Deadline To Register For VSEA’ 73rd Annual Meeting Is Tuesday, August 8!
All VSEA members who want to attend VSEA’s Annual Meeting on Saturday, September 9, at the Stoweflake Resort in Stowe, Vt., must register and reserve a room(s) by Tuesday, August 8.
This year’s meeting, your union’s 73rd, is an important one, as it’s being held just after a new round of bargaining is scheduled to start with the State and in advance of October’s expected federal budget cuts, which could adversely impact many public services. Members attending Annual Meeting will also be the first to hear the results of the officer elections that VSEA will be conducting in the coming weeks.
Friday night, September 8, there is a dinner banquet followed by an ADULTS ONLY dance – “Flashback to the 50’s & 60’s”. Members are urged to come dressed in their best 50’s or 60’s attire and dance to the music of DJ, Allen Brown. Allen is a former VSEA member and AOT Employee. Prizes will be awarded for the best 50’s and 60’s costume. Have your picture taken in the photo booth by Emile.
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 banquet on
September 9 in Stowe.
Valley News Reports: Future Of The Windsor Prison Remains Murky
A July 31 Valley News article attempts to clear up what exactly is the future of the Windsor prison, which will "temporarily close" on October 31 and where VSEA represents more than 50 employees. Unfortunately, the reporter ends up at the same place as the rest of Vermont, being put on hold until a DOC report on the facility’s future lands in lawmakers’ hands on November 1.
Some lawmakers’ utopian vision for Windsor is to repurpose the facility to serve inmates in transition, elderly inmates, and other groups. A plan for lawmakers’ vision is what the November DOC report is going to allegedly contain.
The article does quote House Institutions Chair Alice Emmons talking about Windsor’s future, and her analysis would seem to indicate that money will be a primary driving factor in the eventual fate of the Windsor facility. This could be problematic, given the recent revelation that Vermont is once again facing a budget deficit.
"As far as whether there is money in the budget to support a repurposed facility, Emmons said that would depend on what the renovations would entail, who would use the facility and what their needs are."
Note: Department of Human Resources representatives have met with Windsor employees (with VSEA present) about the facility’s future, and what’s clear is that many officials are as unsure about what is going to happen as the rest of us.
VSEA State Housing Authority Members Pleased With Senator Leahy’s Answer To Proposed Cuts To Federal Housing Budget
One of VSEA’s smaller, unheralded Units is its State Housing Authority Unit, and to the VSHA members’ credit, they proactively reached out in late May to Vermont’s federal delegation with their concerns about Congress’ proposed cuts to the federal housing budget. VSHA Unit Chair Nate Schmechel wrote, in part:
"As experts in the field of housing, we are very concerned about the new Administration’s and some lawmakers’ expressed desire to make deep cuts to what is left of the housing programs and resources that remain. We implore you to commit to ensuring Congress maintains—or better, increases—current funding levels for the H.U.D. housing programs and resources we depend on daily."
This past Saturday, the VSHA Unit met to discuss the letter and other union business, and VSEA representatives Gretchen Naylor and Sue Devoid shared an excellent reply from Senator Leahy’s office with the members. Not only is Senator Leahy not cutting the housing budget, he is advocating to increase the budget.
Excerpt from reply to VSHA members from Sen. Leahy:
"At the tail end of this National Housing Week of Action, we are excited to report that yesterday, in addition to helping prevent the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Senator Leahy ushered through the Senate Appropriations Committee, passage of Fiscal Year 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, including a $2.4 billion increase over FY17 levels.
Below is a detailed report of the THUD bill, reported out of the Appropriations Committee. Please note that this bill still requires passage by the full Senate, as well as a conference with the House bill before being made law. With calls from the Administration for elimination of many of these vital programs, this is an positive step in the direction of preserving, and improving upon our nation’s most important housing supports."
The VSEA White River Junction Chapter is holding its Annual Meeting on Tuesday, August 8, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in Room 120 of the State Office Building, located at 118 Prospect Street in White River Junction. Food and beverages provided!
Please RSVP in advance—or direct any questions or comments—to VSEA White River Junction Chapter President Don Shaw via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lamoille Valley Chapter:
The VSEA Lamoille Valley Chapter is holding its Annual Meeting on Wednesday, August 9, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the AHS Conference Room in the State Office Building, located at 63 Professional Drive in Morrisville. Food provided!
The VSEA Chittenden Chapter is holding its Annual Meeting on Thursday, August 10, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Rutland Country Club, located at 275 Grove Street in Rutland. Food and beverages being provided!
Please RSVP in advance—or direct any questions or comments—to VSEA Rutland Chapter President Matt Jakubowski via email at email@example.com.
Franklin / Grand Isle Chapter:
The VSEA Franklin / Grand Isle Chapter is holding its Annual Meeting on Friday, August 11, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at St. Albans Bay in St. Albans. Food and beverages being provided!
Please RSVP in advance—or direct any questions or comments—to VSEA Franklin / Grand Isle Chapter President Michael Gordon via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The VSEA Retired Members’ Chapter is holding its Annual Meeting on Friday, August 11, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Canadian Club, located at 414 East Montpelier Road in Barre. Meeting registration officially begins at 9:30 a.m., and each retiree’s reservation includes lunch!
The Retirees’ Chapter recently mailed all Chapter members an Annual Meeting registration packet and form. If you don’t recall receiving the packet, please contact Retirees’ Chapter President Bob Hooper by email at email@example.com.
The VSEA Waterbury Chapter is holding its Annual Meeting on Thursday, August 17, at 4:50 p.m. at the Waterbury Congregational Church, located at 8 North Main Street in Waterbury. Pizza, salad and beverages being provided!
Please RSVP in advance—or direct any questions or comments—to VSEA Waterbury Chapter President John Mangione via email at Mangioneart@comcast.net.
VSEA’s newly constituted Grievance Committee is meeting for the first time today as a group to begin its work vetting VSEA member grievance requests to determine which ones VSEA’s Legal Department will take to the Labor Board or to arbitration (if applicable). The new committee replaces union’s old Legal Assistance Committee, which had staff and union leaders making grievance decisions, as opposed to frontline workers. This is the first time VSEA has employed this member-driven process to review grievances.
Member representatives from each VSEA Unit sit on the new committee, which is expected to meet bimonthly, and VSEA Legal and Field staff will facilitate their discussions. Committee members were either appointed by the VSEA President or recommended by a Unit Chairperson.
Nearly 100 Attend VSEA Member Appreciation Day Event At Lake Elmore
Nearly 100 VSEA members and their family members attended the "VSEA Member Appreciation Day" event on July 29 at Lake Elmore in Elmore, VT.
Pictured here is a shot from the VSEA pavilion, where members were able to enjoy a free barbecue lunch as a way for VSEA to say "thank you" to them for their service to Vermont and their union.
One person attending Saturday’s event was VSEA State Colleges’ Unit Chair Sandy Notes, who posted the following to VSEA’s Facebook page:
"Thank you to VSEA for the great day at Lake Elmore today. Many children will go to sleep with HUGE smiles on their faces tonight while they think about the new friends they made and all of the swimming they did. It was fun for the adults too. Thanks again."
VSEA thanks all who attended the event. Vermont works because you do!
Chittenden Chapter Awards Red Sox Tickets To Lucky Chapter Member
At the recent Chittenden Chapter meeting, two Red Sox tickets were awarded to Chapter member Meredith Ray, who works at the Department of Health in Burlington. VSEA is sponsoring a bus trip to see the Red Sox battle the Orioles on August 27 at Fenway.
Without much fanfare, a group of dedicated state employees, VSEA representatives and State representatives meets monthly to discuss a host of safety and health issues in worksites and in the field. This week, the group discussed the following:
Safety protocol training for Bennington DOL office;
Status of reach out to retired state employees who at one time worked in the St. Johnsbury office building;
Mouse issue in the Asa Bloomer Building in Rutland;
Mold issue in Bennington Defender General Office;
Overview of data collected concerning DCF/FSD safety issues;
Review of the State’s St. Albans bomb threat handling; and
Safety for state employees who have recently lost parking spaces and will most likely have to shuttle now—sometimes later at night.
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.
Three, six-hour summits remain, and every current VSEA Steward is required to attend one session.
Here is the agenda for the August 18 summit in Waterbury at the Best Western Hotel:
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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)
VSEA Insurance Benefits Enrollment At The Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital In Berlin On August 8 And 9
By Appointment Only:
VSEA Insurance Representative Joanne Woodcock will be at the following location to talk with interested VSEA members about member-only insurance benefits.
Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital
350 Fisher Rd, Berlin, VT
August 8 and 9 – 12:00 to 4:00
Training Room “B”
Receive information on disability coverage, family life insurance, family accident, cancer and hospital coverage. You must be a member paying full dues to be eligible for this VSEA benefit. If you are an agency-fee payer, Joanne can provide you information about signing up for full membership.
All applications need to be taken in person.
Email Joanne@vseainsurance.com for an appointment. Please provide your age, hourly wage and job description so I can send a quote BEFORE we meet.
New Jersey Unions’ Idea To Save Money On Prescription Drug Costs Is Now Law & Expected To Save State $1.6 Billion In Three Years
In 2016, New Jersey unions created and floated a plan to put prescription drug costs up for auction—online, for all to see. The idea was initially rejected by many in the establishment, but the unions persevered and were able to demonstrate that the plan would create savings and now the state has decided to implement the unions’ plan in 2018 and expects to save $1.6 billion over three years. New Jersey is the first state to try the new approach to purchasing prescription drugs.
"Until recently, large employers like the state of New Jersey took bids for pharmaceutical drug plans without knowing the real costs of individual prescriptions. Each provider submitted a different proposal with its own complicated and opaque pricing scheme, and the state was unable to properly compare the true cost of those proposals. This time, with the help of technology provided by Truveris, a company that specializes in such bidding, the state was able to issue a common contract, receive bids, and compare the real costs of each bid.
"Patrick Nowlan, AFT representative and co-chair of the SHBP Plan Design Committee affirms this by stating, ‘The success of this process is a testament to the unions’ efforts on the Plan Design Committees to implement practical and innovative reforms within the state’s infrastructure. These efforts ultimately will save resources for the state and members without diminishing benefits for our members and their families.’”
Note: Wonder if this idea would work right here in Vermont?
Oregon State Employees Negotiate $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage For All Public Employees
The Oregonian reports August 2 that Oregon state employees have negotiated a new contract that awards them pay increases and includes a guarantee that all members of union will earn at least $15 per hour. The language is only expected to raise up the wages of a few hundred employees, but the union wanted to bargain the language as a nod to the labor’s movement’s nationwide campaign to institute a $15-per-hour minimum wage.
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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Rutland Chapter Annual Meeting
Rutland Country Club
275 Grove St.
Judiciary Unit Bargaining Team Meeting
Retirees’ Chapter Annual Meeting
414 East Montpelier Rd.
9:30 a.m. Registration Begins.
10:00 a.m. Meeting Begins.
Franklin / Grand Isle Chapter Annual Meeting
St. Alban’s Bay
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.
Quote of The Week!
“I would hope that come next spring, we have a direction of where we are going with [the Windsor Prison].”
State Representative Alice Emmons, commenting in a July 31 Valley News article and echoing the sentiments of others waiting for a final determination of what will happen to the Windsor Prison.
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).
Judiciary Unit Bargaining Survey Is Live!
VSEA members belonging to the union’s Judiciary Unit are urged to complete a bargaining survey that should have been emailed to you last week. Your survey answers are critical to your elected Bargaining Team being able to come to the negotiating table with frontline Judiciary workers’ priority issues in hand.
If you do not recall receiving an email containing the survey link, please check your spam folder. If you still don’t see it, then contact VSEA Union Representative Brian Morse (firstname.lastname@example.org) to request the link.
Thanks in advance for participating in this important survey!
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 email@example.com. 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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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.
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.”