Members of the VSEA Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee were at headquarters this morning to count mail-in ballots in the recent election to fill four seats on the VSEA Board of Trustees. After adding the mail-in totals to the online count (reportedly the elections had one of the union’s highest online participation rates ever), the Committee certified the results, and they are:
Three VSEA Bargaining Teams & State Head To Contract Mediation On August 7
VSEA’s NMU, Corrections and Supervisory Bargaining Teams head to contract mediation with the State on August 7, per the request of the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB). The Board asked both sides to meet with a mediator to determine if there is any room for compromise on certain contract issues and if a revised deal of some kind is even possible. The VSEA Teams agreed to attempt mediation, with the understanding that the legal process will resume if mediation is unsuccessful.
VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley is conducting a conference call with Bargaining Team members on August 6 to prep with them for formal mediation.
If you have any questions in advance of mediation, please direct them to a member of your VSEA Bargaining Team. Find Team members’ contact info here.
Note: Until mediation and a possible return trip to the VLRB are complete, the State’s last best offer is still the contract in place right now. Wage increases and certain healthcare co-pay increases do not kick in until
January 1, 2019.
Support Your VSEA Bargaining Teams By
Wearing A Sticker On August 7!
VSEA is reminding all members to wear a union sticker(s) on August 7 to support your Executive Branch Bargaining Teams as they go to mediation with the State. You can request stickers by contacting VSEA headquarters at 223-5247 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
VSEA Judiciary Unit members should keep your eyes open for a copy of your Unit’s recently negotiated contract, which will be arriving soon in the U.S. Mail. While you wait, you can view your new contract online by clicking here.
“While there has been some progress, it’s not enough…the change has been too slow and there still a lot to do. Frontline DCF workers and, in fact, all state employees and our families, deserve better.”
VSEA First VP and DCF member Aimee Towne, lamenting in WIA about the slow pace of safety and health improvements for DCF workers, following the August 7, 2015, murder of DCF Social Worker Lara Sobel by
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, possible implementation of the State’s new health care copays 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
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.
VSEA’s Awards and Scholarships Committee is urging members to give some thought to each of these awards and if you know of a deserving state employee—or a deserving Chapter—then please don’t hesitate to submit your nomination(s).
Winners will be announced at VSEA’s Annual Meeting in September.
VSEA’s Awards And Scholarship Committee Needs You!
VSEA’s Awards And Scholarships Committee meets twice a year to administer your union’s award and scholarship programs, which primarily involves reviewing applications to determine winners of scholarships and winners of VSEA Annual Meeting awards.
VSEA members interested in becoming a member of your union’s Awards And Scholarships Committee should email the committee’s staff liaison, VSEA Communications Specialist
Kris Lizzari at email@example.com
VSEA Joins Many To Thank Group Of AOT Workers Who Recently Saved Two Girls From Raging River
VSEA tipped its hat this week to AOT members Shawn Westney, Andrew Fraser, John Bedard, Victoria Biller, Josh Donna, Kevin Munson and Tim Bills for their recent quick thinking and action to pull two girls in distress from what a July 27 MYNBC5 story described as a “raging” West River in Jamaica, Vermont.
With the State and many lawmakers content to turn over the care of Vermonters who are suffering acute mental illness to the private University of Vermont and its deep $21 million pockets, workers at the newly built, State-run Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital (VPCH) in Berlin have a lot of questions about the future of mental health care in Vermont and their place in it, if any.
With the clock now ticking on the agreement, VSEA leaders and staff are holding an emergency meeting at VSEA HQ for any and all VPCH members on Wednesday, August 15 at 3:00 p.m., to field questions and provide whatever answers possible, given the scant amount of particulars released to date about the proposed UVM facility. VSEA also wants to hear ideas from the frontline workers on how to best respond to the reality that a large chunk of Vermont’s mental-health system is now being privatized.
Condolences To VSEA DCF Members On Anniversary Of Lara Sobel’s Tragic Death On August 7, 2015
Next week could be a tough one for many of VSEA’s Department for Children and Families members, as August 7 marks the three-year anniversary of the tragic killing of DCF Social Worker Lara Sobel.
VSEA First Vice President and DCF employee Aimee Towne tells WIA, “August 7, the anniversary of Lara Sobel’s murder, is a day that will forever be imbedded in my mind, not only because of work, social and family parallels, but because it also marks three years that we, as her VSEA brothers and sisters, have been tirelessly fighting for increased security and safety measures across state government. While there has been some progress, it’s not enough…the change has been too slow and there still a lot to do. Frontline DCF workers and, in fact, all state employees and our families, deserve better.”
VSEA is thanking all the members and retirees who showed up on July 28 to march with your union in the Barre Heritage Festival Parade. A special thanks to Barre Chapter President Sue LaFleche for all her work to make the day the success it was. WIA is pleased to share some pictures from the parade, taken by VSEA First Vice President Aimee Towne and VSEA Union Organizer Danielle Warner.
Lamoille Valley Chapter Annual “School Supply Challenge” Ends August 10!
Three years ago, 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 the success of the first three years events.
The Chapter is distributing collection boxes to Lamoille worksites, and the goal is to collect as many items as possible by Friday, August 10.
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.
Bus Is Full For VSEA 2018 “Day At Fenway” On August 17, But Waiting List Being Built
The bus to attend “VSEA Day 2018 at Fenway” on Friday night, August 17, sold out this week, but a waiting list is being built for any member or retiree who wants to be added to it.
The Red Sox are battling the Tampa Bay Rays, starting at 7:10 p.m., and the cost is $80 per person, which includes a bus ride to and from the park, as well as a ticket to the game. The bus is making stops in Waterbury (2:00 p.m.) and White River Junction (3:00 p.m.). ETA at Fenway is 5:30 p.m.
If you and your family would be interested in placing your name(s) on a waiting list for the August 17 game, please contact VSEA Union Representative Bob South or VSEA Administrative Assistant Sue DeVoid. You can reach Bob by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 223-5247. You can reach Sue by email at email@example.com or by phone at 223-5247.
Payment must be received before tickets are released.
UVM Management Takes The Low Road & Stops Nurses’ Dues Collection
Seven Days reports on July 31 that UVM management recently decided to stop taking dues from unionized nurses’ paychecks, citing contract expiration. The petty and intentionally divisive move forces the nurses’ union to now have to hand collect dues from every individual member, until a new agreement can be reached.
From the story:
“Union vice president Deb Snell said her organization was not surprised by the end to automatic dues collection and is preparing bills that it will send to its 1,800 members in the coming weeks. The union is in good financial shape and is not concerned since it expects a majority of members to pay voluntarily, Snell said. Members have come forward asking where to send their money after learning the hospital was no longer collecting dues, according to Snell.
Despite the provision in the contract that ended the dues collection agreement, Snell argued that the hospital could have continued the practice. ‘It was their choice to do this,’ she asserted.”
In the story, UVM management denies allegations of actively union busting.
Did Replacement Nurses Fill The Void During Recent Strike? One Patient Voices A Strong “No”
Vermonter Julie Emery wrote an excellent commentary that posted July 31 on VTDigger, titled “A Patient’s Experience of the Nurses’ Strike.” Her piece is worth reading because the possibility exists for more strikes by UVM nurses, and the public deserves to know that the care provided by replacement nurses is, unfortunately, according to Julie’s experience, sub-par.
From Emery’s Commentary:
“UVMMC President and CEO Eileen Whalen had promised patients and families that the hospital would provide high-quality, safe and seamless care to patients during the two-day strike. This wasn’t completely true. The replacement nurses were, for the most part, nice and eager to help, but their lack of experience within the UVM system was overly apparent. They didn’t know where things were or what the process was for tasks such as pain management, wound care, and other incredibly important post-operative care. At one point during the first night, my new ostomy was leaking, and no nurse knew how to change it or where they could find the supplies to do so.”
Employees working at the Howard Center in Burlington are appealing to other Vermont unions and the public to join them in their campaign to get management to the bargaining table. This week, the Howard Center Workers’ Union posted an online petition with its bargaining request to management, and VSEA members and retirees are urged to sign and share the workers’ petition link.
The union made three specific demands of lawmakers Wednesday, the most important of which was to address staffing issues.
The demand called for a “clean, bipartisan, stand-alone bill” to address staffing issues in Minnesota’s prison system. The union said staffing shortages are a “big problem” and the group’s “number one issue.”
At Stillwater, the union says, there are blocks with four officers monitoring 280 inmates. At Moose Lake, the numbers are similarly worrisome, as 400 inmates can be in the yard at one time with only two staff members.
By filling vacant positions, returning out-of-class officers back to corrections, closing industrial shops when prisons are short-staffed and stopping forced overtime, the union outlined some ways to address the staffing problem.
“Those are stop-gap solutions,” Hillyard read. “More funding is the only answer.”
In a second demand, the union asked to reinstate old discipline guidelines to help combat the growing number of assaults.
Third, the union called for cameras in the industry areas of the prisons.
“We have been going to the Legislature every year for a decade now, every single week the Legislature is in session, asking for more correctional officers,” said the union in its demand letter. “We are not asking for more correctional officers and staffingany more. We are demanding it.”
Note: VSEA Corrections Officers can certainly relate to the frustration of their Minnesota brothers and sisters and to the workers’ urgent call for CO safety improvements.
With Mediation Pending, New Contract Printing & Posting On Hold
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, the VLRB ordered VSEA and the State last week to enter into mediation to see if there is any room for compromise. If so, it may open a door to preventing the State’s last-best-contract-offer from being imposed in its entirety.
Labor Relations Director’s Contract Summary Available Online
VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley’s comprehensive summary of the contract recently imposed on VSEA members belonging to the Non-Management, Corrections and Supervisory Bargaining Units is available online by clicking here.
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.
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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.