VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: January 26, 2018
VSEA Executive Director Blasts State’s Private Prison Proposal On WCAX’s “You Can Quote Me”
VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard did a great job hammering home VSEA’s main points against allowing CoreCivic to set up shop in Vermont last Sunday on WCAX’s “You Can Quote Me” program.
Here are some of the issues with CoreCivic that Howard touched upon in the interview:
CoreCivic is just a rebranding of the notorious private-prison operator Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a company with an absolutely terrible track record. In fact, continuous negative press about CCA, coupled with numerous well-publicized lawsuits against the company, finally forced CCA to change its name to CoreCivic, but the baggage remains;
Building a 925-bed facility runs counter to the corrections system that lawmakers established for Vermont, meaning smaller, less-institutional facilities with a focus on rehabilitation. Simply put, “Is this really the Vermont way?”
We hear about a 25-year lease, but what are the terms and conditions of that lease? Will lease rates be subject to change? What about built-in protections for workers? Before any proposal is even considered, Vermonters must demand to know the terms and conditions of any lease; and
Allowing CoreCivic to set up shop in Vermont will almost certainly open the door for other private, out-of-state behemoths to also gain a foothold in our state.
In case you missed the show, it is worth watching and noting all the arguments Steve makes against CoreCivic.
Vermont AG Also Weighs In Against State’s Private-Prison Proposal
Pouncing on last week’s news that the State is proposing to allow an out-of-state, for-profit, private contractor to build a 925-bed prison and forensic mental health facility right here in Vermont, Attorney General TJ Donovan wasted little time penning a piece that appeared January 23 on VTDigger, titled “[State]’s Prison Plan Prompts Questions.” It begins:
"The [State] has proposed a new 925-bed prison campus at a cost of more than $140 million. Before we move forward with such a significant undertaking, Vermonters should ask some tough questions about whether there is a better way to address the need for correctional facilities in the state of Vermont.”
Donovan goes on to outline a whole host of ways to address current issues with Vermont’s Corrections system, none of which include the need to hire an out-of-state, for-profit, private entity (with a very poor track record) to build a massive prison.
VSEA Releases Short Video To Highlight The Issue Of Patient-On-Worker Assaults At The VPCH
VSEA’s Communications Department released an eight-minute video this week that features frontline workers at the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital in Berlin—active, retired and even one who resigned—talking about the very serious issue of patient-on-worker assaults at the facility.
“I want to thank all the VPCH workers who responded to our call for volunteers to talk honestly about what’s going on at this facility…it’s not easy,” says VSEA Communications Director Doug Gibson. “I especially want to thank Kristal Westover for the courage she showed when sharing her story of being severely beaten by a patient and how she and some of her co-workers are still grappling with post-incident issues. Hopefully, lawmakers, State officials and other interested parties will view this video and then contact VSEA to learn more about how to support these workers.”
Vermont Attorney General’s Office Files Amicus Brief Backing Unionized Workers In Upcoming SCOTUS Case
VT AG TJ Donovan talks with former VPCH leader Peter Bartlett at VSEA’s 2016 Annual Meeting reception.
VSEA is cheering and welcoming a January 24 announcement by Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan that his office has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS), urging the Court to "uphold existing precedent that permits ‘fair share’ provisions in public sector union contracts." The case Donovan is weighing in on is titled Janus vs. Illinois, and Vermont now joins 20 other states that have filed amicus briefs with the Court to support the existing laws on the books.
The AG office writes in its announcement, “…public sector “fair share” provisions are consistent with the First Amendment, and overruling Abood’s approval (the precedent-setting case) of those provisions would disrupt thousands of labor agreements that States have adopted and maintained for decades.”
SCOTUS is expected to issue a ruling in this case by June 2018.
Belonging To A Union Gives Working People Like Us The Power To Make Positive Change!
“Having an equal voice at the table when decisions are being made about our workplace, our livelihood, our health, and well being is the way we build better stronger communities for our families and future generations.”
Chair, VSEA Judiciary Unit Executive Committee
All members should have received an email this week from the VSEA Scholarship & Awards Committee, announcing that the committee is once again accepting scholarship applications from VSEA members and their spouses, dependents and domestic partners.
VSEA Legislative Team Begins Publishing Weekly Updates
VSEA’s legislative team at the State House is once again publishing a short, information-packed, weekly recap of what’s happening in Montpelier that VSEA members need to know about.
This edition’s topics include: State’s private-prison proposal, overview of anti-privatization legislation, outcomes of the recent Budget Adjustment Act and a piece on the success of the Legislative Committee’s recent dinner receptions with lawmakers.
VPCH CHAPTER MEMBERS,
We will be conducting a Chapter Meeting on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 from 1:30 pm-2:30pm, then will resume the Meeting from 3:00pm-3:30pm. There will be surveys to complete regarding issues that involve you, and we will be voting by ballot for the position of Chapter President.
We hope to see you there! If you have any questions please feel free to contact the VSEA Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital Chapter President Timothy McCants via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Information Sessions Scheduled On Transfer Of State Supplemental Retirement Plans’ Recordkeeping Duties
The State Treasurer’s Office has scheduled a series of meetings statewide to discuss the transfer on February 1 of State supplemental retirement plan recordkeeping duties to Prudential Retirement. The following supplemental plans are being transferred:
State 457 Deferred Compensation Plan;
State Defined Contribution Plan; and
Single Deposit Investment Account Plan.
From a flyer about the meetings:
“A team of Prudential Retirement counselors will be available in Vermont to address your questions regarding the transition and to provide information on enhanced tools and services that will be available.”
New BLS Report Finds Union Membership Rose Last Year & Density Remained Steady
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released new data that, according to an online EPI story, shows that “union membership as a share of overall employment held steady at 10.7 percent in 2017, with essentially stable membership rates in both the private (6.4 or 6.5 percent) and public (34.4 percent) sectors.”
Also from the EPI post:
“Union membership (according to the BLS release) rose by 262,000 in 2017, more than the 173,000 additional workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement (hereafter referred to as “coverage”). See Table 1 (which relies on tabulations of the underlying survey data because BLS does not provide gender breakdowns within sectors). The greater growth in union membership than coverage was driven by developments in the private sector where membership growth was triple (164,000) that of the growth of coverage (53,000), centered in professional and service occupations.”
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.
We Want To Know What You Think of VSEA’s Week In Action
Collective bargaining is the process by which unionized employees negotiate with their employer over mandatory subjects of bargaining, including wages, benefits like health insurance, working conditions and a grievance procedure to enforce the contract.
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 compiled many of your union’s notable victories and achievements in an online chronological history of the VSEA.
President Bellini Wants Your Cost-Savings Idea(s)!
Heading into the January 2018 session, VSEA members already knew it was going to be another case of “new budget year, new budget deficit.” It’s a Vermont problem that refuses to go away, and our state’s quality public services and many of the men and women who deliver them continue to suffer as a result.
In past deficit years, VSEA members have been asked to voluntarily submit cost-savings ideas to headquarters, in hopes that some of your ideas could be adopted and implemented, eventually generating the funds needed to save a service or jobs. In 2010, the Vermont Legislature followed VSEA’s lead, passing legislation to provide cash awards to state employees whose ideas were vetted by a special committee and found to generate savings. Unfortunately, this legislation sunset in 2012, and lawmakers have not resurrected it–yet.
For this reason—and in advance of the 2018 legislative session—VSEA President Dave Bellini is again asking frontline state employees with “department- or agency-specific cost-savings ideas” to please submit them to VSEA as soon as possible. Again, President Bellini is looking for department or agency-specific ideas, and nothing "philosophical," he politely requests.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this very important request.
If Searching For Child Care, Don’t Forget This Important Resource For State Employees
Longtime VSEA member, now retiree, Dave Clark has served on VSEA’s Child and Elder Care Committee for many years, and he recently asked WIA to remind state employees about an important child-care resource that is currently available to them.
“The Committee has noticed a recent decline in employees’ usage of the valuable child-care resources available to them, so we asked WIA to help us remind VSEA members about what is available,” explains Clark.
VSEA Again Offering Discounted Tickets To See The Vermont Bucks!
VSEA is pleased to again this year to offer members and retirees the chance to see a Vermont Bucks 2018 indoor football game for a discounted price.
VSEA has a block of 20 discounted tickets (up from last year’s 10) for every Vermont Bucks 2018 season home game. There is a two-ticket limit, per-member, per-game (but some special circumstances will be considered, in consultation with VSEA). The tickets, which are on Gutterson Fieldhouse’s VIP Box Level, are $35 each (usually $100) and will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.
To purchase tickets, or if you have questions, please contact Sue DeVoid at VSEA by email (email@example.com) or phone 802-223-5247.
2018 VSEA Bus Trip To Foxwoods Casino!
The VSEA Membership Recruitment Committee is pleased to announce a 2018 casino trip with a two-night stay.
March 23 to
March 25, 2018
$70 per person
Bus will depart from Waterbury at 12:00 p.m. and White River Junction at 1:00 p.m.
Lodging (Two Nights/Two Trees Inn):
$138 per person/double occupancy
$122 per person/triple occupancy
(2) $10 food credit or full Festival Buffet;
$5 food credit or full Breakfast Buffet;
$20 slot play;
20% discount at any Foxwoods gift shop with a purchase of $25 up to $1,000; and
A Foxwoods souvenir.
To register or for more information, please contact VSEA Union Rep Bob South (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Administrative Assistant Sue DeVoid (email@example.com). Each can be reached by phone at 802-223-5247.
Payment must be received within one week of registering or you will lose your spot. Cash, check and credit card payments accepted. To pay, please contact VSEA Union Representative Bob South by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone 802-223-5247. Thank You!
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?
GET EXCLUSIVE OFFERS, DISCOUNTS & MORE
It’s free, just for being a Vermont State Employees’ Association PerksConnect member!
At the top of the Advantage Program page, click the link that says "Click Here To Log Into The New VSEA Advantage Program". This will redirect you to the new Advantage Program website. Please note this link will not work unless you are logged into your VSEA.org account first.
Select a category and start saving!
Present your VSEA union card, mobile device or printed coupons and offers at participating businesses and receive immediate discounts.
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