VSEA Press Release: VSEA President Bob Hooper Retiring

BISHCA Employee John Reese Chosen To Lead VSEA.

VSEA President Bob Hooper Retiring From Union Service
VSEA Board Appoints John Reese Interim President Until Formal Election This Fall
                After a decades-long career serving as an elected rank-and-file leader of the Vermont State Employees Association (VSEA), current VSEA President Bob Hooper recently announced he is retiring from union service, effective April 30, 2011.  In response to Hooper’s decision, the VSEA Board of Trustees has appointed BISHCA employee—and current VSEA Board Member—John Reese to fill out the remainder of Hooper’s term.
            “I’d be lying if I said I don’t have mixed emotions about leaving VSEA now,” said Hooper. “In my 25 years of VSEA service—including five terms as VSEA President—I am proud of what VSEA has accomplished for our members and, to a great extent, for working Vermonters all across our state. That means improvements to things like health care and workers’ compensation benefits. I truly believe VSEA has added to the quality of life we all enjoy and treasure here in Vermont. Still, I’m uneasy about leaving now because the attacks being waged right now on working people nationwide by anti-worker politicians and groups is as mean-spirited, factually challenged and misdirected as I have ever seen. Meanwhile, the rich are getting richer and the average worker has to fight and scrap just to keep the status quo when it comes to wages, benefits and even the right to collectively bargain. While I am retiring from VSEA service, I do intend to remain actively engaged in the fight—initially as a member of the VSEA Retiree Chapter Board—to ensure Vermont common sense continues to win out over the anti-worker forces, just in case they ever rear their ugly heads here in our great state.” Hooper added that his union retirement also coincides with his retirement from state employment after 28 years. Most recently, Hooper worked as a Social Worker with the Department for Children and Families.   
            Incoming VSEA President John Reese began his service with Vermont in 2001. He is currently employed as a Securities Examiner with the Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration. Prior to being appointed President, Reese was the VSEA’s elected District 1 (central Vermont region) Board of Trustees’ representative. He has also served as President and Vice President of the union’s Central Vermont Chapter and as a Council member and Steward.
            “I was truly honored and humbled that the VSEA Board selected me to fill Bob Hooper’s shoes,” said Reese, who continued, “The past few years have been incredibly challenging for Vermont and our nation. State employees across the country are being asked to shoulder some pretty heavy burdens—and that includes VSEA members. I’m pleased, however, that our current Governor and Legislature understand not only the importance of Vermont’s public employees and the services we provide but also the importance of collective bargaining. That being said, in the coming years, VSEA—and all of Vermont labor—must remain on constant vigil. I am very excited to have this opportunity to serve and support Vermont’s state employees and the VSEA. I will do my best in the time provided me to help engage more members in the union’s fights, bargaining campaigns and political and legislative battles. My goal is to build off of VSEA’s victories and accomplishments and use them to make our union even stronger.”
            Reese will serve as President through the end of VSEA’s September Annual Meeting, where the results of a formal election to be held throughout the summer and early will be announced.
            The VSEA is Vermont’s second largest union, representing more than 7,500 state and other public sector workers.