VSEA members belonging to the Non-Management, Corrections, Judiciary and Supervisory Units can click here to view your contract. All these contracts expire on June 30, 2018.
Important! Let VSEA Know If You DO NOT Want To Participate In New Electronic Balloting
When VSEA conducts its next membership vote; all members will be able to vote electronically for the first time in your union’s history. Members can still receive a ballot by U.S. Mail, but you will need to let VSEA know that this is your preference as soon as possible! Failure to inform VSEA that you would prefer your ballot via the U.S. Mail could result in you not being able to cast a vote on important decisions that impact the VSEA membership at large.
If you want to continue to cast your vote via U.S. Mail, please send an email to email@example.com or letter to VSEA headquarters, attention “My Voting Preference”, 155 State Street, Montpelier, 05602.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this important notice.
Join VSEA’s Texting List!
Texting is a great way for VSEA to let members know about important state employee issues or fights in a timely manner, but VSEA can’t text you if we don’t have your correct cell phone number.
Or contact VSEA headquarters (802-223-5247) today to provide, check or update your number. Please urge your colleagues to do
Now Available Online: VSEA’s Legislative Team Weekly Report: January 30 – February 3, 2017
VSEA’s Legislative Team has begun to post weekly reports to let members know what’s been happening at the State House in Montpelier. To get the latest VSEA updates from under the Golden Dome, you will first need to log into your VSEA.org account (log in here) and then click here.
At State House Day, VSEA members get a chance to talk face-to-face with legislators about the services you provide and the issues and challenges you and your colleagues face.
Register today and help make this VSEA’s most successful State House Day ever. With Vermont facing another budget deficit, it’s important again for VSEA members to demonstrate their collective power at the State House to remind lawmakers that we’re not only state employees who provide services, we’re also Vermont voters, and we care about the adverse impact service and personnel cuts have had—and will have—on the communities where we live.
More on events associated with VSEA State House Day to come in future WIAs. Stay tuned.
VSEA 2017 Scholarship Applications Now Online!
Every year, the VSEA Scholarship & Awards Committee solicits scholarship applications from VSEA members and their spouses, dependents and domestic partners. The 2017 scholarship applications are now available online, and VSEA students who are seeking financial assistance this year in the pursuit of post-secondary educational goals can download one here.
The deadline for applications is May 8!
Bolton Valley Offering VSEA Members A Discount On Daily Lift Tickets
Bolton Valley (BV) Ski Resort has been a VSEA Advantage Program participant for years, offering state employees discounted season passes. That offer has come and gone for this season, but BV is now offering VSEA members $5 off lift tickets that are purchased online. This is an additional discount off the already-lowered online lift-ticket price.
Important! To purchase an online, discounted BV lift ticket, you must first receive a good-for-one-use promotional code directly from the VSEA Advantage Program. To get a promo code, contact VSEA’s Susan DeVoid by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone at 802-223-5247. Susan is only available during normal VSEA operating hours (Monday-Friday,
9 am- 5 pm).
VSEA Membership Recruitment Committee Launching New Recruitment Effort
The VSEA Membership Recruitment Committee is launching a 2016/2017 “Membership Engagement and Recruitment Initiative” to grow the union’s ranks, asking members to talk with current agency-fee payers about the benefits of full-fledged membership and why s/he should make the switch. If they decide 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 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)
$100 and a VSEA fleece vest (8 prizes awarded)
1 Grand Prize – $1,200
Note: WIA will periodically remind members about this effort until its culmination in August 2017.
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.”
Frontline Workers Express Fear, Frustration & Concern To Lawmakers Over A Perceived Collapse Of Vermont’s Mental Health System
VSEA members and other frontline workers did not hold back Tuesday night when testifying to lawmakers about how difficult it can be to properly treat and supervise individuals who are experiencing acute, mental-health crises. In addition to fearing injury or worse when treating the individual, many of the frontline workers testifying also said their difficulties when dealing with this population also result from a lack of training, a lack of staff, a lack of upper management accountability and an overall lack of direction from the State.
VSEA was represented at the hearing by members working at the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital (VPCH) and the Department of Corrections; two areas of state government where workers must often confront and try to effectively deal with cases of individuals in acute, mental health distress.
VSEA thanks the following members for braving the snowstorm to testify this week:
> Watch Live Video From The Testimony* * The volume in these videos is low at times so you may need to turn the volume up. VSEA is researching several ways to improve the volume quality when live streaming future events.
VSEA members were not alone in their belief that Vermont’s current mental health care system is broken and needs prompt attention. They were supported by plenty of emergency room doctors and nurses, community-based care providers and mental health care advocates.
Click here to read 2010 WIA post about how VSEA and its members tried to advise the State and lawmakers on the best ways to confront the many challenges facing Vermont’s mental health care system, both present and future.
VSEA Legislative Chair Pens Commentary To Highlight The Issue Of Assaults On Frontline Workers By Persons With Mental Illness
In advance of Tuesday night’s hearing at the State House, VSEA Legislative Committee Chair Margaret Crowley penned a commentary about the dire need to enhance protections for frontline workers who care for or supervise persons in acute mental health crises. It posted on February 5 to VTDigger.
Here is how Crowley’s commentary ended:
"VSEA believes that no employee should ever have to experience violence against them while at work, no matter the assailant’s mental state, which is why VSEA members are committed to helping Vermont officials and legislators develop and implement the nation’s most sweeping worker protections. Employee lives may depend on it."
Not A Good Sign! Lawmakers As Confused As Anyone About Vermont’s Current Mental Health System
Seven Days reports today that a routine budget hearing came to an abrupt halt on Thursday when lawmakers determined that they have no idea how to fix Vermont’s broken mental health care system.
“The system is in crisis,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia) said. She then pondered whether Vermont truly has a “system” at all, or just disconnected pieces of one. “We aren’t in a position to evaluate the system and make recommendations,” she continued.
The best response AHS Secretary Al Gobeille could muster was, “The Agency of Human Services intends to do a deep dive into mental health.”
The story reports that the hearing ended “on a note of mutual frustration.”
VSEA’s February 16 Issue Reception Is An Important One!
Less than a week after Tuesday night’s public hearing on worker safety, the topic of the February 16 VSEA Legislative Issue Reception just happens to be “Enhancing VSEA Members’ Safety & Security While At Work.” All VSEA members who are presently concerned about your on-the-job safety—and your colleagues’ safety—are urged to attend to make your voice heard to lawmakers in the room. The reception is February 16 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. VSEA members are welcome to attend this dinner. Please RSVP to VSEA Organizer Danielle Warner by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Privatizing Services Is Not The Answer
All VSEA members are invited to attend one or more of the dinner meetings, all of which are being held at VSEA headquarters in Montpelier, beginning at 5:30 p.m. and ending at 7:00 p.m.
Again, if you are interested in attending an upcoming reception, please RSVP to:
Longtime VSEA activist Beth Pelczar filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) a few months back, alleging that the State interfered with “protected union activity” when it cautioned her against urging colleagues to file “Building Related Incident Reports” about a strong chemical odor that was causing some employees at the Bennington State Office Building to experience headaches. VSEA is pleased to report that Pelczar’s pending ULP was settled this week.
“I would like to thank VSEA for their belief in my case,” said Pelczar after the settlement. “Employees should not be harassed or intimidated just because they were exercising their right to file a BRIN report or inform our union of issues. Bennington has already overcome serious building issues in the past, and the ability to speak freely and ask for outside assistance is key to establishing a safe and healthy environment, not just for the employees, but also for our fellow Vermonters whom we serve.”
While the State continues to dispute the ULP’s allegations, the parties were able to settle on an agreement that requires the State to restore any sick or annual leave a Bennington employee used as a result of the chemical odor. DCF Deputy Commissioner Sean Brown also personally submitted a letter of apology to Pelczar on behalf of the Economic Services Division.
Lawmakers Reject State’s Initial Proposal To Merge DOL & ACCD
The Senate’s powerful Economic Development Committee voted 4 to 1 on Tuesday to recommend that the full Senate vote against the State’s recent proposal to combine the Department of Labor with the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The State’s proposal had no cost savings attached to it, and it immediately caused some to question perceived inherent conflicts of interest.
However, lawmakers are not killing the idea outright—yet, giving the State an opportunity to replace its proposal with one intended to “foster a more coherent workforce development system in Vermont.” Sen. Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden) was not happy about the committee’s decision to give the State another bite at the apple, saying in a VTDigger story, “The executive order, given that we’re all in agreement here, it’s going to have to be rejected. I think we’re dancing around the issue at this point.”
State officials have told lawmakers they will prepare an alternate proposal to maintain a separate, but reduced, DOL.
As reported earlier, VSEA’s legislative team is monitoring debate at the State House on all three of the State’s “efficiency” proposals, each introduced in the State’s budget address on January 24.
Note: VSEA’s Legislative team sent an email this week to DOL and ACCD members, asking them to review the State’s revised proposal and provide feedback to VSEA Legislative Director Nancy Lynch at email@example.com. To review the new proposal, click here. VSEA Organizer Danielle Warner is hosting a meeting on February 14 at VSEA HQ to talk with interested DOL/ACCD members about the State’s revised proposal. There is also a meeting call-in option, and the information is in an email that was sent to workers yesterday.
State’s Budget Proposal Continues To Unravel, Leaving The Door Open To A Plan B, Except There Isn’t One
As predicted, the State’s initial proposal to trim the budget, which relied heavily on big changes to the way Vermont school systems are funded, is going down in flames at the State House. This week, the House dealt the plan a huge blow when lawmakers voted not to grant the State’s request to change the date for towns to vote on their school budgets from Town Meeting Day to May 23. According to a February 3 VTDigger story, the State’s planned savings hinged on the date change.
Unfortunately, for VSEA and other organizations and entities that depend on state budget dollars, Digger reports that, sadly, “there is no Plan B at the present.” The State’s failure to present a backup plan means there is soon going to be a huge hole in Vermont’s budget (some estimate as high as $40 million), but with no concrete plan to address how to fill it. What does this mean for VSEA members? Remains to be seen, but it’s looking more likely that any final budget proposal will have to be crafted by Democrats, out of necessity. On the plus side, the State’s top official has instructed lawmakers that he will veto any budget proposal that increases taxes or fees, or cuts frontline workers.
You can find the Board of Trustees meeting minutes anytime online by logging onto VSEA.org and then navigating to the Board of Trustees drop-down in the left-hand menu. From there click the "BOT Meeting Minutes" link. Or click here to be redirected to this page.
Open Enrollment For New VSEA Supplemental Vision Benefit Ends February 28!
The open period for VSEA members to enroll in your union’s new supplemental vision benefit program began February 1 and ends February 28. The new vision benefit offer is similar in nature to VSEA’s popular supplemental dental benefit, which your union began offering to members years ago. Like the dental benefit, there is a small charge to receive the vision benefit.
Note: VSEA has taken steps to ensure this vision benefit is available to all members who want to enroll, but know that the payroll-deduction process for Executive Branch and Judiciary Unit members is different than the one for State Colleges and Housing Authority members. Members in the Executive and Judiciary Branches have their premium deducted automatically but State Colleges and Housing Authority members’ premiums will be paid through direct monthly billing. State Colleges’ members are reminded that this vision benefit is different than the one offered by the colleges.
Former U.S. Labor Secretary Explains All That’s Wrong With “Right To Work”
Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich has been making short, educational videos about the issues of the day for years now, and his latest is one of his best. In it, Reich explains and educates about why working Americans should fear the concept of “right to work,” and why we should instead recommit ourselves to the tried-and-true concepts of “strength in numbers” and “united we stand, but divided we fall.”
Defined Benefit Pension Plans: The Public-Sector Difference
California Capital Public Radio aired a piece this week that uses the voice of a retired state employee to educate about why many people choose a career in public service. As 45-year state employee Tom Santos explains, it’s largely because of the benefits, namely a defined benefit pension plan.
In the piece, Santos, a former welder and maintenance supervisor, relates how his peers in the private sector always used to ask him why he decided to work for the state. "You’re not gonna make any money there," they would tell him. "I want security," he would reply. What he meant was retirement security.
David Madland, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, warns that a defined contribution pension plan approach really only works for people who are market-savvy and know how to save and invest throughout their lives. But for most people, he reminds, it doesn’t work because they make mistakes about how to invest. They don’t know how long they’re going to live. "The 401(k) system has turned everything onto the individual," Madland says. " It’s like asking the individual to be their own dentist. They really aren’t well equipped to do it."
Waiting List Created For VSEA Membership Recruitment Committee’s Overnight Bus Trip To Foxwoods Casino
The bus is full for the VSEA-sponsored overnight bus trip to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, but a waiting list has been created and names are being placed on the list in the order received. The sooner you call, the sooner your name is added to the list.
March 25 to March 26, 2017
$60 per person
$78 per person/double occupancy
$70 per person/triple occupancy
$10 food credit or full Festival Buffet;
$5 food credit or full Breakfast Buffet;
$10 slot play;
20% discount at any Foxwoods gift shop with a purchase of $25 up to $1,000; and
A Foxwoods souvenir.
To put your name on the trip waiting list, please contact VSEA Administrative Assistant Sue DeVoid (firstname.lastname@example.org). She can be reached by phone at 802-223-5247.
Note: Many Foxwoods’ employees enjoy union representation through the United Auto Workers union. Big thanks to VSEA AOT member Ludwig Pulaski for reminding us about this fact.
Location & Dates Of
St. Johnsbury Meetings Has Changed!
VSEA Organizer Tim Lenoch is personally conducting informational meetings in set workplaces on set days in four locations. He says the purpose of the meetings is to provide members with an opportunity to “join with their colleagues and VSEA staff for updates and discussion on the issues and challenges facing state employees and the impact on your working conditions and the services they provide.” He adds that members are welcome to “come share their ideas and hear from co-workers on how to build a stronger union and improve public services.”
Snacks and refreshments are provided.
AHS Conference Room
State Office Building
232 Main Street
White River Junction
State Office Building
118 Prospect Street
First Floor Conference Room
State Office Building
100 Mineral Street
AMENDED! VSEA Labor Educator Alters Winter 2016 Training Schedule
VSEA Labor Educator Tim Lenoch asked WIA to make members aware that he has made some changes to his previously announced winter 2016 trainings schedule. Some trainings have been cancelled and the date for others has been changed. (* = date change)
If you are interested in registering to attend one or more of the remaining trainings, you can do so by clicking here. Please direct your training questions to Tim at email@example.com.
All trainings begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 4:00 p.m.
Location may change based on worksite location of registered participants. If this happens, registered participants will be notified at least a week ahead of the training. Mileage and lunch may be reimbursed or provided.
TARGETED DEPARTMENT/BARGAINING UNIT TRAININGS
Vermont State Colleges’ Stewards
VTC Campus, Randolph Center
Thursday, April 6
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Tuesday, April 11
NEW STEWARD TRAININGS
Steward 1: Introduction and the Basics
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin *Friday, March 17
Steward 3: The Contract and Challenges in the Workplace
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin *Friday, March 30
Steward 2: Protecting the Contract and Building the Union
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin *Friday, March 31
Steward 2: Protecting the Contract and Building the Union
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Thursday, May 16
ALL STEWARD TRAINING
VTC Campus, Randolph
Friday, May 26
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.