It’s election season, so, next week, VSEA will be emailing members with a link where 2017 candidate petitions can be found. Members simply download a petition, collect the required signatures and then submit the petition to VSEA to place your name into nomination for one of the following union positions up for election in 2017:
Officers – Petitions due back to VSEA by 4:00 p.m., Tuesday, July 11
First Vice President
Second Vice President
Board of Trustees – Petitions due back to VSEA by 4:00 p.m., Thursday, June 1
Supervisory Unit Trustee
Corrections Unit Trustee
Defender General/Housing Authority Trustee
District 4 Trustee (Burlington)
Note: VSEA candidates for all positions are required to submit a petition bearing no fewer than 25 VSEA members’ names, signatures and employee number.
Included in this week’s VSEA Legislative Department update was VSEA Strategic Analyst Adam Norton’s synopsis of the primary differences right now between the House and Senate budget proposals. Norton reports that on the funding issues important to state employees, the Senate budget:
Fully funds the Pay Act for FY2018, financing the 2.25% cost-of-living- adjustment and steps for the upcoming fiscal year;
Eliminates the House’s $1.5 million “restructuring” cut to AHS that gave the Secretary broad authority to achieve savings without legislative oversight;
Increases ongoing General Fund appropriations to the Vermont State Colleges by $4 million, as opposed to the $2 million one-time appropriation made in the House budget; accomplished by raiding the Higher Education Trust Fund;
Includes full funding for the Judiciary reclassification, providing the additional $324,000 in retro pay that was omitted in the House budget;
Increases the cut to the Vermont Veterans’ Home by $40,000, but allows most of the $300,000 in savings to be achieved by purchasing less expensive prescriptions from the VA, thus reducing the pressure to cut overtime costs;
Repurposes the Windsor Work Camp as a “reentry” facility to prepare inmates to reenter the community. Windsor will be closed for up to six months for renovations for this repurpose, however the committee believes this will increase long-term job security for VSEA’s Windsor members, especially in light of the new out-of-state prison contract which includes language mandating a 250-bed minimum occupancy; and
Eliminates miscellaneous cuts to the Attorney General’s office and to Fish and Wildlife, protecting VSEA members’ jobs in both cases.
Norton explains that, “Following a budget vote by the full Senate, the budget process will then move on to a “conference committee” where the House and Senate budgets will be merged to accommodate each body’s priorities, after which the conference budget will be presented to the House and Senate for an up or down vote.”
VSEA members are reminded to stay alert for any last-minute budget surprises that might come between now and the session’s anticipated early-May end date.
VSEA State Colleges’ Members Urged To Contact House Reps
In its final budget proposal that passed unanimously this week, the Vermont Senate allocated $4 million to our State Colleges, which represents full funding. This is great news, but it’s not a done deal yet. The Senate and House must now meet in a Conference Committee to try and mesh the two bodies’ final budget proposals, but the House allocated just $2 million to our Colleges in its final budget proposal. This means there is most certainly going to be debate about whether to fully fund our Colleges, as in the Senate proposal, or only partially fund our Colleges, as in the House proposal.
In advance of the Conference Committee convening, VSEA is urging as many VSC members as possible pick up the phone to contact their House Representative(s) to urge their support for the Senate’s $4 million, full-funding proposal in any final budget passed.
Seven Days reports on April 25 that the State of Vermont is spending $8000 per month to store 25 lottery machines that are not being used. The paper reports that, to date, $72,000 has been spent—for nothing. At 12 months, the bill rises to more than $95,000. The machines were supposed to be placed in 25 bars across Vermont, but some lawmakers decided the machines did not send the right message and could fuel someone’s gambling addiction, so they were removed and mothballed.
Note: Next time you hear officials or lawmakers complaining about budget deficit and need for cuts, remember this story…
A group of VSEA members traveled to Washington D.C. on April 22 to participate with tens of thousands of Americans in the national “March for Science.”
“Despite the rains we were enthused to be together marching down Constitution Avenue representing VSEA,” Central Vermont Chapter member, DEC employee and March Coordinator Ned Swanberg tells WIA. “Showing up in DC expressed our support for science instead of lies, science as a method of discovery, and science as a process of learning and caring for our world and each other. Walking together with the banner we supported public health, conservation, our federal colleagues, and Vermont’s work in partnership with the EPA, NOAA, NSF and many others. The rally was very well organized with short pithy presentations by scientists across many disciplines introducing their work, and alternating with music to mitigate sogginess. We also connected to another union group and acknowledged the important work ahead for all of us to work together. Go Go Science!”
Reminder: Central Vermont Chapter Members Participating 4/29 Climate March In Montpelier. Inviting All VSEA Members To Join Them!
Swanberg, Deshler and other VSEA members will also be participating in this weekend’s “People’s Climate March” on Saturday, April 29, in Montpelier.
If you would be interested in marching with VSEA members at this event, please contact VSEA Central Vermont Chapter member Ned Swanberg for more information. You can email Ned at email@example.com.
To march with the VSEA banner, please look for DEC employee and VSEA member Heather Pembrook at the event.
Rutland Chapter Sponsoring May 5 Employee Appreciation Day Event!
Rutland Chapter President Matt Jakubowski is inviting members to stop by a special “employee appreciation day” event the Chapter is hosting on May 5 in the Asa Bloomer State Office Building’s lobby in Rutland. The event begins at 11:30 a.m. and will continue until 1:30 p.m.
If Searching For Child Care, Don’t Forget This Important Resource For State Employees
Longtime VSEA member, now retiree, Dave Clark has served on VSEA’s Child and Elder Care Committee for many years, and he recently asked WIA to remind state employees about an important child-care resource that is currently available to them.
“The Committee has noticed a recent decline in employees’ usage of the valuable child-care resources available to them, so we asked WIA to help us remind VSEA members about what is available,” explains Clark.
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
First Floor Conference Room
State Office Building
100 Mineral Street
AHS Conference Room
State Office Building
63 Professional Dr.
To Mark Workers’ Memorial Day 2017, AFL-CIO Releases New Report On The State Of Worker Safety & Health
Last week, WIA reminded readers that April 28 is “Workers’ Memorial Day,” which is the day working Americans pause to remember those who have been injured or killed on the job and renew the fight for strong worker safety and health protections.
To coincide with the day, the national AFL-CIO this week released its annual report on workers’ safety and health, titled “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect.” It’s packed with information about things like what work sectors are being impacted most by lax safety and health enforcement and what kinds of injuries are occurring most frequently in America’s workplaces. The report also breaks down each state’s worker safety and health record and compares it with that of other states.
The website CareerCast has released its annual ranking of jobs, based on criteria like work environment, stress, projected growth and median salary. Surprisingly, statistician ranked highest, followed by numbers two through ten, which are: Medical Services Manager, Operations Research Analyst, Information Security Analyst, Data Scientist, University Professor, Mathematician, Software Engineer, Occupational Therapist and Speech Pathologist.
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.
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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.
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.
Note: If you are already taking advantage of this benefit, and you have no changes this year to your coverage, you do not need to send back a new form, as you will be automatically renewed.
VSEA Schedules 2017 “Steward Summit” Series
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
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.”
Threatened While On The Job? VSEA Wants To Know
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.”
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!
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 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.
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).