Most people hear the word “local” and think of the regional branch of a large union such as the Steelworkers or Teamsters. VSEA has “locals” too and we call them our “chapters”. Vermont is not a large state in terms of area but it sure takes a long time to drive from one end to the other! A drive from Bennington or Brattleboro to Montpelier takes a couple of hours. The VSEA headquarters is based in Montpelier but the union is where YOU, the members, are – at the more than 425 worksites. VSEA set up 15 regional chapters so that members would have a way to connect, communicate, and hold leadership accountable without having to trek to Montpelier.
VSEA chapters provide members with a way to have direct participation in their union. Chapter meetings are gatherings at which members can speak their minds and identify issues for VSEA leadership and staff to work on. But that’s not all. Some chapters have had legislators attend meetings to explain legislative actions and hear members’ concerns. Chapters are a critical piece of the VSEA system by which we have members take action when the legislature is in session. And you know what? It works! Just as one example, members were very effective in helping get the Pay Act funded and we made use of the chapter structure.
The chapters are the “glue” that bind together, by region, all 6,100 members who are distributed among the nine bargaining units. You can really experience solidarity when you are in a room with people in the same union with you who work for the many departments that are state government. It’s amazing the ideas and support members provide each other.
Chapter meetings are held as often as members want. VSEA bylaws require that each chapter meet annually – these are the meetings held during July and August of each year. Sometimes you may hear comments about what “they” are doing (or not doing!) “at VSEA”. Well, folks, there is no “they”; but there is an “US” and that means “YOU”! Consider stopping by your next chapter meeting and meet other members. You won’t get trapped into doing anything but who knows, you may well decide that YOU are the person who can make a difference and move things ahead.
If you have any questions about what chapter you are in, who the president or when meetings are held, contact VSEA HQ by calling 802-223-5247 or email firstname.lastname@example.org