VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: January 24, 2020

These are the signs VSEA Judiciary Unit members will be holding up outside the Vermont Supreme Court on Monday, January 27. Please join if you’re able. More information below


Judiciary Unit Bargaining Team Conducting Monday Action Outside VT Supreme Court. Join Them!

Members Of VSEA’s Judiciary Unit Bargaining Team are conducting an action outside the Vermont Supreme Court in Montpelier on Monday to educate the press, lawmakers and public about the Court Administrator’s repeated refusals to meet with the Judiciary Team to negotiate in good faith and in a timely manner about compensation. 
The Team will be conducting mock negotiations with the Court Administrator and her Team’s empty chairs.  

Judiciary Unit Bargaining Action
Monday, January 27

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Outside the Vermont Supreme Court
111 State Street

Stop by to participate! If you drive by, be sure to honk in solidarity. 


Show Your Support!

What’s The State’s Alternative? Budget Proposal Calls For Closure Of Woodside Juvenile Rehab Center

According to a report in Seven Days this week, during a press briefing in advance of the State’s top official delivering his budget address on Tuesday, State advisers told reporters that “‘they had scoured the state budget for fat to trim and came up with $13 million in “efficiencies.’ Those include closing the Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center and bringing certain healthcare contracts in-house.”

This is not something that was mentioned from the podium yesterday (nor , nor did we hear what the alternative is for Vermont’s at-risk youth.

VSEA members! Please reach out to your local lawmakers today and demand to know what the alternative is to Woodside and how much it will cost. Also ask him or her to reject the State’s proposal to shutter Woodside, which is Vermont’s sole facility to treat at-risk youth. Out-of-state placement or sole reliance on community-based care are not the answer.

First VP Represents At Vermont AFT State House Event 

VSEA First Vice President Aimee Towne represented VSEA well at this week’s special Vermont AFT-sponsored event at the State House to honor AFT International President Randi Weingarten, who was in Vermont to fire up the troops and promote a pro-union message. Towne was asked to speak at the event, prior to Weingarten taking the microphone. She’s pictured here at the podium. 

Reminder: You Can & Should Report Building-Related Safety & Health Incidents

Over the years, VSEA members in various state offices across Vermont have probably lived through, seen or heard about a building-related safety and health incident that sickened state workers or caused a state building to be investigated, or worse, vacated. If you have a safety and health issue where you work, VSEA is reminding about the State’s “Building Related Incident Notification” (BRIN) reporting system and is urging members to use it. All BRIN forms submitted go directly to Buildings and General Services (BGS). 

To aid you, VSEA has produced a BRIN process explanation flyer to print out for your own reference, share with your colleagues or post on your VSEA-designated bulletin board. 

VSEA BRIN Process Explanation Flyer

Important BRIN Links

Castleton University Using New App To Supplement Employee & Student Safety

Fox 44 reported last night on a new App being offered to students and employees at Castleton University to enhance their safety while on campus. 

From the story:

“The app can be used to place a phone call to Castleton Public Safety. It can send an emergency alert to an officer on duty, who would follow up on the alert by making contact with the sender. The app can also prompt the department to send two different types of check-in alerts. If the alerts don’t receive a response within an allotted amount of time, an officer would make contact.”


“The app also will not replace any existing protective measures. “We still have our blue light system; we just invested in upgrading that,” Castleton Director of Marketing and Communications James Lambert says.“You can call Public Safety; we still have 24/7 public safety coverage. This is just an additional feature for the comfort and safety of our campus community.

New VSEA Steward Training Dates Posted!

VSEA Field Services Director Gretchen Naylor asked WIA to include an announcement about new training dates for VSEA Stewards:

Judiciary Steward Training 
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
8:30 a.m. -3:00 p.m.
Montpelier -VSEA
155 State Street 

Colleges’ Steward Training 
Thursday, March 26, 2020
8:30 a.m. -3:00 p.m. 

Montpelier -VSEA
155 State Street 

Friday, July 17, 2020
8:30 a.m. -3:00 p.m. 
Rutland -Holiday Inn
476 Holiday Drive

Thursday, September 24, 2020
8:30 -3:00 p.m.
Montpelier -VSEA
155 State Street

Wednesday, December 9, 2020
8:30 a.m. -3:00 p.m.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
870 Williston Road, South Burlington

Friday, March 5, 2021
8:30 -3:00 p.m.
Montpelier -VSEA
155 State Street 

*As of July 1, 2020 all VSEA Stewards in the Executive Branch are eligible for VSEA leave time for Steward Training, provided they receive supervisory approval.

Please RSVP to VSEA Administrative Assistant Sue DeVoid at: sdevoid@vsea.org or call 802-223-5247.

VSEA Winter Membership Drive Underway! 

A reminder that VSEA’s Winter Membership Drive is in progress, but you still have a little more than a month to participate. Never forget that ongoing recruitment is vital to the strength of your union!

And there’s rewards in addition to you helping to grow your union,  including:

  • Members who recruit TWO members will receive a VSEA insulated travel mug;
  • Members who recruit FIVE new members will receive a dues holiday for a month; and 
  • Members who recruit TEN new members will receive a check for $50!  

Bonus! Every time you recruit a new member now through February 28, your name is entered into a drawing. Four names will be pulled at random, and each winner will receive a check for $100!

Learn More About VSEA’s Winter Membership Drive Here!

VICE Reports: The Downside To Local Law Enforcement Helping With Mentally Ill Vermonters In ERs

The issue of how to reduce our rural hospitals’ reliance on local law enforcement to help with patients experiencing acute mental illness has been batted around the State House for years without resolution. A VICE investigation that posted this week reaffirms why it’s past time for this issue to be addressed.

From VICE story (https://bit.ly/37kEm0T):

“Understaffed hospitals in Vermont are engaging local law enforcement as security, but their lack of training means people get hurt, citations are issued, and already-strained regions lose access to healthcare.”


“Vermont is a surprising case study in how things can quickly go wrong when hospitals invite police inside. At least nine of Vermont’s 14 emergency rooms, including six of its eight hospitals serving rural populations, have been cited by national regulators over the past five years for improperly calling police to help with mental health patients.”

Note: This is an issue that VSEA DMH members have been talking with the union about for a long time, especially members who care daily for Vermonters experiencing acute mental illness. And if the Brattleboro Retreat is sold or closed, this crisis will grow exponentially. 

Image: From VICE story

Change Of Dates! VSEA Legislative Dinner Series 

VSEA Members’ Chance To Meet Face-To-Face With Key Decision Makers Outside
The Dome

Photo from last night’s VSEA Legislative Committee-sponsored issue-dinner meeting, where VSEA members and retirees educated lawmakers in attendance about staffing issues across state government. VSEA Legislative Committee Chair Margaret Crowley is addressing the group. 


New Dates For Legislative Dinners!

Due to a scheduling conflict with a lawmakers’ event on January 30, the Legislative Committee has decided to reschedule that night’s VSEA legislative dinner to discuss privatization in state government. The Committee was also forced to cancel a dinner to discuss pensions earlier this month, due to weather.

The new dates for the dinners are:


Both receptions are being held at VSEA HQ (155 State Street, Montpelier, VT) starting at 5:30 p.m. Dinner will be provided.

RSVP here today for the February 6 or 13 dinner meetings

Quote Of
The Week!


“I thank SAG-AFTRA for tirelessly fighting on our behalf for workplace of economic gains and respect and that especially bears remembering these days when there is so much hostility towards unions.”

Actor Robert DeNiro, acknowledging his own union in a speech he delivered at last Sunday’s Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG), American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) awards ceremony, where he received a lifetime achievement award. 


Upcoming Meetings:


Worksite Meeting:

RFR Discussion – Burlington 
Tuesday, January 28

12:00 p.m.
State Office Building
108 Cherry Street
Conference Room 2B

For more information please feel free to contact VSEA Organizer Danielle Warner, dwarner@vsea.org


Talking Points:


Union Membership Holding Steady In Public Sector

Bloomberg Law posted a story this week about a new Bureau of Labor Statistics study that finds union membership holding steady, post-Janus, but, unfortunately, there continue to be slowly declining membership numbers in the private sector, while public sector numbers stay relatively intact. 

From the post:

One out of every three public-sector workers belonged to a union last year, according to the BLS. That’s more than five times the union membership rate of private-sector workers where 6.2% of the workforce claimed union affiliation.

Although the percentage of public sector union members fell three-tenths of a percent to 33.6% last year, there continued to be no signs of a significant membership exodus following a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision that limited revenue streams for government unions.

New Report Released: “Clean Slate for Worker Power: Building a Just Economy and Democracy”

The American Prospect posted this morning about the release of a new report, “Clean Slate for Worker Power: Building a Just Economy and Democracy,” written by more than 70 professors, labor leaders and activists. It includes an ambitious menu of recommendations for how to remake America’s labor laws.

The report’s dozens of recommendations include:

  • Give workers the power to elect 40 percent of the members of corporate boards. Moreover, corporate boards would need a supermajority to approve decisions with the biggest impact on workers.
  • Permit minority unions: Employers would be required to recognize and bargain with unions if 25 percent of the workers at a workplace sign cards saying they want a union. This would be a sharp break from the status quo in which corporations are required to bargain with a union only after it shows majority support. Under current law, that union becomes the exclusive representative of all workers, and minority unions are not recognized.
  • Require employers to engage in industrywide or sectoral bargaining once 5,000 workers or 10 percent of an industry’s workforce (whichever is smaller) petition for such bargaining. (The Secretary of Labor would help define which employers are in which industrial sectors)
  • In every workplace, employees would elect a monitor who would help enforce rights and educate workers about their rights. At larger workplaces, there would be one monitor per 500 workers.
  • Require employers to bargain over a far wider set of issues. Under current law, unions generally can bargain over only wages and working conditions. The report recommends that unions be allowed to bargain over, for example, their company’s contribution to global warming or its violations of consumers’ privacy or the difficulties its workers and the greater community face finding affordable housing. The report says unions should also have the power to invite community groups to join them at the bargaining table.
  • Include farmworkers and domestic worker under federal labor law– these two groups of workers, largely workers of color, were not included when the National Labor Relations Act was passed in 1935, giving most private-sector workers a federally protected right to unionize and bargain collectively.
  • Give independent contractors a right to bargain collectively. 

Being billed as an alert to the public and policymakers about the dismal state of worker power and worker voice, this report is definitely with a look and read!

Full Report

Don’t Privatize America’s Postal System!!

Unionized postal workers across the nation are punching back against what they fear will be a move at the federal level to privatize their services. 

People’s World reports this week on the postal workers’ campaign and about a short video they produced to supplement their efforts to keep their jobs public. 

Campaign Video

This Week:

Judiciary Unit Bargaining Team Conducting Monday Action Outside VT Supreme Court. Join Them!

What’s The State’s Alternative? Budget Proposal Calls For Closure Of Woodside Juvenile Rehab Center

First VP Represents At Vermont AFT State House Event

Reminder: You Can & Should Report Building-Related Safety & Health Incidents

Castleton University Using New App To Supplement Employee & Student Safety

New VSEA Steward Training Dates Posted!

VSEA Winter Membership Drive Underway!

VICE Reports: The Downside To Local Law Enforcement Helping With Mentally Ill Vermonters In ERs

Change Of Dates! VSEA Legislative Dinner Series


Talking Points:

Union Membership Holding Steady In Public Sector

New Report Released: “Clean Slate for Worker Power: Building a Just Economy and Democracy”

Don’t Privatize America’s Postal System!!



January 28
RFR Discussion – Burlington 
State Office Building
108 Cherry Street
Conference Room 2B
12:00 p.m.

January 29
OSA Bargaining Team Meeting
155 State Street
8:00 a.m. 

January 31
Benefits Advisory Committee Meeting
155 State Street
2:00 p.m. 


Important Reminders:

New Enrollment Period For VSEA Vision Insurance Program Begins February 1!

VSEA Legislative Team Now Posting Updates Online

2020 VSEA Scholarship Application Available Now!

VSEA Retirement Security Fact Sheet

My Office Is Freezing!

Bolton Valley Again Offering Discounted Ski & Ride Passes To VSEA Members!

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

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

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

What Is The VSEA Advantage Program?


VSEA Videos:

Keynote Speaker At VSEA’s Annual Meeting

Told You’re Being Investigated?
Watch This Video!

“I’m Sticking With My Union!” – John Vorder Bruegge

More on YouTube


Thank you for reading Week In Action!


New Enrollment Period For VSEA Vision Insurance Program Begins February 1!

February 1, 2020, is the day VSEA members who haven’t already can begin enrolling in your union’s popular vision-care program.

More information about the vision benefit being offered is being emailed to members soon. It will also be posted here, once available, and WIA will include a notice.  


VSEA Legislative Team Now Posting 
Updates Online

VSEA’s legislative team at the State House has begun to email and post updates from the State House.  

Latest: January 16 Legislative Update

Interested VSEA members can find more information about the 2020 legislative session by visiting VSEA’s 2020 Session Online Hub. Here you will find a collection of resources, reports and tools to help VSEA members navigate the Vermont Legislative Session, including:

  • 2020 Legislative Session Reports;
  • 2020 Legislative Session Agenda;
  • Find/Contact Your Legislator;
  • Virtual Vermont State House Tour;
  • Become A VTPAC Member; and
  • VSEA Legislative Committee Profile.

The hub will be updated with new information as it becomes available.


2020 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.

View/download the 2020 VSEA Scholarship Application.

Deadline: 4:30 p.m. on May 8, 2020

Note: Depending on your settings, the link above will open a PDF in your web browser or download the PDF to your computer or device. If you have any questions please email vsea@vsea.org.


VSEA Retirement Security Fact Sheet

Did you know? Defined benefit plans are safer and more reliable for Vermont’s retirees & are cheaper for taxpayers than risky, Wall St 401(k)-style plans. Learn more about the differences between defined benefit pension plans and defined contribution pension plans (a.k.a. 401K) here.


My Office Is Freezing!

Here’s a reminder of what the Non-Management Unit contract language says in Article 29, section 16, about cold and hot offices:


The State will respond promptly to complaints about air quality in existing State owned and leased buildings including air testing when appropriate. The State will consider reasonable corrective measures when indoor workplace temperatures are less than sixty-five (65) degrees or more than eighty-five (85) degrees. Air quality standards for newly-constructed or newly-leased buildings shall be subject for consideration/recommendation by the Safety and Health Maintenance Committee.

Note: If excused from work because it’s too cold or hot, employees will have to use their own leave, unless management approves employees leaving without using their own leave. If your building is closed outright, constituting an “emergency closure,” Article 44 of the contract kicks in. 


Bolton Valley Again Offering Discounted Ski & Ride Passes To VSEA Members!

WIA was asked by Bolton Valley Group Sales Manager, Eric Davis, to include the following in this week’s newsletter:

Buy next year’s season pass now and:

  1. Get the lowest price of the year AND…
  2. Ski & Ride the rest of this season FREE!!! That’s right, if you buy next year’s pass now, you can join us for the rest of this season on next season’s pass!

Learn more or purchase passes here!

Please contact me with any questions.
Eric Davis
Group Sales Manager


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.


Told You’re Being Investigated? Watch This Video!

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.


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

If you haven’t already, begin educating yourself today about what the Janus decision means—or supplement what you know already. Please also inform your co-workers about this Janus page and talk with them about what you learned and remind them of the importance of a union in their everyday life. You could make a difference. Every study shows that nothing is more effective than member-to-member communication.​

Learn More On VSEA.org


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

Long-time VSEA activist and leader Terry Lefebvre is asking VSEA 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 appeals to VSEA members to talk up the co-workers they know who might be preparing to retire. If you already belong to the Retired Members’ Chapter, a big thanks to you.

Learn More Here About The VSEA Retired Members’ Chapter


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
Council Member?

Join the VSEA Council Facebook group here!

Are You A
Chapter President?

Join the VSEA Chapter Presidents 
group here!

Are You A

Join the VSEA Steward Facebook
group here!





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