Contract Mediation With State Scheduled For August 7
At the request of the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB), VSEA’s NMU, Corrections, and Supervisory Bargaining Teams recently agreed to contract mediation with the State on Tuesday, August 7, to determine if there is any room for compromise from either side on certain issues and if a revised deal of some kind is even possible. The VSEA Teams agreed to attempt mediation, with the understanding that the legal process will resume if mediation is unsuccessful.
VSEA members and retirees can watch and review the VLRB hearing that led to mediation on VSEA’s Facebook page and website.
If you have any questions in advance of mediation, please direct them to a member of your VSEA Bargaining Team. Find Team members’ contact info here.
Note: Until mediation and a possible return trip to the VLRB are complete, the State’s last best offer is still the contract in place right now. Wage increases and certain healthcare co-pay increases do not kick in until
January 1, 2019.
March Tomorrow With VSEA In The Barre Heritage Festival Parade
VSEA members and retirees are invited to march with your colleagues in tomorrow’s 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!
Lamoille Valley Chapter Conducting Annual
“School Supply Challenge”
Three years ago, VSEA’s Lamoille Valley Chapter launched a successful effort to get Chapter members to donate school supplies to help children in need. This year, the Chapter is hoping to build on the success of the first three years events.
The Chapter is distributing collection boxes to Lamoille worksites, and the goal is to collect as many items as possible by Friday, August 10.
All supplies collected will be given to children currently in the custody of DCF Morrisville Family Services.
All types of supplies are needed, including: backpacks, lunch boxes, pencil cases, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, notebooks, folders, rulers, scissors and markers, to name a few.
VSEA Posts Second In Short Video Series, Titled “I’m Sticking With
At the direction of the Board of Trustees, VSEA’s Communications Department is providing a new visual education piece for members and retirees to share with anyone who is on the fence about their union, post Janus ruling. The second of three (soon to be four!) short “Why I’m Sticking With My Union” video clips posted to VSEA’s Facebook page on July 26, and it features ESD Reach-Up Case Manager Sue Lafleche, sharing why she is sticking with her union. 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “paper ballot.”
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 223-5247. You can reach Sue by email at email@example.com or by phone at 223-5247.
Payment must be received before tickets are released.
DOC Told To Review VT Prisons’ Private Health-Care System Costs
VSEA was pleased to learn this week that the Joint Fiscal Office will soon be conducting a “complete evaluation” of the state prison’s privatized health-care system. It’s something VSEA’s DOC members wanted to happen years ago, especially because state employees once delivered the service. The workers’ hope the review will help clarify which delivery system is the most cost-effective.
According to a July 23 VPR story, “A report last year by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that Vermont had the second-highest per-inmate prison health care costs in the country. Vermont spent $13,747 per inmate in 2015, according to the report; the median amount spent among the 49 states that provided data was $5,720 per inmate.”
“We certainly want to provide the best possible care to the people in our custody,” [DOC Commissioner Lisa] Menard tells VPR. “But we also want to do it with the best possible value for taxpayers.”
VSEA’s DOC members look forward to seeing the full review, which is due to be delivered in January 2019.
On the heels of their recent two-day labor strike, nurses working at the University of Vermont Medical Center returned to the bargaining table with management this week and have two more sessions scheduled for August 1 and August 11.
According to a VTDigger story on the July 24 bargaining session, the two sides made a little headway on two issues related to pay but both stood firm on their wage-increase proposals, which continues to be the major sticking point to reaching a final agreement. The UVM nurses are also working hard in negotiations to ensure safe staffing levels for the sake of the nurses and the patients in their care.
Following this week’s bargaining, a union spokesman tells VTDigger the nurses were pleased to come to an agreement on the two, pay-related issues, but they were disappointed hospital management did not offer a new wage proposal.
Consolidated Communications’ Workers Vote
Some 1,000 Consolidated Communications’ workers spread across three northeastern states, including Vermont, voted this week to authorize a strike against their parent company if a new contract agreement cannot be reached by August 4, 2018, when the workers’ current contract expires. These same workers, who are represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), struck Fairpoint Communications for 131 days in 2014. Consolidated purchased Fairpoint in 2017.
Peter McLaughlin, co-chair of the IBEW bargaining team, tells WCAX on July 25 that the two sides are still far from an agreement, despite having been in negotiations since April. He says the union has real concerns about how the company’s outsourcing of union work is hurting workers and communities.
Missourians go to the polls on August 7 to decide whether or not to officially make the state right-to-work, but labor supporters are cautiously optimistic the ballot measure will be defeated. A July 27 Kansas City Business Journal story confirms that labor is outspending corporate America to defeat the measure, and recent polls point to the measure being defeated, but polls have been shown to be wrong in the past. Fingers crossed for Missouri to strongly defeat this anti-union ballot measure.
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.
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.
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.