July 22, 2016
VSEA members have been waiting for months for word of how the State is going to respond to DCF and other workers’ complaints about safety and security in the workplace and in the field. In a letter sent today to the Administration by VSEA President Dave Bellini, he reminds that August 7 marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic killing of DCF Social Worker Lara Sobel, and he urges State action above and beyond what AHS Secretary Hal Cohen outlines in a memo he sent today to AHS
Here are some excerpts from Bellini’s letter:
“The danger of physical attack and bodily harm exists every day at [employees’]- worksites. The Legislature has appropriated more funding for safety investments; unfortunately, on-the-ground state employees have seen little change in actual safety measures. Taking a full year to address a serious safety crisis is not acceptable.
Our frontline workers are the best judges of the threats that face office personnel and the public visiting state offices. Their suggestions have gone unanswered. We are reiterating our demand that the State of Vermont meet the safety needs of state workers and the Vermonters they serve. The following three priorities should be acted upon immediately with specific goals and timetables:
- All state parking lots should be secured, have restricted entry and be monitored;
- Trained law enforcement officers should be regularly present in state office buildings, as well as all DCF and Probation and Parole offices, which require a secure point of entry that at a minimum includes walk through metal detectors, baggage scanners and enough personnel to staff entry ways; and
- An independent "Safety Czar" should be created by mutual agreement of the Agency of Administration and the VSEA to coordinate safety efforts across state government and to brief the Administration, the VSEA and the General Assembly on safety and security measures. This position should receive every threat made against state employees and/or their families. This position should have independent authority to make recommendations and seek necessary funding for improvements from the Legislature and the Administration.
Please respond to the demands of your frontline workers no later than August 7, 2016.”
VSEA will update members on the State’s response, if there is one.
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