“Workers should never face violence in the workplace, but for health-care workers, it’s a too-common reality. We are calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to create national employment standards so that workers have meaningful protections on the job.”
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, commenting on the importance of this week’s efforts by several unions to convince OSHA to adopt a “violence standard” to help reduce the number of attacks by clients/patients/residents on frontline workers.
“I invite VSEA retirees to join us to help plan the future of our Chapter,” says Maclay. “We need you to help energize the Chapter and assist your leaders in steering it ahead in a positive and productive way.”
Maclay adds that all of the Chapter’s officer seats are up for election this year, and that nominations will be made from the floor at the August 18 meeting, with voting by attendees to follow. There will also be a presentation on health care by Chapter member Kathy Callaghan,
More Chapter Annual Meeting information will be sent to retirees in early July. To ensure you receive this information, the Chapter must have your current home email address and your correct home mailing address. If you have changed either of these in the past year, please email VSEA (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your updated information. If emailing, please write “Retired Member Update” in the subject line.
Discounted 2016 Great Escape / Splashwater Kingdom Day Tickets Available Online & At VSEA!
Please note that there is a service charge for purchasing online.
VSEA also has tickets available for members to pick up at headquarters, and there is no service charge attached.
Questions? Feel free to contact Laurie Hassett by emailing email@example.com or calling 802-223-5247
Deadline To Submit Board Of Trustees’ District Seat Ballots Is August 1!
Ballots have been mailed to VSEA members eligible to vote for candidates running for one of three VSEA District Board seats:
District 1 – Barre & Central Vermont
District 2 – Waterbury & Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital
District 5 – Rutland & Bennington
The deadline to return your ballot is 4:30 p.m., Monday, August 1, 2016!
VSEA AOT Members Holding “AOT Union (Motorcycle) Ride” On
All VSEA Members Invited To Ride!
A group of VSEA AOT members are planning a motorcycle run on July 30 to celebrate recent gains they made in the new contract and to demonstrate solidarity with all Vermont workers. While the ride is being coordinated by AOT members, all VSEA members with a motorcycle are invited to join.
Riders are meeting on the State House lawn in Montpelier, beginning at 9:00 a.m., and the run will commence at 10:00 a.m. After touring through Morrisville, West Danville, Groton and Barre, riders will end back in Montpelier on Main Street at roughly 1:00p.m.
VSEA members interested in participating in the run can RSVP to Union Representative Dave Van Deusen by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Winners announced at Annual Meeting on September 10.
VSEA Surveying Members About Forming Legal Defense Fund
VSEA sent a survey to members this week to solicit opinions on developing a program to provide legal defense to members who face criminal charges or other civil or administrative challenges arising from actions taken in the course of their employment. The survey email explained that VSEA is reviewing several options, including one that would cover the unlimited costs to defend you in the event of a criminal prosecution or some civil prosecutions arising in the course of your work. The benefit would cost you an additional $4.70 per month, on top of your regular dues.
If you might be interested in such a program, please complete the following survey, which can be found here. Your answers will help VSEA design a program to best meet VSEA members’ needs.
Threatened While On The Job? VSEA Wants To Know.
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.”
VSEA’s Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee members were at headquarters this week to tally the votes cast by members belonging to the union’s Defender General Unit. They determined that Unit members had voted unanimously to accept the new contract, which largely mirrors the two-year agreement recently ratified by the NMU, Corrections and Supervisory Units. DG workers will receive the same 2% and 2.25% wage increases.
Campaign 2016 Survey Coming To Members’ Home Emails On Monday
VSEA members who have furnished headquarters with an up-to-date home email address will be receiving an important survey from the Legislative Department on Monday, asking interested members to indicate the ways you can volunteer to help VSEA-endorsed candidates.
Your survey answers are important and will help your union better determine how to allocate its member resources throughout the 2016 campaign season. Please consider volunteering a few hours or more of your time to help VSEA support candidates who will fight for state employees in Montpelier.
Waterbury Chapter Employee Appreciation Day Is Wednesday, July 20
VSEA Waterbury Chapter President Tracey Harrington asked WIA to remind that the Chapter’s Employee Appreciation Day event is Wednesday, July 20, in the Public Atrium inside the Waterbury Office Complex. The event begins at 11:00 a.m. and goes until 1:00 p.m.
Tracey is reminding that if you are not located in the new office building and wish to attend (DPS) the event, you MUST respond to her by Monday, July 18 in order to gain entry to the building. You can reach Tracey by email at email@example.com. Prizes will be awarded!
Chittenden Chapter’s Annual Meeting Is Thursday, July 21
The 2016 VSEA Chapter Annual Meeting season officially kicks off on Thursday, July 21, when the Chittenden Chapter will conduct its meeting at 380 Hurricane Lane in Williston, beginning at 5:30 p.m. In most cases, this is your Chapter’s most important meeting of the year, and all Chapter members’ voices and viewpoints are welcome.
VSEA Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee Chair Rubin Jennings sent an email to VSEA Corrections members on July 14, explaining that the current Corrections Unit Trustee has been promoted out of the bargaining unit and this has created a vacancy in this important position.
Interested candidates must send back a petition with the names of 25 DOC members by 4:00 p.m., Friday August 5, 2016. To be eligible for candidacy for this position, you must be an active member of VSEA. No faxed or scanned petitions will be accepted.
In response to the Judiciary Branch’s recent odd request for the fact finder in a contract dispute to abruptly end the process without having heard from frontline workers, VSEA Judiciary Unit members wore buttons to a bargaining session this week that read “We ARE Worthy.”
State Employees Invited To Agency Of Agriculture’s Summer “Buy Local” Market
The Agency of Agriculture asked WIA to let VSEA members throughout central Vermont know that its popular summer “Buy Local” market is returning to the State House lawn on Wednesday, August 10 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
The Agency bills the market as “an exceptional opportunity for Montpelier residents, visitors and daytime employees to support Vermont suppliers of local food and agricultural products.” The market coincides with the USDA’s National Farmer’s Market Week. Featured items include fresh and prepared local foods and agricultural products, such as produce and meats, wood products, yarn and other handmade goods, as well as prepared lunch offerings and ice cream.
In the weeks and months leading up to the Vermont’s August 9 primary election—and then to the November 8 general election—VSEA Legislative Committee members and HQ staff will be asking members to volunteer some time to assist candidates who have received VSEA’s endorsement and who deserve our support. A reminder that, this year, there are five VSEA members running for office, and each could use your help.
There are many ways for you to participate in VSEA’s Campaign 2016 activities, including:
Participate in a VSEA- or candidate-sponsored phone bank;
Participate in a VSEA- or candidate-sponsored honk-and-wave;
Participate in a VSEA- or candidate-sponsored door-to-door canvassing effort;
Participate in a VSEA- or candidate-sponsored candidate(s) rally;
Educate your family, friends and colleagues about the candidate and his/her positions on issues important to VSEA members;
March with a candidate in a parade;
Volunteer to help at a candidate’s headquarters (if applicable) with things like answering phones, filing, assembling educational packets/mailings, etc.;
Put a yard sign in your yard, or help the candidate distribute signs in your area;
Host a candidate house party;
Drive voters to the polls on Election Day;
Pen a letter to the editor in support of VSEA-endorsed candidate(s); and
Make a monetary contribution to a candidate(s).
If you would be interested in volunteering some time to help your union’s campaign 2016 efforts, please contact VSEA Organizing Director Vinnie O’Connor by email firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 223-5247.
Important Note: It is imperative that VSEA have your current home email address, so you can receive political material. This is because some messages could be labeled partisan, and therefore they are not permissible to send to work emails. When contacting Vinnie with interest, please be sure to let him know your current home email. Thanks!
VSEA Insurance Representative In Chittenden County Next Week
VSEA Insurance Representative Joanne Woodcock will be Chittenden County next week to talk with interested VSEA members about member-only insurance benefits.
1000 River Road
July 20 – 21- 22
Health Access Eligibility Unit
Bromley Conf. Rm. #958
1st Floor – 12:00 to 4:00
Email Joanne Woodcock Joanne@vseainsurance.com For an appointment.
Receive information on disability coverage, family life insurance, family accident and cancer 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.
VSEA Labor Educator Reminds Members of Summer Trainings – Four Open To All
VSEA Labor Educator Tim Lenoch asked WIA to announce a new round of trainings he has scheduled throughout the summer 2016. If you are interested in registering to attend one or more trainings, you can do so by clicking here. Please direct your training questions to Tim at email@example.com.
There are four trainings open to all members, please invite folks who may be interested:
Young People Leaving Vermont In Droves? Don’t Believe The Hype
Photo: Katherine Welles / iStock
VPR reports today that the political talking point in some Vermont circles that too many young people are exiting the state is not factually correct. According to IRS data examined by the Public Assets Institute (PAI), nearly as many young people are coming to Vermont as leaving.
“You tend not to know the people coming in. But they’re there,” says Paul Cillo, PAI president and executive director.
Cillo notes the IRS data show migration to and from Vermont among all age groups is fairly evenly distributed among Vermont counties, on a per capita basis.
Coalition Of Labor Unions Petitions Federal OSHA For “Violence Standard”
Several media outlets reported this week about a petition a coalition of labor unions recently sent to U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, calling on him to help ensure the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) adopts a “violence standard” to better protect workers, especially those working in the health care field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care and “social assistance” workers experienced 52% of all reported workplace violence incidents in 2014.
“Workplace violence is not part of the job. Our health care workers on the frontline of patient care in numerous hospitals and other settings need a strong federal OSHA standard to protect them from workplace violence and assaults,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a press release.
A National Nurses’ Union official is quoted saying, “As things stand, nurses cannot keep their patients safe if they cannot guarantee their own personal safety, and it is past time for OSHA to mandate that healthcare employers create comprehensive prevention plans to stop violence before it happens. We urge OSHA to accept this petition and to enter (rulemaking) immediately.”
The unions are asking for the following to be included in any standard:
A written violence prevention program;
Hazard assessment/risk evaluation and determination;
Incident reporting and recordkeeping; and
Note: This story should interest VSEA members working in the health and mental health fields across Vermont, especially frontline workers at the Veterans’ Home and the Psychiatric Hospital, who also report numerous cases of patient/resident violence against workers.
Governing magazine reports this week that an extremely rare problem with “so-called dual participants” in food stamp programs nationwide is costing states and the federal government millions.
The issue with the program is that some people participate in food-stamp programs in multiple states (some with knowledge, others without), meaning a duplication of benefits and money being wasted. The article states that just 2/10 of 1% of SNAP participants were dual users, but because so many Americans receive food stamps, even a fraction of all recipients being in two programs translates into millions of dollars in potential savings.
To address the issue, five southeastern states recently participated in a study, where a SNAP participant data-sharing system was implemented. The study’s initial implementation costs ranged from $29,000 in Alabama to $330,000 in Mississippi. After that, the monthly expenses ranged from $5,500 to $22,000, while the monthly savings ranged from $40,000 to $160,000.”
The article says six states are already participating in free “proof of concept” testing to determine how many dual participants the data-sharing system can flag. Another 29 states have contacted the contractor about testing.
A consulting group estimates that is every state participated in the database, the federal government could save more than $114 million per year.
Note: VSEA members working with SNAP benefits tell WIA that they are currently relying on the client’s word that they have closed out benefits awarded in another state. If the client admits to having received benefits in another state, ESD workers do check on closure. Wonder if there is savings to be found here?
In a 3-1 decision, the NLRB ruled that temporary and permanent workers who want to bargain as a single unit no longer must no longer obtain the consent of both the employer supplying temps and the employer using temps. In its ruling, the NLRB pointed out that a group of employees working side-by-side at the same facility, under the same supervision, and under common working conditions would likely share a sufficient community of interest to constitute an appropriate collective bargaining unit.
This most recent ruling comes on the heels of a September 2015 decision by the NLRB that companies that use temp agencies are considered “joint employers” of temp workers and share responsibility with the agencies for liabilities concerning those workers.
One of the items being prepared for members attending this year’s VSEA Annual Meeting in Killington is a reprint of a 1984 document titled “A Brief Chronology of the VSEA 1944 – 1984,” which was created in 1984 by the VSEA History Committee. In the coming weeks, WIA will be sharing snippets from the book with members.
Here’s the entry in the booklet from 1979:
“VSEA members are polled about the desirability of endorsing candidates for political office. Federal law requires that benefits for pregnancy and childbirth be provided in the same way as all other conditions requiring doctor’s care and hospitalization. VSEA prevails in the State Hospital case and VSEA hosts the annual general session of the Assembly of Governmental Employees in Burlington. At the Annual Meeting in Killington, the first award to recognize member dedication, loyalty and exemplary work performed on behalf of others is presented to and named for Past President Frank A. Mazza”
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.