VSEA Bargaining Teams Heading To VLRB On July 12 For Hearing On “Motion To Reconsider” Contract
VSEA Bargaining Teams and staff head to the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB) on July 12 to try to try to convince the Board to reconsider its March 30 ruling in favor of the State’s last-best-contract-offer over the one submitted by VSEA’s Teams (and the one containing proposals mostly supported by an independent fact-finder).
The State’s last-best-contract-offer implemented on July 1. The contract’s wage increase and changes to employees’ health care plan do not take effect until January 1, 2019.
VSEA Contract Oral Argument
Thursday, July 12
13 Baldwin Street
The entire VSEA family is sending heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and co-workers of Courtney Gaboriault, who was tragically murdered yesterday in Barre in what State officials and news outlets are terming a murder-suicide.
Show Your Facebook Friends You’re VSEA Strong With VSEA Facebook Profile Picture Frame!
In light of last week’s 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.
Nurses working at University of Vermont Medical Center recently voted to strike on next week after not being able to reach agreement last week with their employer on a new contract. According to a July 4 VTDigger story, 1,800 nurses belonging to the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals will walk off the job at 7:00 a.m. on July 12. The nurses’ primary issues are improved safety for staff and patients and fair compensation.
True to private-sector form, UVM management is actively hiring scab nurses to backfill for its own talented and experienced nurses, utilizing a Colorado firm that sadly promotes itself as “specializing in health care work stoppages.”
“They are frankly delusional if they think they can go on business as usual without us,” R.N. Julie MacMillan tells VTDigger.
Chittenden County Senator Philip Baruth commented on the pending nurses’ strike to WAMC, saying, “I have always thought that nurses were underpaid. For those who don’t know it UVM Medical Center has been involved in historic expansion. That is a great thing for care if quality doesn’t recede. If I could call on the administration to rethink their corporate, top-down recalcitrance to fair wages for these people. They do the dirtiest jobs and they also do the jobs with the most dignity for their patients.”
Note: There is a small chance labor and management could meet again and reach an agreement before next Thursday, but with management saying in the story that the two sides are still “pretty far apart” on wages, it doesn’t seem likely.
If You Are Considering Filing A Class-Action
“Request For Reclassification…”
First, you must:
Tell VSEA by July 15; and
Submit paperwork to VSEA by August 1
VSEA’s Executive Branch collective-bargaining agreements require that all class-action RFRs must be filed within a certain window, following July 1 in any given year—and the window differs depending on Unit-specific contract language. The State will not even entertain RFRs that did not receive prior VSEA approval. The VSEA Board of Trustees adopted a new policy to ensure that VSEA has time to properly evaluate class-action RFRs before they are submitted to the State. This deadline was needed because some RFRs are still being submitted right before the deadline, which prevented VSEA from making sure that the RFR protected all members’ rights.
The Board’s new policy requires any member(s) who want to submit a class-action RFR to VSEA for review and approval must provide notice to VSEA of their intention to file a class-action RFR on or before July 1 in any given year. Given the late notice this year, that deadline is extended to July 15. A copy of the proposed class-action RFR must then be submitted to VSEA before August 1 in any given year. All class-action RFR’s received at VSEA after August 1—or those submitted directly to the State Classification division without notice and consultation with VSEA—will not be “recognized” and/or “signed off” on by the union.
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
Waterbury Public Library Hosting “Songs Of Union & Labor” As Part Of 2018 “Vermont Reads” Program
On Monday, July 9, VSEA members are invited to the Waterbury Public Library to learn a little about the music that was inspired by historic labor fights across the nation.
Here’s the Library’s event description:
For centuries, working people have used songs to express protest and hope and as an organizing tool. In the U.S., the I.W.W (or Wobblies), which led the 1912 Bread and Roses strike, was especially known for its rousing and satirical songs, including the classic “Solidarity Forever.”
Using live and recorded music, Mark Greenberg surveys American labor songs from the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, through the Wobblies, and into the coal wars of the 1930s.
Program begins at 7:00 p.m. Free and open to the public. Accessible to people with disabilities For more information, email Judi Byron at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 802-244-7036.
The Freedom Foundation calls Janus ‘the opportunity of a lifetime’ to starve unions. It ramped up its opt-out campaign with an email drive in May targeting more than 100,000 public employees in Oregon, California and Alaska. According to Bloomberg News’ Josh Eidelson, the group also had 80 canvassers trained and ready to start knocking on doors in California, Washington and Oregon the day the Janus decision came down. Their goal is to convince 127,000 public employees to opt out of union membership across the three states.
Meanwhile, the Mackinac Center, an SPN affiliate, publicly launched an opt-out hotline for union members across the country. The California Policy Center, another affiliate, sent a fundraising email to 8,000 union social service workers in Los Angeles County with the stated goal of reducing union dues “by $300 million in the next three years.” The Pennsylvania-based Americans for Fair Treatment—an organization formed in 2014 whose four board members are SPN-affiliate employees—recently hired a former teacher and anti-union activist to lead an opt-out campaign targeting the state’s 330,000 public employees. SPN spokesperson Carrie Conko confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that the network is providing support to opt-out campaigns in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
All of these organizations are directly or indirectly funded by one of the largest right-wing grant-making institutions in the country, the Bradley Foundation, with $835 million in assets. Internal Bradley Foundation documents from 2015 praise the Freedom Foundation’s aggressive attacks on unions as “a national model.” Similar documents show the Bradley Foundation considered funding for SPN affiliates such as the Empire Center for Public Policy in New York, on the basis of their having “the stomach” to follow the Freedom Foundation’s example. In May, the Empire Center mailed New York state public employers warning them to “immediately stop withholding funds from nonmembers’ paychecks” after Janus.
Historically “Red” State Considers “Millionaire’s Tax” For
To date, only a hand full of “blue” states have raised taxes on their state’s wealthiest residents to help balance budgets, but now, according to a July 6 Governing article, “red” state Arizona is now considering the same recourse to help fund raises for teachers.
From the article:
“The measure proposes raising the income tax rate from 4.5 percent to 8 percent for people making at least $250,000 and for families earning at least $500,000. For individuals making $500,000 and joint filers making $1 million, the tax rate would be 9 percent. If passed, the tax is projected to raise $690 million annually for teacher salaries and supplies, as well as restoring full-day kindergarten and reducing class sizes. The new revenue is almost exactly equal to the gap between today’s education budget and what it was before severe cuts a decade ago, according to advocates.”
Web Post Highlights Issue Of Medical Social Worker Attrition
A July 5 post to a site called “The Conversation” reports on why many medical social workers nationwide are choosing to leave the profession, and the reasons sound remarkably similar to those voiced by VSEA-represented social workers in past years.
From the post:
“So why are medical social workers leaving their jobs? One of the biggest problems, according to Ali, is large caseloads. “When each social worker is responsible for too many patients, it becomes impossible to give each patient and family the level of care they need. Because you are stretched so thin, you end up tending only to the patients and families with the most urgent needs. You are forced to choose who not to care for, and that feels like failure.”
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.
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.
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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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.