Central Vermont Chapter Annual Meeting
Recreation Field Pavilion
Steward Training: The Hostile Work Environment Open To All Members!
VTrans Training Center
1716 U.S. Route 302
Quote of The Week!
“I had a lot of help from VSEA members with getting signatures, phone banking, canvassing, and putting up signs. The boots on the ground really made the difference in a very competitive race and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
VSEA Union Representative and newly re-elected House Representative Rachael Fields, thanking her fellow union members for their campaign help.
Lamoille Valley Chapter Announces Annual “School Supply Challenge”
Last year, VSEA’s Lamoille Valley Chapter launched a successful effort to get Chapter members to donate school supplies to help children in need. This year, the Chapter is hoping to build on last year’s initial success.
The Chapter is distributing collection boxes to Lamoille worksites, and the goal is to collect as many items as possible by Tuesday, August 23. All supplies collected will be given to children currently in the custody of DCF Morrisville Family Services. All types of supplies are needed, including: backpacks, lunch boxes, pencil cases, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, notebooks, folders, rulers, scissors and markers, to name a few.
VSEA Labor Educator Reminds Members of Summer Trainings
VSEA Labor Educator Tim Lenoch asked WIA to announce a new round of trainings he has scheduled throughout the summer 2016. If you are interested in registering to attend one or more trainings, you can do so by clicking here. Please direct your training questions to Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are three trainings open to all members, please invite folks who may be interested:
Information About Upcoming VT State Retirement Board Elections
Elections for two full Vermont State Retirement Board seats (each w/ two-year term) will be conducted at this year’s VSEA Annual Meeting on September 10. If you are interested in serving on the Board—and wish to have your name on the printed ballot for Annual Meeting—you must submit a letter of intent to the VSEA Elections Committee no later than September 1, 2016. You should send an email to Rubin Jennings VSEA (RJennings@vsea.org), or mail your letter to:
VSEA Elections Committee
c/o Rubin Jennings
155 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05602
Special Note: VSEA asks that interested candidates consider if they really have the ability to dedicate the time needed to fulfill the role of this position. For more information about the position, please contact Ray Stout at VSEA HQ, 223-5247. If you cannot ensure your attendance at the Retirement Board meetings, and fulfill the other requirements (including outside reading, conference calls, workshops, etc.), you may want to reconsider applying for this role.
Discounted 2016 Great Escape / Splashwater Kingdom Day Tickets Available Online & At VSEA!
Please note that there is a service charge for purchasing online.
VSEA also has tickets available for members to pick up at headquarters, and there is no service charge attached.
Questions? Feel free to contact Laurie Hassett by emailing email@example.com or calling 802-223-5247
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.”
Membership Recruitment Committee Creates Survey To Determine What Kinds Of Group Outings Appeal To VSEA Members
VSEA’s Membership Recruitment Committee recently arranged a trip for members to see a NASCAR race in New Hampshire. It’s the kind of group event the Committee would like to offer more of in the future, but VSEA’s membership is broad and there are a lot of interests, so the Committee has created a simple survey to guage interest in some suggested outings and for members to submit their own ideas.
VSEA’s Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee was at headquarters recently to count the votes cast in elections to fill three Board of Trustees’ seats. After the votes were tallied, the winners were:
District 1 (Barre & Central Vermont):
District 2 (Waterbury & Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital):
District 5 (Rutland & Bennington):
Winners officially occupy seats on October 1, 2016.
Deadline Extended To Register For VSEA Annual Meeting!
VSEA’s Special Events Committee met this week and decided to extend the deadline to register for VSEA’s 2016 Annual Meeting to Tuesday, August 30. The Annual Meeting is Saturday, September 10 in Killington.
All VSEA members are encouraged to attend the meeting and to participate in the festivities. Friday night there will be a dinner banquet followed by a dance. “Good Times Music” DJ Allen Brown is a VSEA member and an AOT worker! Also, for the first time, there will be a caricature artist to do drawings! On Saturday, members meet to discuss and vote on your union’s annual budget and its bylaws, as well as prioritize and set goals for VSEA.
If you haven’t registered yet for Annual Meeting, please go here to complete an online form and submit it.
VSEA Congratulates Rachael Fields On Re-Election To House! Thanks All The Members Who Ran In The Primary
VSEA is congratulating Rachael Fields on her victory Tuesday in a contested, four-person House race in Bennington. Voters are sending Fields back to Montpelier for her second term.
“I am extremely humbled at all of the time and work people put in by volunteering on my campaign,” Fields (a former Vets’ Home worker, now VSEA Union Representative) tells WIA. “I am honored that the citizens of Bennington and North Bennington are once again entrusting me to work for them in Montpelier. Working people are taking notice of whether they are being represented politically, and the conversations I’ve had throughout the campaign have encouraged me to continue fighting for change. I really do believe that if we stand together, we can win!” She adds, “I had a lot of help from VSEA members with getting signatures, phone banking, canvassing, and putting up signs. The boots on the ground really made the difference in a very competitive race and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Fields was one of five VSEA members who made a decision to run for office in 2016. Joining her to campaign for House seats in this year’s election were Cheri Goldstein (Risk Management), Evan Hill (Judiciary), Judy Rosenstreich (DMH) and Aimee Towne (DCF), but, unfortunately, each came up just a little short.
“I congratulate each of VSEA’s candidates in this year’s primary election, whether they won or lost,” VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard tells WIA. “It takes a lot of courage to enter into a political campaign—especially as a novice, as four of our five member-candidates were—but they all felt strongly enough about wanting to make a difference that they made the leap and, in the end, just one was victorious, but what a message it sends that frontline state employees are stepping up and saying ‘In addition to the service I provide, I also want to help Vermont improve as a whole. I hope that the 2018 elections will feature these VSEA members and more running for office.”
Now that Vermont’s primary election has concluded, VSEA’s Legislative Committee will soon be conducting a new straw poll to provide your Board of Trustees with better insight on how VSEA members feel about all the candidates running for statewide office in this year’s general election. Your Board of Trustees governs VSEA’s political process, so input to the body from as many members as possible is very important.
IMPORTANT! In order for a member to participate in the upcoming general election straw poll, VSEA must have the member’s updated home email address. VSEA cannot send emails of a political nature, such as the straw poll announcement, to state email addresses.
St. Albans Messenger Reports On VSEA Docket Clerks Low Pay
Using the voices of a retired judge and a former Vermont Docket Clerk, a story the August 6 St. Albans Messenger informs readers about the job’s many demands, as well as reminding Vermonters that there is a reason so many workers are leaving the job—low pay.
These two points have been the featured arguments of VSEA Docket Clerks, as they stand with their Judiciary Unit Bargaining Team to try and win some kind of remedy for their low pay at the table. Primarily, VSEA Docket Clerks are asking for changes to the current reclassification system; ones that will make it fair and unbiased, which they argue is not the case now.
Former Docket Clerk David Sicard tells the Messenger, “I think the Judiciary’s finding out that people are leaving because they can, for higher pay.” Asked about the Judiciary Branch lead negotiator’s assertion that there is not evidence to support a reclassification of Docket Clerks, Sicard says,
“The responsibilities, the job requirements, the knowledge base is all there. When a Docket Clerk, within the first five years of working can leave the Judiciary and go to another branch of the government and make more money with no more knowledge base, that should be an indicator.” Sicard adds that he believes the position should be a Pay Grade 20.
Retired Franklin County Judge Ben Joseph joins Sicard in supporting more pay for Docket Clerks, telling the paper, “I think that there has to be a concerted effort to raise the amount of money that the state passes down to the Judiciary. It’s not that there’s not enough money. Money is being spent on other things.” Joseph explains that “people come in to work as Docket Clerks, make $14.75 during the six month probationary period and then after a year, find out their skill set is worth a lot more and leave for better wages in attorneys’ offices and others involved in the court system.”
Vets’ Home Fined By VOSHA For Failure To Evaluate Potential Workplace Hazards & Not Providing Staff With Protective Gear
VSEA members working at the Vets’ Home and Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital share something in common. They know that each day at work, they could be confronted with a potentially unsafe situation while on the job; one involving a patient or resident and one they know will only be internally reported.
This week, the Bennington Banner reports that VOSHA recently visited the Vets’ Home to review its workplace violence prevention program, which inspectors discovered is only a piecemeal plan, causing them to fine the facility $2,700.
"In this case, VOSHA finds that the Veterans’ Home recognized the hazard, and has aspects of a workplace violence program in place, but it is deficient in many respects," VOSHA Manager Dan Whipple wrote in an Aug. 5 letter to the Home, explaining the citation.
VOSHA also found that the Home did not have measures to protect workers from assaults. This is an especially important discovery because VSEA members have been warning the Home’s management and Board about perceived threats from residents for months now. In fact, WIA has a copy of an email sent by a Vets’ Home employee to the Board in December 2015, advising them about a resident who is “continually creating unsafe areas in our facility” and asking them for help.
For some reason, VOSHA did not issue a citation, but only issued a fine, recommending the Home’s administrators take steps to "eliminate or materially reduce" employees’ exposure to hazardous conditions associated with workplace violence.
According to all reports, a VSEA member working as a Correctional Officer at the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport is okay after being held hostage in a cell by two inmates for more than two hours yesterday afternoon.
VTDigger published a story last night about the situation, which had excerpts from an email DOC Commissioner Lisa Menard sent to employees yesterday, including “I had the opportunity to watch some of the response as it evolved. Staff members at Newport were incredibly professional. It was evident that first responders from other DOC sites were well trained for these incidents.”
VSEA Communications Director Doug Gibson tells Digger that the union is very glad the situation was resolved without incident, but he reminds that “this is another glaring example of a state employee being subjected to an unsafe situation while on the job,” adding that VSEA is “committed to continuing to fight to enhance safety and security for all state employees, including our Corrections members.”
VSEA quickly reached out to the DOC member held hostage to ensure his/her needs are being addressed and to volunteer VSEA’s assistance, if required.
VSEA’s Corrections Unit members have weighed in, and the members selected to represent their DOC colleagues at the bargaining table in 2018 are:
Michael Arace – Brattleboro P&P
Lincoln Barbieri – NW State
Daniel Broe – NE State
Steffen Flibotte — Chittenden
Darryl Graham — Central Office
Joseph Gray – Burlington P&P
Michael Liff – St. Johnsbury P&P
Jeffery McKee – Southern State
George Reed – Marble Valley
Bryce Taylor – Marble Valley
Rick Plank (Chair) – St. Albans P&P
Brattleboro Chapter’s Appreciation Day Event & Annual Meeting Are
VSEA’s Brattleboro Chapter will hold a Member Appreciation Day event on Wednesday, August 17, from noon until 1:00 p.m. at the State Office Building in Brattleboro. Later that day, the Chapter is conducting its Annual Meeting, beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17, at the Marina Restaurant at 28 Spring Tree Road in Brattleboro.
NEK/St. Johnsbury Chapter’s Annual Meeting Is
VSEA’s NEK/St. Johnsbury Chapter will hold its Chapter Annual Meeting at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17, in the ANR office at the State Office Building at 1229 Portland Street in St. Johnsbury. Members with questions should contact NEK/St. Johnsbury Chapter President Ellen Hinman by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VSEA Retirees’ Chapter President Joanie Maclay is reminding all VSEA retirees in good standing (up to date on Chapter dues) that your Retirees’ Chapter 2016 Annual Meeting is Thursday, August 18, at the Steakhouse Restaurant on the Barre-Montpelier Road in Berlin, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
All of the Chapter’s officer seats are up for election this year, and nominations will be made from the floor at the August 18 meeting, with voting by attendees to follow. There will also be a presentation on health care by Kathy Callaghan.
Newport/Island Pond Chapter’s Annual Meeting Is August 18
VSEA’s Springfield Chapter is holding its Annual Meeting on Thursday, August 11, at the Eastside Restaurant in Newport. Questions? Contact Chapter President Joe Silvestri by email a email@example.com.
Central Vermont Chapter’s Annual Meeting Is August 18
VSEA’s Central Vermont Chapter is holding its Annual Meeting on Thursday, August 18, in the pavilion at Recreation Park in Montpelier, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Questions? RSVP? Please contact Chapter President Cassandra Edson by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DCF/AHS Colleagues Gather On August 5 To Remember Lara Sobel
VSEA DCF members joined with colleagues, state employees, clergy, elected officials and others on August 5 in the Pavilion Building’s auditorium to hold a small service to remember DCF Social Worker Lara Sobel and also to comfort each other during a very difficult time; the August 7 one-year anniversary of Sobel’s tragic death. Three members of the clergy, including Lara’s rabbi, offered remarks and prayers, and they were joined by AHS Secretary Hal Cohen and DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz. Finally, a half dozen DCF workers from the Barre office where Lara worked did the best they could to deliver very heartfelt remarks about their colleague, each taking a turn at the microphone to share their remembrances with those on attendance. It was very moving testimony about Lara the person, Lara the mother and Lara the frontline social worker.
45K Raised For “The Fund For The Children Of Lara Sobel”
VSEA will soon be closing out the fund it helped establish last year to aid Lara Sobel’s two children, and the VSEA Board of Trustees is thanking everyone who contributed to the very worthwhile cause. All totaled, the Fund raised close to $45,000 since being created in September 2015. Thanks again for your generosity.
VSEA was extremely heartened this week by DCF Social Worker Sarah-Jane Ploof’s post on Facebook that was shared with us. Her post includes pictures of her kids and their lemonade stand, which they set up over the weekend, solely to raise money for VSEA’s “Fund for the Children of Lara Sobel.”
In her post, Ploof writes:
"Just wanted to share how amazing this community is! In 3 hours these girls raised a total of $240.00 for Lara Sobel’s little girls!!! We will be matching this total as a family and will be able to donate $480.00 to the VSEA fund set up for Lara’s children. And we give extra thanks to our neighborhood friends for helping us as well as one amazing donor who gave 100.00 in support of Lara’s girls!!
Love everything about this amazing town!!! Thanks to all who donated!! One year ago today, Lara Sobel was one of 4 women in Vermont who were tragically murdered over a child protection matter. Lara was a colleague and was leaving work when she was killed. Lara’s husband and two girls survived her loss. Hoping this money can help Lara’s girls in any way."
Note: Huge thanks to Sarah-Jane and her kids for this really thoughtful fundraising effort. Your post probably brought a smile to a lot of faces that needed one.
VSEA State Colleges’ Unit Chair Pens Letter To Editor To Point Out Disproportionate Funding For State Colleges Versus UVM
VSEA Vermont State Colleges’ Unit Chair Sandy Noyes penned a letter to the editor of the Morrisville News & Citizen this week, highlighting the funding disparity between UVM and all other Vermont State Colleges. She writes, in part, “Many of us at the VSCs have been scratching our heads on the unfairness of the ‘formula’ the legislature uses to allocate money to UVM and the state colleges. The state colleges educate far more Vermonters than UVM, yet we are left with a miniscule amount compared to what UVM receives.”
This Campaign Season, Ask Yourself: “Is It Fact, Or Is It Myth?”
With Vermont’s general election cycle now gearing up, it means there will now be a lot of rhetoric flying around about why Vermont continues to have budget deficits, with some candidates almost certainly talking about having to “streamline” or “modernize” government” or they will propose giving more tax breaks to corporations to entice them to do business here. VSEA has listed some of the more prevalent myths we hear each election about Vermont’s economic and social climate, and included a fact to counter each. During the campaign, VSEA members are urged to question candidates who continue to promote some of the more common myths.
Here’s an example:
Myth: Too many Vermont young people are leaving the state.
Fact: From a July 15, 2016, VPR story: “According to data from the Internal Revenue Service, nearly as many young people are moving to Vermont as those leaving, dispelling the popular notion that Vermont is losing young people in droves.”
Economic Policy Institute Study Finds Government’s Failure To Invest In the Public Sector As The Biggest Reason For America’s Slow Economic Recovery
The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released the findings of study this week that examined the impact of federal, state and local government austerity measures on America’s economic recovery. The results are illuminating. According to EPI, austerity measures are actually slowing America’s ability to recover from the recession, and the recommendation is for government to begin investing more in the public sector to get the nation’s economic wheels moving at a faster pace.
Here’s an excerpt:
"Given the degree of damage inflicted by the Great Recession and the restricted ability of monetary policy to aid recovery, historically expansionary fiscal policy was required to return the U.S. economy to full health. But this government spending not only failed to rise fast enough to spur a rapid recovery, it outright contracted, and this policy choice fully explains why the economy is only partially recovered from the Great Recession a full seven years after its official end."
In the weeks leading up to the Vermont’s August 9 primary election—and then to the November 8 general election—VSEA Legislative Committee members and HQ staff will be asking members to volunteer some time to assist candidates who have received VSEA’s endorsement and who deserve our support. A reminder that, this year, there are five VSEA members running for office, and each could use your help.
There are many ways for you to participate in VSEA’s Campaign 2016 activities, including:
Participate in a VSEA- or candidate-sponsored phone bank;
Participate in a VSEA- or candidate-sponsored honk-and-wave;
Participate in a VSEA- or candidate-sponsored door-to-door canvassing effort;
Participate in a VSEA- or candidate-sponsored candidate(s) rally;
Educate your family, friends and colleagues about the candidate and his/her positions on issues important to VSEA members;
March with a candidate in a parade;
Volunteer to help at a candidate’s headquarters (if applicable) with things like answering phones, filing, assembling educational packets/mailings, etc.;
Put a yard sign in your yard, or help the candidate distribute signs in your area;
Host a candidate house party;
Drive voters to the polls on Election Day;
Pen a letter to the editor in support of VSEA-endorsed candidate(s); and
Make a monetary contribution to a candidate(s).
If you would be interested in volunteering some time to help your union’s campaign 2016 efforts, please contact VSEA Organizing Director Vinnie O’Connor by email email@example.com, or by phone at 223-5247.
Important Note: It is imperative that VSEA have your current home email address, so you can receive political material. This is because some messages could be labeled partisan, and therefore they are not permissible to send to work emails. When contacting Vinnie with interest, please be sure to let him know your current home email. Thanks!
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.