VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: August 17, 2018


Outline Of Changes To Three Unit Contracts In Mediation

VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley emailed the following outline of the changes made in mediation on August 7 to the State’s last best offer, which covers VSEA members in the Non-Management, Corrections and Supervisory Units. WIA is sharing it with members and retirees again, just in case you might have missed the August 9 email.

WAGES:  Vermont State Police Lieutenants Only!

  • If the State were to enter into an Agreement with the Vermont Troopers’ Association that contains wages which are more favorable than the 0.6% wage increases that VSP Lieutenants are to receive, then the Lieutenants would receive the same wage increases as the VTA.


  • (Current contract language) Effective January 1, 2019, the prescription drug formulary will change to the standard, national formulary of the Pharmacy Benefits Manager and the State shall have the authority to authorize the Pharmacy Benefits Manager to apply reasonable quality and cost measures such as prior authorization and drug quantity management.
  • (This new language will be added to the above paragraph)  The Pharmacy Benefits Manager shall annually thereafter, provide a proposed list of the division of drugs into tiers prior to implementation of such drug list.  The parties will meet, review and discuss the drug list promptly.  The parties must consider each other’s positions in good faith.  During any year, the Pharmacy Benefits Manager may bring forward revisions for discussion and review in accordance with this paragraph. 


  • Office Visit copays for non-specialists will be $25 (Added: Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Chiropractic and Acupuncture will be non-specialist copays of $25)
  • Office Visit copays for specialists will be $30 (reduced from $40)
  • Emergency Room copays will be $75 (reduced from $100)
  • MRI copays will be $30 (reduced from $50)


  • If the State were to enter into an Agreement with the Vermont Troopers’ Association that contains health plan terms which are more favorable than those contain in the Executive Branch Health Plans, then those more favorable teams will be incorporated and become part of this Agreement


  • Paid VSEA leave time for Bargaining Team members to attend up to six (6) meetings to prepare for negotiations, meetings must be held on or after February 1 of the year in which bargaining is scheduled to commence.
  • Use of accrued leave to attend VSEA Standing Committees will be eliminated


  • Notice of a personnel investigation within 30 days of the date that Management knew or should have known of the alleged misconduct is eliminated


  • Contract language on continuing to negotiate the parameters to add binding arbitration as an additional option at Step 4 will be deleted

According to internal VSEA analysis, agreements made in mediation will result in $2 million-plus not coming out of the pockets of state employees and retirees over the life of this contract. 

Note: Members with specific questions about the new contract should contact a Steward or a Union Representative.

Good Night For VtPAC-Endorsed Candidates

Federal and state candidates who received a VtPAC endorsement in Tuesday’s primary election fared very well, with 98% estimated to have won the right to move on to November’s general election. VSEA’s Legislative Department is busy looking over all the data and will soon be providing interested members with a comprehensive breakdown of how VSEA-endorsed candidates did in the primary.

Thanks to every member and retiree who took time to vote in Tuesday’s primary.​

Quote Of The Week!

"Our recommendations come from the heart and souls of frontline Maine OCFS workers who go to work every day focused entirely on doing everything within their power to keep children safe.”

Maine SEIU Local 1989 Retiree Director Peggy Rice, commenting to WABI on August 16 on a new union-produced list of recommendations to strengthen and improve child and family services in Maine. Take note VSEA DCF FSD members.

AHS Secretary Meets With VPCH Workers

AHS Secretary Al Gobeille stopped by VSEA headquarters on August 15 to meet with a dozen frontline workers at the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital (VPCH) in Berlin. For more than an hour, the workers were able to directly ask the Secretary questions about a proposal put forward by the State and lawmakers to move Level 1 acuity beds to a facility to be built by the University of Vermont and privatizing what has historically been a State-administered service.

Surprisingly, Gobeille said he has not had a single discussion with any UVM official since the privatization move was approved and moved at the State House. However, he did share that he is hearing that UVM may not be as committed to hosting the number of beds needed as first indicated, which would definitely be a problem for this plan. Gobeille added he was also unclear on the status of UVM’s “right to refusal” if being asked to care for acute patients in State custody. One important revelation Gobeille shared is that UVM will be able to avoid patient liability if caring for a patient in State custody, meaning Vermont taxpayers assume liability and any potential lawsuit arising from a accident, elopement, etc. at a private hospital. He stressed that his main focus right now is to open up 12 new beds at the Brattleboro Retreat.

VPCH employees at the meeting, including Chapter President Jason Rushlow, pressed Gobeille for more details on the proposed UVM agreement, reminding him about what happened when Fletcher Allen was forced to treat Level 1 patients following Hurricane Irene (staff could not adequately handle the acuity) and how Fletcher Allen officials came to the State House to testify against privatization when it was being floated by the Douglas Administration. Employees also wanted to know what federal options were available to possibly secure a waiver of a federal mandate that no acute, Level 1 facility have more than 16 beds—or if it’s possible to set up two or more 16-bed facilities across the state. Gobeille and VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard said they have already been in touch with the offices of Vermont’s federal delegation and are working to arrange a meeting(s) to see what kind of help they can offer, if any.

To his credit, Gobeille promised to continue to periodically meet with the frontline workers to provide updates on the VPCH’s future and the future of the entire VPCH workforce.

Lamoille Valley Chapter Wraps Up Another Successful “School Supply Challenge”

VSEA Member Sandra Noyes with VSEA Organizer Carmen Scoles, picking up school supplies at Northern Vermont University- Johnson

VSEA Organizer Carmen Scoles was in the Lamoille Valley this week to help the Lamoille Valley Chapter collect school supplies that state employees dropped in donation boxes placed in worksites throughout the region. This is the fourth year the Chapter has conducted a successful school supply drive, and Chapter officers are thanking members for their generosity. All supplies collected were donated to children currently in the custody of DCF Morrisville Family Services.

"Big thanks to all the state employees who donated items to help make this another successful school supply drive for our Chapter,” says VSEA Lamoille Valley Chapter President Aimee Towne.

Here are some photos of all the supplies the Chapter collected.


Register Online Today To Attend VSEA’s Annual Meeting 2018

This year’s Annual Meeting promises to be a busy one, with Janus decision fallout, implementation of the State’s last best offer healthcare copay increases on January 1, ongoing safety and health issues statewide, privatization of services and a host of other issues weighing heavy. To save some money, the VSEA Board decided months ago that this year’s meeting would be just a one-day affair, as opposed to the historic two-day meetings of years past.​

Book the date!
VSEA Annual Meeting 2018
Saturday, September 8

Capitol Plaza Hotel, Montpelier

Register Online!

Or download PDF registration forms here.
Registration deadline is August 28.


What is Annual Meeting? 
Major decisions in the union occur at Annual Meeting, held every September, at which every active member of the union in attendance receives an equal vote. Learn more about VSEA’s structure here.

Members vote by show of cards at
Annual Meeting 2017


New Contract Printing
Can Move Forward Now

VSEA members continue to inquire to headquarters about the status of the new NMU, Supervisory and Corrections’ contracts and where they can find them online to review and understand.

To date, the contract the VLRB ruled in favor of has not been printed or posted because, as many VSEA members and retirees know, VSEA and the State just completed VLRB-requested mediation last week. But now that mediation has concluded, and an agreement has been reached and the VLRB has approved it, it should pave the way for the new contracts to be printed and posted soon.

In the interim, members with specific questions about the new contract should contact a Steward or a Union Representative.

Print & Post
Week In Action!

Please help spread the word about VSEA news in your worksite by printing and posting a condensed version of Week In Action.

Thank You!

View/ Print A Condensed Version Of This Week’s Issue Here!
(Opens/ downloads a PDF)


VSEA Meetings/ Trainings/ Events:


Upcoming Chapter Annual Meeting

  • Bennington Chapter
    Monday, August 20
    5:15 p.m.

    Bennington AOT Office
    359 Bowen Road
    Conference Room

    Questions: Contact Bennington Chapter President Victoria Thorpe at victoria.thorpe@vermont.gov​


  • Springfield Chapter
    Thursday, August 23
    4:30 p.m.

    Springfield State Office Building
    100 Mineral Street
    First-Floor Conference Room

    Questions: Contact Springfield Chapter’s Nicholas Merrill at merrilln@hotmail.com​


  • White River Junction Chapter
    Tuesday, August 28
    4:30 p.m.

    WRJ State Office Building

    Questions: Contact VSEA Organizer, David Oppenheimer, doppenheimer@vsea.org​


  • Rutland Chapter
    Thursday, August 30
    6:00 p.m.

    Ground Round
    559 U.S. Route 7

    Questions: Contact Springfield Chapter President Matt Jakubowski at firebeevt@yahoo.com​

Upcoming Organizer’s Worksite Meetings

  • City Center, Montpelier
    Tuesday, August 21
    12:00 p.m.
    City Center 
    89 Main Street

    Questions: Contact VSEA Organizer Carmen Scoles at cscoles@vsea.org


  • Department of Labor, Montpelier
    Friday, August 24
    12:00 p.m.
    DOL Office Building
    5 Green Mountain Drive

    Questions: Contact VSEA Organizer Carmen Scoles at cscoles@vsea.org

Upcoming VSEA Member Appreciation Day Event(s)

  • Springfield Chapter
    Thursday, August 23

    6:45 AM to 8:15 AM:
    coffee, donuts, apples.

    12:00 PM to 1:30 PM:
    ice cream

    1st Floor Conference Room
    100 Mineral Street

    Questions: Contact Springfield Chapter’s Nicholas Merrill at merrilln@hotmail.com​

Upcoming Steward Training

The next Steward training is
September 18 at VSEA HQ in Montpelier.

Training begins at 8:30 a.m.

To register, please email Gretchen Naylor: gnaylor@vsea.org


Points of Interest:


UVM Nurses Spotlight Executive Pay Versus
Worker Pay

Image: VTDigger

Nurses working at the University of Vermont Medical Center held several more fruitless bargaining sessions this week with hospital management, and reports say the two sides made some progress but still have not reached a deal.

To bolster their fight for fair pay, the nurses’ union publicly called out two UVM top officials for being paid more than $3 million in 2016, or 29 times what the average frontline UVM nurse annually earns. VTDigger reported on the pay chasm in an August 15 story, and, in it, nurses’ union President Laurie Aunchman labels the executive pay figures “disheartening,” adding that “the hospital is speaking loud and clear as to what their priorities are.”

Becker’s Hospital Review also reports on August 16 that the nurses’ union “is urging the state’s healthcare board to delay approving the hospital’s fiscal year 2019 budget until a contract agreement is ratified.” UVM Medical Center administrators are slated to testify in front of the Green Mountain Care Board on the fiscal year 2019 budget Aug. 22. At that time, the union plans to urge the board to delay approving the budget.

Maine Child Protective Caseworkers Draft 10 Recommendations To Improve State’s Child Protection System

The Maine State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1989, on Wednesday released 10 suggestions to improve child protection statewide, which were developed after the union surveyed its caseworkers across the state.

From the story:

“Our recommendations come from the hearts and souls of front-line Maine workers who go to work every day focused entirely on doing everything within their power to keep Maine children safe,” MSEA-SEIU Retiree Director Peggy Rice, a retired social worker and caseworker for Maine DHHS, said in a statement. “These workers know what is working and what isn’t working within the Maine Office of Child and Family Services. In the survey, they shared their hopes and fears. The 10 recommendations we are making are rooted in the urgent need to strengthen this linchpin in Maine’s human services structure.”

Among the recommendations offered by the union were: hiring more staff, ending forced overtime, improving technology within the agency and strengthening the foster care system so that more families can be used for placement.

Related: Portland Press HeraldProtectors Of Maine’s Vulnerable Kids At DHHS Feel Hobbled

Why Employee Sick Leave Banks Matter

Inquirer.net published a story on August 15 about how a Florida teacher’s appeal for sick days to allow him to complete his cancer treatment was met with a flood of donated hours from teachers across the state.

From the story:

Robert Goodman, a Florida public school teacher, had used up all his sick leaves for his chemotherapy sessions. Goodman, however, was still in need of 20 more additional sick days apart from the 38 days he has already taken off. So, what to do?

“I’m looking intocatastrophic leave of absence by the school district but I’m short 20 days sick days to quality for that…” Goodman wrote to his colleagues. “If i can get 20 more sick days… that would allow me to take more time to recover in chemo for 12 weeks.”

His post quickly made the rounds in social media, and in no time, Goodman was able to receive enough sick days for the entire semester.

“The reaction was absolutely incredible,” Goodman told The Sun Sentinel. “I was surprised by the volume of outreach, but I wasn’t surprised that teachers were giving. Because that’s what teachers do, we give.”

Note: This story out of Florida is a reminder of why it’s so important for VSEA members to annually donate some annual leave to your Unit’s sick-leave bank. Every year, the VSEA members who help administer the State’s Unit sick-leave banks make a statewide appeal for donations for months in this weekly email blast and on VSEA’s website and social media sites. The latest donation period recently ended, but when the next donation appeal is made, please remember this story and please donate some time to your Unit sick-leave bank. Thanks to all the employees who already donate and thanks in advance to all of you who will be next time around!

American Workers Continue To
Pile Up
Vacation Days

It’s become a yearly story now, but again American workers are hoarding vacation days, and many claim they don’t use them because they fear looking “replaceable.”

CNBC reports on August 12 that a new report released this week by a group called Project Time Off finds that the 20 days American workers used to schedule for vacation in the 1980s and 90s has now dropped to just 17 days total. It also says that more than half of American workers—around 52 percent—don’t even use all the vacation time they do have.

Project Vice President Katie Denis tells CNBC that more than 200 million vacation days were left on the table in 2017, and the lost value of those untapped benefits was ‘$62 billion last year alone.’" For each worker, that “donation” to his or her employer of untapped paid time comes out to $604.

From the story:

In this year’s Project: Time Off report, they found nearly a quarter of Americans, 24 percent, have gone a year without a vacation. Meanwhile, 12 percent say it’s been three years or more since they took time away for a trip. So what’s stopping them from getting away?

61 percent of employees surveyed say it’s the "fear of looking replaceable," while 56 percent insist their "workload is too heavy."

As for which generation is better at using all their vacation days, Denis said millennials are the worst. That age group takes 14.5 days of vacation, Project: Time Off’s data showed, while Generation X takes 17.9 and Baby Boomerstake 19.8, the organization’s information showed.

Related: The Average American Takes Less Holiday Time Than A Medieval Peasant, Economist Reveals

Article Sheds New Light On “How Missouri Beat Right to Work”

An article posted to Dissent on August 14 digs deeper in to why Missourians rejected a proposed “right to work” law so soundly on August 7.

Story lead paragraph:

“The most remarkable thing about last week’s rejection by Missouri voters of a right-to-work law enacted by the…state legislature was its magnitude. Not only did opponents crush the law by a margin of more than two to one, the total vote on the issue—nearly 1.4 million—exceeded by more than a 100,000 the number of statewide ballots cast on behalf of all candidates in both party primaries that same day."

This Week:

Outline Of Changes To Three Unit Contracts In Mediation​

Good Night For VtPAC-Endorsed Candidates​

AHS Secretary Meets With VPCH Workers​

Lamoille Valley Chapter Wraps Up Another Successful “School Supply Challenge”​

Register Online Today To Attend VSEA’s Annual Meeting 2018

New Contract Printing Can Move Forward Now​


VSEA Meetings/ Trainings/ Events:

Upcoming Chapter Annual Meeting:

Upcoming Organizer’s Worksite Meetings

Upcoming VSEA Member Appreciation Day Event(s):

Upcoming Steward Training


Points of Interest:

UVM Nurses Spotlight Executive Pay Versus Worker Pay

Maine Child Protective Caseworkers Draft 10 Recommendations To Improve State’s Child Protection System

Why Employee Sick Leave Banks Matter

American Workers Continue To Pile Up Vacation Days

Article Sheds New Light On “How Missouri Beat Right to Work”


VSEA Reminders:

“I’m Sticking With My Union” Video Series

Friendly Reminder: What Has Our Union Done For Us Lately?

What You Should Know About The Anti-Worker Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

Show Your Facebook Friends You’re VSEA Strong With VSEA Facebook Profile Picture Frame!

VSEA Insurance Benefits Enrollment

Vermont Magazine Offering A Free Issue Plus Special Subscription Rate Exclusively For VSEA Members!​

What Is The VSEA Advantage Program?



VSEA Calendar:

August 20
Bennington Chapter Annual Meeting
Bennington AOT Office
359 Bowen Road
Conference Room
5:15 p.m.

August 21
Organizer’s Worksite Meeting: Montpelier
City Center
89 Main Street
12:00 p.m.

August 23
Springfield Chapter Annual Meeting
Springfield State Office Building
100 Mineral Street
First-Floor Conference Room
4:30 p.m.

August 24
Organizer’s Worksite Meeting: Montpelier
Department of Labor
DOL Office Building
5 Green Mountain Drive
12:00 p.m.


Contact Your Union

Communication between Union members and Union leaders is important for a strong organization. Click the links below to find VSEA contact information for each category:

Board of Trustees

VSEA Council

Chapter Presidents

Find A Steward


“I’m Sticking With
My Union”
Video Series

Watch On YouTube:

"I’m Sticking With My Union" – Sue LaFleche


Watch On YouTube:

"I’m Sticking With My Union – John Vorder Bruegge"


Friendly Reminder: What Has Our Union Done For Us Lately? 

Just in case. Here is a reminder of just some of what VSEA has been able to accomplish for state employees (guided by rank-and-file leaders and activists) since its inception in 1944:

Yearly wage increases totaling more than 45% in cost-of-living and step increases since 1990;

Improved health benefits, comprehensive dental insurance including benefits for domestic partners;

A 30-year/no-penalty retirement plan with five-year vesting;

Enhanced mental health benefits;

Double-your-salary life insurance;

Time-and-a-half overtime benefits for over 4,600 employees;

Guaranteed maternity/paternity and adoption leave;

A strong grievance procedure to guarantee your rights;

Layoff (RIF) rights; 

An effective lobbying and political program that defends your rights in the legislature;

A Communications Department that provides timely news and analysis of developments affective you and your job;

Member benefits including discount programs; and

Access to stewards, Union Representatives and lawyers to answer questions and address workplace issues.


What You Should Know About The Anti-Worker Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

If you haven’t already, begin educating yourself today about what the Janus decision means—or supplement what you know already. Please also inform your co-workers about this Janus page and talk with them about what you learned and remind them of the importance of a union in their everyday life. You could make a difference. Every study shows that nothing is more effective than member-to-member communication.

Thanks in advance for visiting VSEA’s Janus webpage to ensure you are an informed union member. 


Show Your Facebook Friends You’re VSEA Strong With VSEA Facebook Profile Picture Frame!

You can set the frame to your profile picture here or you can following these directions:

  1. On a desktop, go to your Facebook profile.
  2. Hover over your Facebook profile picture and click, “Update Profile Picture”
  3. In the next menu, select, “Add Frame”
  4. Search for "VSEA" and select the color frame you would like to use, set the duration, and click “Use as Profile Picture”

Note: The following colors are available: Green, Gold, Black, White, and Green/Gold.


VSEA Insurance Benefits Enrollment

WIA was asked by VSEA Insurance 
Benefits Administrator, Joanne Woodcock, to include the following announcement:

  • Disability
  • Accident
  • Cancer
  • Hospital
  • Specified Health Event
  • Life Insurance
  • Payroll deducted

GREAT NEWS!  We’ve been working hard to make it easier for VSEA members to sign up for our insurance benefits.

You can now enroll anytime just by making an appointment.

The sign up is done remotely using your computer and speaking to me over the phone.

Learn more here!
For more information email Joanne Woodcock here.


Vermont Magazine Offering A Free Issue Plus Special Subscription Rate Exclusively 
For VSEA Members!

Vermont Magazine, published independently since 1989, is making a special, free introductory issue offer (and a special subscription offer) to VSEA members.

Vermont Magazine profiles Vermont people, places and towns, history, general stores, workplaces and fine homes and gardens in every issue.

To receive your free copy of the next (September/October) issue of Vermont Magazine, click here, and enter your name and address in the form that will appear. After you receive your free copy, you will receive a one-time, special subscription offer (one year, 5 issues for $19.95, which is a $4.00 savings from regular price) and a free, 2019 wall calendar, to be shipped with the Winter, 2017-2018 issue). 


What is the VSEA Advantage Program?

Did you know?
The average VSEA member can save hundreds of dollars a year by taking advantage of some of the Members Only benefits offered through their union?


It’s free, just for being a Vermont State Employees’ Association PerksConnect member!


  1. Go to  VSEA.org  and login to your VSEA account. Don’t have an account? VSEA Members can sign up for a free account here!
  2. Once you have logged in, locate and click the yellow "Advantage Program" button on the lower left column of VSEA.org. You can also click here to be redirected to this page.
  3. At the top of the Advantage Program page, click the link that says "Click Here To Log Into The New VSEA Advantage Program". This will redirect you to the new Advantage Program website. Please note this link will not work unless you are logged into your VSEA.org account first.
  4. Select a category and start saving!

Present your VSEA union card, mobile device or printed coupons and offers at participating businesses and receive immediate discounts.

Don’t see what you are looking for?
Request a merchant by filling out the Vendor Information form here. Please note submissions are subject to approval.

Questions? Feel free to email vsea@ vsea.org


Need To Update Your Contact Information
With VSEA? 
Don’t Have
Union Card? 

Request A Green VSEA Union Card

Have You Been Threatened
At Work? 

Send A Threat Report To VSEA

Subscribe To VSEA Today!

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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