After an eight-year struggle, AFSCME has finally made the State follow the collective bargaining agreement. Article 21, Section 5 of the agreement between AFSCME Council 18 and the State of New Mexico provides that "an employee who is assigned to shift work in a twenty-four hour facility and who does not utilize sick leave for a calendar quarter shall receive credit for eight hours of administrative leave...."
“The State had interpreted that section only to apply to employees in those facilities who are part of a rotating shift to allow 24-hour coverage,” said Connie Derr, AFSCME Council 18 Executive Director, “whereas AFSCME has always believed that it meant what it says: anyone who works a shift at a 24-hour facility is entitled to the benefit.”
AFSCME arbitrated that case on behalf of CO Specialists at the Springer Correctional Center, and won an award in March of 2009. Rather than accept the arbitration award, the State Personnel Office issued regulations in an attempt to undo the arbitrator’s final and binding interpretation of the contract. AFSCME filed suit alleging that the State unconstitutionally impaired the collective bargaining agreement.
Here is the original step one grievance filed in 2008
After numerous twists and turns, AFSCME has now resolved the dispute with the State. As a result, all current employees who work at 24-hour facilities are entitled to the benefit. Moreover, those employees who earned the leave from March 31, 2010 (the date on which the State tried to undo the arbitration award by issuing the regulation) to October 9, 2014 (the date on which, pursuant to a court order in the case, the State started awarding the benefit required by the CBA) will have their leave accounts credited accordingly.
The State will be sending notification to the more than 2,500 affected bargaining unit employees within the next few weeks.
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