DSS Members Petition Governor, Commissioner Over Telework Violations

Sept. 23, 2021—Frustrated by their agency’s refusal to honor a recently negotiated telework agreement, AFSCME union members who work for the state Department of Social Services have taken their objections directly to Gov. Ned Lamont and agency Commissioner Deidre Gifford.

More than 600 members of AFSCME Local 714 and AFSCME Local 2663 signed a petition demanding that DSS comply with the telework agreement signed July 31, 2021 between the administration and the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC).

To date, the agency has turned down more than 700 employee requests that meet the criteria of the agreement.

  • Click here to view the Local 714/Local 2663 petition.
  • Click here to review the stipulated telework agreement.

The AFSCME union members’ petition, delivered by their parent union, Council 4, to Gov. Lamont and Commissioner Gifford, reads as follows:

We, the undersigned employees of the Department of Social Services, are demanding that our agency honor the stipulated agreement on telework instead of undermining it through the denial of telework requests by the members of AFSCME Local 714 and AFSCME Local 2663. Our unions have been committed to the success of the telework agreements throughout the pandemic. It's clear that telework helps our agency meet its important mission…[The]Lamont administration must hold this agency accountable for breaking the law.” 

AFSCME Local 714 President Jay Bartolomei, an Eligibility Services Supervisor in the DSS Hartford office said:

“The telework agreement is a promise between SEBAC unions and the state. Unfortunately, Commissioner Gifford and her senior management team broke this promise. Their refusal to comply with a negotiated agreement does nothing to help the citizens of Connecticut, but it does hurt workers. It also breeds a sense of mistrust, harming future negotiations.”

AFSCME Local 2663 Steward Onica Matthews-Davis, a Child Support Investigator in the Bridgeport  office, added:

“We are proud of what we do and how we help people in need of a lifeline. Teleworking keeps staff and clients safe while allowing us to perform our duties with the same effectiveness, productivity and commitment that we’ve always demonstrated. My co-workers are frustrated by the agency’s refusal to honor this agreement. We deserve respect.”

Local 714 represents Eligibility Services Workers, Supervisors and others within DSS. Local 2663 represents Social Workers and Child Support Investigators within the agency.

UPDATE: Arbitrator Michael Ricci issued a ruling that will enable state social services field staffers to telework about 70% of the time through the end of 2021. 

“Our members are trained and skilled professionals who are dedicated to fulfilling our agency’s mission,” Bartolomei commented. “I can’t speak to what motivated the commissioner and her senior management team to disrupt our work and our well-being by ignoring the telework agreement. I can say that our members will appreciate an arbitrator’s decision reaffirming that the telework agreement is fair, reasonable and helpful both to employees and the clients we serve.”

For Immediate Release
Contact: Larry Dorman, AFSCME Council 4, (860) 989-9127 or [email protected]