VSEA Surveying Members About Forming Legal Defense Fund
VSEA sent a survey to members this week to solicit opinions on developing a program to provide legal defense to members who face criminal charges or other civil or administrative challenges arising from actions taken in the course of their employment. The survey email explained that VSEA is reviewing several options, including one that would cover the unlimited costs to defend you in the event of a criminal prosecution or some civil prosecutions arising in the course of your work. The benefit would cost you an additional $4.70 per month, on top of your regular dues.
If you might be interested in such a program, please complete the following survey, which can be found here. Your answers will help VSEA design a program to best meet VSEA members’ needs.
Time Is Now To Self-Nominate For Seat On Corrections Bargaining Team
VSEA members working in Corrections should have received a letter in the mail recently, informing you about the self-nominating process for a seat on your Unit’s Bargaining Team.
Any Corrections Bargaining Unit VSEA member can self-nominate for a seat, and you can also nominate a Unit co-worker(s)* for a seat. In either case, the nominee must work at the specific facility/office in order to represent the seat.
Your form must be received at VSEA no later than 4:00 p.m. on June 30, 2016. Elections, if necessary, will take place in July 2016. Go here to find a form.
Submit the form to: VSEA ERN Committee, 155 State Street VT. 05602
Important Notice! VSEA Union Representative Territories Have Changed!
New Approach To Pair Union Reps With Specific Agencies/Departments
VSEA Organizing Director Vinnie O’Connor and Field Services Director Gretchen Naylor announced last week, via email to all members, that, beginning Monday, May 23, VSEA’s six Union Representatives were reassigned to specific state agencies and departments, as opposed to regions and territories, which has been the practice.
Here is a list of the new Union Representative assignments:
Health Access Eligibility Unit
Department of Aging & Independent Living
Department of Health
Department of Mental Health
Department of Vermont Health Access
Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital
Vermont Veterans’ Home
State Colleges’ Unit
Supervisory Unit (except AOT)
Department of Corrections (North)
Department of Public Safety (North) – Civilian
Sworn Law Enforcement (North)
Williston 911 Dispatch
Buildings & General Services
Criminal Justice Training Center
Department of Corrections (South)
Department of Liquor Control
Department of Liquor Control Warehouse
Department of Public Safety (South)
Emergency 911 Board
Rockingham 911 Dispatch
Sworn Law Enforcement (South)
Agency of the Administration
Agency of Agriculture
Agency of Commerce and Community Development
Agency of Education
Agency of Human Services (Central)
Agency of Natural Resources
Department for Children & Families
Department of Financial Regulation
Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (Civilian)
Department of Innovation & Information
Department of Labor
Department of Libraries
Department of Taxes
Green Mountain Care Board
Public Service Board
Secretary of State’s Office
Dave Van Deusen
Agency of Transportation
Agency of Transportation Supervisors
Department of Motor Vehicles (Except Sworn Law Enforcement)
Office of the Defender General
Vermont State Housing Authority
VSEA Policies Available Online
Wondering about a VSEA policy and want to look it up online? Now you can.
VSEA’s website now has a page listing your union’s governing policies, and members with “member-only” website access can review any or all of them by clicking here.
Again, note that in order to view the policies on www.vsea.org, you must first be a registered user of the union’s website, which will then grant you “member-only” status. If you are not a registered user of VSEA’s website, you can click here to sign up today. If you are not a registered user, you will receive an “Access Denied” message when trying to view the updates.
Threatened While On The Job? VSEA Wants To Know.
VSEA President Dave Bellini is asking all state employees who are threatened while performing your job duties to provide an account of the threat not only to your supervisor or the State, but also to VSEA.
“VSEA wants to begin to compile its own record of threats against frontline state employees, no matter your occupation,” explains Bellini. “I’m asking all employees who are threatened, especially those working in AHS, to take a few minutes to fill out an online form VSEA made to collect your report. The information will help us provide a firsthand account of the number of threats being made and where they are being made, in addition to some other things.”
Judiciary Bargaining Team Concludes Third Day Of Fact Finding
VSEA’s Judiciary Unit Bargaining Team wrapped up a third day of contract fact finding on June 16, and there is going to be yet a fourth day of the process in early August. After fact-finding is complete, there is a 30-day waiting period (could be less) while the fact finder reviews both sides’ arguments and proposals and then issues a final report that details his conclusions. Unfortunately, it does appear that the Judiciary Team is headed down the same path in its negotiations with the Court Administrator as the Non-Management, Corrections and Supervisory Units, but more will be known after the fact finder’s report is published. As VSEA members know, if the two sides are still unable to come to agreement on the terms and conditions outlined in the fact-finder’s report, the next step is a visit to the Vermont Labor Relations Board, where the NMU, Corrections and Supervisory Teams prevailed.
Non-Management Unit Seeks Nominations For Bargaining Team Seats!
NMU Chair Michelle Salvador is letting Unit members know that now is the time to begin thinking about submitting your name to run for a seat on the NMU Bargaining Team. The formal nominating process for officer positions will be conducted at VSEA’s Annual Meeting on September 10. NMU members who are unable to attend Annual Meeting on September 10, but who wish to be nominated for an NMU Bargaining Team seat, can submit a letter of intent to the NMU Clerk no later than 5 days prior to Annual Meeting.
Go here to see a list of current Team members and the specific seats (i.e. AOT, Patient Care, Health Services, etc.) each hold.
Send nomination to:
VSEA NMU Clerk
155 State Street
VSEA Brattleboro Chapter President Robin Rieske asked WIA to remind Chapter members that your next scheduled meeting is Thursday, June 23, beginning at 12:30 p.m. Robin says, “Come learn about the outcome to our new contracts and grab some pizza. It’s ok if you can only stay a short time.” The meeting is in Room 148 of the State Office Building, located at 232 Main Street.
St. Johnsbury Chapter President Soliciting Interest In Discounted Caledonia County Fair Tickets
VSEA St. Johnsbury/NEK Chapter President Ellen Hinman is exploring the idea to offer discounted tickets to the Caledonia County Fair (held August 24 to 28 this year) as the Chapter’s “Employee Appreciation Day” event. The cost of an admission ticket, good any day, would be $6 for Chapter members and their immediate family. The Chapter would purchase tickets in advance, and they could be picked up by members at our next Chapter meeting on August 17.
The Chapter needs to get an idea of how many tickets it should purchase, so if you are interested in purchasing discounted tickets, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 802-535-9366 with your name and the number of tickets you might purchase.
Please let Ellen know if you would be interested by the end of the day, Thursday, June 30, 2016.
VSEA Springfield Chapter Holds Employee Appreciation Day Event
VSEA Springfield Chapter President Joey Holmes (pictured here) helped staff a table today at an Employee Appreciation Day event the Chapter hosted today. Springfield Chapter members were invited to stop by and pick up a gift, ask any questions they might have and allow VSEA to say thanks for their service to Vermont.
Discounted 2016 Great Escape / Splashwater Kingdom Day Tickets Now Available At
Online Ordering Coming Soon!
Park Open Now!
2016 Regular Day Tickets: $34.60 each
Discount tickets will be available soon for to purchase online. In order to access VSEA’s designated Great Escape page—which also includes the required VSEA username and password—you will have to be a registered “member-only” VSEA website user (you can sign up here!).
Please note that there will be a service charge for purchasing online.
VSEA does have tickets available for members to pick today up at headquarters, and there is no service charge attached. If interested, please contact Doug Gibson by email: email@example.com
The online purchase option will be available within a few days. Technical issues have delayed its launch.
Are You Able To Use All Your Paid Leave This Year? Most American Workers Aren’t. Having A Union Matters.
A story posted to the website MarketWatch reports that more than half of Americans (55%) did not use all their paid vacation days in 2015, which is up from 42% in 2013. This is the first time a survey by the U.S. Travel Association has found a majority of workers not using all their vacation time.
What is a major difference between workers being able to use their vacation, versus not being able to? Union representation, of course. According to the story, “Most U.S. companies have an ‘employment-at-will’ policy, meaning they can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, unless they have a written contract, they’re in a labor union that has other rules relating to conditions of employment or they’re fired because of some kind of discrimination.”
Just as bad, 61% of Americans report working while on vacation, even when a family member openly complains.
Michigan Lawmaker Calls For Privatized Work At State Veterans’ Home To Be Returned To State Employees
The website MichiganLive posted a story on June 13 about a hearing conducted to guage progress on addressing numerous issues at a Michigan Veterans Home, where a decision was made in 2013 to lay off 140 unionized state workers at the facility to make way for a private firm to do the work. Now, some lawmakers are regretting the decision, especially after a recent audit of the home found that the private firm’s workers “falsely claimed they were checking on patients after being alerted of possible falls, failed to properly investigate allegations of abuse and neglect, and took too long to fill prescriptions. The audit also identified inadequate staffing levels.”
The article continues:
“State Rep. Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, thinks the state workers should come back.
‘If we have jobs that are worth investing time and effort to develop a career around, then it makes a lot more sense that we are going to get good caregivers committed to the guys here,’ Brinks said. ‘The guys have said to me on many occasions, ‘Look, not all the government workers were good, but they showed up and they knew what they were doing. What I think is most disturbing is we are persistently still hearing these problems. We’re not saving money. Even if we are, at what cost? Is it really worth it if we have veterans going through (what we’re hearing today)?"
Note: WIA will continue to highlight this story and others about failed privatization efforts by states to “save money.” The Veterans’ Home story is especially pertinent, given some lawmakers and politicians seemingly never-ending mission to turn Vermont’s Vets’ Home services over to a private contractor(s).
VSEA Labor Educator Announces Summer Trainings – Four Open To All
VSEA Labor Educator Tim Lenoch asked WIA to announce a new round of trainings he has scheduled throughout the summer 2016. If you are interested in registering to attend one or more trainings, you can do so by clicking here. Please direct your training questions to Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are four trainings open to all members, please invite folks who may be interested:
One of the items being prepared for members attending this year’s VSEA Annual Meeting in Killington is a reprint of a 1984 document titled “A Brief Chronology of the VSEA 1944 – 1984,” which was created in 1984 by the VSEA History Committee. In the coming weeks, WIA will be sharing snippets from the book with members.
Here’s the entry in the booklet from 1983:
“Health Department employees retain their jobs after a ‘contracting out’ battle begun in 1982 is won. The State budget deficit prompts a special legislative session. VSEA lobbyists address unacceptable legislative suggestions of laying off a large number of State employees and/or reducing the previously bargained and agreed upon salary increase. Membership involvement is increased in many VSEA decision making areas, including ad hoc committees to advise the non-management bargaining team. Stewards training is re-designed and re-instituted. The Bargaining Teams begin what will prove to be the longest and most difficult round of bargaining. In November, the Governor orders managers to ‘get tougher’ on performance evaluations. The involuntary transfer of a 19-year veteran Game Warden sparks another VSEA challenge.”