VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: June 14, 2019

Happy Father’s Day 2019!


Help Spread The Word!
We’re sorry, but there is no print version available this week or next. Printable version will return with June 28 edition. Thanks.


Deadline For Governor To Sign VSEA & Firefighters’ Arbitration Bill Is Midnight, Monday!

VSEA learned this week that H. 16 (VSEA & Firefighters’ arbitration bill to restore fairness to the collective bargaining process) was sent to Governor Scott on Tuesday, June 11. The Governor now has until midnight, Monday, June 17, to sign the bill, veto it or it let it become law at 12:01 a.m, Tuesday, June 18, without his signature. 

Needless to say, VSEA members and retirees who have yet to phone Governor Scott to voice your support for H. 16, time is running short and we need your help.

Help your union send a powerful message to the Governor that state employees want and deserve a fair collective bargaining process! 

Take 30 seconds—on your break, and on your own phone—to call the Governor’s Office at (802) 828-3333 and leave this message:

“Please sign H 16. I support arbitration for first responders and state employees.”

P.S. New round of bargaining for Executive Branch Units begins soon.

VSEA Wins Fight To Stop State From Capping Sick Leave  

VSEA is pleased to announce that it has reached agreement to resolve more than a hundred pending claims over the State’s prior practice of capping the use of sick leave at 6 weeks for an employee’s own illness or injury. The Vermont Supreme Court confirmed in September 2018 that the State had been violating contractual language, affirming a decision by the Labor Board.  Some 107 state employees have been made whole, either swapping sick leave for other leave or, in the case of retirees, receiving a payout for their time. 
"VSEA and unions exist in part to address serious issues like the State capping a seriously ill employee’s sick leave time, so we were happy to help this group of employees get the resolution they deserve and help put an end to a bad practice," says VSEA President Dave Bellini. “Like I said back in September, state employees recovering from a stroke or cancer are sick…they’re not on vacation. Now there’s one less thing for these members have to worry about while they concentrate on getting healthy and hopefully returning to work.” 

Back in September 2018, the Court affirmed the decision of the VLRB that the State was misinterpreting the so-called “cascade” provisions of the “Parental and Family Leave” Article of VSEA’s three Executive Branch contracts (NMU, Corrections & Supervisory).  The decision does not affect FMLA leave that is used for a family member or as parental leave. 
The Court and the Board both found that the State and VSEA negotiated the current Parental and Family Leave Article in 1999 with the explicit intention to protect sick leave and other benefits found elsewhere in the contract. The State honored that agreement for almost 15 years and then began to apply the so-called cascade to cap the use of sick leave at 6 weeks.

NOTABLE PASSAGE FROM THE COURT’s 2018 RULING: “The [S]tate’s position moreover has the strange result that the right of the employee to use their sick leave credits is more restricted when they are suffering from a serious illness, when they may need to use their sick leave the most, than a minor one.”

VLRB Hears Arguments On VSEA ULP, Contesting State’s "Infants-At-Work" Policy Implementation

VSEA leaders and staff were at the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB) on Tuesday, arguing that the Administration broke the law when it implemented its “infants-at-work” policy without negotiating beforehand with VSEA. Tuesday’s meeting was  an initial step in the process of holding the Administration accountable for unfair labor practices (ULP) that illegally undermined VSEA by implementing a new program that affects employee benefits and rights without negotiating first with the union. In a February 2019 VSEA press release about filing its ULP, VSEA said if the State had met its legal obligation to negotiate before implementing its proposal, the union is confident an agreement could have been reached and that the end result would have actually been improved with the collective input from the VSEA membership.
Note: A reminder that VSEA’s ULP does not talk at all about the policy’s perceived impact on workplaces and employees, as those discussions would occur in the statutorily mandated bargaining process.

VSEA Board Reminds Members To Contact DHR If Over-Billed By Provider Due To Unpaid BC / BS Claim

VSEA’s Board of Trustees is reminding members who have been over-billed by a health care provider as a result of non-payment of a claim(s) by Blue Cross / Blue Shield to contact the Department of Human Resources.

DHR Benefits Division Contact Info

VSEA members were alerted to this issue and problem in a May 10 WIA story.

From that piece:

Members of VSEA’s Benefits Advisory Committee (BAC) recently met with Blue Cross/Blue Shield representatives and Department of Human Resources’ Benefits Division staff to inquire about numerous reports from VSEA members, retirees and staff that their claims were not being paid. The BAC requested the meeting and what they discovered is alarming.

According to Blue Cross, 6,302 claims for state employees and retirees have currently not been paid, totaling approximately $20 million. Of those, 2,330, totaling $10m, are 30-days past due. Blue Cross representatives blamed the delay on a new automated claims system the company installed in January 2019.


Every VSEA member and retiree who is waiting on a claim–and those whose claims were paid incorrectly–is urged to contact the Department of Human Resources’ Benefits Division to demand that your claim(s) be paid and remind them that an unpaid claim can sometimes break a family financially. Simple request; do your job! 

New! Register Today To AttendVSEA’s 75th Annual Meeting At Okemo

VSEA’s Annual Meeting is September 14, 2019, which is approaching quickly. The Special Events Committee is letting VSEA members know that you can now register online or by mail to attend your union’s 75th Annual Meeting. 

Register Online Here

Downloadable Registration Form


Room Reservation Information 

You can reserve a room now through a special link created by Okemo.

VSEA members will need to use a special rate code for the event, which is:


Reserve Room Now Here! 

Room types available:

  • Inn Room (occupancy 2-4)
    1 to 2 nights = $159 per night
    3 nights = $144.54
  • Studio (occupancy 2-4)
    1 to 2 nights = $173 per night
    3 nights = $157.27
  • One-Bedroom (occupancy 2-6)
    1 to 2 nights = $195 per night
    3 nights = $177.63
  • Two-Bedroom (occupancy 4-6)
    1 to 2 nights = $235 per night
    3 nights = $213.63

The Committee is reminding members to keep an eye out in future WIAs for more 2019 Annual Meeting updates.

"Annual Meeting 2019" Facebook Event Page

Reminder! VSEA Now Using Electronic Balloting

VSEA recently mailed a postcard to all members, reminding that your union is now using online voting and members now vote electronically, unless a paper ballot is requested in advance.

This is important election year for VSEA members, as all five VSEA officer positions and three Board seats are up for election. 

The period to submit candidate petitions for the three District Board seats has passed and VSEA’s Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee will soon be notifying members in the Districts up for election that it’s time to vote. 

As in the past, members who prefer to receive a ballot by U.S. Mail must let VSEA know that this is your preference as soon as possible! Failure to inform VSEA that you would prefer your ballot via the U.S. Mail could result in you not being able to cast a vote on important decisions that impact the VSEA membership at large. If you want to continue to cast your vote via U.S. Mail, please send an email indicating your preference to vsea@vsea.org or letter to VSEA headquarters, attention “My Voting Preference”, 155 State Street, Montpelier, 05602.​ 

The deadline for candidates to submit their petition to run for a VSEA officer post is July 16. There will then be an all-member online vote scheduled shortly after.  

Central Vermont Chapter Hosting “Night At The Ballpark With The VT Mountaineers.” Free Tickets For Members!

VSEA’s Central Vermont Chapter is inviting Chapter members to attend a “Night At The Ballpark With The VT Mountaineers” on Tuesday, July 23. Member tickets are free, and they are being distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis!
Central VT Chapter’s “Night at the Ballpark with the VT Mountaineers”
Tuesday, July 23
Montpelier Recreation Field (Baseball Drive, Montpelier) view map
6:00 p.m.  (6:30 p.m. game start)
Must RSVP by July 11 to VSEA Organizer Danielle Warner,  dwarner@vsea.org or 802-262-1323 
Questions? Please Contact:  
Chapter President Marion Allen: mdallen48@yahoo.com or 802-249-5336; 

Chapter Clerk Cassandra Edson: mail to: cassandraedson@hotmail.com or 802-828-2997​

Clarification: June 19 Newport / IP Chapter Meeting 

VSEA’s Communications Department is apologizing for including an incorrect date in the subject line of an email sent this week to Newport / Island Pond Chapter members. 

Your Chapter meeting is next week, Wednesday, June 19, beginning at 5:00 p.m. at the Kingdom Brewery. 

Defender General Unit Seeking  Bargaining Team Members

VSEA’s Defender General Unit is actively seeking Unit members to join the Bargaining Team.

Joining the Team does require a time commitment. You’ll also receive regular email communication, and the Unit conducts conference-call meetings when needed. 

DG Bargaining Team members are permitted reasonable union leave time to participate.

If interested, please provide your cell-phone number and personal email to Unit Chair Chris Frappier at chris.frappier@vermont.gov.

The Unit’s VSEA Union Representative is Nikolas Stein, who can be reached at 802-223-5247 or email nstein@vsea.org 

VSEA Member Appreciation Day Events Kick Off Next Week In St. J!

Appreciation Day events have been part of the VSEA culture for decades now.

VSEA’s popular "Member Appreciation Day" events, which feature free ice cream and giveaway items for state employees, are back this year, beginning with:

St. Johnsbury Appreciation Day Event

Wednesday, June 19
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

District DCF and P&P Offices
(Outside on the back lawn.)
1016 U.S. Route 5
St. Johnsbury

Next VSEA Steward Training Is
July 20!

VSEA Field Services Director Gretchen Naylor asked WIA to include an announcement about this upcoming Steward training:


Saturday, July 20 

8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. 


155 State Street, Montpelier

View PDF Agenda Here

Please RSVP to VSEA Administrative Assistant Sue DeVoid at: sdevoid@vsea.org or call 802-223-5247. 

Vermont Leads Nation In Maple Syrup Production! 

The Burlington Free Press reports this week that Vermont produced more maple syrup in 2019 than any other state. The state’s Secretary of Agriculture announced the state produced over 2 million gallons of syrup this season, a 7 percent increase from 2018. 

Vermont also has some of the cheapest average prices for a gallon of its syrup compared to its counterparts. In 2017 and 2018, the average price of a gallon was under $30, while the other states did not fall below $30. Connecticut’s average price in 2018 was $76.

Time Is Running Out To Donate To The NMU Sick Leave Bank!

It’s open enrollment time to donate some hours to the NMU Sick Leave Bank, which is on the brink of bankruptcy and needs your help.

June 30 is the deadline for you to contribute!  

Please consider donating as much Annual and/or Personal leave as you are able to contribute.

Donating an hour of your time can mean the world to a fellow employee, who, along with their families, are struggling due to serious health issues.

Please print the Sick Leave Bank Donation Form, complete it, and forward it to your Human Resources Administrator between now and June 30, 2019.

Many thanks to those who previously donated time to the Sick Leave Bank. Your generosity is making a difference!

AFLAC Enrollment – Sign up through VSEA!

WIA was asked by VSEA Benefits Administrator, Joanne Woodcock, to include the following in this week’s newsletter:

VSEA Insurance Benefits is now making the following Aflac insurance policies available to VSEA members!

View this full flyer ad! (PDF)

Set Up An Appointment Here!

* Certain face amounts may not be available. Underwriting requirements apply. ** Subject to certain conditions and payment of claims is subject to all policy limitations and exclusions and pre-existing conditions. 
This is a brief product overview for illustrative purposes only. Benefits and/or premiums may vary based on the state and benefit option selected. Riders may be available for an additional premium. Policies described herein have limitations and exclusions that may affect benefits payable. For costs and complete details of the coverage, contact your Aflac insurance agent/producer. Individual coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus.  
WWHQ | 1932 Wynnton Road, Columbus, GA 31999 | aflac.com

Learn more about VSEA Insurance benefits online!

Quote Of
The Week!


"Today marks yet another massive win for working people and the labor movement as union momentum continues to grow across the country."

From a statement issued by AFSCME after Nevada’s Governor signed legislation this week that grants state employees the right to collectively bargain wages and better working conditions. From a June 13 Common Dreams story


Upcoming Meetings:


Employee Appreciation Day Event

  • NEK / St. Johnsbury Chapter  
    Wednesday, June 19

    11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
    District DCF / P&P Offices
    1016 U.S. Route 5
    St. Johnsbury

    Questions: Contact VSEA NEK / St. Johnsbury Chapter President Ellen Hinman: ellen.hinman@yahoo.com

Chapter Meeting 

  • Newport / Island Pond Chapter  
    Wednesday, June 19

    5:00 p.m.
    Kingdom Brewery
    353 Coburn Road

    Questions: Contact VSEA Newport / Island Pond Chapter President Joe Silvestri: joseph.silvestri@vermont.gov

Organizer’s Worksite Meeting(s) 

  • Veterans’ Home – Bennington  
    Thursday, June 20

    6:30 a.m.
    1:00 p.m.
    2:30 p.m.
    3;30 p.m.
    4:30 p.m.
    Vermont Veterans’ Home
    325 North Street

    Questions: Contact VSEA Organizer Danielle Warner: dwarner@vsea.org


Talking Points:


NJ Public Employees Take To Street To Protest Benefit Cut Proposals

The Associated Press reports this morning that thousands of union members crowded around New Jersey’s "legislative annex" Thursday, even spilling into the street, to protest the New Jersey state Senate President’s calls to cut some worker benefits.

There are two benefit-cut proposals on the table right now; one to place new hires in a "hybrid" pension plan and the other to switch public employees from "platinum" plan to "gold" health plan (with higher employee premiums). 

Oddly, the Democratic leadership is battling with the state’s Democratic Governor, who wants to raise taxes on the state’s wealthiest and leave public employees alone. 

AP reports the crowd chanted, "Sweeney (Senate leader) says cutback. We say fight back," and "Tax those millionaires."

Maine Loggers & Haulers Can Now Collectively Bargain

Excerpt From Maine State Democrats Press Release:

A bill sponsored by Maine Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to support loggers and haulers was signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills on Friday. LD 1459, “An Act To Expand Application of the Maine Agricultural Marketing and Bargaining Act of 1973 to Harvesters and Haulers of Forest Products,”  will provide loggers and haulers the same collective bargaining rights as potato farmers and lobster fishermen, who have been given antitrust exemptions to form their own cooperatives.

“For too long, Maine loggers and wood haulers have been taken advantage of by large landowners, who hold significant power over these workers and their ability to provide for their families. This bill will right this wrong by giving these workers the same rights as everybody else,” said President Jackson. “I want to thank Governor Mills for signing this into law. LD 1459 will ensure that loggers and haulers finally get what they deserve — a fair shot to have strong wages, reasonable hours and safe work environments.”

Entire Press Release 

Volkswagon TN Shows Its True Anti-Union Colors, Prior To Employees’ Vote 

Sometime this evening, workers at Volkswagon’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant will learn the results of an election this week to determine whether or not they will join the United Autoworkers of America or not. According to multiple media reports leading up to election, including one this week in Labor Notes, VW’s management was in full union-busting mode throughout the campaign.

From LN story:

In a final anti-union push before workers vote on whether to unionize, the recently installed Chattanooga VW CEO Frank Fischer trashed the United Auto Workers and made the surreal claim that the company’s sole U.S. factory is “the most democratic” manufacturing plant in the world, according to audio obtained by Labor Notes.

Fischer made the comments in two plant-wide anti-union meetings on Monday, one for production employees on the morning shift and another for those working nights.

Workers were forced to attend the meeting. On the way in, they were handed Chick-fil-A sandwiches. On the way out, members of the in-plant anti-union group Southern Momentum were on hand passing out water bottles with anti-UAW stickers.

According to workers in attendance, security guards were blocking the exits and workers were told that if they left they would receive an attendance “point,” which counts against their quarterly bonus.

“Nothing like intimidation and free chicken sandwiches,” said one worker who asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation from management.

Note: VSEA solidarity with the Chattanooga VW workers! WIA will update members next week on the vote result. 

This Week:

Deadline For Governor To Sign VSEA & Firefighters’ Arbitration Bill Is Midnight, Monday!

VSEA Wins Fight To Stop State From Capping Sick Leave  

VLRB Hears Arguments On VSEA ULP, Contesting State’s "Infants-At-Work" Policy Implementation

VSEA Board Reminds Members To Contact DHR If Over-Billed By Provider Due To Unpaid BC / BS Claim

New! Register Today To AttendVSEA’s 75th Annual Meeting At Okemo

Reminder! VSEA Now Using Electronic Balloting

Central Vermont Chapter Hosting “Night At The Ballpark With The VT Mountaineers.” Free Tickets For Members!

Clarification: June 19 Newport / IP Chapter Meeting 

Defender General Unit Seeking Bargaining Team Members

VSEA Member Appreciation Day Events Kick Off Next Week In St. J!

Next VSEA Steward Training Is July 20!

Vermont Leads Nation In Maple Syrup Production! 

Time Is Running Out To Donate To The NMU Sick Leave Bank!

AFLAC Enrollment – Sign up through VSEA!




June 16
Father’s Day

June 18
Supervisory Unit Bargaining Team Meeting 
155 State Street
9:00 a.m.

June 19
Member Appreciation Day Event – St. Johnsbury
District DCF and P&P Offices
1016 US Route 5
St. Johnsbury
11:00 a.m. 

June 19
Newport / Island Pond Chapter Meeting
Kingdom Brewery
353 Coburn Hill Road
5:00 p.m.

June 20
Corrections Unit Bargaining Team Meeting 
155 State Street
8:00 a.m.

June 20
Organizer’s Worksite Meeting(s) – VVH
Veterans’ Home
325 North Street
6:30 a.m.
1:00 p.m.
2:30 p.m.
3:30 p.m.
4:30 p.m.

June 21
Benefits Advisory Committee Meeting 
155 State Street
9:00 a.m.


Talking Points:


NJ Public Employees Take To Street To Protest Benefit Cut Proposals

Maine Loggers & Haulers Can Now Collectively Bargain

Volkswagon TN Shows Its True Anti-Union Colors, Prior To Employees’ Vote 




Need To Contact A VSEA Staff Person Directly But Need The Number?​

State Employees Who Are Threatened On The Job Should File "eAlert" Form

Strength In Numbers! VSEA Membership Drive 2019 Now Underway!

Told You’re Being Investigated?
Watch This Video!

What You Should Know About The Anti-Worker Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

Getting Ready To Retire? Retired Already? Join The VSEA Retired Members’ Chapter!

What Is The VSEA Advantage Program?


Need To Contact A VSEA Staff Person Directly But Need The Number? 

VSEA HQ is reminding members and retirees of each staff person’s direct phone number, in the event you know who you need to talk with but you don’t know their direct phone number.

Here’s the staff direct line list

State Employees Who Are Threatened On The Job Should File "eAlert" Form

We are reminding members that there is an online form to fill out if you are threatened while at work

Find The State’s “eAlert” Homepage Here
Important: Once you land on the eAlert page, you will see an entry labeled “threat” in the menu provided. Click on it and you land on a page with written instructions and fields to complete.
In November 2017, the current Secretary of the Administration sent the State’s “Workplace Safety and Security” policy to state employees, and VSEA members are encouraged to read through the different policies, examples and responses, prior to an actual event occurring.

VSEA Membership Drive 2019
Now Underway!

Strength In Numbers!

A reminder that your union’s 2019 membership-recruitment drive is underway. Rewards for recruiting new members between now and September 1!

  • 2 new members – Dunkin Donuts gift card;
  • 5 new members – VSEA insulated coffee mug; or
  • 10 new members – $50 VISA gift card!

Bonus! Recruit a new member and receive an entry in a drawing to win one of four $300 prizes to be awarded at VSEA’s 2019 Annual Meeting! Each new recruit earns you an additional entry! Just be sure to have your recruits add your name in the "Recruited By" line of the VSEA Membership Application.
More Membership Drive Information Here!

Need a quick reference to help with your recruiting? You can view an informational webpage with some recruitment tips and advice here.

If you have any questions, or want a list of non-members in your area, please contact VSEA Director of Operations and Organizing Amy Kinsell by email: akinsell@vsea.org

Told You’re Being Investigated? Watch This Video!

It is important that every VSEA member knows his or her rights when it comes to union representation in investigatory meetings. Union representation at these meetings is a cornerstone of the labor movement. Your right to representation—as outlined in your contract and, in some cases, labor law—can be complicated.

Please take a few minutes on a break to watch the video, and know that the information being relayed could very well save your job someday. Remember, as a VSEA member, you are entitled to no-cost representation in investigatory meetings that may lead to discipline. Non-members, however, must now pay a rate of $250 to $350 per-hour for the same level of representation!

More: Know Your Union Rights

Not currently a VSEA member?
You can sign up online.

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.​

Learn More On VSEA.org

Getting Ready To Retire? Retired Already? Join The VSEA Retired Members’ Chapter!

Long-time VSEA activist and leader Terry Lefebvre asked Council members getting ready to retire to join the VSEA Retirees’ Chapter to continue to be an active and engaged union member, even in retirement. Lefebvre also appealed to Council members to talk up the Chapter to co-workers they know who might be preparing to retire. 
With a possible fight looming on retirement security, Lefebvre stressed the importance to build the Chapter to be able to mobilize large numbers of past state workers to protect and defend the benefits they bargained to win over decades.

If you already belong to the Retired Members’ Chapter, a big thanks to you.
Learn More Here About The VSEA Retired Members’ Chapter

What is the VSEA Advantage Program?

Did you know?
The average VSEA member can save hundreds of dollars a year by taking advantage of some of the Members Only benefits offered through their union!


It’s free, just for being a Vermont State Employees’ Association PerksConnect member!

Learn More!

Questions? Feel free to email vsea@ vsea.org


Need To Update Your Contact Information
With VSEA? 

Don’t Have
Union Card? 

Request A Green VSEA Union Card

Have You Been Threatened
At Work? 

Send A Threat Report To VSEA

Are You A
Council Member?

Join the VSEA Council Facebook group here!

Are You A
Chapter President?

Join the VSEA Chapter Presidents 
group here!

Are You A

Join the VSEA Steward Facebook
group here!





Questions? Comments?
Please fill out our feeback form:

VSEA’s Week In Action Feedback Form