VSEA Members Declare Candidacy For Officer Positions
VSEA’s Election, Rules and Nominating Committee confirmed this week that the following members have properly filed their required petitions and these are the names (in alphabetical order) that will appear on every full-fledged VSEA member’s online ballot (except for those members who have requested a paper ballot):
Dave Bellini – Department of Corrections
First Vice President
Aimee Bertrand Towne – Department for Children and Families
Rubin Jennings – Office of the emender General
Rose Lucenti – Department of Labor
Robert "Bob" Stone – Department of Public Safety
Second Vice President
Susan Albert – Department of Labor
Cassandra Edson – Department of Labor
Dave Martinson – Department of Corrections
Carl Davis – Department of Corrections
Sawyer Joecks – Department of Vermont Health Access
Katelyn Chase – Department of Vermont Health Access
Karen Marchant – Department of Corrections
Time To Register For VSEA’ 73rd Annual Meeting!
VSEA is holding its all-members-invited Annual Meeting on Saturday, September 9, at the Stoweflake Resort in Stowe, Vt. This year’s meeting, your union’s 73rd, is an important one, as it’s being held just after a new round of bargaining is scheduled to start with the State and in advance of October’s expected federal budget cuts, which could adversely impact many public services. Members attending Annual Meeting will also be the first to hear the results of the officer elections that VSEA will be conducting in the coming weeks.
Reminder postcards about Annual Meeting are being mailed soon to all members. All those who want to attend must register and reserve a room(s) by Tuesday, August 8.
Friday night, September 8, there is a dinner banquet followed by an ADULTS ONLY dance – “Flashback to the 50’s & 60’s”. Members are urged to come dressed in their best 50’s or 60’s attire and dance to the music of DJ, Allen Brown. Allen is a former VSEA member and AOT Employee. Prizes will be awarded for the best 50’s and 60’s costume. Have your picture taken in the photo booth by Emile.
VSEA Union Representatives Assigned New Territories!
VSEA Union Representative Director Gretchen Naylor announced this week that there has been a recent reallocation of some worksites to different Union Representatives. Please make a note if you work for one of the following:
Agency of Education – new Union Representative is Dave Van Deusen;
Tax Department – new Union Representative is Dave Van Deusen; and
State’s Attorneys Office – Union Representative will be Brian Morse, first contract-pending.
Click here for contact information, or to view the current, up-to-date full list of VSEA Union Representatives and their assigned worksites.
VSEA Member Candidates Sought For District 2 Board Seat
DCF employee Patricia “Trissie” Casanova informed VSEA this week that she was resigning her seat on the union’s Board of Trustees for reasons related to her job. The Board’s District 2 member represents state employees working in Waterbury and at the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital.
A petition is available online for VSEA members interested in running for the District 2 Board seat.
To be eligible for election to the District 2 seat, a member must reside or have an assigned workstation–and continue to reside or have an assigned workstation–in the respective District.
If interested, you must be a member in good standing, and you must collect the signatures of 25 or more full, dues-paying VSEA members.
July 21 Member
Appreciation Day Event
The Waterbury Chapter is hosting a Member Appreciation Day event on Friday, July 21, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Fox CC Atrium inside the Waterbury State Office Complex. Stop by during your lunch break for treats and VSEA giveaway items.
NEK / St. Johnsbury
Chapter Annual Meeting Is
It’s that time of the year again. Time for all VSEA Chapters to be scheduling and conducting their Chapter Annual Meetings in advance of VSEA’s all-inclusive Annual Meeting on September 9 in Stowe.
The VSEA NEK / St. Johnsbury Chapter will launch the season, holding its Chapter Annual Meeting on Wednesday, July 19, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the ANR Office, located at 374 Emerson Falls Road in St. Johnsbury.
Please make a note of the date and try to attend, as your voice is important.
Senator Pollina Pens Commentary Asking For Tax Reform, Not More Cuts
To his great credit, Washington County Senator Anthony Pollina has been a steadfast opponent of the State and some lawmakers continually proposing service and job cuts as the primary way to reduce Vermont’s ongoing budget deficits. He has been outspoken about his opposition both inside the State House and in public.
In light of the State’s new call for 2% to 4% cuts to agencies’ and departments’ operating budgets, today’s Times Argus features a new commentary by Senator Pollina, titled "Tax Reform, Not Budget Cuts," and it reads, in part:
"Focusing only on budget cuts is a mistake. We can look for efficiencies but there are some basic problems with the cuts-only approach; our state budget already underfunds needed services and the tax system that raises the money that funds the budget is unfair. Like it or not, we need more investment in everything from social workers and early education to clean water and infrastructure. Otherwise, our problems will only get worse. Budget cuts clearly don’t help. And, our current tax system puts too much pressure on middle-income families."
"So, instead of yet another round of budget cuts, we should put down the scissors, make our tax system more fair and deliver tax relief to middle-class families."
"[Vermont] could also eliminate tax deductions that favor the wealthy. We are one of only seven states that allow the widest range of tax deductions and exemptions by basing state income taxes on federal taxable income. By changing to adjusted gross income, we could lower rates for everyone and recapture tens of millions of dollars in deductions that now generally benefit wealthy taxpayers."
Thanks, as always, Senator Pollina for once again trying to be a voice of reason to ensure Vermont’s public services are no longer the featured dish on the menu when the Legislature needs to find money.
The story’s topic is one WIA has written about several times since the State and lawmakers decided to implement a community-based mental health treatment model following Irene’s destruction of the old State Hospital and the subsequent RIF’ing of 80-plus seasoned workers—and it doesn’t appear to be getting any better—and it’s costing the state a lot of money to boot.
Here are some excerpts from the story:
"While [VT & NH] have taken steps to address these problems — New Hampshire in response to a 2012 federal lawsuit and Vermont in response to the loss of its state hospital — neither has sufficient community resources to help people transition from an intensive treatment facility back into their communities. They also lack sufficient supports to help people maintain good mental health and prevent recurring crises. Though treatment in an involuntary inpatient setting may relieve patients’ immediate suffering, their illnesses often persist.
No official interviewed in either state could readily define what combination of community supports, additional inpatient beds and other resources would provide adequate capacity."
And then there’s the cost to the State because of the issues:
"Since Tropical Storm Irene destroyed the 54-bed Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury in 2011, Orange County Sheriff Bill Bohnyak and his deputies have often been called to assist with mental health patients at Gifford, he said.
“Almost every other week we’re getting a phone call to go do one of these mental health ‘sits,’ whether it’s at Gifford or somewhere else in Vermont,” Bohnyak said. “If we have people available, we’ll send them. If not, we have to call other county sheriffs.”
"Randolph police and the Vermont State Police also lend a hand when necessary, according to Gifford officials.
"The sheriffs bill the state of Vermont $50 per hour per deputy, Bohnyak said. That covers time and a half for a deputy and the cost of a vehicle, he said. Two deputies per shift are required for a mental health sit, or six total for a 24-hour period. "The deputies are not just at the hospital for an eight-hour shift, he said. Instead, they’re there until the patient leaves the emergency room. “(It) could be days or weeks,” he said."
Note: Remind your elected officials that it’s past time for Vermont to address how to adequately and responsibly treat our citizens suffering with acute mental illness. This is an issue that has been allowed to fester now for far too long.
Turns Out Vermont Inmates Are No Longer Vermonters If Sent To Pennsylvania
VSEA and its DOC members have long questioned the logic behind the State and lawmakers saying on one hand that they support Vermont’s commitment to rehabilitation and returning Vermont inmates to society better than they were and then, on the other hand, shipping them to out-of-state warehouses with less rehab. But now comes this disturbing revelation in a July 12 Valley News Commentary by Jim Kenyon:
"But this deal is a bit different. Vermont and Pennsylvania have entered into what’s called an Interstate Corrections Compact. The arrangement gives Pennsylvania the power to ‘treat (Vermont inmates) as their own,’ Dominic Damato, Vermont DOC’s out-of-state manager, told me. That’s a bit worrisome — particularly when it comes to the use of solitary confinement, an area where Pennsylvania has less than a sterling record."
Kenyon also writes:
"Why should Vermonters care about how its prisoners are treated out of state?
"After all, they’re usually felons serving lengthy sentences. They’re just getting what they deserve, the argument goes.
"For starters, it’s shortsighted.
"According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, at least 95 percent of all state prisoners will be released at some point. Many of the Vermonters being kept out-of-state eventually will come home to live and work.
"If Vermont inmates leave Pennsylvania more broken than they arrived, it won’t benefit anyone.
"The DOC’s decision, made with the blessing of Gov. Phil Scott and the Legislature, to give Pennsylvania up to $10.5 million a year to incarcerate as many as 400 inmates has criminal justice experts such as Robert Appel shaking their heads.
“’We’re prohibiting rather than promoting rehabilitation, which is a core function of government,’ said Appel, who worked on behalf of prisoners during his eight years as Vermont’s defender general. ‘We shouldn’t be shipping them out of state. It’s doing nothing to help their successful re-integration into Vermont, once they’re released.’”
"Vermont prisoner advocates and the Burlington Free Press have received letters of complaint from inmates alleging a hostile environment and unfair treatment at Pennsylvania’s SCI Camp Hill. They have also raised concerns about property and protocols."
Note: WIA includes this entry because VSEA has long advocated against sending Vermont inmates and millions of Vermont taxpayer dollars to out-of-state facilities. Bringing our state’s inmates home creates the potential for hundreds of Vermont state jobs to be created–and for some much-needed, new revenue to be generated. It also helps better ensure that Vermont inmates will be retuned to our communities better than when they entered the system.
Central Vermont Chapter Hosts Member Appreciation Day Event
VSEA members belonging to the Central Vermont Chapter didn’t let a little rain stop it from hosting a July 13 “Member Appreciation Day” event on the State House lawn.
The event is the Chapter’s way to say thanks to state employees for the services they provide and for their dedication to Vermont and Vermonters.
Although there was a steady drizzle during the event, it didn’t stop a good number of state employees from stopping by for some free ice cream and a chance to learn more about their union and the fights ahead.
Pictured above are VSEA members enjoying their ice cream and their new tote bags as well as a shot of VSEA Organizer Jen Larson (with hat) educating VSEA members about some of the key issues facing state employees in the coming months, such as federal budget cuts and a potentially terrible Supreme Court ruling.
VSEA All-Member Appreciation Day Event Is July 29!
VSEA’s Membership Recruitment Committee is inviting VSEA members from across the state to attend a special “All-Member Appreciation Day” event on Saturday, July 29, at Elmore State Park off Route 12 in Elmore.
VSEA will fire up the barbeque at noon, and members are welcome to spend the day enjoying the lake, hiking trails or any of the park’s other outdoor activities.
Note: WIA was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Lamoille Valley’s Chapter Annual Meeting at Lake Elmore in 2016, and the setting is gorgeous and there are a lot of activities for people of all ages. Nice place to spend a day.
VSEA’s Special Events Committee is urging members to give some thought to each of these awards and if you know of a deserving state employee—or a deserving Chapter—then please don’t hesitate to submit your nomination(s).
Winners will be announced at VSEA’s Annual Meeting banquet on
September 9 in Stowe.
VSEA Insurance Benefits Enrollment
In Montpelier & St. Albans In Coming Weeks
Learn More Or Schedule An Appointment Today!
By Appointment Only:
VSEA Insurance Representative Joanne Woodcock will be at the following locations to talk with interested VSEA members about member-only insurance benefits.
July 19 & 20
12:00 to 4:00
State Office Building
July 17 & 18
12:00 to 4:00
27 Federal Street
Conference Room 201 (7/17)
Conference Room 227 (7/18)
St. Albans, VT
Northwest State Correctional Facility
July 25 & 26
12:00 to 4:00
3649 Lower Newton Street
Receive information on disability coverage, family life insurance, family accident, cancer and hospital coverage. You must be a member paying full dues to be eligible for this VSEA benefit. If you are an agency-fee payer, Joanne can provide you information about signing up for full membership.
All applications need to be taken in person.
Email Joanne@ vseainsurance.com for an appointment. Please provide your age, hourly wage and job description so I can send a quote BEFORE we meet.
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.
Do you have Week In
We want to know what you think of VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter or if there is anything we could be doing better.
VSEA members belonging to the Non-Management, Corrections, Judiciary, Defender General and Supervisory Units can click here to view your contract. All these contracts expire on June 30, 2018.
Quote of The Week!
“If Vermont inmates leave Pennsylvania more broken than they arrived, it won’t benefit anyone.”
Columnist Jim Kenyon, writing in the July 12 Valley Newsabout Vermont’s decision this year to begin sending Vermont inmates to Pennsylvania, where they will essentially be warehoused, as opposed to being rehabilitated.
Are Required Emergency Drills Happening Where You Work?
With the recent bomb threat at the State Office Building in St. Albans, VSEA wants to find out if the State of Vermont is following BGS emergency-situation protocol where you work.
The protocol on BGS’ website reads:
"All owned and leased State Office Buildings occupied by State employees will practice a minimum of (1) evacuation fire drill every year and (1) Active Shooter and hostile intruder drill at least every two years. A record of these emergency drills should be recorded in the EML by the designated ECM on the day of the drill. The Safety Committees will coordinate drills with their respective sites. The Safety Committees shall meet within (14) days after the drills to discuss, critique, and analyze the drill."
VSEA wants to know if the proper training is occurring at your workplace and when it occurred last. Also, if you are unaware of this protocol, that’s not good and VSEA wants to know this as well and also where you work.
Please send an email with your input to VSEA at firstname.lastname@example.org. Write" Protocol Status" in the subject line.
VSEA Legislative Team’s 2017 Legislator Scorecard
At the June 13 Council meeting, VSEA Legislative Committee Chairperson Margaret Crowley provided a comprehensive overview of this year’s legislative session, highlighting VSEA’s many wins at the State House. Part of Crowley’s presentation also included the distribution of a scorecard, providing each Vermont legislator’s “right or wrong” vote on the following bills important to VSEA members:
State’s Attorneys Office Collective Bargaining;
Beck Amendment To Interfere With Teachers’ Right To Bargain Health Care;
Agenda Released For August 18 VSEA “Steward Summit.” Register Today!
In an effort to better educate frontline worksite Stewards about their role in VSEA, as well as provide them with enhancements to their existing skill set, VSEA’s Field Department is hosting a series of “Steward Summits” across Vermont this year.
VSEA Stewards are learning the latest developments relating to contract enforcement and receiving an overview of the budget, safety and health and other challenges that lie ahead for state employees. Stewards attending are being asked to immediately help out by taking some of what they learn back to the worksite to educate their colleagues.
Three, six-hour trainings remain, and every current VSEA Steward is required to attend one session.
Here is the agenda released for the August 18 summit in Waterbury at the Best Western Hotel:
8:30 a.m. – Registration & Breakfast
9:00 a.m. – Welcome & Introductions
9:30 a.m. to Noon – Grievances (Learning the Basics) or Safety & Health
1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. – Role of Steward in an Investigation or Organizing (Member Recruitment)
2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Bullying in the Workplace
Future Steward Summits (all 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) are scheduled for:
October 20 – Hotel Coolidge, 39 South Main St., White River Junction
November 3 – Holiday Inn, 476 Holiday Drive, Rutland
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.”
If you are a state employee who is threatened on the job, please click here to find the online report form, which will remain confidential, unless otherwise approved by you.
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.
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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.
Last fall, VSEA’s Membership Recruitment Committee launched a “Membership Engagement and Recruitment Initiative” to grow the union’s ranks. The Committee asked members to talk with current agency-fee payers about the benefits of full-fledged membership and why the member should make the switch. If the member decides 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 email@example.com.
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 vest
(8 prizes awarded)
1 Grand Prize of $1200
Need To Update Your Contact Information With VSEA?