VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: January 4, 2019



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New Executive Branch Contracts Now Online!

VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley asked WIA to announce that the new contract (July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2020) for members in the NMU, Corrections and Supervisory Units has been posted to VSEA’s website. Pay charts for all the Units are also posted.   

Find Your Contract & Pay Chart 

Legislative Session Begins January 9!

2018 – 2019 VSEA Legislative Session Priorities:

  • Preventing the Privatization of State Services
  • Securing a Budget that Maintains Vital Public Services
  • Protecting and Enhancing Retirement Security
  • Enhancing Employee Health, Safety, and Security
  • Protecting Our Health Care
  • Stopping “Right to Work” and Protecting Collective Bargaining
  • Collaborating on Labor Solidarity Issues

VTDigger Reports On VSEA’s Drive To Organize Vermont State’s Attorney’s Office Employees

VTDigger posted a story on December 28 about VSEA’s recently announced drive to organize workers across Vermont in State’s Attorney’s Offices. 

Here’s a quote in the story from Ashley Hill, a Washington County Deputy Sate’s Attorney who is helping lead the effort to bring fair wages, benefits and working conditions to this group of workers. 

“I know that people are feeling really tired and really frustrated and pretty beaten down by how heavy caseloads are and how little it seems like our work is recognized, especially from the Legislature,” Hill says.

Hill adds that deputy state’s attorneys, victim advocates and office support staff simply were not being paid a rate commensurate with their work, and with similar positions in other agencies. As an example, she said deputies were paid $25 a day for being on call, whether they fielded five calls or 15.

“I am incredibly frustrated that the legislature has said our time is worth a dollar an hour,” she said, adding that staffing has not reflected increasing caseloads. “Collective bargaining is really the only way to make sure workers are heard."

Note: WIA will be updating readers with any and all developments around this drive, as it progresses towards a formal vote. 

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

WCAX and VTDigger reported this week on the work and money BGS estimates it would require to rehab the 108 Cherry Street State Office Building’s parking garage in Burlington; repairs employees working in the building have been seeking for years. But it turns out BGS also explored other options for the building’s future, including moving employees out of the building and leasing space inside or even selling the building outright.

VTDigger writes that BGS hired a real estate consultant to come up with recommendations for the building, and the top choice is to rehab the parking garage and hold on to the building–and forget about leasing space–because the office-space market in Burlington is "soft." Digger also reports that BGS sent a report in December to lawmakers on 108 Cherry, saying BGS concurs with the consultant’s recommendation, writing, “It is clear from the 20-year financial analysis that keeping 108 Cherry St. and immediately fixing the parking garage is the least costly option." The consultant estimated renovation costs of $19.3 million, as opposed to the $30 million it would cost for land and a new building. 

A BGS official adds that state lawmakers must now weigh in on the matter. Now that preliminary analysis has been completed, “the Legislature will take testimony and will make their own independent decision as to what they believe is the best option for the state of Vermont,” the official says.

Note: VSEA is working with members at 108 Cherry Street to ensure they will be kept apprised of any and all developments about the building and included in future discussions about its future. As noted earlier in this piece, 108 Cherry Street employees have long been seeking repairs to the building’s well-documented, deteriorating parking garage, especially due to damage some employee’s vehicles have suffered as a result.  

Federal Government’s Shutdown Hurting Vermont Less Than Other States, But Some 1,500 Vermont Federal Workers Are Going Without A Paycheck

Governing posted a story this morning that highlights how many workers across America (state-by-state) are going without a paycheck due to the federal government’s partial shutdown.  

The story lists Vermont’s federal government workforce at 3,378 and reports that 1,521 of these workers are going without a paycheck as a result of the partial shutdown. The piece says Vermont’s federal workforce translates to just 0.2% of the state’s total employment, which ties the state with New Hampshire for lowest percentage in the nation. 

The states most hurt by the partial shutdown are California, Texas, Virginia and Maryland. The District of Columbia topped the list. 

Note: Just because Vermont is not being hurt as badly as other states, it’s little solace for the 1,521 Vermonters not getting a paycheck. 

Massachusetts Governor Now New England’s Highest Paid Governor, Passing Vermont

VPR reported this week on newly released analysis by the Council of State Government’s, which includes a ranking of the annual salaries being paid to New England governors. Surprisingly, Vermont’s governor is paid the second-highest annual salary, and Vermont would have been first, if not for Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker recently reneging on a 2017 campaign pledge not to accept a raise. 

From the VPR story:

During his re-election campaign, [Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker] said he’d take the raise, as well as a hefty housing stipend, if re-elected.

That means Baker will now earn $185,000 a year. The $33,000 raise makes him the top earner among New England governors.

Vermont’s governor will come the next closest at about $178,000. Other New England states are in the middle of the pack.

But far below them is Maine, where the governor has earned $70,000 a year since 1987. 

Note: See full Council of State Government’s annual Book of the States 

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

First 2019
VSEA Steward Training Is January 12! Register Today

VSEA’s Field Services Division is urging all current Stewards to register today for a 2019 training. The first Steward training of the year is:

Saturday, January 12, 2019
8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Double Tree by Hilton Hotel 
870 Williston Road
South Burlington 

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.

Quote Of The Week!


“Collective bargaining is really the only way to make sure workers are heard.

Washington County Deputy State’s Attorney Ashley Hill, commenting in a December 28 VTDigger story about VSEA’s drive to organize workers in 14 State’s Attorneys’ offices across Vermont. 


VSEA Meetings/ Trainings/ Events:


Upcoming VSEA Organizer Worksite Meeting

  • 426 Industrial Avenue, Williston
    Thursday, January 10

    12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
    DCF & FSD Members 
    426 Industrial Avenue
    Large Conference Room

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


Points of Interest:


Report Finds Public School Teachers Leaving Positions At An Alarming Rate

Fortune Magazine published a story this week that included the following alarming news:

Frustrated by little pay and better opportunities elsewhere, public school teachers and education employees in the United States are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate on record.

During the first 10 months of the year, public educators, including teachers, community college faculty members, and school psychologists, quit their positions at a rate of 83 per 10,000, Labor Department figures obtained by The Wall Street Journal show. That’s the highest rate since the government started collecting the data in 2001. It’s also nearly double the 48 per 10,000 educators who quit their positions in 2009, the year with the lowest number of departures.

Note: Don’t doubt for a minute that private, for-profit education companies aren’t salivating at this news.

Retired Americans With 401Ks Worried About Market Plunge

Reuters published a story December 29 about a growing number of retired Americans becoming increasingly worried about the balance of their 401k, as the stock market continues to tank. 

Vermonters need to heed the warning in this article, especially as think-tank wonks like John McClaughry or others like David Coates start banging on their "switch state employees to a 401k plan" drum…again. These folks or others could also lobby to put current state employees in a "hybrid" plan that contains 401k risk for the employee. 

From the Reuters story:

Retirees are worrying about their nest eggs as this month’s sell-off rounds out the worst year for stocks in a decade, and some fear they are headed for a day of reckoning like the 2008 market meltdown or dot-com crash of the early 2000s.

Retirees have less time to recover from bad investment moves than younger workers. If they or their advisers panic and sell during a brief downturn, they may lock in a more meager retirement. But their portfolio could be even more at risk if they hold on too long in a prolonged decline.

"I have no way of riding it out if that happens," said [worker Nancy] Farrington. "I can feel the anxiety in my stomach all the time."

While many industrialized countries still have generous safety nets for retirees, pensions for U.S. private-sector workers largely have been supplanted by 401(k) accounts and other private saving plans. That means millions of older Americans are effectively their own pension managers.

New Georgia Study Finds Private Prison Costs Are Higher Than Public Prison Costs

A VSEA Corrections member posted a story this week to the VSEA Council’s Facebook page, and it concerns a new audit out of Georgia that compared the costs of the state’s publicly run prisons with those of privately run facilities. 

From a January 1 AllOn post:

A new audit report released at the end of December indicates that privately run prisons are more costly for the state of Georgia than those run by the state.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that “the audit says it costs the state more to house comparable inmates in private prisons than state facilities, which is contrary to long-held beliefs of lawmakers supportive of increased privatization of government.”

Currently, the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDOC) has four prisons run by two private companies, CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) and The GEO Group. The four prisons house almost 7,800 inmates – or 15% of the total population – and the state pays the companies a collective $140 million annually.

The audit reported that, when controlling for an offender’s sex, facility size and risk classification, state prisons run about $44.56 per offender per day and private prisons run around $49.07 per day per offender.

This Week:

New Executive Branch Contracts Now Online!

Legislative Session Begins January 9!​

VTDigger Reports On VSEA’s Drive To Organize Vermont State’s Attorney’s Office Employees

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

Federal Government’s Shutdown Hurting Vermont Less Than Other States, But Some 1,500 Vermont Federal Workers Are Going Without A Paycheck

Massachusetts Governor Now New England’s Highest Paid Governor, Passing Vermont

VSEA Membership Drive 2019 Now Underway!​

First 2019 VSEA Steward Training Is January 12! Register Today


Points of Interest:


Report Finds Public School Teachers Leaving Positions At An Alarming Rate

Retired Americans With 401Ks Worried About Market Plunge

New Georgia Study Finds Private Prison Costs Are Higher Than Public Prison Costs


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 8
Board Of Trustees’ Meeting
155 State Street
9:00 a.m.

January 9
2019 Vermont Legislative Session Begins

January 9
VSC Executive Board Meeting 
155 State Street
9:00 a.m.

January 10
Organizer’s Worksite Meeting
DCF & FSD Members
426 Industrial Avenue
Large Conference Room
12:00 p.m.

January 12
First Steward Training of 2019
Double Tree by Hilton Hotel 
870 Williston Road
South Burlington 
8:30 a.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 (7-17): $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


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At Work? 

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VSEA Council Member?

Join the VSEA Council Facebook group here!

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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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