Tick Tock… Government Shutdown Looms Larger After New Veto Of Budget Bill
VSEA leaders and Bargaining Unit Team members continue to work with VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley to schedule meetings with the Department of Human Resources (DHR) to discuss what a potential government shutdown on July 1 will look like. Here’s a reminder of the issues that VSEA informed DHR more than a week ago members want to negotiate prior to a shutdown:
Compensation to be paid to employees after budgetary authority is restored, both for employees who are called to work and for those who are prevented from working;
The designation of employees as essential, including the selection of which employees are selected to work where a worksite operates on a reduced workforce;
Procedures for notifying employees of the commencement or conclusion of the shutdown;
Whether any non-working time is treated as work time for benefits and other rights;
What obligations employees may be under to be available for work during non-work days; and
The treatment of pre-scheduled vacations, employees who are otherwise entitled to use sick leave, and compensation for the July 4 holiday.
Hoadley has been talking with DHR and it appears there could be a meeting scheduled soon, however, nothing is firmed up yet and still no reply from DHR to even one of VSEA’s want-to-negotiate issues, which is only fueling state employees’ and retirees’ anger and anxiety about a possible shutdown.
Equally frustrating, the State—according to a VTDigger story this morning—is “confident” a budget deal can be reached with lawmakers, so they “have no contingency plan” in place to address a government shutdown.
Confident or not, VSEA members and retirees are urged to keep the pressure on the State to come to a budget agreement or begin to provide VSEA members and retirees with shutdown information TODAY!
VSEA Asked & You Responded!
A Government Shutdown Will Cause State Employees, Retirees & The Public A Lot Of Hurt
VSEA published a Facebook post yesterday, asking members to let their union know what a government shutdown would mean for the member and their family, as well as their service. Realizing many members and retirees might not be comfortable sharing their personal story on a public forum like FB, VSEA asked members and retirees to go online to share their story, and boy did you!
DHR Commissioner Tells VTDigger Department Has Had Zero Discussions About Its Role If Gov’t Shuts Down On July 1
Shortly after VSEA issued a press release last Friday, announcing that a letter from VSEA had been delivered to the Department of Human Resources (DHR), requesting impact bargaining with the State in advance of a possible government shutdown, DHR Commissioner Beth Fastiggi was telling VTDigger that her department has had no discussions about DHR’s “role” in a shutdown.
From the story:
Fastiggi did not provide any specifics about what would happen for state employees’ payment or other details.
She said there have not been discussions so far about what DHR’s role would be in the event of a shutdown.
Fastiggi noted that a shutdown is unprecedented, and said it is unclear what a shutdown would look like in the state. She said she was “not going to speculate or talk about” what one might look like.
State Treasurer Pens Strongly Worded Letter To State & Chief Lawmakers, Warning Against A Government Shutdown
State Treasurer Beth Pearce stepped up again for Vermonters, penning a letter on June 12 to the State’s highest official and the Senate Pro Tem and House Speaker, strongly urging all parties to prevent a shutdown.
From Pearce’s letter:
"It is imperative we avoid a government shut down. Vermonters are beginning to ask whether the critical public services they rely on are going to be available come July. Public retirees are questioning whether they will still receive the pensions they earned over a lifetime of service. And state employees are requesting guidance on how a shut down will impact their work, their families and their livelihoods."
“I am appalled and embarrassed that this great state is playing with people’s lives and livelihoods in this budget showdown. I am so incredibly angry that I have to worry about these things after EIGHTEEN YEARS OF LOYAL SERVICE to this state.”
VSEA member Lorri LePage, in a comment to a VSEA Facebook post this week about what a government shutdown would mean to members personally and professionally. The quotes are from a letter LePage shared that she had sent to the State and the
To Discuss Imposed Contract, Possible Shutdown, Janus Lawsuit, Karen O’Neill & Endorsements, To Name A Few Topics
VSEA President Dave Bellini addresses a packed house for Council meeting at Northern
You could feel and hear the strong sense of urgency in the room at the June 12 VSEA Council meeting, as Council members met as a group for the first time since February to discuss a whole host of topics. Here is some of what was discussed:
The July 1 imposition of the State’s last-best-contract-offer on thousands of active and retired VSEA members and what VSEA is doing in advance to try to prevent it, including legal steps, organizing and communications efforts and member actions. Council members were briefed extensively by VSEA General Counsel Tim Belcher and Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley;
The Department of Human Resources’ weak response to VSEA’s letter, requesting impact bargaining in advance of a government shutdown, and VSEA’s commitment to continue seeking answers from any and all State officials with knowledge of how this is all going to go down;
The status of Karen O’Neill and her “neutral” VLRB seat appointment and ways VSEA members and retirees can work with lawmakers to improve the process to allow all parties to be on equal footing, meaning labor having as much influence on VLRB appointments as management appears to have now;
The ramifications of a “bad” Supreme Court ruling in the Janus vs. Illinois lawsuit, and the steps VSEA leaders and staff are taking now to meet the challenge head on, including member education efforts and budget and resource planning; and
A review of the entire list of VSEA 2018 primary election endorsements, allowing Council members to evaluate and weigh-in on the VSEA Legislative Committee and Board’s selections.
In addition to these topics, VSEA Council members also discussed proposed Bylaw changes, Chapter and Unit business and the VSEA Judicial Board, and they heard a wrap-up on the 2018 legislative session (to be amended once session formally adjourns).
VSEA Council members also heard from VSEA President Dave Bellini, Executive Director Steve Howard and Vermont Senate Pro Tem Tim Ashe, who shared his similar frustration with the State’s lack of compromise and lack of answers on many issues, but especially the state budget. He urged VSEA members to turn up the heat on the State in advance of any government shutdown, urging a flood of anti-shutdown calls and emails to the State’s highest official.
Note: VSEA’s Communications Department is applauding VSEA Council members’ use of the group’s closed Facebook group page and the way members are using it to inform, educate and solicit feedback on important union-wide issues.
Awards 2018 Scholarships To Four Lucky Recipients!
At the June 12 VSEA Council meeting at Northern Vermont University, the union’s Awards and Scholarships Committee announced the four winners of a 2018 VSEA $2000 scholarship award. All the winners attended a special ceremony during the Council meeting, and they are each pictured here receiving their award from longtime Awards & Scholarship Committee member Ed Thomas, who hosted the ceremony.
Here are the winners, in alphabetical order:
Allen Charest is the son of VSEA member Ellen Sauer; an Administrative Services Technician with the Agency of Transportation in Wilder, Vermont. Allen has been accepted to Western New England University, where he will major in communications;
Kelly Locke is daughter of VSEA member Richard Locke Sr.; a Warehouse Delivery Specialist with the Department of Liquor Control in Montpelier. Kelley has already been accepted to half a dozen colleges and universities, including Northern Vermont University. She will major in psychology.
Christa Waters is an active VSEA member who currently works for the Department of Vermont Health Access in Essex Junction as a Fair Hearing Specialist. Christa is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Phoenix and wants to continue working in Human Services; and
Katherine Whipple is the daughter of VSEA member Heidi Whipple, an Education Programs Coordinator with the Agency of Education in Barre. Katherine is currently enrolled at University of King’s College in Nova Scotia, where she is studying psychology and contemporary studies.
VSEA congratulates all this year’s winners and notes Ed Thomas’ announcement during the ceremony that this year there were more applications submitted then ever before. Ed added that the committee thought one reason for the increase could be more economic need in the VSEA rank and file, which is never a good thing, but he added it could also be better word-of-mouth and promotion about the scholarship program.
VSEA’s Legislative Committee and Board of Trustees have agreed on dozens of endorsements VSEA will make in the upcoming 2018 primary election in August.
VSEA members and retirees are urged to review the list and educate yourself about the candidates your union has endorsed for their pro-VSEA, pro-worker positions and for their advocacy for state services and the employees who make them work.
VSEA Schedules 2018 “Day At Fenway” Event For August 27
“VSEA Day 2018 at Fenway” has been scheduled and the bus will be headed to Fenway Park on Friday night, August 17, to see the Red Sox battle the Tampa Bay Rays, starting at 7:10 p.m. The cost is $80 per person, which includes a bus ride to and from the park, as well as a ticket to the game.
As in years past, the bus will make 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 joining your union and fellow members at Fenway on August 17, 2018, 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.
Note: Payment must be received before tickets are released, and there is no refund on purchased tickets.
VSEA Creates One-Stop “Janus” Webpage To Educate Members & Retirees About The Expected Ruling & Its Potential Harm
VSEA’s Organizing and Communications Departments created a one-stop webpage where VSEA members and retirees can go to learn more about the Janus vs. Illinois case, which will be decided any day now by the U.S. Supreme Court. All signs point to SCOTUS delivering a bad decision to America’s public-sector workers by ruling that unions representing public-sector workers can no longer collect agency fees. Well known to most union members following this lawsuit is that it was brought forward by a right-to-work advocate and his allies, who want nothing more than to accelerate corporate Americas’ race to the bottom by dealing a massive economic blow to Vermont and all American workers and trampling all over your employment rights as well.
If you haven’t already, begin educating yourself today about what a bad Janus decision means—or supplement what you know already—by clicking here. Please also inform your co-workers about the Janus page and talk with them about what you learned and remind them of the importance of a union in their every day 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.
Organizer’s Worksite Meetings On June 21 In Montpelier!
VSEA Organizer Carmen Scoles is holding a worksite meeting on June 21 with VSEA members working at the National Life complex in Montpelier. Stop by anytime between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. in the complex’s Winooski Conference Room. There will be snacks for members attending.
Members with questions can contact Carmen by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone at 802-223-5247.
VSEA Organizer Danielle Warner is holding a meeting on June 21 with VSEA members working at the City Place Building in Barre. The meeting begins at 12:00 p.m. in the City Place’s Third-Floor Conference Room, located in Barre. There will be snacks for members attending.
Members with questions can contact Danielle by email (email@example.com) or by phone at 802-223-5247.
Organizer’s Worksite Meeting On
June 22 In Montpelier!
VSEA Organizer Carmen Scoles is holding a worksite meeting on June 22 with VSEA members working at the DOL in Montpelier. The meeting begins at 12:00 p.m. in the small UI Conference Room. There will be snacks for members attending.
Members with questions can contact Carmen by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone at 802-223-5247.
In Advance Of Possible Strike, UVM Nurses Holding June 22 Town Hall
Following last weekend’s strike vote by frustrated nurses working at the University of Vermont (UVM) Medical Center, the workers are holding a Town Hall meeting on Friday, June 22, to update the public and press on the status of contract negotiations and talk about the nurses’ next steps and how VSEA members and others can help.
A Town Hall Facebook page describes the event as a place to “come to learn about the issues in negotiations, and how community members can help secure a fair contract and quality patient care at our region’s Level 1 Trauma Center.”
UVM Nurses Town Hall
Friday, June 22
6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Burlington High School Auditorium
Vermont Leads Nation In 2018 Maple Syrup Production
Maine WABI posted a story on June 13 about Vermont being the nation’s largest producer of maple syrup in 2018, collecting 1.9 million gallons of syrup due to what the story says was “Vermont’s longer-than-average maple season” this year. The story notes that the number of taps in maple trees also continues to increase in Vermont.
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.
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.”
VSEA Insurance Benefits Enrollment
WIA was asked by VSEA Insurance BenefitsAdministrator, 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.
ABOUT US: Granite City Group Fitness has two stellar locations in the heart of Barre and Montpelier. Both are centrally located and convenient to access.
We offer a variety of fun and motivational group fitness classes, at convenient times. Granite City Group Fitness offers group fitness classes and personal training.
Our Barre studio offers a variety of classes including SPINNING, Bootcamp, HIIT, Yoga, Zumba, and Spin and Sculpt style classes.
Our Montpelier studio boasts 15 new SPINNER Shift bikes and classes will include SPINNING and Spin & Tone classes. We offer lunch hour classes at both locations so you get a great workout in during your lunch break! These types of classes are preferable for members who are seeking cardio and weight training in the format of high intensity interval training to build toned, lean muscle. This exceptional variety of classes will not only improve the health physical fitness of our members, but also allow them to socialize and form bonds with other members. These types of relationships are motivating and hold members more accountable for their fitness routines. It also makes fitness more enjoyable! We also offer family and kids classes, and do monthly special events.
Our mission is to make fitness affordable, convenient and fun for members of all ages. This market plan and our mixture of exceptional offerings will make Granite City Group Fitness Central Vermont’s number one choice for fitness!
Corporate Membership Pricing: We offer drop in rates, punch cards and memberships. If a minimum 5 employees from the same corporation or workplace sign up for a year membership they will qualify for our corporate rate. The $25 sign on fee will be waived for all members who purchase a corporate rate membership. 1 Year Membership to Barre OR Montpelier: $700.00 OR $58.00 per month EFT (autopay). **Our corporate rate requires a 1 year contracted membership by 5 employees**. 1 Year DUAL Membership for Barre AND Montpelier : $960 or $80 per month (5 or more employees from the same company) **Our corporate require a 1 year commitment, and contracted membership by all 5 employees**.
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.