SEIU 100 Arkansas
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Fair Pay | Wage Study | Raise Legislation | Overtime Pay | Won Jobs Back | Grievance Procedure

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Living Wages | A Voice at Work

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Local 100 SEIU has hundreds of members who work for the State of Arkansas. They have pulled together to win a living wage, fair pay, dignity and respect, and safe working conditions.

Last session, hundreds of state employees, Personal Care Aides, members of other unions and ACORN worked together to support living wages and a voice at work for public sector workers. Over 120 people attended forums at the Doubletree Hotel, and at Dunbar Community Center where workers spoke about what it is like to work for less than a living wage, and why they need a say in working conditions through public sector bargaining. Two hundred and fifty Local 100 members and friends marched together in Little Rock support of living wages. Teachers and Personal Care Aide won a raise. Though we didn’t win passage of the bargaining bill, legislators more clearly understand the issue.

VICTORIES

FAIR PAY

When AAISIS, the state’s new computerized payroll system delayed paychecks for thousands of state employees, Local 100 members mobilized. Representative Joyce Elliot got a meeting for us with the Governor’s Budget Director, Ted Thomas. Twenty members came together to lay out problems with bounced checks, no paystubs, and late checks. They gave him a letter to the Governor laying out the following:

  • Write letters to banks and utility companies asking them to rescind bounced check fees and cutoff notices.
  • For those who want paper paychecks, deliver them to worksites rather than mailing them to employees’ homes.
  • Provide people with paystubs, rather than telling them to download them from computers at work. We told him that our members at Benton Services Center had moved a petition on this issue, and that management there was downloading each worker’s information, putting it in envelopes and distributing them on pay day.

The following Monday, Local 100 members Beverly Alor and Mary Ann Thomas testified about the problems being created for them by AAISIS.

When we announced a planned AAISIS rally, the Governor asked to meet with us. Hattie Daniels, Redonia Harshaw and Leslie Haber met with him in his office. He was interviewed a few weeks later by Hattie on KABF radio 88.3.

So far we have accomplished the following:

  • The letter we requested was written.
  • Personal Care Aides, who work under contract with the state, are again having their checks delivered to the unit.
  • The Governor wrote a letter asking agency directors to work with state employees on paystubs. Some worksites are downloading them for everyone. At other sites, employees need to request their stubs.

Some employees are still having problems with late checks, or are still owed money from the AAISIS meltdown. If you are in that group, click here to download a form to fill out and return to us.
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WAGE STUDY

Right before the 2001 legislative session, our members held a news conference to release a study that shows that 7,000 people in families employed by the state or working under contract with the state earn less than a living wage. Responding to a question about this in the press, Speaker Shane Broadway called it “disturbing.” At a meeting a few weeks later, the Speaker asked that we work on this with Representative Pat Bond. Her Resolution to do a comprehensive study of the current state employee compensation system passed. State employees will rally on August to push for fair pay and a fair system to give pay raises (see below).

ACROSS THE BOARD RAISE LEGISLATION

Since she understood how unfair percentage based raises are, Representative Joyce Elliot introduced a bill providing for $1,000 across-the-board wage increases. It didn’t pass, but she got lots of supportive calls and e-mails from state employees. They told her they thought it was unfair for employees who were Grade 26s to get thousands of dollars with a 2.6% raise, and to have Grade 6s get a few hundred in a year -- then have to use the increase to pay the hike in the insurance bill.

OVERTIME PAY

When staff at Benton Services Center, who were working 81/2 hour days, were not paid for their lunch breaks, Local 100 brought the workers together and sued the state. They won, and received back pay at time and a half for the overtime they had workers.

WON JOBS BACK

When the Department of Human Services didn’t follow it’s own procedures when it laid off workers, our members pulled together to demand that they follow the rules. Workers with seniority were unfairly laid off won the campaign.

DHS has since changed it’s RIF (Reduction in Force) policies -- another reason why state employees need public sector bargaining rights so they can get a fair policy in writing.

GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE

In 1993, members pulled together to win an Executive Order establishing a grievance procedure. We’ve used it to win some important victories, but the language has regularly been weakened. State employees are now pressing for a public sector bargaining law so they can win an effective grievance procedure.
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ONGOING CAMPAIGNS

LIVING WAGES

Last session, hundreds of Local 100 members and friends pulled together to press for living wages. These are wages that allow a worker to get paid enough at one full-time job to make ends meet. According to Advocates for Children and Families, in 1999 (before heating costs skyrocketed) that was:

$18,805 1 Adult and 1 child
$22,375 2 Adults and 1 child
$24,833 1 Adult and 2 children
$28,541 2 Adults and 2 Children

In March 2001, 250 people marched together in Little Rock in support of living wages. If you believe that state employees should earn living wages, it’s time for you to join us.

A VOICE AT WORK

First, state employees got a raise for doing satisfactory work. Then, they were told that they had to get a very high score (400) on their performance evaluations to get a raise. When the state ran out of money toward the end of the fiscal year, managers were told to redo excellent evaluations, so that scores were below 400. Scores on performance evaluations then were no longer covered under the grievance procedure . Then, merit raises were dropped. State employees receive cost of living raises -- based on an unfair percentage basis. People with seniority max out. They get moved to different units, and shifts without having a say, They get their days off changed. Tired of this? You can do something about it.
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WHAT YOU CAN DO

In January 2002, our members came together in Little Rock from across the state to compile a State Employees Bill of Rights. This included issues that involve money (such as pay raises and a fair pay structure) and those that don’t (such as a fair grievance procedure and rights around issues including schedule and seniority). There have been three forums with over 200 people total in Little Rock, Pine Bluff, and Marianna. Candidates were asked to tell us verbally and in writing whether they will support and/or co-sponsor collective bargaining and living wage legislation. Local 100 leaders who spoke at these forums included Hattie Daniels, Redonia Harshaw, and Mary Cook.

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