VSEA’s Board of Trustees invited Vermont’s newly elected Governor Phil Scott to stop by its monthly meeting this week in Montpelier for an informal meet-and-greet, as well as to talk about his vision for state government moving forward and discuss areas where he and VSEA might be able to work together to improve public services for all Vermonters. Joining Scott at the meeting were the two members of his cabinet who are likely to have the most interaction with VSEA leaders and members during his tenure, Secretary of the Administration Suzanne Young and newly appointed Department of Human Resources Commissioner Beth Fastiggi.
Some of the topics the Governor was asked about include: the possible privatization of Vermont guardrail repair; assaults on VSEA DOC, DCF, DMH and VVH members; frontline worker safety and security enhancements; what lies ahead for health care; possibility of “spending a day working as a state employee;” increased State Colleges’ funding and DOC policy and protocols.
As part of the meeting, several Board members presented the Governor with a giant petition signed by more than 1,200 VSEA members and supporters. The petition declares VSEA members’ readiness to work cooperatively with the Governor to address the many challenges confronting Vermont’s public services, and, in return, it asks him to:
Invest in public services, not in private contractors;
Protect state employees’ benefits, especially our defined benefit pension plan, because this benefit plays a large part in attracting and retaining new talent to state government;
Enhance employees’ safety and security while at work; and
Respect state employees’ right to collectively bargain.
Scott thanked the Board for the petition and told them that he is hopeful he can work with VSEA to confront some of Vermont’s largest challenges. Scott then reminded Board members that he has been a longtime advocate of going straight to frontline workers to find solutions to problems, sharing a story about having to hunt down a BGS employee to unlock his office door on his first day as Governor.
VSEA is sending happy anniversary wishes to the faculty and staff–both present and past–at the Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center. VTC is celebrating its 150-year anniversary in 2017. Yesterday, the General Assembly marked the occasion with a special proclamation to make April 13 "VTC Day" in Vermont.
VSEA AOT Members Sending Message To Stop Privatization Of Guardrail Work
VSEA AOT members are being urged to contact the State’s top official with messages to stop the privatization of Vermont guardrail work. Workers learned recently that a “request for proposals” had been issued, and they are banding together now to voice their opposition.
“State AOT employees have done the bulk of this work for years, and we have done it well when asked to by management—and we want to continue doing it,” the AOT workers’ message reads, in part. “This is our pledge to you: tell us your timeline, and we’ll show you that we’re up for the challenge.”
VSEA members are urged to support the AOT members’ effort to prevent this privatization from happening.
New VSEA- Supported Surgical Center Runs Into Opposition
Photo by Erin Mansfield/VTDigger
Recognizing that something has to be done to try to lower health care costs for average working Vermonters, VSEA’s Board of Trustees voted a while back to endorse a group of local Vermont investors’ plan to build a 12,800-square-foot surgical center in Colchester. The Board’s belief was that competition is always a good thing and a new surgical center could possibly help drive down costs some, primarily because it might force UVM’s medical network and others to reevaluate their pricing and quality of service.
“If Vermonters, including state employees, can pay less for a procedure at this surgical center than at UVM or another hospital, then what’s wrong with that?” VSEA President Dave Bellini explained to WIA.
VTDigger reports today that the investors’ plan is meeting some tough resistance from the Vermont Association of Hospitals and others. They argue the new surgical center “could be detrimental to the health care system as Vermonters know it.” The issue is currently before the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB).
“The GMCB has a concrete opportunity to lower the cost of care,” Bellini writes in a comment her post to the Digger story. “If this surgical center is denied then I question the need for a GMCB. Listen to consumers instead of hospital executives.” Bellini adds that he was angered that meeting organizers allowed for just a few minutes of public comment.
Digger notes that the GMCB is taking public comment on the surgical center through its website and will take additional public comment at its board meeting April 19.
According to Bellini, the surgical center concept is also endorsed by the NEA and the AARP.
Tuesday, April 18, Is The Deadline To Submit Bylaw Changes
The deadline to submit proposals for changes to VSEA’s Master Bylaws is Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Proposals must be mailed to: Cassandra Edson, Bylaws Committee Chair, c/o VSEA Headquarters, P.O. Box 518, Montpelier, VT 05602.
Proposals should reference the number, section, sub-section, etc. of the bylaw you would like to change. You should also include the language you want to add, delete or substitute. Also include the reason(s) you are making this proposal. Example: “Bylaw 0 A (1) (b) Change: Monday to Sunday. Reason: Makes it easier to work with the calendar.”
Please be sure the changes you are recommending include all Articles and/or Bylaws that may be affected by the proposed change.
Now Is Time To Enroll In VSEA’s Popular Delta Dental Supplemental Plan Benefit
Letters should have arrived by now in the mailboxes of VSEA members, announcing the open enrollment period to participate in your union’s very popular Delta Dental Supplemental Plan. The enrollment period is also when members already in the program can amend their number of dependents also using the program, if this number has changed in the past year.
All enrollment forms are due back to VSEA by Friday, May 12, 2017.
Brattleboro Chapter President Reminds Members Of Meeting Date Change
VSEA Brattleboro Chapter President Robin Rieske sent an email to members this week to remind them that the Chapter meeting originally scheduled for April 14 was rescheduled to Wednesday, April 19. The meeting begins at 4:45 p.m. at the Panasian Restaurant on Putney Road.
Robin is asking members who are attending to please RSVP to her so she knows how much food to order. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Central Vermont Chapter Members Participating In Next Weekend’s March For Science In D.C. & The 4/29 Climate March In Montpelier
Inviting All VSEA Members To Join Them!
Activists belonging to VSEA’s Central Vermont Chapter are casting a net to find other Chapter and VSEA members who would like to participate with them in two upcoming climate-change events, including:
Earth Day “March for Science” – Saturday April 22 – Washington D.C.; and
People’s Climate March – Saturday, April 29 – Montpelier, Vt.
If you would be interested in marching with VSEA members at either of these events, please contact VSEA Central Vermont Chapter member Ned Swanberg for more information. You can email Ned at email@example.com. Members of the Chapter will be carrying the Chapter’s banner at each event.
The 2017 Corporate Cup 5K Race is being held Thursday, May 11, at the State House in Montpelier, beginning at 6 p.m. Once again, race planners are casting a net for volunteers, and VSEA is urging members and retirees who are able to sign up to help—much as you have in years past!
Volunteer opportunities include registering races, distributing t-shirts, manning the food tents and mid-point water stop, helping at the start and finish lines, assisting the timing company with posting race results and two individuals to help on the cone truck.
To volunteer, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Cindy Hier by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please let Cindy know your task preference and your anticipated arrival time.
Remember: volunteers can walk or run, too. Invite friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to volunteer with you. Receive a free t-shirt!
Vermont Bucks Hosting Special "State Employee" Nights!
25% Ticket-Price Discount For April 22 Game!
The Vermont Bucks were so impressed with the great response from VSEA members to the team’s recent 50% off VIP Box-Level ticket price offer, that the Bucks are now offering a 25% ticket-price discount* to any VSEA member who attends the April 22 home game.
To receive the 25% discount, VSEA members must show their green "VSEA Membership Card" and give the promo code word: "ORANGE”
VSEA Insurance Representative Will Be In Brattleboro, Middlebury and Morrisville Next Week
VSEA Benefits Enrollment
By Appointment Only:
VSEA Insurance Representative Joanne Woodcock will be at the following locations to talk with interested VSEA members about member-only insurance benefits:
Brattleboro District Office
232 Main Street
12:00 to 4:00
Middlebury District Office
156 South Village Green
Economic Services – Room 1
12:00 to 4:00
Morrisville District Office
63 Professional Drive
12:00 to 4:00
Receive information on disability coverage, family life insurance, family accident, cancer and hospital coverage. You must be a member paying full dues to be eligible for this VSEA benefit. If you are an agency-fee payer, Joanne can provide you information about signing up for full membership.
All applications need to be taken in person.
Email Joanne@vseainsurance.com for an appointment. Please provide your age, hourly wage and job description so I can send a quote BEFORE we meet.
NMU Sick Leave Bank Teetering On Bankruptcy! VSEA Members Urged To Contribute
Donations Being Accepted
April 1 To June 30
VSEA member Dawn Carrillo staffs the Non-Management Unit Sick Leave Bank, and she is again asking WIA to sound the alarm that the bank is nearly depleted of hours. She is also announcing that NMU members can donate a few hours to your Unit’s sick leave bank from April 1 to June 30, 2017.
“Just donating an hour of your time can mean the world to a fellow employee,” reads a new flyer DHR is circulating. It also informs state employees that they can donate any amount of annual- or personal-leave time to the NMU Sick Leave Bank. “Know that you are performing a wonderful service by helping your friends and fellow employees, who, along with their families, are struggling due to serious health issues,” the flyer concludes.
“I want to thank every member for considering a donation to your Unit sick leave bank,” says VSEA President Dave Bellini. “Even if you only donate one hour to the bank, these one-hour donations add up. It’s so worthwhile because your donation is going to help a fellow state employee who is battling a serious illness.”
VSEA Organizer Tim Lenoch is personally conducting informational meetings in set workplaces on set days in four locations. He says the purpose of the meetings is to provide members with an opportunity to “join with their colleagues and VSEA staff for updates and discussion on the issues and challenges facing state employees and the impact on your working conditions and the services they provide.” He adds that members are welcome to “come share their ideas and hear from co-workers on how to build a stronger union and improve public services.”
Snacks and refreshments are provided.
AHS Conference Room
107 Eastern Ave.
State Office Building
232 Main Street
White River Junction
State Office Building
118 Prospect Street
April 18 (In Room 120)
First Floor Conference Room
State Office Building
100 Mineral Street
The spring 2017 training schedule is winding down, but one session remains.
If you are interested in registering to attend one of the remaining trainings, you can do so by clicking here. Please direct your training questions to Tim at email@example.com.
All training begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 4:00 p.m.
Location may change based on worksite location of registered participants. If this happens, registered participants will be notified at least a week ahead of the training. Mileage and lunch may be reimbursed or provided.
Steward 2: Protecting the Contract and Building the Union
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Thursday, May 16
Stormy Weather On The Horizon For America’s Unions
The Washington Post published a story this morning about a decision by top officials of the Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU) to cut the union’s operating budget by 30 percent in anticipation of a possible Supreme Court ruling and deep federal cuts that will impact SEIU members and thousands more union workers nationwide. In fact, the cuts being proposed are so draconian that even non-union workers probably won’t be spared.
“These particular budget cuts are our way of enacting financial efficiencies to deal with the realities posed by extremist, right-wing labor policy in all branches of the federal government,” SEIU spokesperson Sahar Wali told the Post in an email, “and still implement our plan to win for working people.”
VSEA members belonging to the Non-Management, Corrections, Judiciary, Defender General and Supervisory Units can click here to view your contract. All these contracts expire on June 30, 2018.
Quote of The Week!
"State AOT employees have done the bulk of this work for years, and we have done it well when asked to by management— and we want to continue doing it. This is our pledge to you: tell us your timeline, and we’ll show you that we’re up for the challenge.”
Line from a message being sent this week by VSEA AOT members to the State’s top official, imploring him not privatize guardrail work in Vermont.
How To Print Week In Action
Looking for a quick and easy way to printWeek In Action to post in your worksite?
VSEA’s Legislative Team has begun to post weekly reports to let members know what’s been happening at the State House in Montpelier. To get the latest VSEA updates from under the Golden Dome, you will first need to log into your VSEA.org account (log in here) and then click here.
In an effort to better educate frontline worksite Stewards about their role in VSEA, as well as provide them with enhancements to their existing skill set, VSEA’s Field Department is hosting a series of “Steward Summits” across Vermont throughout 2017.
Stewards will also learn the latest developments relating to contract enforcement and receive an overview of the budget, safety and health and other challenges that lie ahead for state employees. Stewards who attend will be asked to immediately help out by taking some of what they learn back to the worksite to educate their colleagues.
Four, six-hour trainings have been scheduled, and every current VSEA Steward is required to attend one session.
The Steward Summits (all 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) are:
May 19 – Best Western, 45 Blush Hill Road, Waterbury
August 18 – Best Western, 45 Blush Hill Road, Waterbury
October 20 – Hotel Coolidge, 39 South Main St., White River Junction
November 3 – Holiday Inn, 476 Holiday Drive, Rutland
VSEA Bargaining Team Members: Mark Your Calendars!
VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley announced this week that he will be conducting an all-bargaining-team-member “negotiations” training on Wednesday, May 3, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Best Western Hotel, located at 45 Blush Hill Road in Waterbury. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and lunch is being provided.
To RSVP for this important training, please contact Ayla Hudson at VSEA, by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone at 802-223-5247.
The cutoff date to register is Thursday, April 20.
Apply Now! VSEA Scholarship Application Deadline Is May 8!
Every year, the VSEA Scholarship & Awards Committee solicits scholarship applications from VSEA members and their spouses, dependents and domestic partners. The 2017 scholarship applications are now available online, and VSEA students who are seeking financial assistance this year in the pursuit of post-secondary educational goals can download one here.
What’s VSEA Done For Vermont State Employees? See For Yourself
A lot has happened since the VSEA was officially recognized in 1944 as the voice for Vermont’s state employee workforce, and VSEA’s Communications Department has now compiled many of your union’s notable victories and achievements in a new online chronological history of the VSEA.
“Thankfully, VSEA formed a special committee in the mid-eighties to put together a historical synopsis of what had happened within the union from 1944 to then, and it was a great piece for us to build from,” explains VSEA Communications Director Doug Gibson. “This up-to-date history will hopefully help educate more VSEA members about the fights and campaigns of past state employees, reminding them how long it actually took for workers to get to where they are today, in terms of wages, benefits and working conditions. We hope it will be a good resource and tool for members.”
VSEA President Dave Bellini is asking all state employees who are threatened while performing your job duties to provide an account of the threat not only to your supervisor or the State, but also to VSEA.
“VSEA wants to begin to compile its own record of threats against frontline state employees, no matter your occupation,” explains Bellini. “I’m asking all employees who are threatened, especially those working in AHS, to take a few minutes to fill out an online form VSEA made to collect your report. The information will help us provide a firsthand account of the number of threats being made and where they are being made, in addition to some other things.”
VSEA Schedules 2017 “Day At Fenway” Event For August 27
Last year, VSEA scheduled its first-ever “VSEA Day at Fenway” event, and it was a huge success. This year, VSEA will again be sponsoring a trip to Fenway, this time to see the Red Sox battle the Baltimore Orioles in a 1:05 p.m. start on Sunday, August 27. The estimated cost is $80 per person, which includes a bus ride to and from the park, as well as a ticket to the game.
If you and your family would be interested in joining your union and fellow members at Fenway on August 27, 2017, you should contact VSEA Union Representative Bob South. You can reach Bob by email at email@example.com or by phone at 223-5247.
Bolton Valley Already Offering VSEA Members Discounted 2017-2018 Passes
Bolton Valley (BV) Ski Resort has been a VSEA Advantage Program participant for years, offering state employees discounted season passes. It’s a popular item, and while winter 2016 is not even over yet, BV is already offering VSEA members discounted 2017-2018 ski passes.
Important! To purchase an online, discounted BV 2017-2018 pass, you must first receive a special promotional code directly from the VSEA Advantage Program. To get a promo code, contact VSEA’s Susan DeVoid by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone at 802-223-5247. Susan is only available during normal VSEA operating hours.
Last fall, VSEA’s Membership Recruitment Committee launched a “Membership Engagement and Recruitment Initiative” to grow the union’s ranks. The Committee asked members to talk with current agency-fee payers about the benefits of full-fledged membership and why the member should make the switch. If the member decides to upgrade their membership, the recruiting member will have the satisfaction of knowing they helped their union become stronger, but, in addition, the Membership Recruitment Committee will be awarding different levels of prizes to members, based on the number of new VSEA members recruited.
Here are the guidelines to participate and be eligible for a prize:
Whether submitting your recruited member(s) name(s)on a physical recruitment card or online, you must include your name as the recruiter;
Every member who recruits a new member will has his or her name entered into a drawing for the Grand Prize. The winner’s name will be drawn at VSEA’s Annual Meeting in September 2017, and the winner must be present to claim the prize;
Team entries are being accepted. Please register with Membership Recruitment Committee Chair Katelyn Chase by emailing her at email@example.com.
Members who recruit a new member, who then agrees to join your union’s political awareness committee (VTPAC) will receive an additional chance to win the Grand Prize, and
The cut-off date for this competition is August 30, 2017.
Here are the different prize levels:
$10 gift card and a VSEA water bottle (75 prizes awarded)
$25 gift card and a VSEA hat
(40 prizes awarded)
$50 gift card and a VSEA tote bag
(15 prizes awarded)
$100 and a VSEA vest
(8 prizes awarded)
1 Grand Prize of $1200
Note: WIA is periodically reminding members about this effort until its culmination in August 2017.
Join VSEA’s Texting List!
Texting is a great way for VSEA to let members know about important state employee issues or fights in a timely manner, but VSEA can’t text you if we don’t have your correct cell phone number.
Or contact VSEA headquarters (802-223-5247) today to provide, check or update your number. Please urge your colleagues to do
VSEA Advantage Discount Program
Member only discounts on goods and services such as skiing, clothing, automotive, insurance, lawyer referral program, workers compensation advice and more! The VSEA Advantage Program is proof that there is power in numbers. It keeps working for you when the workday is through.
Just Present Your VSEA Union Card To Receive These Great Discounts! Don’t Have A Union Card? Request One Here!
Popular Advantage Program Discounts Include:
Discount Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom (2016 discount was $23 off day passes)
Discount Passes for ski resorts like Sugarbush Resort ($899 season passes) and Bolton Valley ($70 off season passes) – 2015/2016 season enrollment period has ended.
Winter/ Summer tire discounts for various locations across Vermont (5-10% off depending on location)
Movie theater discounts at select theaters in Vermont.
Restaurant discounts throughout Vermont (5-20% off depending on location).
VSEA’s Communications Department is happy to disseminate any and all communications the leadership, Chapters, Units, and others request, however, the lists the Department currently pull from are provided to the union by the State of Vermont. VSEA’s Communications Department has found the lists to be dated, incomplete and sometimes lacking key information that was entered by a VSEA staff person but later overwritten or deleted during a State data dump.
To help VSEA more effectively reach active members—and really all those members who want to know what’s going on in their union—VSEA will be working hard in the coming months to collect members’ emails on its own and begin to build contact lists that cannot be altered by a State download.
You can help us get started by clicking here and signing up for the VSEA communications you are interested in receiving.
Thank you in advance for subscribing. Please urge your colleagues to do the same.