As Anniversary Of Lara Sobel’s Death Nears, A Harsh Reminder That DCF Workers’ Safety Concerns Are Still Very Real
The State had to place armed security guards outside two state office buildings on Wednesday, after a man threatened “violent attacks against the state,” allegedly for losing custody of his daughter. It’s a harsh reminder of the danger that still exists for frontline DCF workers, three years after Social Worker Lara Sobel was tragically killed outside the DCF Barre office.
“We take these matters very seriously and as soon we hear any threat of violence we react swiftly and try to get protection for folks who need it,” AHS Secretary Al Gobeille tells VTDigger on July 18. “As we’ve seen these issues are real and serious and can never taken lightly.” After learning about the threat, Gobeille sent an email to DCF workers, instructing them to “call police, do not attempt to engage.’”
In the article, VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard appropriately reminds that the threat this week “underscores that security upgrades made following Sobel’s death remain lacking at state office buildings and parking lots.”
“We have these incidents that keep popping up, but we don’t have the kind of response from management that shows that they value the lives and safety of state employees,” Howard says, adding, “The pace of which state government has moved to secure employees and the worksites they work in has been a snail’s pace.”
Update! The man responsible for the threat was arrested Thursday by Shelburne Police and is being held in the Chittenden facility. VSEA thanks these Shelburne public employees for their quick apprehension of this individual.
More than 2500 VSEA members, retirees, Vermonters and others now “like” the VSEA Facebook page, and the VSEA Communications Department could not be happier.
“Big thanks to the entire VSEA Facebook community for not only liking and helping us promote the page, but also for sharing what you read with your colleagues and other supporters and sometimes even using a post thread to publicly educate folks about the issues important to Vermont state employees and retirees,” says VSEA Communications Director Doug Gibson. “Given the recent Janus decision, it’s been uplifting to see an increase in the number of people liking the VSEA page. It gives you a lot of hope that there are still a lot of people out there who still believe in unions and collective bargaining. Thanks again. Next stop…3000.”
VSEA Posts First In Short Video Series, Titled “Why I’m Sticking With
At the direction of the Board of Trustees, VSEA’s Communications Department is providing a new tool for members and retirees to share with anyone who is on the fence about their union, post Janus ruling. The first of three short “Why I’m Sticking With My Union” video clips posted to VSEA’s Facebook page on July 19, and it features DOC Community High School of Vermont Educator John Vorder Bruegge, explaining why he is sticking with his union. Two additional clips will post soon.
Any VSEA member interested in appearing in a future video can send an email to email@example.com and write “I’m Sticking With My Union” in the subject line. And if you decide you want to sit down for a few minutes to share your thoughts with your union brothers and sisters, VSEA thanks you in advance.
"I think the answer is we need to build our own facility and we need to fight for that again in the Legislature this year, and that’s the right answer.”
AHS Secretary Al Gobeille, commenting in a July 9 (sorry, not this week) WCAX story about the DOC seeking a new place to house dozens of soon-to-be-displaced, out-of-state Vermont inmates. Gobeille’s answer has been VSEA DOC members’ answer for years, but State leaders and lawmakers have repeatedly rejected the idea. Maybe there’s hope now that frontline state employees will finally be listened to and their opinions valued.
In Age Of Alleged Fiscal Restraint, Auditor Again Calls Out
Lack Of Accountability For State Dollars Spent On Tax Incentives For Businesses
No one is reminded more about Vermont’s fiscal woes on an annual basis than state employees, especially VSEA Bargaining Team members, who in recent contract negotiations heard repeatedly about how the State lacked the funds necessary to award the raises and many of the other contract enhancements sought by the Teams. It’s a tough pill to swallow, and it’s made even tougher when the State Auditor’s Office is releasing reports that call out the State for a lack of accountability when it comes to whether or not the millions of dollars Vermont spends on tax incentives for businesses are working.
It’s impossible to independently measure whether Vermont’s economic development programs are working, according to a new report from the state auditor.
The state pours about $14 million each year into programs that offer businesses financial incentives to expand, tax incentives to boost downtown development and marketing to out-of-state visitors.
But in a wide-ranging report compiling peer-reviewed research from across the country, the state auditor says he can’t verify whether these programs — and programs like them in other states — are helping to drive economic development.
With Mediation Pending, New Contract Printing & Posting On Hold
VSEA members continue to inquire to headquarters about the status of the new NMU, Supervisory and Corrections’ contracts and where they can find them online to review and understand.
To date, the contract the VLRB ruled in favor of has not been printed or posted because, as many VSEA members and retirees know, the VLRB ordered VSEA and the State last week to enter into mediation to see if there is any room for compromise. If so, it may open a door to preventing the State’s last-best-contract-offer from being imposed in its entirety.
VSEA Members Invited To March In July 28 Barre Heritage Festival Parade
VSEA members and retirees used to sponsor parade contingents to march in local parades in towns like Morrisville, Newport, Northfield and other communities across Vermont. The photo here is from the 2012 Essex Junction parade (led by Judiciary Unit leader Dave Wortheim).
VSEA members and retirees are invited to march with your colleagues in the 2018 Barre Heritage Festival Parade.
Here’s the information:
Parade: Saturday, July 28
VSEA Members Begin Gathering: 11:30 a.m.
VSEA Members GatheringAt: Barre Auditorium, 16 Auditorium Hill, Barre
Parade Start Time: 1:00 p.m.
Details: March in solidarity with VSEA in the 2018 Barre Heritage Festival Parade!!! Marchers each get a VSEA t-shirt to wear during the parade, and you can help hand out candy, balloons and stickers to the crowd. Member’s and retiree’s family and friends are welcome to join in the fun!
VSEA’s Awards and Scholarships 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 in September.
VSEA’s Awards And Scholarship Committee Needs You!
VSEA’s Awards And Scholarships Committee meets twice a year to administer your union’s award and scholarship programs, which primarily involves reviewing applications to determine winners of scholarships and winners of VSEA Annual Meeting awards.
VSEA members interested in becoming a member of your union’s Awards And Scholarships Committee should email the committee’s staff liaison, VSEA Communications Specialist
Kris Lizzari at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bus Is Full For VSEA 2018 “Day At Fenway” On August 17, But Waiting List Being Built
The bus to attend “VSEA Day 2018 at Fenway” on Friday night, August 17, sold out this week, but a waiting list is being built for any member or retiree who wants to be added to it.
The Red Sox are battling the Tampa Bay Rays, starting at 7:10 p.m., and the cost is $80 per person, which includes a bus ride to and from the park, as well as a ticket to the game. The bus is making stops in Waterbury (2:00 p.m.) and White River Junction (3:00 p.m.). ETA at Fenway is 5:30 p.m.
If you and your family would be interested in placing your name(s) on a waiting list for the August 17 game, please contact VSEA Union Representative Bob South or VSEA Administrative Assistant Sue DeVoid. You can reach Bob by email at email@example.com or by phone at 223-5247. You can reach Sue by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 223-5247.
Payment must be received before tickets are released.
“Across the country, large sums of money have been devoted to backing RTW bills, with lobbyists claiming that an RTW law in their state would create jobs and boosts wages by attracting companies to the state.3 This report summarizes the evidence showing that these claims are completely without merit. RTW laws do not boost jobs—they restrict unions and hurt wages:
Only 5.2 percent of private-sector workers in RTW states are union members or are covered by a union contract, compared with 10.2 percent in non-RTW states;
Based on the impact of an RTW law in neighboring Oklahoma, we could expect that nearly 60,000 fewer Missourians working in the private sector would be covered by a union contract if RTW were implemented in Missouri;
RTW laws have not succeeded in boosting employment in states that have adopted them. In fact, RTW laws have no causal impact on job growth or unemployment, contrary to the claims of its proponents;
RTW laws are associated with lower wages and benefits for both union and nonunion workers. In RTW states, the average worker makes 3.1 percent less in hourly wages than the average worker with similar characteristics in non-RTW states. This pattern of lower wages in RTW states is also true for women workers and workers of color;
Through weakening unions, RTW laws hurt the middle class. As union membership has declined in recent decades, the share of overall income received by the middle class is close to a post-WWII low; and
By restricting the capacity of unions to bargain for workers and thus lowering wages and benefits, RTW laws lower tax revenues and reduce aggregate demand.”
“There are many organizations that, like unions, require membership dues. For instance, an attorney who wants to appear in court must be a dues-paying member of the bar association. Someone may dislike the bar association, but that person must still pay dues if he or she wants to appear in court. Unions in RTW states are the only organizations in the country that are forced to provide all benefits for free to people who opt not to pay for them. This is because unions in RTW states are banned from requiring those who enjoy the benefits of the union to pay their fair share of the costs of providing those benefits.”
New Study Links Declining Union Strength To More Worker Deaths
Salon posted a story this week about a new study that “focuses in particular on the extent to which state ‘right to work’ laws—which barred mandatory union dues for non-union members even before Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling— translate into more workplace deaths.
From the post:
“The study found that the rate of job-related deaths among U.S. workers from 1992 through 2016 was 14.2 percent higher than it would have been if union membership had not been undercut by right to work laws. That equated to roughly 7,300 extra workplace deaths over the 25-year period…”
The study’s author comments in the piece, “The overarching point is that unions are important in workplace protections, and the fact that they’re declining because of public policies like right to work is concerning.”
Nashville Metro Council Votes To Ask City From Investing In CoreCivic (Which Is Based In Nashville!)
You have to wonder what’s going on when the Council in charge of advising the city that is home to CoreCivic is asking city leaders to stop investing in CoreCivic and all other private prisons. But that’s just what the Nashville Metro Council voted to do this week, in the form of a resolution.
The Council’s resolution has many “Whereas” statements, including this last one, which reads, “WHEREAS, it is fitting and proper that the investment committee of the Metropolitan Employee Benefit Board be encouraged to seek divestment from entities engaged in operating private prisons.”
New Interstate Exit Numbering System Coming To Vermont?
VTDigger reports on July 19 that Vermont is facing a conundrum about its current system to number interstate exits, which is to do it sequentially, as opposed to by the mile marker, which is now federally mandated. According to the Federal Highway Administration, most states are in compliance, but not Vermont. The State says it will do what it can to prevent the change from having to happen because a lot of Vermont businesses currently advertise, using the exit numbers in place as identifiers. VTrans Secretary Joe Flynn also points out in the story that Vermont’s exit signs are “relatively new.” The federal government would pay for the new signage, but the State says it is still committed to doing what it can to prevent the change.
Labor Relations Director’s Contract Summary Available Online
VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley’s comprehensive summary of the contract recently imposed on VSEA members belonging to the Non-Management, Corrections and Supervisory Bargaining Units is available online by clicking here.
Friendly Reminder: What Has Our Union Done For Us Lately?
Just in case. Here is a reminder of just some of what VSEA has been able to accomplish for state employees (guided by rank-and-file leaders and activists) since its inception in 1944:
Yearly wage increases totaling more than 45% in cost-of-living and step increases since 1990;
Improved health benefits, comprehensive dental insurance including benefits for domestic partners;
A 30-year/no-penalty retirement plan with five-year vesting;
Enhanced mental health benefits;
Double-your-salary life insurance;
Time-and-a-half overtime benefits for over 4,600 employees;
Guaranteed maternity/paternity and adoption leave;
A strong grievance procedure to guarantee your rights;
Layoff (RIF) rights;
An effective lobbying and political program that defends your rights in the legislature;
A Communications Department that provides timely news and analysis of developments affective you and your job;
Member benefits including discount programs; and
Access to stewards, Union Representatives and lawyers to answer questions and address workplace issues.
Show Your Facebook Friends You’re VSEA Strong With VSEA Facebook Profile Picture Frame!
In light of the Janus Supreme Court decision, consider using VSEA’s newly created “I’m Sticking With The Union” profile picture frame to send a message that you are VSEA strong and you’re sticking with your union.
Hover over your Facebook profile picture and click, “Update Profile Picture”
In the next menu, select, “Add Frame”
Search for "VSEA" and select the color frame you would like to use, set the duration, and click “Use as Profile Picture”
Note: The following colors are available: Green, Gold, Black, White, and Green/Gold.
VSEA Elections, Rules & Nominating Committee Reminds Members To Vote In Four Board Of Trustees’ Elections
Deadline to vote is August 1!
Members of VSEA’s ERN Committee asked WIA to re-share this letter:
As many of you know, there are four elections going on right now for seats on the VSEA Board of Trustees (NMU, Judicial, District 3 and District 6). This is a reminder that ballots for these elections were issued Friday, June 15, at 8:00 a.m. All members who are eligible to vote in one or more of these elections should have received an electronic ballot(s) from “Simply Voting” in your primary email (a.k.a. home email, unless VSEA does not have a home email for you, then we use your work email). All email providers filter mail differently, so if you did not see the ballot in your primary mail box please do a keyword search of “all mail boxes” for “Simply Voting” or “elector” and this should bring up your e-ballot. If you are unable to locate your ballot, VSEA can have Simply Voting re-issue the ballot. Your unique ID ensures you can only vote once per election.
To request a new ballot, or have your ballot sent to a new email address, please email Ray Stout at VSEA at Rstout@vsea.org. Voting in any of these elections closes on August 1, 2018, and, until then, members will be receiving weekly reminders to vote, including a voting link.
In the past few years, VSEA and the ERN Committee decided to make the switch to electronic balloting, and, to date, it’s been successful, evidenced by a member-participation rate that has nearly doubled.
Members, of course, have the option to opt-out of electronic balloting and receive a standard paper ballot via US Mail. You can request a paper ballot be sent in future elections by emailing email@example.com with the subject “paper ballot.”
The VSEA ERN Committee
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.
Thanks in advance for visiting VSEA’s Janus webpage to ensure you are an informed union member.
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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.