VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: February 22, 2019

VSEA members are invited to attend next week’s State House Day, which will feature a noon discussion about employee safety and security at work. These photos are from VSEA’s 2017 and 2018 State House Day events. 


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VSEA Asks State To Suspend New Policy And Negotiate First With Union 

Vermont State Employees’ Association (VSEA) President Dave Bellini sent a letter this week to [the State], demanding [it] suspend its recent policy to allow state employees to bring infants to work and immediately bargain with the union, labeling [the State’s] policy a “significant change in state employees’ working conditions.”
“VSEA’s demand has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual policy itself," Bellini said in a VSEA press release. "Our issue is with the way the [State] rolled it out, without ever once consulting with the union or its members about its impact,” explains Bellini. “In fact, VSEA only learned about the policy about an hour before the Governor’s office put out a formal press release​ publicly announcing it. In response, the VSEA Board met recently and voted unanimously to direct me to contact the Governor to demand that he bargain , because it clearly warrants negotiationswith the union. This is why I sent the letter this week."

Read President Bellini’s Letter Here

Note: VSEA will keep members updated on any and all developments around your union’s request to suspend this policy and negotiate. 

VSEA’s 2019 State House Day Is Next Thursday! Register Today!

Just Announced! Keeping state employees safe and secure while at work is the focus of VSEA’s February 28 noon event in State House’s House Chamber. All VSEA members with concerns about workplace safety and security are urged to attend and lend your voice to this important discussion, especially with lawmakers present to hear the facts straight from employees.  

Time is quickly running out to register to attend VSEA’s annual State House Day, where VSEA members are afforded an opportunity to talk directly with legislators about the services you provide and the issues and challenges you and your colleagues face.

Join us for the legislative reception!
At 4:30 p.m., in the State House’s Cedar Creek Room, your union is hosting its annual legislative reception, where you can talk with your lawmakers over drinks and horderves. This is a fun, casual way to meet with lawmakers about the issues important to you. Join us when you can – leave when you must.

Register today and help make this VSEA’s most successful State House Day ever. Let’s show lawmakers and State officials at the State House what real collective power
looks like!

Register Online Here!

Castleton University Employees Sponsoring A "Basket Raffle" To Help Family Of Employee Who Died In Ice-Fishing Accident 

In an effort to raise some funds to aid the family of VSEA member and Castleton University (CU) employee Lee Wiktorski, who died last week in a tragic accident, Wiktorski’s CU co-workers are hosting a "basket raffle" on April 6, 2019. Lee’s wife, Marsha, is also a VSEA member who works at CU.

"No donation is too small," advises Castleton University employee and VSEA activist Billie Langlois. "You can make an actual basket, donate items for a basket, donate gift certificates that will be considered ‘baskets,’  or donate items for our concession stand."

Here is information for interested VSEA members from a flyer about the CU raffle:

We are hosting a basket raffle to help the Wiktorski family with some unforeseen expenses. Our own Lee Wiktorski lost his life in an unfortunate ice-fishing accident. We are asking for any donation that you can give, no donation is too small. Here is what we need:

  • BASKETS!!  Themed baskets in a plastic wrapping.  We are shooting for 100 baskets. (Gift certificates count as a basket and do not need a “basket”)
  • Gift certificates
  • Large raffle donations; such as furniture, electronics, large gift certificate
  • Refreshments – baked goods, soups, sandwiches, chips, drinks, paper goods

Donations can be dropped off at the Castleton University library.

Note: The Basket Party begins at 11:00 a.m. on April 6 and the raffle starts at 1:00 p.m. VSEA members, retirees or Chapters can send a donation / basket to Billie Langlois, Castleton University, 178 Alumni Drive, Castleton, Vt., 05735. 

Sign The Online Petition To Save The Salisbury Fish Hatchery!

An online petition to ‘Save the Salisbury Fish Hatchery" is nearing 3,000 signatures, hopefully on it’s way to the 5,000-signature mark the creator is trying to hit. VSEA members and retirees are urged to sign the petition, if you haven’t already. 

Sign the Petition!

Note: Lawmakers are conducting public hearings on the State’s budget proposal on February 25. Great opportunity to publicly oppose the hatchery’s closure. 

Public Hearings Next Week To Debate State’s FY2020 Budget Proposal

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have scheduled a series of public hearings to hear how Vermonters feel about the State’s FY2020 budget proposal, which includes the closure of the Salisbury Fish Hatchery and the elimination of 21 yet-to-be-identified AHS positions. VSEA opposes both these ideas. 

The hearing is taking place Monday, February 25. 

VSEA members and retirees interested in letting lawmakers know how you feel about the State’s budget proposal can attend one of the following meetings, closest to you:

The following hearings are from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  

  • Morrisville– People’s Academy High School, Auditorium, top of Copley Avenue 
  • Rutland City – Rutland Public Schools, Longfellow School Building, Board Room 
  • St. Johnsbury – St. Johnsbury House, Main dining room, 1207 Main Street
  • St. Albans City – St. Albans City School, Library, 29 Bellows Street 
  • Winooski– Community College of Vermont, Room 108, 1 Abenaki Way 

The following hearing is from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

  •  Springfield– Springfield Town Hall, 96 Main Street, 3rd Floor Conference Room 

To view or print a copy of the State’s proposed budget, go to this link on the Department of Finance and Management’s website.

For more information about the hearings’ format, or to submit written testimony, contact Theresa Utton-Jerman (tutton@leg.state.vt.us ) or Rebecca Buck (rbuck@leg.state.vt.us) or phone 802-828-5767 or toll-free within Vermont at

After Fire, AOT Workers At National Life Moving To Barre

The Associated Press reported recently that 300 AOT employees will be moving soon from National Life in Montpelier to Barre City Place. AP writes that "the plan to move followed a fire last June in the National Life Building in Montpelier, which gave officials the opportunity to reevaluate the use of state office space."

Administration Secretary Susanne Young tells AP the move will save the state an estimated $5.9 million over the 15 years of the lease, and that AOT is now working to facilitate transportation to the new location.

VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard tells WIA that VSEA staff is talking regularly with the workers being relocated, fielding their concerns and questions and trying to get them answers. VSEA was able to facilitate a meeting for the employees with Secretary Flynn to discuss the move.

Auditor’s Commentary Refutes State Official’s Contention That Retired Vermonters Pay Less In Taxes

State Auditor Doug Hoffer penned a commentary this week that appeared on VTDigger, clarifying what he writes was an inaccurate claim in print by a State official that, “Every Vermonter withdrawing from the labor force causes each of us to pay [a] little more to cover the cost of state government, schools, public safety, roads and bridges – every public investment.”

"This statement is not an accurate portrayal of the facts, Hoffer writes. And if we are going to address the economic issues facing Vermont and Vermonters, then we need to have a candid and informed discussion. This official’s statement implies that those who retire, which is most of those leaving the labor force, no longer pay taxes, or they pay less than before. The evidence does not support that assumption.

Using personal income tax data from 2009 (which was cited as the peak of the labor force) and 2016 (the latest data available from the Vermont Tax Department), we see that the situation is not what some would have you believe."

First, Vermont’s aging population is reflected in the 1-percent decline in the number of returns from those younger than 65, while returns from those 65 and older grew by 30 percent (from 49,933 to 65,019). Overall, the number of returns increased by 4 percent from 2009 to 2016.

Second, on average, Adjusted Gross Income for those 65 and older is now higher than for those younger than 65 ($60,347 vs. $59,458).

More importantly, the average amount of income tax paid per return is higher for seniors than for those younger than 65 ($2,160 vs. $2,044). The figures are even more dramatic when we look at the per-capita averages because senior households are smaller than their younger counterparts (1.5 people per household vs. 1.8).

Therefore, the changes in the labor force have not increased the personal income tax burden on younger families. Seniors are now paying more than their share as income tax revenues continue to grow.

Note: It’s worth highlighting that one commenter’s post on Hoffer’s piece was directly answered by the Auditor. The commenter challenges Hoffer with, “Retirees are leaving because Vermont is one of the most expensive states to retire in. Working folks are leaving because it’s one of the most expensive states to live in.” Hoffer responds with, "That is not accurate. IRS reports that seniors are leaving NH (no income tax) at the same rate they are leaving VT. In addition, from 2014 – 2016, 27,925 people moved out of Vermont, while 26,940 moved in. And more people in their prime working years (35 to <55) moved in than moved out."

Thanks For Your Service Brother Shaw!

VSEA is sending best wishes to 30-year state employee and current VSEA White River Junction Chapter President Don Shaw, who is retiring March 1. Don has worn several hats for VSEA over his career, including Chapter President for the past six years, and Council member and Steward. Don is retiring as a DOC Probation and Parole Officer II. 

Thanks for your service to VSEA and Vermont Don! You will be missed. 

Upcoming VSEA Legislator Dinner Meetings! 

Good turnout for the last VSEA legislator dinner meeting to discuss issues important to members and retirees. 

It’s been a snowy winter to date, forcing the recent cancellation of two VSEA Legislative Committee dinner meetings, but the meetings are now rescheduled and interested VSEA members and retirees are invited to come and talk with invited lawmakers about:

  • Tuesday, February 26, 5:30 p.m. – Mental Health and Youth Services
  • Wednesday, March 13, 5:30 p.m. – Future of Woodside

RSVP here today for a dinner meeting

Event webpage to view and share! 

2019 VSEA Scholarship Application Available Now!  

The VSEA Awards/ Scholarship Committee is currently soliciting applications from students seeking financial assistance in the pursuit of post- secondary educational goals.

The Committee will announce the recipients of the scholarships at the June Council Meeting. 

Download 2019 Application (PDF)

Applications will be considered from persons entering or engaged in:

  • Educational or vocational degree or licensed programs;
  • Course(s) to further skill development; and
  • Self-improvement courses.

Those persons eligible for scholarship consideration follows:

  • VSEA members;
  • VSEA members’ dependents;
  • VSEA members’ dependent step-child; and
  • VSEA members’ spouses/domestic partners.

The Scholarship Committee will base its decision for the scholarship eligibility on the following criteria:

  • Career goals;
  • Financial need;
  • Abilities and initiative;
  • Life experiences;Class standing (recent graduates); and
  • Community and school involvement.

Scholarship amounts vary each year, ranging from $500 to $2,000. The VSEA Awards and Scholarships Committee reserves the right to determine the amount of each scholarship award, based on available funds.

Please Note: Applications and accompanying documents will not be returned to applicants once submitted.

Deadline: Completed applications and all accompanying data must be received at VSEA Headquarters no later than 4:30 p.m. on May 8, 2019.

VSEA Vision Insurance Program Enrollment Period Closes Next Week!

February 28, 2019, is the last day for VSEA members to enroll in your union’s popular vision-care program.

Learn more about the vision benefit being offered here!

Waiting List For March VSEA Trip To Foxwoods Casino!

The VSEA Membership Recruitment Committee is advising that there is now a first-come, first-offered waiting list for this return trip to the Foxwoods Casino in March. To add your name to the wait list please contact VSEA Union Representative Bob South by email (bsouth@vsea.org) or phone 802-223-5247.
View the full trip details

Insurance Benefits!

WIA was asked by VSEA Benefits Administrator, Joanne Woodcock, to include the following in this week’s newsletter:

VSEA Insurance Benefits is now making the following Aflac insurance policies available to VSEA members!

View this full flyer ad! (PDF)

Set Up An Appointment Here!

* Certain face amounts may not be available. Underwriting requirements apply. ** Subject to certain conditions and payment of claims is subject to all policy limitations and exclusions and pre-existing conditions. 
This is a brief product overview for illustrative purposes only. Benefits and/or premiums may vary based on the state and benefit option selected. Riders may be available for an additional premium. Policies described herein have limitations and exclusions that may affect benefits payable. For costs and complete details of the coverage, contact your Aflac insurance agent/producer. Individual coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus.  
WWHQ | 1932 Wynnton Road, Columbus, GA 31999 | aflac.com

Learn more about VSEA Insurance benefits online!

Quote Of
The Week!


“Why is it going to take six years for Middlesex, and is there any way we can put some pressure on to speed that process?”

VTDigger report this week on Vermont Rep. Brian Cina (P / D Burlington), questioning AHS Secretary Al Gobeille  about a replacement facility for the beleaguered Middlesex Therapeutic Community Residence; the mental health facility in Middlesex that was created post-Irene and was only supposed to be temporary. While they continue to wait for leaders and politicians to point the way forward for Vermont mental health care, VSEA members working in Middlesex continue to do the best job possible for the patients and residents in their care. 


Upcoming Meetings, Trainings, and Events:


Chapter Meetings:


  • White River Junction Chapter 
    Tuesday, February 26

    12:00 p.m.
    WRJ State Office Building
    118 Prospect Street
    Room 120
    White River Junction

    Questions: Contact VSEA Chittenden Chapter President Don Shaw: Don.Shaw@vermont.gov

  • VPCH Chapter 
    Thursday, March 7

    3:00 p.m.
    Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital 
    Special Events Room
    350 Fisher Road

    Questions: Contact VSEA VPCH Chapter President Jason Rushlow: JDaBear@yhaoo.com

  • Franklin / Grand Isle Chapter 
    Tuesday, March 12

    4:30 p.m.
    State Office Building 
    First Floor Conference Room (138)
    27 Federal Street
    St. Albans

    Questions: Contact VSEA F / GI Chapter President Janine Cary: janine.cary@vermont.gov


Points of Interest:


Deadline Approaching For Agreement To Be Reached Between UVM Medical Center And Its Technical Professionals

Photo: Vermont Cynic

WCAX reports on February 21 that technical professionals working at the University of Vermont Medical Center have until Friday, February 28, to negotiate a new contract agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, the workers are threatening a picket on Thursday, March 7. 

According to the report, "the union says bargaining began in December and there has been no movement so far. The hospital is optimistic the two sides will reach an agreement.

Note: Just as VSEA stood in solidarity with the UVM nurses during their recent pickets, VSEA members and retirees will be doing the same for the technical professionals, if needed. 

West Virginia Teachers Conduct Successful Two-Day Strike To Defeat Retaliatory Legislation 

After some West Virginia senators introduced a bill would have created the state’s first charter schools and allowed education savings accounts for parents to pay for private school, WV teachers again took to the picket lines to protest legislation they say lacked their input and was simply retaliation for a nine-day walkout by teachers last year.  

"I feel cautiously optimistic," Visual Arts teacher Sarah Duncan tells the Williamson Daily News. "I hope that (lawmakers) continue to do the right thing. I hope that they don’t try and bring back those parts of the bill that got the bill killed in the first place, like education savings accounts and charter schools."

West Virginia’s public school teachers are proud their strike this week stopped the bill, but they say they must still remain on guard against harmful language being reintroduced in some way, shape of form.  

MLB Players Association Issues Statement Of Support To Keep Union Workers Making New Era Hats

Photo: Buffalo News

In advance of an announced closure of New Era’s unionized baseball hat division in Derby, NY, the Major League Baseball Players Association issued the following statement on February 21:  

The MLBPA stands in solidarity with the more than 200 women and men at the New Era plant in Derby, NY, who have made the official on-field caps our players have worn with pride for decades but who will now lose their jobs as the company shutters the facility and turns the work over to a non-union manufacturer. 

The MLBPA urges New Era to reconsider its decision, which will cause economic harm not just to the dedicated workers who manufacture the caps and to their families, but also to the town of Derby, which has supported the company for nearly 60 years.

It has always been a source of great pride for players to wear the highest-quality, union-made caps produced by the New Era workers in Derby.

The Derby plant has been making caps for big-league ballplayers since the 1960s. It is expected to cease operating in mid-March.

This Week:

VSEA Asks State To Suspend New Policy And Negotiate First With Union

VSEA’s 2019 State House Day Is Next Thursday! Register Today!

Castleton University Employees Sponsoring A "Basket Raffle" To Help Family Of Employee Who Died In Ice-Fishing Accident

Sign The Online Petition To Save The Salisbury Fish Hatchery!

Public Hearings Next Week To Debate State’s FY2020 Budget Proposal

After Fire, AOT Workers At National Life Moving To Barre

Auditor’s Commentary Refutes State Official’s Contention That Retired Vermonters Pay Less In Taxes

Thanks For Your Service Brother Shaw!

Upcoming VSEA Legislator Dinner Meetings! 

2019 VSEA Scholarship Application Available Now!

VSEA Vision Insurance Program Enrollment Period Closes Next Week!

Waiting List For March VSEA Trip To Foxwoods Casino!

VSEA Insurance Benefits!


Upcoming VSEA Meetings, Trainings, and Events:


Chapter Meetings:

White River
Junction Chapter
Tuesday, February 26


Points of Interest:


Deadline Approaching For Agreement To Be Reached Between UVM Medical Center And Its Technical Professionals

West Virginia Teachers Conduct Successful Two-Day Strike To Defeat Retaliatory Legislation 

MLB Players Association Issues Statement Of Support To Keep Union Workers Making New Era Hats


VSEA Reminders:


2019 Legislative Session Online Hub

State Employees Who Are Threatened On The Job Should File "eAlert" Form​

VSEA Membership Drive 2019 Now Underway!​

"Protect Your Pension" Meeting Now On Video​

Told You’re Being Investigated?
Watch This Video!​

Getting Ready To Retire? Retired Already? Join The VSEA Retired Members’ Chapter!

What You Should Know About The Anti-Worker Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

Bolton Valley Again Offering “Industry Rate” To VSEA Members On 2018-19 All-Access Season Passes​

What Is The VSEA Advantage Program?


VSEA Calendar:

February 25
Public Hearings – 2020 Budget Proposal
Statewide, Various Locations
All Begin At 6:00 p.m., Except Springfield,  5:30 p.m.  

February 26
White River Junction Chapter Meeting 
State Office Building 
118 Prospect Street
Room 120
White River Junction
12:00 p.m.

February 26
VSEA Legislative Dinner Meeting
Mental Health & Youth Services

155 State Street
5:30 p.m.  

February 28
VSEA Council Meeting
Capitol Plaza Hotel 
100 State Street
9:00 a.m.  

February 28
VSEA State House Day 2019 
State House
State Street
9:00 a.m.  

February 28
Deadline To Enroll In VSEA Vision Care Program


2019 Legislative Session Online Hub

A collection of resources, reports, and tools to help VSEA members navigate the Vermont Legislative Session.

Clicking on the hub’s main link, members and retirees are taken to a page that lists a number of options to click on, including:

The hub will be updated with new information as it becomes available, such as the just-approved VSEA legislative priorities.


State Employees Who Are Threatened On The Job Should File "eAlert" Form

We are reminding members that there is an online form to fill out if you are threatened while at work

Find The State’s “eAlert” Homepage Here
Important: Once you land on the eAlert page, you will see an entry labeled “threat” in the menu provided. Click on it and you land on a page with written instructions and fields to complete.
In November 2017, the current Secretary of the Administration sent the State’s “Workplace Safety and Security” policy to state employees, and VSEA members are encouraged to read through the different policies, examples and responses, prior to an actual event occurring.


VSEA Membership Drive 2019
Now Underway!

Between January 1, 2019, and September 1, 2019, VSEA is calling on all members to become active recruiters—and you might be rewarded for your efforts. Here’s how:

  • Members who recruit two members will receive a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card;
  • Members who recruit five new members will receive a VSEA insulated coffee mug; and 
  • Members who recruit ten new members will receive a $50 Visa gift card.  

Every time you recruit a new member during the designated period*, your name is entered into a drawing to be conducted at VSEA’s 2019 Annual Meeting. Four names will be pulled at random and winners will receive a check for $300! 
Need a quick reference to help with your recruiting? You can view an informational webpage with some recruitment tips and advice here.

* Please be sure the new members you recruit add your name to the "Recruited By" line on their union card or membership application.
If you have any questions, or want a list of non-members in your area, please contact VSEA Director of Operations and Organizing Ray Stout by email: rstout@vsea.org


"Protect Your Pension" Meeting Now
On Video

Prior to the legislative 2019 session kicking off, VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard was conducting an education tour around the state, talking with VSEA members and retirees about an expected attack on your pension, who is behind it and how to help prevent it from happening. 

If you weren’t able to attend a presentation in your area, VSEA is pleased to now share this link to Steve’s December 2018 St. Albans presentation.

This video is for VSEA members only. To view it you must be logged into your VSEA.org user account. If you do not have a VSEA.org account, please sign up for a free account here.

Watch the presentation online


Told You’re Being Investigated? Watch This Video!

In response to requests from members for information about an employee’s rights in investigatory meetings, VSEA’s Communications Department posted a video this week, featuring VSEA activist Robin Rieske talking to members about their rights. 

It is important that every VSEA member knows his or her rights when it comes to union representation in investigatory meetings. Union representation at these meetings is a cornerstone of the labor movement. Your right to representation—as outlined in your contract and, in some cases, labor law—can be complicated.

Please take a few minutes on a break to watch the video, and know that the information being relayed could very well save your job someday. Remember, as a VSEA member, you are entitled to no-cost representation in investigatory meetings that may lead to discipline. Non-members, however, must now pay a rate of $250 to $350 per-hour for the same level of representation!

More: Know Your Union Rights

Not currently a VSEA member?
You can sign up online.

Getting Ready To Retire? Retired Already? Join The VSEA Retired Members’ Chapter!

Long-time VSEA activist and leader Terry Lefebvre asked Council members getting ready to retire to join the VSEA Retirees’ Chapter to continue to be an active and engaged union member, even in retirement. Lefebvre also appealed to Council members to talk up the Chapter to co-workers they know who might be preparing to retire. 
With a possible fight looming on retirement security, Lefebvre stressed the importance to build the Chapter to be able to mobilize large numbers of past state workers to protect and defend the benefits they bargained to win over decades.

If you already belong to the Retired Members’ Chapter, a big thanks to you.
Learn More Here About The VSEA Retired Members’ Chapter


What You Should Know About The Anti-Worker Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

Thanks in advance for visiting VSEA’s Janus webpage to ensure you are an informed union member. 


Bolton Valley Again Offering “Industry Rate” To VSEA Members On 2018-19
All-Access Season Passes

All VSEA members in good standing are eligible to purchase a pass or passes. You can purchase yours today by first contacting VSEA by email at vsea@vsea.org. VSEA will verify your membership status and provide you with VSEA’s code, which you will need to complete your online purchase.

Once you have the required code:

  • Click here;
  • Click “Buy Online”;
  • In the “Cart View,” click on “Add / Change Guest” to set the pass-holder’s name and information to each pass, then;
  • Click “Proceed to Checkout”;
  • Enter VSEA’s promotional code and click “Apply Code.” The cart should refresh and reflect your discount.


Pass Type: Pre-April 2 Price/ Post-April 2 Price

Adult (18+): 
$379 / $429

Youth w/Adult

$159 / $179

Youth (7-17): 
$199 / $239

Senior (65-74): 
$229 / $239

Child (6 and under): $29 / $29

Ski Bum (18-25): $179 / $279


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!


It’s free, just for being a Vermont State Employees’ Association PerksConnect member!

Learn More!

Questions? Feel free to email vsea@ vsea.org


Need To Update Your Contact Information
With VSEA? 
Don’t Have
Union Card? 

Request A Green VSEA Union Card

Have You Been Threatened
At Work? 

Send A Threat Report To VSEA

Are You A
VSEA Council Member?

Join the VSEA Council Facebook group here!

Are You A
VSEA Steward?

Join the VSEA Steward Facebook
group here!

Subscribe To VSEA Today!

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.

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 is working hard to collect members’ contact information.

You can help us 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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