ALERT! VSEA Gubernatorial Straw Poll
Being Emailed TOMORROW To Members & Retirees!
In order to provide your VSEA Board of Trustees with better insight on how VSEA members and retirees feel about all the declared candidates for Governor in 2018, the union’s Legislative Committee will be conducting two electronic straw polls for members to participate in; one before the primary election and another before the general election. The Board of Trustees governs VSEA’s political process, so input to the body from as many members as possible is very important.
The first electronic gubernatorial straw poll is being emailed to VSEA members’ home email address on Saturday, June 2. The email with the poll will have a subject line that reads: “VSEA Statewide Election Candidate
IMPORTANT!! In order for a member to participate in the straw polls, VSEA must have an updated HOME email address for the member. VSEA cannot send emails of a political nature, such as the straw poll announcement, to state email addresses. If you are unsure or don’t remember ever providing VSEA with your most up-to-date home email, please take time today to submit your name and home email address here.
To ensure you can vote, VSEA needs your updated home email as soon as possible! Thank you!
While the State and lawmakers continue to try to pass a budget, the days keep ticking off toward July 1, and VSEA and many state employees are growing more and more concerned about a government shutdown what impact it will have on public services and on the Vermonters who deliver them daily. Keep in mind; Vermont has never experienced a shutdown, so this would be all new territory for VSEA and even the State.
In the coming days, VSEA leaders and staff will be working to determine what services would be shutdown and which would continue, as well as which workers would be furloughed and which would be mandated to continue reporting to work, despite potentially not being paid.
VSEA remains optimistic that a budget deal will be reached, but if it all goes south, and a shutdown is looming, VSEA will almost certainly request to impact bargain with the State to solidify a mutually agreed-to process to keep government functioning as well as possible in the event of an official shutdown.
“I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to avoid a government shutdown. Not only would a shutdown prevent State agencies from providing the critical public services that Vermonters rely on every day, it would result in real and permanent costs, such as foregone and irrecoverable revenues and the additional costs of agency disruption. Even the threat of a shutdown can have adverse consequences, such as reducing the public’s faith in government, imposing additional costs to fund a special Legislative session, and jeopardizing the State’s high credit rating. Simply stated, no one wins when the government shuts down.”
Top: Brattleboro Chapter members: Robin Rieske, Kim Stice, Lynn Redd, Brooke Robinson, and
Shyla Foss Bottom: Staff at Groundworks help bring in the boxes and bags to the Groundworks
From the VSEA Brattleboro Chapter:
Over the past few months, members of VSEA’s Chapter Presidents’ Committee have been asking state employees in their respective Chapters to donate food and necessities to a food drive the Committee sponsored.
VSEA Brattleboro Chapter President Robin Rieske let WIA know this week that her Chapter members had collected eight bins of food and other necessities from five locations to give to the local, area food shelf, Groundworks.
Rieske is thanking VSEA members working at AOT, DOL, VR, VDH, DCF, Corrections, and Judiciary for participating in the drive to support the local Brattleboro community and for helping to make this a successful event.
Successful VSEA Member Food Drive In Bennington!
From the VSEA
Bennington Chapter President Victoria Thorpe picked up the donations today from the Chapter Presidents’ Committee’s month-long VSEA member “STRONG UNIONS-STRONG COMMUNITIES” food drive. Contributors conducted a vote to determine where the Chapter’s food donations would be distributed on Monday, June 4. Receiving donations are: Kitchen Cupboard in Bennington, the Arlington Food Shelf and the Pownal Food Shelf.
Victoria is sending an enormous thank you to all of the members who participated in this solidarity action.
If you have food donations to be picked up, contact Victoria Thorpe at 802-753-6485 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just A Few Weeks Remain To Donate To Your Unit Sick Leave Bank
Donation Period Ends June 30!
VSEA member Dawn Carrillo is reminding Non-Management Unit members that your Unit’s Sick Leave Bank is currently accepting time donations to the bank and that the deadline to do so is June 30, 2018 Carillo reminds that donations to the Corrections and Supervisory Unit Banks are also needed.
“Just donating an hour of your time can mean the world to a fellow employee,” reads a DHR flyer. It also informs state employees that they can donate any amount of annual- or personal-leave time to their respective Unit sick leave bank. “Know that you are performing a wonderful service by helping your friends and fellow employees, who, along with their families, are struggling due to serious health issues,” the flyer concludes.
“I want to thank every member for considering a donation to your Unit sick leave bank,” says VSEA President Dave Bellini. “Even if you only donate one hour to the bank, these one-hour donations add up. It’s so worthwhile because your donation is going to help a fellow state employee who is battling a serious illness.”
Wednesday, June 6
6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Large Conference Room
155 State Street, Montpelier
Join us for our second dinner at VSEA Headquarters in Montpelier! We will have a discussion on the future of inpatient psychiatric care in Vermont and we will be hearing important legislative updates as they relate to VPCH.
Organizer’s Worksite Meeting On
June 6 In Montpelier!
VSEA Organizer Carmen Scoles is holding a meeting on June 6 with VSEA members working in the 112 State Street Building in Montpelier. The meeting begins at 11:45 a.m. in Conference Room at 112 State Street. There will be snacks for members attending.
There will be a discussion about the parking situation in downtown Montpelier.
Members with questions can contact Carmen by email (email@example.com) or by phone at 802-223-5247.
Organizer’s Worksite Meeting On
June 7 In Burlington!
VSEA Organizer Carmen Scoles is holding a meeting on June 7 with VSEA members working in the South Burlington DMV Office. The meeting begins at 11:30 a.m. in the South Burlington DMV’s large conference room, located at 4 Market Street in South Burlington. There will be snacks for members attending. Topics of discussion include a contract update and the latest on the VLRB decision.
Members with questions can contact Carmen by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone at 802-223-5247.
UVM Nurse Pens Commentary, Highlighting The Importance Of Resolving UVM Staffing Issues In Contract Negotiations
UVM Nurses Rally, May 2018
Photo: Erin Green
While some state lawmakers continue to push the idea of sending Vermonters with acute mental illness to UVM for care, award-winning UVM Nurse Cristina Price penned an excellent commentary this week in the Times Argus, highlighting the issues of chronic short staffing and declining employee safety at UVM’s Medical Center.
From Price’s commentary:
Over the past year, UVMMC brought in $38.3 million in excess revenue and saw its bond rating boosted to “A” status to reflect financial health and stability. If the hospital can afford to spend $10.7 million on compensation for just 15 executives, it can afford the steps necessary to recruit and retain those of us on the front lines of caring for our communities.
This conviction: that the necessary changes to improve patient care are both simple and within reach, is what drives me to participate on our bargaining committee. On Wednesday, May 9, as I joined my colleagues at the bargaining table, my moral dilemma was stepping off the floor with the knowledge that we had three temporary overflow units open, patients in non-care areas, and that we were short numerous nurses.
I love my job, and I love the patients that I get to provide care to. I would much rather be providing patient care than fighting tooth and nail for better working conditions and fair pay. Until we get there, however, there’s work to be done, and we could use your support.
VSEA members who would like to show support for UVM Nurses who are facing a tough bargaining battle are encouraged to attend today’s event in Burlington.
Today! Friday, June 1
5:00 – 6:00 p.m.
UVM Medical Center
WSJ Reports On Ramped-Up Union Activity In Advance Of SCOTUS’ Janus Decision
Teachers in Oklahoma flood the State House.
The Wall Street Journal reports today that unions nationwide are reaching out big time to members and retirees to remind them of the importance of a union in their daily lives and why they need to “stick with the union” if the U.S. Supreme Court rules against public-sector unions in the Janus vs. Illinois case, as is expected.
Here’s what a couple of large American unions are doing, according to the story:
The Service Employees International Union has sent text messages to 800,000 members as part of a program that includes meeting with workers and sending mailers to homes. “We have a goal of speaking to every union member and getting them to recommit to the union,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of SEIU. Roughly half of its two million members are public-sector workers.”
The American Federation of Teachers has contacted 800,000 teachers in 10 states and persuaded 237,000 to sign recommitment cards that are legally binding in some states, says Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.6 million-member union. The wave of teacher walkouts across several states this year indicated growing support among teachers for their unions, Ms. Weingarten adds.
The story ends with a 35-year-old school custodian commenting on the “threat” caused by groups working against unions in his state of Pennsylvania, saying it has “galvanized the support at his SEIU Local of 27 custodians, secretaries and cafeteria workers.
“At some point you’re going to need the union,” Mr. Baker correctly notes.
Sacramento Mayor Labels Janus Lawsuit A Case For Union “Freeloaders”
The Sacramento Bee re-posted a video this week from earlier this year that features Sacramento, California, Mayor Darrel Steinberg rallying SEIU Local 1000 members against the anti-union Janus vs. Illinois Supreme Court case, which SCOTUS is expected to decide very soon. In the video, Steinberg takes direct aim at union members who like the benefits of belonging to a union but don’t want to pay for union representation, labeling these members “freeloaders.” The video is worth a watch and a share.
New Hampshire Resurrects Plan To Construct Memorial To Honor “Those Who Died On The Job Of Public Service, Public Works”
Originally introduced years ago, New Hampshire’s Department of Transportation is resurrecting a plan to construct a memorial to honor state workers “who died on the job of public service, public works”
Public works employees from across New Hampshire work on the state’s infrastructure in dangerous, sometimes life-threatening situations. They’re the plow truck drivers who clear roads in the winter, the people in hard hats and reflective vests who repair roads and erect bridges and the men and women who treat wastewater.
Over the last 50 years, 34 of those employees have died while working, and many more have had near-death experiences.
Now, the Department of Transportation is renewing an effort to raise money and resources for the construction of a memorial at its Concord office on Hazen Drive.
The resources required to build the memorial are proving difficult to acquire since legislation was passed nine years ago to establish a committee to oversee planning and construction.
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.
VSEA Insurance Benefits Enrollment
WIA was asked by VSEA Insurance Benefits Administrator, Joanne Woodcock, to include the following announcement:
Specified Health Event
GREAT NEWS! We’ve been working hard to make it easier for VSEA members to sign up for our insurance benefits.
You can now enroll anytime just by making an appointment.
The sign up is done remotely using your computer and speaking to me over the phone.
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.