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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
VSEA Legislative Reports Available Online
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.
Electronic VSEA VOICE Emailed To Members On January 3
All VSEA members should have received an email on January 3 that contained a link to a special pre-legislative-session, electronic version of the VSEAVOICE.
The special edition includes a pre-session message from the VSEA President, a list of all the issues that made the 2017 VSEA legislative agenda, a profile of VSEA Legislative Committee Chair Margaret Crowley, a rundown of all the new faces at the State House and other items for VSEA members to reference throughout the upcoming session.
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.
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 (email@example.com) or by phone at 802-223-5247. Susan is only available during normal VSEA operating hours (Monday-Friday,
9 am- 5 pm).
Right-To-Work laws are legislation passed at the state level that allows employees represented by a union to receive the benefits of union membership without paying dues or agency fee. Right-To-Work laws weaken labor unions by offering employees the option to “free ride” on dues paying members.
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.”
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 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)
$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.”
Tuesday Night Is Important Legislative Hearing On Vermont’s Mental Health Crisis & Its Impact On Frontline Workers
VSEA members who work with Vermonters with mental illness are being urged to participate in—or attend—a special, joint legislative hearing to educate lawmakers about the challenges created for frontline workers by Vermont’s mental health crisis. Lawmakers want to hear from frontline workers about what impact the crisis is having on you. This means you VPCH, Middlesex, DOC, DCF, VVH and P&P members, to name a few.
Special Joint Legislative Hearing:
Vermont’s Mental Health Crisis & Frontline Workers
Tuesday, February 7
5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Want to testify? Questions?
Please contact VSEA Organizer Danielle Warner by email at email@example.com or by phone at 802-223-5247.
DHR Meets With VSEA Members To Discuss Possible Privatizations
Staff from the Department of Human Resources (DHR) was at headquarters on Tuesday to meet with VSEA representatives and members working at the “temporary” Middlesex Therapeutic Community Residence (MTCR) and for the Department of Innovation and Information (DII). Both the state entities are being targeted for privatization, and DHR informed all in the room that formal “Requests for Proposals” to assume control of the services have been issued to private, for-profit companies.
The MTCR was created as a “temporary,” seven-bed mental health facility to replace some of the beds that were lost at the old Vermont State Hospital after it was hit hard by Hurricane Irene. The DII is the entity responsible for assisting state agencies and departments with their technology needs.
DHR’s representatives were clear with all in the room that the future of both services is blurry right now, and that they were meeting with VSEA and employees to simply explain what could happen with both workforces in the event of privatization. They repeatedly stressed that nothing is set in stone right now.
At the MTCR, DHR estimated that 24 VSEA members would be displaced by privatization, and nearly a dozen VSEA members would be out at DII. DHR did tell the MTCR workers that they could be absorbed at the new facility in Berlin, where there are currently 18 vacancies. DHR representatives were not able to offer any cost analysis for either privatization, nor did they have any clear exit/transition answers.
Rest assured, VSEA will be reviewing both RFPs and requesting a list of bidders, once the deadline to submit a proposal has passed. Your union will also being monitoring any debate at the State House about these proposed privatizations, and we’ll be lobbying hard against the proposals if evidence of savings is unclear, or if members tell us the move would diminish or harm their service.
VSEA thanks the members who took time to participate in the meetings.
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.
VT Labor Unions Line Up Against State’s Proposed Merger Of DOL & ACCD
As advertised in last week’s WIA, lawmakers held a public hearing this week on the State’s proposal to merge the Department of Labor (DOL) into the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD), creating a new Agency of Economic Opportunity. It was one of three proposals introduced by the State in its budget plan; the other two were to morph the current Department of Innovation and Information into something called the Agency of Digital Services and to combine Vermont Lottery and Liquor Control. VSEA is very skeptical about each of the proposals, and your union’s lobbyists are actively monitoring any and all debate at the State House on all three of the measures. They are also providing lawmakers with members’ concerns and questions and alerting them to member-identified pitfalls. No cost savings have been attached to any of the proposals.
On the question of merging the DOL and ACCD, VSEA members are not alone in questioning the thinking behind the proposal. At the legislature’s hearing on Tuesday night, representatives of many Vermont unions testified in opposition to the proposal.
“We’re scared that the [proposal would mean that the] fox might be in the henhouse,” Steelworkers leader Raymond Bettis told lawmakers. “We’re worried that the workers’ rights may get washed, and we’re fighting really hard now as it is to maintain safety in the mines.”
Teamsters Business Agent Bill Kelly warned, “There’s a lot of people out there who don’t have any help (from unions). The only help they have is the Department of Labor, so I would respectfully request that you turn down this merger and keep the Department of Labor and the Agency of Commerce separate.”
With Announced Sale Of Stowe Mountain, VSEA Believes It’s Time To Renegotiate Mountain’s Lease
It was reported this week that Vail (Colorado) Resorts is considering purchasing Stowe Mountain Resort, which is one of seven mountain leases identified in a 2015 State Auditor’s office report as being “outdated” and costing the state money.
After the Auditor’s report was released in 2015, VSEA launched a campaign to convince lawmakers to insist that Vermont generate new revenue by renegotiating the outdated leases named in the Auditor’s report. VSEA’s request was in response to repeated calls from officials and lawmakers for Vermonters to come up with ways to generate new revenue. In the end though, no action was ever taken with respect to the leases.
In just the past year, two resorts singled out in the Auditor’s report as having outdated leases have come up for sale, Jay Peak and now Stowe. To date, silence on the issue of what will happen with the resort’s mountain leases.
If you are talking with your local representatives, remind them about the Auditor’s findings and please urge them to renegotiate the leases on Vermont’s mountains to ensure Vermonters are being properly compensated for the use of our mountains.
Good mix of VSEA members and lawmakers at Tuesday night’s VSEA Legislative Committee Issue Reception at union headquarters. The topic was retirement security, and the group was joined by State Treasurer Beth Pearce, who reiterated her strong opposition to our new Governor’s expressed support to switch new hires to state government from a defined-benefit pension plan to a defined-contribution plan. Thanks to the VSEA members who attended, and thanks to the following lawmakers for joining the discussion:
Rep. Mitzi Johnson
Rep. Mary Sullivan
Rep. Cindy Weed
Rep. Mike Yantachka
Rep. Rachael Fields
Rep. Mary Howard
Rep. Maida Townsend
Rep. Joey Donovan
Rep. Helen Head
Rep. Janet Ancel
Rep. Curt McCormack
Rep. Kimberly Jessup
Rep. Jill Krowinski
Rep. Robin Chestnut-Tangerman
The next VSEA Legislative Issue Reception is February 9 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The topic is "Protecting and Enhancing State Employees’ Health Care." VSEA members are welcome to attend this dinner. Please RSVP to VSEA Organizer Danielle Warner by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enhancing VSEA Members’ Safety & Security While At Work
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.
If you are interested in attending a reception(s), please RSVP to:
Danielle Warner, VSEA Organizer
Longtime VSEA Steward and activist Chris Murphy is asking VSEA members who live in his school district to please consider supporting his candidacy for District School Board on Town Meeting Day, March 7. Chris is a 14-year VSEA member who works as a Social Worker in DCF’s Family Services Division.
Of his candidacy, Murphy’s flyer includes a quote, reading, “I have devoted my professional life to working with children and on their behalf. It will be an honor to continue working to make our schools even stronger and our community even better.”
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 (email@example.com). 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.
Ohio State Employees’ Union Floats Its Own Cost-Savings Proposal To Have State Workers Provide Food Service To Prisons
The Columbus Dispatch reports on February 1 that the Ohio Civil Service Employees’ Association (union representing state workers) has formally submitted a proposal to take over prison food services from a private contractor; a move the union estimates will save the state $4.4 million annually. This is the third time the union has submitted a cost-savings bid, only to have it basically ignored.
"We’ve always maintained that public sector employees can compete against private contractors," union President Christopher Mabe said. "It’s our hope that the Department of Corrections and Ohio legislators will see that value and end its contract with Aramark [the current private contractor]."
Since taking over the prison food contract in 2013, Aramark has been plagued by charges of maggots in food, staff and food shortages and inappropriate employee contact. The state also fined Aramark $272,300 for contract violations and banned 135 Aramark employees from prison work because of inappropriate "relationships" with inmates, security violations and contraband smuggling.
Study Finds More Large Employers Hiring Contractors
The Wall Street Journal reports this week that large employers—from Google to Virgin America to Walmart—are hiring more contract labor, Lauren Weber writes “Never before have American companies tried so hard to employ so few people. The outsourcing wave that moved apparel-making jobs to China and call-center operations to India is now just as likely to happen inside companies across the U.S. and in almost every industry.”
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.
ESD Conference Room
State Office Building
67 Eastern Ave.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
Nursing/Health Care Facility Stewards
Thursday, February 2
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.