State Not Yet Saying How $5 Million Savings Will Be Achieved
The Times Argus reports this morning that the State is still “months away” from divulging how it intends to achieve $5 million in “administrative savings” it included in the budget passed by the legislature. According to the story, the State says it will be October or November before a plan to address the placeholder language will be announced.
Needless to say, VSEA members have reason to be a little nervous when there’s talk of budget cuts, but the State says the savings will not result in “cutting programs used by Vermonters.” The State is also promoting its dialogue with frontline workers about savings, saying, “[Workers have] come up with some great ideas on how we can make Vermont more efficient in their own agencies and departments. They’re very excited about that.”
VSEA would be interested in hearing from a few of the frontline workers who have been involved in the savings discussions the State references in the article. If you participated in one of these discussions, please contact VSEA and let your union know what ideas are being talked about and what is the impact to your service. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and write “$5 Million Ideas” in the subject line. Your email to VSEA will be kept confidential, as will your identity. Thanks in advance.
September 4 Is Deadline To Vote In VSEA Officer Election!
By now, all VSEA members should have received an important email that contained a link to your official online ballot to vote in the 2017 VSEA Officer election. The ballot link was emailed to members on August 14, both to home and work emails, provided VSEA had the correct email addresses on file.
VSEA hopes you received you ballot and have taken some time to vote in this important officer election. Thanks to your union’s new online ballot system, VSEA is already seeing a rise in the number of members who are participating in the process
If you did not receive a ballot in your inbox, please check that it did not end up in your spam filter. If you have checked your spam filter and still cannot find your ballot, please email email@example.com with the subject line "Ballot."
Non-Management Unit Members Urged To Vote On Proposal
VSEA’s Non-Management Unit (NMU) Bargaining Team emailed an important poll question this week to all members’ home and work emails. Your answer to the question will help dictate the Team’s response to a particular bargaining proposal that could impact all new hires to state government, if adopted.
Thanks in advance for your attention to this important email.
If you belong to the VSEA Non-Management Bargaining Unit and did not receive your poll question email in your inbox, please check that it did not end up in your spam filter. If you have checked your spam filter and still cannot find your poll question email, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "NMU Poll Question."
VSEA Legislative Committee Surveying “Group C” Retirement Plan Members
VSEA members enrolled in the “Group C” Retirement Plan are urged to keep your eyes open for an email on Monday, August 28, from VSEA’s Legislative Committee. The email will contain a link to a very short survey Group C members are being asked to complete and send back to the Committee.
VSEA’s Legislative Committee is thanking Group C members in advance for completing this important survey.
August 30 Is Deadline To Participate In Membership Recruitment Committee’s Engagement and Recruitment Initiative
August 30 is the deadline to participate in the VSEA Membership Recruitment Committee’s 2017 “Membership Engagement and Recruitment Initiative” to grow the union’s rank. As reported, since launching the campaign, more than 500 state employees have already signed cards to be full-fledged VSEA members. All members participating are eligible for different levels of prizes, based on the number of new VSEA members you recruit.
To participate, the Committee asks 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.
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 Gauthier 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)
In the coming weeks and months, VSEA’s Communications team hopes to visit with members who are interested in sharing their views about what it means to belong to VSEA and how getting involved and being engaged is essential and needed, especially now with the challenges that lie ahead (i.e. new round of bargaining, Supreme Court rulings, federal budget cuts, state budget cuts, etc).
On Thursday, VSEA’s team was at the Vermont Air National Guard Base in South Burlington to sit down and talk with VSEA members Ed Thomas (left) and Barry Nye (right), who provide security at the Base and have nearly 60 years of combined service to Vermont between them. We’ll be sharing some of their interviews with members in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. These guys had some powerful advice for any VSEA members questioning the need for unions in this day and age, and they don’t mince words.
Since the launch of the VSEAUnite App several years ago, less than 100 VSEA members have signed up for the free service, which was intended to let members know about important happenings in a more timely way…but the App never really caught on and is not appealing to members in the way envisioned. In fact, members seem to prefer being text messaged, which is another system entirely, so VSEA’s Communications Department is discontinuing the App.
“We tried this for a few years, but it never seemed to catch fire, and much of the information found on the App can be found just as easily at vsea.org,” explains VSEA Communications Director Doug Gibson. “One of the primary reasons for creating the App was to be able to send timely text messages to a targeted audience, but now that VSEA has other programs in house that can perform this service, the App seemed like overkill.”
Gibson is reminding VSEA members to make sure their contact information is up to date with VSEA so when important text messages are sent from headquarters, you are receiving them.
The deadline to register to attend VSEA’s 73rd Annual Meeting was August 22. But if you failed to make the deadline, you are still welcome to walk in to Annual Meeting on September 9 to attend the meeting portion, provided you are a member in good standing, meaning a full dues-paying VSEA member.
Be advised that if you walk in to the meeting on Saturday, September 9, VSEA will be unable to provide you with a meal at the Annual Meeting luncheon, as food had to be pre-ordered.
The VSEA Brattleboro Chapter is holding its Annual Meeting on Monday, August 28, at Top of the Hill Bar-b-Que on Putney Road in Brattleboro, beginning at 4:45 p.m. Chapter President Robin Rieske is asking members who want to eat while at the meeting to contact her by Monday, 3:00 p.m., with your meal order, up to $10 (see menu here). Beverages being provided.
A Member Appreciation Day event is being held Monday, August 28, at the State Office Building in Brattleboro, located at 232 Main Street, beginning at 12:00 p.m. There will be free ice cream for all who attend!
A Member Appreciation Day event is being held Thursday, August 31, at the Northern State Correctional Facility, located at 2559 Glen Road in Newport, beginning at 7:00 a.m.
Barre Chapter Offering To Help Members With Annual Meeting Costs
Barre Chapter President Sue Lafleche sent an email this week to Chapter members, informing them that the Chapter is offering to pay mileage for members traveling to and from Stowe on September 8 and 9 to attend VSEA’s Annual Meeting at the Stoweflake Resort. The Chapter will also be trying to obtain some funds to help Barre members with lodging costs.
VSEA Past President Shelley Martin Reminds About August 28 Price Increase On Senior National Park Passes
Past VSEA President and retired ANR employee Shelley Martin asked WIA to remind interested VSEA members that the U.S. National Park Service is raising the price of Senior passes on August 28 from $10 to $80.
“All eligible Senior pass orders placed online before 11:59 pm eastern daylight time on August 27 or mail orders postmarked on or before August 27 will be processed at the $10 price. Lifetime Senior pass orders placed online after 11:59 pm on August 27 eastern daylight time or mail orders postmarked after August 27 will be processed at the $80 price. Additional processing fees of $10 apply. For more information on the price changes, click here.”
VSEA Advantage Discount Program 2017 Ski Offers Begin
Keep your eyes on WIA in the coming weeks and months for announcements about 2017 ski pass offers from resorts across Vermont. VSEA Administrative Assistant Sue Devoid has been working hard to bring some new resorts into the program, so VSEA skiers will see some new names and deals this year.
To begin, the VSEA Advantage Discount Program is pleased to welcome back this popular long-time program participant:
Bolton Valley is offering discounted 2017-18 Bolton Valley Access Season Passes for VSEA members, but you must obtain a “Promo Code” from headquarters to purchase one or more.
For the Promo Code, please call or email Susan DeVoid at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 802-223-5247.
Bolton Valley All-Access Season Pass Includes:
Unlimited alpine skiing and riding;
100km of Nordic and backcountry skiing;
A 20% discount on rentals, retail shop purchases, group ski and ride lessons, and lodging (includes condos, suites, or hotel rooms); and
Sports Center membership, including access to an indoor heated pool, hot tub, and sauna
Some restrictions apply. See website for complete details.
The Economic Policy Institute has released a new report on why unions are good for American workers, and it’s timely, especially in advance of some serious anti-union legal challenges being brought before the U.S. Supreme Court.
VSEA members are urged to study and save this report, as well as share it with your colleagues.
Remember, there is a reason corporate America wants to severely restrict or even abolish labor unions, and it has nothing to do with looking out for the best interests of working Americans, but plenty to do with taking care of CEOs and shareholders.
Unions raise wages for union and nonunion workers alike. Union workers typically earn about 13 percent more in wages than peers with similar credentials, and the decline in unionization since 1979 depressed wages for nonunion men in the private sector by 5 percent in 2013;
Unions help raise the wages of women and black and Hispanic workers —whose wages have historically lagged behind those of white men— by establishing pay ‘transparency’ (workers know what other workers are making), correcting salary discrepancies, establishing clearer terms for internal processes such as raises and promotions, and helping workers who have been discriminated against achieve equity;
Unions protect worker health. There are fewer injuries and fatalities in unionized mines and fewer health and safety violations on unionized construction sites. In recent years, unions have helped nurses secure protection from violence in the workplace, helped laborers avoid exposure to disease-causing silica dust, and helped firefighters receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder;
Unions help workers obtain better health, retirement, and leave benefits. For example, more than 90 percent of workers covered by a union contract have employer-sponsored health-care benefits, while under 70 percent of nonunion workers do. The employer contribution to unionized workers’ benefits is 77 percent higher than the employer contribution for otherwise similar nonunion workers; and
Unions help workers share ideas about how to improve workplaces without fear of retaliation. Unions have played an important role in developing professional development systems for teachers and training programs for manufacturing workers, for example.
“While 46 percent said their debt is manageable, 56 percent said they were in over their heads. About 56 percent also save $100 or less each month, according to CareerBuilder. The job-hunting site polled over 2,000 hiring and human resource managers and more than 3,000 full-time employees between May and June.
Most financial experts recommend stashing at least a six-month cushion in an emergency fund to cover anything from a dental bill to a car repair — and more if you are the sole breadwinner in your family or in business for yourself.
While household income has grown over the past decade, it has failed to keep up with the increased cost-of-living over the same period.
Even those making over six figures said they struggle to make ends meet, the report said. Nearly 1 in 10 of those making $100,000 or more said they usually or always live paycheck to paycheck, and 59 percent of those in that salary range said they were in the red.”
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 Day At Fenway Park
Brattleboro Chapter Member Appreciation Day Event
State Office Building
232 Main Street
Deadline – 2017 Member Recruitment Drive
Northern State Member Appreciation Day Event
Northern State Correctional Facility
2559 Glen Road
Corrections Unit Bargaining Team Meeting
Personnel Committee Meeting
Read Contracts Online At VSEA.org
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.
President Bellini Wants Your Cost-Savings Idea(s)!
In past deficit years, VSEA members have been asked to voluntarily submit cost-savings ideas to headquarters, in hopes that some of your ideas could be adopted and implemented, eventually generating the funds needed to save a service or jobs. In 2010, the Vermont Legislature followed VSEA’s lead, passing legislation to provide cash awards to state employees whose ideas were vetted by a special committee and found to generate savings. Unfortunately, this legislation sunset in 2012, and lawmakers have not resurrected it–yet.
For this reason—and in advance of the 2018 legislative session—VSEA President Dave Bellini is again asking frontline state employees with “department- or agency-specific cost-savings ideas” to please submit them to VSEA as soon as possible. Again, President Bellini is looking for department or agency-specific ideas, and nothing "philosophical," he politely requests.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this very important request.
VSEA’s Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee is asking members belonging to VSEA’s Waterbury or Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital Chapters to look for an important District 2 election email that was sent Friday, August 18.
This email contains a link to your ballot to vote in the election to fill the District 2 seat on the VSEA Board of Trustees. Your vote must be cast by 4:30 p.m., Friday, September 1, 2017.
Paper ballots have been mailed to all VSEA District 2 members who requested them.
The newly elected D.2 Board member’s term will end in September 2019.
If you are a member of the VSEA Waterbury or VSEA Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital Chapters and did not receive a District 2 ballot in your inbox, please check that it did not end up in your spam filter. If you have checked your spam filter and still cannot find your ballot, please email email@example.com with the subject line "District 2 Ballot."
Want To Serve On The VSEA Retirement Board?
This year there will be an election for one (1) VSEA seat and one (1) VSEA alternate seat on the Vermont Employees’ Retirement Board elected from the VSEA membership at our Annual Meeting. If you are interested in serving on the Vermont State Retirement 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 4, 2017. You should send an email to Ray Stout (firstname.lastname@example.org), or mail
your letter to:
VSEA Elections Committee
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.
Only Two VSEA Steward Summits Remain In 2017
VSEA’s Field Department continues to host a series of “Steward Summits” across Vermont this year. At the Summits, VSEA Stewards learn the latest developments relating to contract enforcement and safety and health and find out about the other challenges that lie ahead for state employees. Stewards attending are being asked to immediately help out by taking some of what they learn back to the worksite to educate their colleagues.
Two, six-hour trainings remain, and every current VSEA Steward is required to attend one session.
Here is the tentative agenda for the upcoming summits:
8:30 a.m. – Registration & Breakfast
9:00 a.m. – Welcome & Introductions
9:30 a.m. to Noon – Grievances (Learning the Basics) or Safety & Health
1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. – Role of Steward in an Investigation or Organizing (Member Recruitment)
2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Bullying in the Workplace
Future Steward Summits (all 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) are scheduled for:
October 20 – Hotel Coolidge, 39 South Main St., White River Junction
November 3 – Holiday Inn, 476 Holiday Drive, Rutland
Please take some time to review the candidate profiles and proposed budget and bylaw changes included in the WARN. Also, all members will be receiving an email ballot on August 14 for you to cast your vote in VSEA’s officer elections, so please familiarize yourself with the members who are running and their positions, goals, etc. so you can cast an educated vote.
Note: VSEA’s Special Events Committee has extended the Annual Meeting registration deadline until August 22. Register Here!
VSEA DOC Members Start Fund To Help A Colleague In Need
"[Jaime’s] medical bills are piling up due to the cost of his treatments and he could use some help. Jamie has worked for the Department for nearly 30 years. He has always helped anyone in need. It is our time to help him. No amount is too small. Every donation is greatly appreciated. Please find it in your heart to give. Let’s all do what we can to ease Jamie’s financial burden."
Note: VSEA is happy to help draw more attention to this very worthwhile member-driven effort to help a co-worker in need. All the best to Jaime and to his family, friends and colleagues.
Discounted 2017 Great Escape / Splashwater Kingdom Day Tickets Now Available Exclusively At VSEA HQ!
Discount Great Escape / Splashwater Kingdom tickets are now available for purchase and pick up at VSEA headquarters—and there is no service charge attached. VSEA is not offering the online ticket purchase option this year, but HQ will mail your tickets to you in advance, but if you choose the mailing option, please ensure you reserve far enough in advance to receive your tickets.
2017 Regular Day Tickets: $36 each (40% savings!)
To reserve and pickup your tickets, contact VSEA Administrative Assistant Sue Devoid by email (email@example.com) or by phone (802-223-5247).
Are Required Emergency Drills Happening Where You Work?
With the recent bomb threat at the State Office Building in St. Albans, VSEA wants to find out if the State of Vermont is following BGS emergency-situation protocol where you work.
The protocol on BGS’ website reads:
"All owned and leased State Office Buildings occupied by State employees will practice a minimum of (1) evacuation fire drill every year and (1) Active Shooter and hostile intruder drill at least every two years. A record of these emergency drills should be recorded in the EML by the designated ECM on the day of the drill. The Safety Committees will coordinate drills with their respective sites. The Safety Committees shall meet within (14) days after the drills to discuss, critique, and analyze the drill."
VSEA wants to know if the proper training is occurring at your workplace and when it occurred last. Also, if you are unaware of this protocol, that’s not good and VSEA wants to know this as well and also where you work.
Please send an email with your input to VSEA at firstname.lastname@example.org. Write "Protocol Status" in the subject line.
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.”
If you are a state employee who is threatened on the job, please click here to find the online report form, which will remain confidential, unless otherwise approved by you.
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.
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