDRM was Rick Mills – Site Manager, Shawna Caouette – Change Manager, Mickey McGuirk – AOM, Greg Naffa – AOM, and Jamie Reinhardt – AOM. Rick stated that the intent of Phase 2 is to implement the ability to discipline for failure to maintain standards. 
Beth Wheland, Lily Moore, Celeste Brooks, Dee Towne, and Shane Tassinari spoke on behalf of the units that would be most affected by the implementation of these Phase 2 numbers.
LDRM was looking to slightly increase , Celeste pointed that out that their data for CP production numbers was based on a point in time when CP had additional coding in ART to cover for cases that had to be put in the hold queue and weren’t completed. This is important as now only cases that have been completed count towards your total. Celeste also pointed out that if you have a large case, think dozens to over a hundred pages, it counts as one case and can throw your numbers off for an entire week.
Beth and Lily echoed this concern for DR, and all UE members present questioned the drastic jump in the number of cases expected to be completed per hour in DR (an increase of over 2 cases per hour) considering we have had reports that the actual average of cases processed is around 4.2 per hour, which is below the current expectation of 4.5. When questioned about this Rick stated “Historically we have been able to process that many cases.” In this case historically means somewhere around 2012 prior to switching to the No File Review system, and switching back to full file review in late 2016. These numbers are also suspiciously close to the numbers that PAE wanted to implement in January of 2017, and was stopped because it was a unilateral change in our work environment. Since then the NLRB, under the guidance of former General Counsel Peter Robb, gutted a long standing precedent that did not allow for unilateral changes without bargaining. The upside for us is that LDRM’s focus during negotiations was on implementing an incentive system, and that our union contract maintains that any standards must be reasonable.
We also questioned the increase of 10 cases per hour for both Visas and Passports in FR as several members, including some who have been in Facial since its inception, are on performance improvement plans for quality. Which raises the question of how is someone supposed to improve their quality when they are expected to do even more. At this point Rick admitted that unlike other units where they removed the top and bottom 10% of processors and based their average on the 80% between, in Facial they just took a straight average of all workers. We did point out that this isn’t a fair representation of what they said they would be doing to calculate standards, and is not how they are calculated in other departments.
There were other increases in other units, some that seem drastic but are based on what is actually done/ possible. There has also been the introduction of standards on tasks that were listed in Phase 1 but not increased.
We made clear that we are well aware of the issues they need to address, and Zach clearly stated that the expectation is for LDRM to maintain reasonable standards as set out in the CBA and that it is likely we will grieve any discipline handed down for failing to maintain standards.
Management was given lots of feedback, which they have stated that they will review.
UE 228 has not agreed to any of these standards. If new production standards are presented to you by management please know that these standards (or any disciplinary action taken as a result of these standards) remain subject to the grievance and arbitration procedures and will continue to be challenged by local leadership.

UE Eastern Region Council Meeting

UE Eastern Region Council Meeting is April 24 & 25 2021 (Saturday & Sunday) via Zoom

On the Agenda:
Election of Regional Officers and General Executive Board Members
Shop Reports
Gene Elk, Director of Organizing, will be in attendance and will give a report and updates from UE’s National Office

If you are interested in attending please let reach out Bill Ladd prior to April 1st so we can file for your credentials.

Part Time Vacation, Part Time Sick Time Grievances resolved!

In a big win for the UE VSS locals, UE 228 won two separate grievances for part time workers.

The first grievance was a Step 3 concerning the incorrect vacation deposit amount for a part time worker. Per our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) Article 28 – Vacation, Fran should have received 20 days worth of vacation because she has been at the NVC for more than ten years. Fran works 29 hours per week so per the vacation schedule in Article 28 she should have received 116 hours of vacation time. When her vacation was deposited the company deposited 45.18 hours or 7.79 days based on the number of hours actually worked (since the beginning of the contract).
By doing this the company did not treat part time employees the same as full time employees, which is required under Service Contract Act.
The resolution is that all part time members will be made whole by having their vacation amounts adjusted to the correct amount, based on the number of scheduled hours just like full time employees.
*Step 2 and Step 3 grievances require a written response per the CBA
Read the resolution here.

The second grievance had been filed at Step 1 concerning the incorrect Sick Time deposit amount for a part time worker. Per our CBA Article 30 Sick Leave Days workers are granted sick time based on “employee’s regularly scheduled” work week by the attached schedule. This language is very similar to Executive Order 13706 (Paid Sick Time).
The grievance was resolved at Step 1 and all part time employees were made whole (will be receiving adjustments to their sick time deposits if it was incorrectly prorated).
*Step 1 grievances can often be an informal discussion about an issue in an attempt to resolve said issue

Insurance Deductibles

UE 228 President Bill Ladd reached out to Bill Yates, the VSS Contract Program Manager, concerning members being told that their deductibles reset on January 1, 2021. The documentation that was given both to members and the negotiating committee last February stated that our deductibles are on a plan year, not calendar year as FCE has informed some people. Here is the email that was sent, and a copy of the document in question.
Update: Bill Yates responded that he is awaiting an answer on this from the HR and Benefits teams.

Update: The deductible is now lined up with our plan year. If you were improperly billed due to the above issue, reach out to FCE. If FCE is unable to help you, email Amanda Chisling and CC a steward.

Sick Time

It’s a new year and that means we all just got our sick time deposits as of the 1st, whether they show up on your timesheet website or not is a different matter.
According to our CBA and Executive Order 13706 employees receive sick time based on the “employee’s regularly scheduled workweek.” Proration is based on the following schedule:
0 – 3.99 0 hours of Sick Leave
4 – 11.99 11.2 hours of Sick Leave
12 – 19.99 22.4 hours of Sick Leave
20 – 27.99 33.6 hours of Sick Leave
28 – 35.99 44.8 hours of Sick Leave
36 + hours 56 hours

If you are part time, check to make sure that the sick time amount you receive is equal the corresponding amount above based on your regularly scheduled workweek.

According to Amanda Chisling, LWH HR Manager, who in an IM stated that employees “can go negative as we try an (sic) work through getting the time loaded there are some issues due to payroll runtime.”
So your time is available to use, please refer to the EO 13706 pointers sheet for usage, and restrictions concerning your sick time.

As always if you have issues please reach out here.