VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: December 15, 2017
VSEA Members From The Morrisville Health Department Showing Support For Their Bargaining Teams Today! See More Photos Here!
WIA On Break Until 2018
VSEA’s Communications team will be taking some time off in the coming weeks, so WIA will not be publishing again until January 2018. That said, please know that if there are urgent developments with bargaining, the upcoming legislative session, a worksite emergency, weather closures or anything else of importance, you can always check the VSEA website, Facebook page and Twitter feed for more information. VSEA will also send email alerts directly to members, when warranted.
The VSEA Communications team wishes every VSEA member a happy and safe holiday season and a great 2018. Looking forward to sharing nothing but good news with all of you in 2018. Hey, we can all dream and
Three VSEA Bargaining Teams At Fact Finding Today & Possibly Monday
Members Across The State Wearing Green In Support
VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley and VSEA members belonging to the Non-Management, Corrections and Supervisory Bargaining Teams have been crunching numbers, analyzing proposals and preparing a comprehensive report to present and begin discussing today with a mutually agreed to Fact Finder. At the end of today, the Teams will decide whether to end fact finding and move on to the Vermont Labor Relations Board for a final decision (exactly the process that had to invoked in the last round of negotiations with the State) or spend another day in fact finding on Monday. VSEA’s website and Facebook page will hopefully be posting a quick update by day’s end.
VSEA Bargaining Team members from all three Units.
Proudly Wearing Green!
Across Vermont, VSEA members are responding in droves to the call to wear green to work today in a show of solidarity for all the VSEA Bargaining Teams, including the Judiciary Unit, whose Team is also engaged right now in negotiations with the Court Administrator.
“[This week]’s decision to gut net neutrality is a disaster for consumers and an early Christmas present to big broadband companies who can now pick and choose who gets access to the internet and at what speed."
Vermont Rep. Peter Welch, commenting in a Burlington Free Press story about the federal FCC’s decision this week to end net neutrality rules. Vermont has joined a lawsuit to combat the ruling.
VSEA Council members braved the weather and roads on Tuesday to meet at the Old Labor Hall in Barre, where they received updates on a host of serious issues and were able to openly strategize about how best to confront what lies ahead, including:
The status of current bargaining with the State of Vermont on a successor agreement to cover a majority of VSEA members. Teams are heading to fact finding on Friday, December 15 and possibly again on December 18. If an agreement cannot be hammered out after fact finding then both VSEA and the State are headed to the Vermont Labor Relations Board, just like the last round of negotiations;An overview of the FY2019 budget and how big a deficit hole there is going to be this time around, especially with yet-unknown federal budget cuts looming large;
A review of the VSEA Legislative Committee’s “legislative agenda” for the upcoming session and a renewed call for members to consider testifying at the State House, if needed;
An education around how to talk with co-workers about VSEA and the importance of a union in their working life, as well as a primer on how to talk with members about right-to-work;
A synopsis of the challenges of working with today’s Vermont press corps and a sharing of a document listing all the Auditors Office’s recent audits and their current status. There is a lot of money associated with some of the audits, and it’s needed funding that could help prevent service or position cuts in the upcoming session;
Reports from VSEA’s President, Executive Director and newly elected Treasurer; and
An opportunity to openly discuss Council business with one another and introduce motions for consideration and a vote by the body.
Throughout the meeting, VSEA Council members gave several shout-outs to their AOT brothers and sisters, who could not be at the meeting because they were out plowing, salting and sanding. And, as a show of solidarity with VSEA Bargaining Teams, Council members made sure to take a group photo of them all wearing green in advance of today’s “Wear Green Day, which coincides with the first day of fact finding.
Belonging To A Union Gives Working People Like Us The Power To Make Positive Change!
“Having an equal voice at the table when decisions are being made about our workplace, our livelihood, our health, and well being is the way we build better stronger communities for our families and future generations.”
Chair, VSEA Judiciary Unit Executive Committee
Vermont’s Probation and Parole
Reparative Program Needs (And Deserves) Your Vote
Program Is One Of Five National Finalists!
DOC Community Corrections Specialist II Herb Sinkinson and his colleagues who administer the Vermont Probation and Parole (P&P) Department’s statewide “Reparative Program” were recently notified that their “reparative and restorative justice” program is one of five finalists in a national contest to recognize “innovators in community supervision who are championing innovative programs and empowering clients,” as well as victims and community members.
The contest is sponsored by cFive Solutions; a company that provides software solutions for Community Supervision and Probation agencies. Sinkinson and the Reparative Program are up against programs located in Ohio, Nevada and two in Kansas.
Let’s help these deserving VSEA members make sure Vermont wins!
Click here and cast your vote today for Herb Sinkinson, Burlington Probation and Parole and the Vermont Reparative Program!
Deadline to vote in the “Being The Change” contest is TODAY,
Trial’s Beginning Is A Reminder About VSEA Courthouse Workers’ Safety Concerns—
Then & Now
The trial of a man who sexually assaulted a woman in a Costello Courthouse bathroom on October 15, 2015, began this week in Lamoille County Superior Court. WIA readers might remember that, at the time of the incident, VSEA members working at the Costello Courthouse in Burlington were extremely upset about the incident and the fact that management did not disclose the assault to workers until nearly a week after it occurred.
“After the woman reported the sexual assault, supervisors never told some state employees, including court staff members. Union members filed complaints with the Vermont State Employees Association after they learned about the incident from news reports.”
And VSEA issued this press release on October 27, 2015, in response to the assault and workers’ concerns:
“VSEA members who work in Vermont courthouses statewide have been working with their union for years to sound the alarm about potential security issues inside our state’s courthouses. Their concerns were validated in January 2015, when Judiciary Chief of Finance and Administration Matt Riven delivered a report to the legislature that was prepared by “national court security experts” and identified ‘significant unmet security needs in the four courthouses in the study sample,’ one of which was the Costello Courthouse in Burlington. To date, the Judiciary has not acted on many of the report’s recommendations, primarily; VSEA members are told, because there is no money.
‘The excuse that there is no money to provide better security at the Costello Courthouse and other courthouses, or to put measures in place to better protect frontline social workers while at work, is not acceptable to VSEA members or, frankly, to the public,’ explains VSEA President Dave Bellini.
‘The incident last week at the Costello Courthouse that we all only just learned about is further evidence that courthouse security upgrades are needed, and VSEA hopes the Judiciary will join with frontline workers in the upcoming months to lobby for the additional funds needed to ensure worker and public safety,’ says VSEA Judiciary Unit Chair Margaret Crowley. ‘VSEA members agree with Matt Riven, who wrote in his January summary to the legislature that, ‘It is no longer acceptable—if it ever was—to assume that violent incidents such as have occurred elsewhere in the United States could never happen in Vermont.’ Now, seven months later, there’s the tragic killing of [Lara Sobel] and a brutal rape at the Costello Courthouse. Mr. Riven is right. These kinds of incidents are no longer acceptable. The time to act is now.’”
Update: Unfortunately, according to Judiciary employees WIA spoke with recently, not much has been done to date to address many of the safety issues that existed in 2015 and still exist in 2017. Tick tock management…
Vermont NEA Argues At Supreme Court Against Blanket Open-Bargaining Mandate
Vermont National Education Association (VtNEA) Counsel Rebecca McBroom was at the Vermont Supreme Court on December 12 to argue against a blanket policy that would allow the general public to openly view contract negotiations between teachers and school boards. As a story about the hearing in the Citizen Tribune reports, McBroom argued that the NEA’s position is supported by a Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB) ruling earlier this year that reads, in part, “meetings of public school board negotiations councils are not public meetings and are therefore outside the boundaries of the Vermont Open Meeting Law.”
McBroom also argued strongly that having negotiations meetings in open session would give the employer, meaning the school boards, more power, and that school boards would control when executive sessions would be permitted.
Working In Vermont’s Private Sector Is More Dangerous Than In
The Billings Gazette published a story this week about an alarmingly high number of private-sector workplace injuries occurring in the state. Not good, but worse is the fact that, according to the story, Vermont’s private-sector workers are being injured at an even higher rate than their Montana counterparts.
From the story:
“In 2016, 4.2 injuries were reported for every 100 full-time workers in Montana — a slight improvement over the rate of 4.3 reported in 2015, and the fourth straight year in which that number has decreased, according to a report released by the Department of Labor and Industry in November. 2016’s rate places Montana behind only Washington, Vermont and Maine — although the national rankings omit a handful of states that don’t report those data.
Note: It sounds like Vermont’s private-sector workers could use a union.
The VSEA Membership Recruitment Committee has hosted some very successful trips since launching the member-engagement effort more than a year ago, including ones to NASCAR races, Red Sox games and even a trip to see Disney on Ice. But the most popular trip to date has been to the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, and the Committee is pleased to announce a new casino trip in 2018 with a two-night stay.
March 23 to 25, 2018
$70 per person
Bus will depart from Waterbury at 12:00 p.m. and White River Junction at 1:00 p.m.
Lodging (Two Nights/Two Trees Inn):
$138 per person/double occupancy
$122 per person/triple occupancy
(2) $10 food credit or full Festival Buffet;
$5 food credit or full Breakfast Buffet;
$20 slot play;
20% discount at any Foxwoods gift shop with a purchase of $25 up to $1,000; and
A Foxwoods souvenir
To register or for more information, please contact VSEA Union Rep Bob South (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Administrative Assistant Sue DeVoid (email@example.com). Each can be reached by phone at 802-223-5247.
Payment must be received within one week of registering or you will lose your spot. Cash, check and credit card payments accepted. To pay, please contact VSEA Union Representative Bob South by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone 802-223-5247. Thank You!
Bennington & Rutland Members:
Did You Receive Your Ballot This Week To Vote In District 5 VSEA Trustee Election?
All eligible VSEA members (except those who request a paper ballot) should have received an email on December 15 from email@example.com containing your electronic ballot to vote in the VSEA District 5 Trustees’ election. “Eligible” member refers to whether or not the member belongs to one of the Units where a seat is being contested or belongs to a Chapter in a region where a vote is being conducted (i.e. District 5 seat represents Bennington and Rutland region, so VSEA members belonging to the Bennington and Rutland Chapters should receive a ballot).
Very Important! Your electronic ballot is being sent to both the home and work email address that VSEA currently has on file for you. If you did not receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org on December 15, please look in your “Other” or “Spam” folders before contacting headquarters to request that your ballot be reissued.
Reminder: VSEA sends ballots to members’ home or work email address, provided the union has your correct home and work email address. This is a big reason why WIA is constantly soliciting members to contact VSEA with your updated email address.
Congress’ Spending Bill To Prevent Gov’t Shutdown Contains Short-Term Relief For The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
WIA has been reporting recently about Congress allowing funding to expire for a program created to provide health care to the children of the nation’s “working poor.” Vermont, which depends heavily on congressional funding of the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), is projected to run out of money for the program in January 2018, along with a handful of other states.
A story posted this week to Governing.com reports that the spending bill signed last week in Washington D.C. to avert a government shutdown provides short-term relief to states worried about CHIP funding by instructing “the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to reallocate any unused federal funds to the states most at risk of running out of CHIP money by the end of the month.” Five states have already received the “redistribution funds,” but one state, Minnesota, had to recently begin dipping into state funds to keep the program running, and Oregon is facing a similar choice.
Sadly, as the story reports, CHIP’s future remains uncertain.
Note: Vermont stands to lose $30 million-plus if Congress does not act to reauthorize CHIP funding soon.
Wisconsin Workers Talk About Life With So-Called "Right-To-Work" Laws–And It’s
The online outlet Milwaukee Biz News posted a story this morning that summarizes the impact of "right-to-work" laws on Wisconsin workers.
Here’s an excerpt:
"When he asked the man which company he was talking about, [Ross] Winklbauer, a sub-district director with the United Steelworkers, recognized it. The USW had represented about five employees out of 70 there up until a few years ago. ‘We ended up having to unfortunately walk away,’ Winklbauer said.
The caller, it turned out, had worked at the company for about a decade but was never a union member because he didn’t see the need.
“It was too many people like you that thought, ‘Why do I need a union? This company will treat me right,’” Winklbauer told the man, adding he would need to have at least 90 percent of the employees on board before they could talk."
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.
We Want To Know What You Think of VSEA’s Week In Action
Collective bargaining is the process by which unionized employees negotiate with their employer over mandatory subjects of bargaining, including wages, benefits like health insurance, working conditions and a grievance procedure to enforce the contract.
Time Running Out To Donate Some Time To The NMU Sick Leave Bank!
Deadline For Donations Is December 31, 2017
VSEA member Dawn Carrillo staffs the Non-Management Unit Sick Leave Bank, and she is again asking WIA to sound the alarm that the bank really needs your donated hours. NMU members can donate a few hours to your Unit’s sick leave bank from now until December 31, 2017.
“I want to thank every member for considering a donation to your Unit sick leave bank,” says VSEA President Dave Bellini. “Even if you only donate one hour to the bank, these one-hour donations add up. It’s so worthwhile because your donation is going to help a fellow state employee who is battling a serious illness.”
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 compiled many of your union’s notable victories and achievements in an online chronological history of the VSEA.
VSEA Union Representative Rachael Fields has scheduled a meeting to talk with Vet’s Home employees about their issues and concerns.
If you work at the Vet’s Home, please mark the date and time down to stop by and talk with Rachael:
Available Times: 6:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
VSEA Insurance Benefits Montpelier Enrollment: December 20 and 21
VSEA Insurance Representative Joanne Woodcock will be at the following location to talk with interested VSEA members about member-only insurance benefits.
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.
4th Floor – Room 414 11:00 to 4:30 December 20 and 21
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.
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.
Seats Still Remain For VSEA Boston Bruins Bus Trip!
Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Saturday, February 3, 2018
TD Garden (Section: Balcony 321)
$170 Per Person – Includes a bus ride to and from the park, as well as a ticket to the game.
To reserve a seat(s) on the bus, contact VSEA Union Representative Bob South. You can reach Bob by email at email@example.com or by phone at 223-5247.
Important! VSEA will be taking the names down of those interested, as members contact VSEA, but you will not be officially on the bus until full payment is received at headquarters. Please make checks
payable to VSEA.
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?
GET EXCLUSIVE OFFERS, DISCOUNTS & MORE
It’s free, just for being a Vermont State Employees’ Association PerksConnect member!
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.
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.