VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: January 11, 2019

VSEA Past Presidents, Rep. Terry Macaig and Rep. Bob Hooper, pictured this week at the State House, where they will be monitoring any and all developments concerning state employees and retirees. A new legislative session launched on January 9.  



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Tomorrow’s Steward Training Cancelled!

VSEA’s first Steward training in 2019, scheduled for January 12, has unfortunately had to be postponed.

Members who had registered are being rescheduled to one of the remaining trainings in 2019, which are still open to any VSEA member who would like to register.

View Additional 2019 Steward Trainings.

For more information please email VSEA Director of Field Services, Gretchen Naylor here: gnaylor@vsea.orgor call 802-223-5247. 

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 Here: Know Your Union Rights

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

2019 VSEA Legislative Dinner Schedule Announced

Last year, VSEA’s Legislative Committee decided to begin hosting a series of informal dinner meetings, where VSEA members and retirees could talk with invited lawmakers about the issues important to them. The inaugural dinner meetings were so successful that the Committee decided to again sponsor a new series of meetings in the coming weeks.  
Here’s the schedule to date with the topic being discussed:

Thursday, January 17 – Pensions

Thursday, January 24 – Mental Health & Youth Services

Thursday, January 31 – Employee Rights

RSVP here today for any or all of the 2019 dinner meetings.

Event webpage to view and share! 

Your New Health Care
Co-Pay Is $25! Make Sure You Use The Correct Card

VSEA members should have received a mailing recently from Blue Cross/Blue Shield, containing your new health care card(s) for you and your family members. 

As many of you have pointed out, BC/BS has, in fact, sent out two mailings with cards, one containing card(s) listing your co-pay as $20 and another reading $25. The card(s) with $25 are the correct ones, and members should dispose of the card(s) with $20. The newly negotiated co-pay is $25.

The error was made by BC/BS, and VSEA is in no way responsible for the incorrect mailing. VSEA does, however, apologize for the confusion.

Note: Co-pay for specialists is now $30. 

Judiciary Unit Appoints Two New Unit Leaders

The Judiciary Unit Executive Committee met last week and appointed Victoria Barry as new Unit Vice Chair. Barry is a Docket Clerk in the Windham Civil Division, working in Newfane and is also a member of the VSEA Council.

The Unit Executive Committee also appointed Heather Rogers to be its newest Steward. Rogers is a Docket Clerk in the Information Center at the Costello Courthouse in Burlington. She joins fellow Unit Stewards Dave Wortheim and Shane Shepperd at the Costello Courthouse and is also specially assigned to Grand Isle County. This is Rogers first union activist/leadership position with the VSEA.

Note: Congratulations to Victoria and Heather. Thanks for your service to the Judiciary Unit and to VSEA. 

BLS Finds Vermont Second Highest In The Nation For Employee
Non-Fatal Injuries & Illness

A newly released Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report confirms why VSEA members must continue to press lawmakers for improved on-the-job safety and health protections, finding Vermont is second highest in the nation, in terms of employee nonfatal injuries and illnesses.

From an online post:

Washington has a higher rate of total recordable cases than the national average. The national average of recordable cares in 2017 was 2.8 per 100 full-time employees, and Washington’s rate was 4.0. The state was among the 20 states with a rate higher than the national average.

In fact, Washington had one of the five highest rates, which included rates for the following states:

Maine at 4.8;
Vermont at 4.6;
Montana at 4.3;
Washington at 4.0; and
Alaska and Hawaii, both at 3.8.

Note: Surely, Vermont can do better.

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

Save The Date!

At State House Day, VSEA members are afforded an opportunity to talk with legislators about the services you provide and the issues and challenges you and your colleagues face. Let’s show lawmakers and State officials at the State House what real collective power looks like! 

Quote Of The Week!


“We must keep the promises we made to our state employees and teachers to pay their pensions and healthcare costs in full.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott, in his January 10 inaugural address at the State House. Full text.


VSEA Meetings/ Trainings/ Events:


Upcoming VSEA Organizer Worksite Meeting

  • Agency of Education
    Wednesday, January 16

    12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
    AOE Members 
    219 N. Main Street
    Third Floor Conference Room (304)

    Questions: Contact VSEA Organizer Danielle Warner: dwarner@vsea.org

  • National Life – AOT
    Tuesday, January 22

    12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
    Discussion w/ AOT Members About Move To Barre 
    National Life
    1 National Life Drive
    Fifth Floor Board Room

    Questions: Contact VSEA Organizer Carmen Scoles: cscoles@vsea.org


Points of Interest:


Labor Unions Dodging Janus Ruling’s Blows–So Far

In These Times published a story on January 10 that provides a good look at how labor unions nationwide are successfully dodging a majority of the blows from the Supreme Court’s anti-union Janus ruling in 2018. 

From the story: 

Months after the Supreme Court’s June 2018 Janus v. AFSCME decision, public-sector unions are not teetering on the brink of collapse, as their detractors may have hoped. The consensus is that good preparation softened the initial blow.

“Anyone writing our obituary is going to be sorely disappointed,” Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), tells In These Times. “We don’t believe we are going to get hurt nearly as badly as people thought by Janus.”


In many states, public-sector unions are up against…groups bombarding members with opt-out messaging at home and at work. Public-sector union members are uniquely vulnerable to such campaigns because their contact information can be obtained through public records requests.

Representatives of AFSCME and AFT say that these attempts have largely backfired, and have instead galvanized support for the union.

AFT Offering Interest-Free Loans To Furloughed Members

SFGate reports today that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has started an interest-free loan program for thousands of its members affected by the partial shutdown of the federal government.

From the story:

The AFT represents not only teachers but also other government employees, including corrections officers, firefighters, engineers and budget analysts who work in the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other tribal agencies. The union is offering one-year interest-free, no-credit-check loans of up to $1,500, with no payments due until after the shutdown has ended. 

The union said about 5,000 members are affected by the shutdown.

New Book Chronicles The Career Of The Working Person’s Photographer

Across the nation, Earl Dotter has been capturing working Americans in still photographs for decades, and now his career has been chronicled in a new book titled, Life’s Work: A Fifty Year Photographic Chronicle of Working in the U.S.A.

From a December 2018 review in the Journal of Working-Class Studies:

"Earl Dotter’s photographs of miners, textile workers, cleaners, farm laborers, fishers, nurses, emergency responders, window washers, industrial hygienists, and other workers, especially those exposed to dangerous and hazardous conditions, constitute a narrative of labor both crucial and largely invisible. As was true of Lewis Hine’s efforts to ameliorate the cruelty of child labor, Dotter’s photographs have agency, revealing the struggle for safe work and democratic unions, the aftermath of job-related deaths and injuries to workers and their families, and the marks of labor on a person’s body as evidenced by missing limbs or ‘quiet’ chronic sickness. Dotter’s photographs are [under]grounded, rooted in a particular vernacular of labor and, simultaneously, a dense and wide canopy of workers’ lives. He masters the technical challenge of photographing in a coal shaft or on a fishing boat during a winter storm, as well as the necessary empathetic human connection of photographing without turning his subjects into distanced victims or sociological categories."

Editor’s Note: I worked for the UMWA for nearly a decade and ran into Earl often at our events, or at other labor pickets, strikes, etc.–always with camera in hand. His photographs are exceptional, and he’s a really good guy, so I highly recommend checking out his book.  

This Week:

Tomorrow’s Steward Training Cancelled!

Told You’re Being Investigated? Watch This Video!

2019 VSEA Legislative Dinner Schedule Announced

Your New Health Care Co-Pay Is $25! Make Sure You Use The Correct Card

Judiciary Unit Appoints Two New Unit Leaders

BLS Finds Vermont Second Highest In The Nation For Employee Non-Fatal Injuries & Illness

What To Do About 108 Cherry Street State Office Building In Burlington

VSEA Membership Drive 2019 Now Underway!​


Points of Interest:


Labor Unions Dodging Janus Ruling’s Blows–So Far

AFT Offering Interest-Free Loans To Furloughed Members

New Book Chronicles The Career Of The Working Person’s Photographer


VSEA Reminders:


2019 Legislative Session Online Hub

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

Guaranteed Issue Term and Whole Life Insurance for VSEA Members!​

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

What Is The VSEA Advantage Program?


VSEA Calendar:

January 15
Child & Elder Care Committee Meeting 
155 State Street
9:00 a.m.

January 16
Organizer’s Worksite Meeting: AOE
219 N. Main Street
Third Floor Conference Room (304)
12:00 p.m.

January 17
Dinner Meeting w/Legislators – Pensions
155 State Street
5:30 p.m.


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.


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. 


Guaranteed Issue Term and Whole Life Insurance for VSEA Members!

WIA was asked by VSEA Benefits Administrator, Joanne Woodcock, to include the following in this week’s newsletter:
Aflac life insurance helps take care of your loved ones* immediate and future needs if you should pass away. Immediate needs can include burial/funeral expenses, uninsured medical costs and current bills and debts. Future needs could include income replacement, education plans, ongoing family obligations, emergency funds, and retirement expenses.

Aflac is insurance for daily living. It’s never easy to think about life insurance, but it can mean that your family will have added financial resources to help with ongoing living expenses. Aflac life insurance is designed to provide you and your beneficiary(ies) with cash benefits. The following options are available and can help provide peace of mind during a very difficult time.

  • Guaranteed-issue** – 10-year, 20-year, or 30-year Term Life coverage up to $50,000.

    … or Guaranteed-issue** Whole Life coverage up to $50,000.

  • Ability to borrow from the policy’s cash value to help pay medical expenses, college tuition, down payment on a new home, or any other bills you may have.

Apply Today – No health questions asked.  Ask your VSEA Insurance Benefits Advisor how an Aflac life policy can help you and your family.

Joanne Woodcock
VSEA Insurance Benefits
888-510-4467 (call me toll free)
Learn More 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


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.

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