Earlier today the MCO bargaining team attended the scheduled impasse hearing in front of the Civil Service Impasse Panel. The hearing began with the Panel allowing both the state’s bargaining team and our bargaining team the opportunity to give an overview of our respective positions. We summarized the long-standing staffing crisis and our reasons for holding our position on what steps are needed to address the recruitment and retention of employees in our bargaining unit. We focused our summary on the obvious conditions that exist and how the state has not and is not taking effective steps to attract and keep employees in this line of work. The Panel members had our full impasse position statement (the one we shared with the membership several weeks ago) and they engaged us on the points we made in the statement by asking questions and seeking clarification on various topics.
The state’s bargaining team gave an overview of their position and focused on their desire to set up a committee with MCO to take a look at the problems and find solutions. They reluctantly acknowledged that there is a staffing crisis but stated that they just need more time to look into solutions “with the union”. With their summary, we believe their intent was to convince the Panel that they’re now willing to explore options, but not until next year. We’ve heard similar statements before. The Panel engaged the state with questions on vacancy rates, mandatory overtime, resignations, and recruitment numbers.
After hearing the overviews, the Panel instructed both sides to present final position statements and have them submitted to the Panel within seven days. The Panel then has the authority to issue recommendations to both sides in an effort to reach an agreement. The Panel also submits their recommendations to the full Civil Service Commission for review, no later than November 22, 2023. If an agreement cannot be reached, the Commission has the authority to make a final determination on the impasse. The Commission would report its determination at the Commission meeting scheduled for December 13, 2023.
We believe that our position is clear and that it is justified. The staffing crisis is worsening, each year the vacancy rate climbs higher and there is no net gain of employees. Impactful steps need to be taken, and we stand by our belief that our proposed solutions would be immediately impactful. We will continue to update the membership as the impasse process moves forward over the next several weeks.