VSEA is holding its all-members-invited Annual Meeting on Saturday, September 9, at the Stoweflake Resort in Stowe, Vt. This year’s meeting, your union’s 73rd, is an important one, as it’s being held just after a new round of bargaining is scheduled to start with the State and in advance of October’s expected federal budget cuts, which could adversely impact many public services. Members attending Annual Meeting will also be the first to hear the results of the officer elections that VSEA will be conducting in the coming weeks.
Reminder postcards about Annual Meeting are being mailed soon to all members. All those who want to attend must register and reserve a room(s) by Tuesday, August 8.
Friday night, September 8, there is a dinner banquet followed by an ADULTS ONLY dance – “Flashback to the 50’s & 60’s”. Members are urged to come dressed in their best 50’s or 60’s attire and dance to the music of DJ, Allen Brown. Allen is a former VSEA member and AOT Employee. Prizes will be awarded for the best 50’s and 60’s costume. Have your picture taken in the photo booth by Emile.
Vermont Auditor’s Office Finds DHR’s Failure To Resolve Cases Of Alleged “Employee Misconduct” In A Timely Manner Is Costing State A Lot Of Money
Less than a year after the Auditor’s Office publicly reprimanded the Department of Human Resources (DHR) for not conducting proper evaluations of its own employees, DHR is again being flagged this year by the Auditor’s Officer for too often failing to resolve cases of alleged “employee misconduct” in a timely manner. According to the Auditor’s report, some of the DHR delays are costing the State hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, because the employee who has been placed on “temporary relief from duty” is being paid while out, but his or her investigation remains unresolved well after the contract’s 30- or 60-day suggested timeline has been exceeded.
"In general, [State Auditor Doug] Hoffer found that record-keeping is ‘kind of hit or miss.’ Some records are digitized, and others exist only on paper.
"At the end of the investigative process, the outcome is recorded, but no attempt is made to justify or explain it. Why one person is exonerated while another is suspended or even terminated, we simply don’t know.
"In addition, in about 10 percent of investigations, there is no recorded resolution. Or, as Hoffer puts it, ‘We identified instances where stuff just got lost in the shuffle.’”
"Hoffer says [DHR’s] lack of consistency and transparency leaves state employees in the dark. ‘They don’t trust the system,’ he says. As a result, many employees are reluctant to report instances of misconduct for fear of retaliation, he says."
The Auditor’s report covers the period 2014 to 2016, and Hoffer tells the Times Argus that the State paid nearly $3 million in salary and benefits in this period to employees who were on paid leave status pending investigations.
VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard substantiated the Auditor’s findings in VTDigger, telling the reporter simply, “It takes far too long. It shouldn’t take as long as it does.”
With Renewed Calls For Budget Belt Tightening, Time For An Accounting Of What’s Been Done To Address Recent Audits Showing Millions Of Dollars Being Drained From Vermont
In the past few years, the State Auditor’s Office has consistently been performing what one would believe are some pretty illuminating audits, some finding millions of dollars being drained from Vermont’s coffers with little to no accounting for how the money is being spent and what the results have been to date. This is important, especially with the State’s new mandate to departments and agencies to cut another 2% to 4% from operating budgets.
This summer, if you run into one of your local legislators or a State official, ask him or her what’s been done—is being done—to collect the millions of lost taxpayer dollars identified in some of these recent audits from the Auditor’s Office:
Auditor’s Report Finds DOC’s Inmate Health Care "Cost-Plus" Contract Is Costing State Millions More Than Expected
From Feb. 1, 2010, through Jan. 31, 2013, the state paid CCS $53.3 million to provide health care services to roughly 1,500 inmates incarcerated at in-state facilities — $4.2 million over what the state had budgeted.
Auditor Slams State’s Failure To Track Social Service Contracts
In fiscal year 2013, AHS departments paid $246 million to 11 organizations, known as Designated Agencies, to provide a range of services to adults with mental illness, young people with severe emotional disturbances, and people with developmental disabilities.
Half of the payments were based on inclusive rates, or payments for a group of services over a set period. The performance audit found that while the state monitors “many facets of the agencies’ performance, they don’t generally compare the services budgeted to those actually performed” as part of inclusive rate contracts.
Auditor’s Office Releases Audit Harsh Of State’s "Sole-Source" Contracting Practices
Audit finds that even though the State has required a competitive bidding process when contracting with private vendors for more than 20 years, it’s “commonplace” for the State to award “sole-source” (a.k.a. “no-bid”) contracts. The total amount awarded through no-bid contracts for 2015 was $68 million, or 27 percent of all.
Ski Area Leases Of State Land Badly Outdated, Auditor Finds
Vermont’s ski industry has outgrown the terms of decades-old leases of state land that were designed to help resorts grow and now result in lucrative deals for booming resorts, a state audit has found.
Auditor Identifies Data Collection Problems At Tax Department
The Tax Department collected just half of all delinquent income taxes in 2013 and 2014. The audit found that $12.9 million of the $22.5 million owed was collected. An additional $7.2 million in other accounts was also still owed, as of July 2016.
Audit: Public Defender Fees Mostly Go Uncollected
Judiciary is collecting less than a third of the $3.1 million in court-ordered assessments for public defender services due between January 2012 and December 2014.
Audit Finds DCF Beneficiary Fraud
Nearly $1.8 million is owed to DCF due to fraud committed by beneficiaries between January 2013 and April 2016.
Auditor: Millions Of Dollars Later, VITL’s Impact Not Measurable
State pays private contractor VITL $38 million, but whether or not this was money well spent cannot be determined.
Auditor: State Paid Workers $3m During Misconduct Probes
In two concurrent reviews, the auditor’s office found that the state has paid out more than necessary to keep employees on leave while they are investigate.
Note: Demand an accounting VSEA! Vermonters deserve one before allowing lawmakers and the State to begin cutting public services and jobs—again, or asking frontline employees for concessions—again.Thanks for the help and please let VSEA know what the response to your inquiry is.
Central Vermont Chapter Schedules Employee Appreciation Day & Chapter Meeting
VSEA’s Central Vermont Chapter is holding an Employee Appreciation Day event on Thursday, July 13, on the State House lawn in Montpelier. There will be free ice cream for Chapter members. The event begins at 11:30 a.m. and ends at 1:30 p.m.
The Central Vermont Chapter has also scheduled its next meeting for Tuesday, July 25, at the Steak House Restaurant, located at 1239 U.S. Route 302 in Barre. The meeting begins at 5:00 p.m., and Chapter President Cassandra Edson is requesting members RSVP, if possible, by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
VSEA Officer Candidate Petitions Due July 11
The deadline to submit a petition to run for one of four VSEA Officer posts is 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 11. Members simply download a petition, collect the required signatures and then submit their petition to VSEA to place their name into nomination for one of the five union officer positions up for election in 2017. The positions are:
First Vice President
Second Vice President
Note: VSEA candidates for all positions are required to submit a petition bearing no fewer than 25 VSEA members’ names, signatures and employee number.
Are You Running? Look For ERN Email!
VSEA’s Elections, Rules and Nominating (ERN) Committee will be sending an email soon to all candidates running for an officer post who have successfully completed the petition phase. The email will include information about your petition and guidelines for your candidate statement, which the candidate writes for inclusion in the official Annual Meeting WARN. Candidate statements are due to the ERN Committee by noon, July 14, 2017.
If you filed a petition but do not receive the ERN’s email, please contact VSEA Operations Director Ray Stout immediately at 802-223-5247.
VSEA Says Goodbye To Labor Educator Tim Lenoch & Hello To New Organizer David Oppenheimer
Labor Educator / Organizer Tim Lenoch (left) and VSEA’s new organizor David Oppenheimer (right)
VSEA said goodbye this week to Labor Educator / Organizer Tim Lenoch, who is leaving to travel abroad with his wife and family. Tim was recognized by union leadership for helping to grow VSEA’s membership, for providing frontline VSEA stewards with the skills and knowledge they need and for educating so many VSEA members about their contractual rights.
VSEA thanks Tim for his service and wishes him and his family all the best in their future endeavors.
VSEA is also pleased to announce that David Oppenheimer has been hired to be a new VSEA Organizer. David, a recent UVM graduate, has spent most of his young career working on various political and issue campaigns, primarily here in Vermont.
“I believe union access and participation is a key component of widening the reach of our state’s economic prosperity,” says Oppenheimer. “Unions promote safe work environments, fair wages, and workers’ rights. It is critically important that all state workers have the opportunity to benefit from membership in a strong union.”
VSEA All-Member Appreciation Day Event Is July 29!
VSEA’s Membership Recruitment Committee is inviting VSEA members from across the state to attend a special “All-Member Appreciation Day” event on Saturday, July 29, at Elmore State Park off Route 12 in Elmore.
VSEA will fire up the barbeque at noon, and members are welcome to spend the day enjoying the lake, hiking trails or any of the park’s other outdoor activities.
Note: WIA was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Lamoille Valley’s Chapter Annual Meeting at Lake Elmore in 2016, and the setting is gorgeous and there are a lot of activities for people of all ages. Nice place to spend a day.
VSEA’s Special Events 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 banquet on
September 9 in Stowe.
Did You Receive Your Electronic Ballot To Vote In Upcoming VSEA Trustee Election?
All eligible VSEA members (except those who requested a paper ballot) should have received an email June 20 from email@example.com containing your electronic ballot to vote in the VSEA Trustees’ election. “Eligible” member refers to whether or not the member belongs to one of the Units where a seat is being contested or belongs to a Chapter in a region where a vote is being conducted (i.e. District 4 seat represents Chittenden, Addison and the Franklin/Grand Isle region, so VSEA members belonging to the Chittenden, Addison and Franklin/Grand Isle Chapters should have received a ballot).
Very important! Your electronic ballot was sent to both the home and work email address that VSEA currently has on file for you. If you do not recall receiving an email from firstname.lastname@example.org on June 20, please look in your “Other” or “Spam” folders before contacting headquarters to request that your ballot be reissued.
Reminder: VSEA is sending ballots to members’ home and work email address, provided the union has your correct home and work email address. This is a big reason why WIA is constantly soliciting members to contact VSEA with your updated email address. You can update your contact information here anytime.
VSEA Insurance Benefits Enrollment
In South Burlington and Colchester
Learn More Or Schedule An Appointment Today!
By Appointment Only:
VSEA Insurance Representative Joanne Woodcock will be at the following locations to talk with interested VSEA members about member-only insurance benefits.
South Burlington DMV
12:00 to 4:00
4 Market Street
Woodside Juvenile Rehab Center
12:00 to 4:00
26 Woodside Drive
July 11 and 12
12:00 to 4:00
7 Farrell Street
South Burlington, VT
Receive information on disability coverage, family life insurance, family accident, cancer and hospital coverage. You must be a member paying full dues to be eligible for this VSEA benefit. If you are an agency-fee payer, Joanne can provide you information about signing up for full membership.
All applications need to be taken in person.
Email Joanne@ vseainsurance.com for an appointment. Please provide your age, hourly wage and job description so I can send a quote BEFORE we meet.
13. New Hampshire
46. New York
Subscribe To VSEA Today!
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.
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We want to know what you think of VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter or if there is anything we could be doing better.
Independence Day Holiday
Most State Offices & VSEA Closed
Corrections Unit Bargaining Team Meeting
Supervisory Unit Bargaining Team Meeting
Board Of Trustees Meeting
Newport / Island Pond Chapter Meeting
Wayne’s Snack Bar
1688 Vermont 105
Central Vermont Chapter Employee Appreciation Day Event
State House Lawn
11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Read Contracts Online At VSEA.org
VSEA members belonging to the Non-Management, Corrections, Judiciary, Defender General and Supervisory Units can click here to view your contract. All these contracts expire on June 30, 2018.
Quote of The Week!
“We don’t produce widgets. We provide services. And people have to be well trained, they have to be well managed, and this is about making sure that the workplace is productive and effective.”
Vermont State Auditor Doug Hoffer, explaining to VPR the importance of a recent audit by his office that found the Department of Human Resources is sometimes guilty of paying employees placed on “temporary relief from duty” for “employee misconduct” long past the suggested period to perform an investigation and reach a conclusion.
Are Required Emergency Drills Happening Where You Work?
With the recent bomb threat at the State Office Building in St. Albans, VSEA wants to find out if the State of Vermont is following BGS emergency-situation protocol where you work.
The protocol on BGS’ website reads:
"All owned and leased State Office Buildings occupied by State employees will practice a minimum of (1) evacuation fire drill every year and (1) Active Shooter and hostile intruder drill at least every two years. A record of these emergency drills should be recorded in the EML by the designated ECM on the day of the drill. The Safety Committees will coordinate drills with their respective sites. The Safety Committees shall meet within (14) days after the drills to discuss, critique, and analyze the drill."
VSEA wants to know if the proper training is occurring at your workplace and when it occurred last. Also, if you are unaware of this protocol, that’s not good and VSEA wants to know this as well and also where you work.
Please send an email with your input to VSEA at email@example.com. Write" Protocol Status" in the subject line.
VSEA Legislative Team’s 2017 Legislator Scorecard
At the June 13 Council meeting, VSEA Legislative Committee Chairperson Margaret Crowley provided a comprehensive overview of this year’s legislative session, highlighting VSEA’s many wins at the State House. Part of Crowley’s presentation also included the distribution of a scorecard, providing each Vermont legislator’s “right or wrong” vote on the following bills important to VSEA members:
State’s Attorneys Office Collective Bargaining;
Beck Amendment To Interfere With Teachers’ Right To Bargain Health Care;
Agenda Released For August 18 VSEA “Steward Summit.” Register Today!
In an effort to better educate frontline worksite Stewards about their role in VSEA, as well as provide them with enhancements to their existing skill set, VSEA’s Field Department is hosting a series of “Steward Summits” across Vermont this year.
VSEA Stewards are learning the latest developments relating to contract enforcement and receiving an overview of the budget, safety and health and other challenges that lie ahead for state employees. Stewards attending are being asked to immediately help out by taking some of what they learn back to the worksite to educate their colleagues.
Three, six-hour trainings remain, and every current VSEA Steward is required to attend one session.
Here is the agenda released for the August 18 summit in Waterbury at the Best Western Hotel:
8:30 a.m. – Registration & Breakfast
9:00 a.m. – Welcome & Introductions
9:30 a.m. to Noon – Grievances (Learning the Basics) or Safety & Health
1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. – Role of Steward in an Investigation or Organizing (Member Recruitment)
2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Bullying in the Workplace
Future Steward Summits (all 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) are scheduled for:
October 20 – Hotel Coolidge, 39 South Main St., White River Junction
November 3 – Holiday Inn, 476 Holiday Drive, Rutland
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.”
If you are a state employee who is threatened on the job, please click here to find the online report form, which will remain confidential, unless otherwise approved by you.
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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If Searching For Child Care, Don’t Forget This Important Resource For State Employees
Longtime VSEA member, now retiree, Dave Clark has served on VSEA’s Child and Elder Care Committee for many years, and he recently asked WIA to remind state employees about an important child-care resource that is currently available to them.
“The Committee has noticed a recent decline in employees’ usage of the valuable child-care resources available to them, so we asked WIA to help us remind VSEA members about what is available,” explains Clark.
Last fall, VSEA’s Membership Recruitment Committee launched a “Membership Engagement and Recruitment Initiative” to grow the union’s ranks. The Committee asked members to talk with current agency-fee payers about the benefits of full-fledged membership and why the member should make the switch. If the member decides to upgrade their membership, the recruiting member will have the satisfaction of knowing they helped their union become stronger, but, in addition, the Membership Recruitment Committee will be awarding different levels of prizes to members, based on the number of new VSEA members recruited.
Here are the guidelines to participate and be eligible for a prize:
Whether submitting your recruited member(s) name(s)on a physical recruitment card or online, you must include your name as the recruiter;
Every member who recruits a new member will has his or her name entered into a drawing for the Grand Prize. The winner’s name will be drawn at VSEA’s Annual Meeting in September 2017, and the winner must be present to claim the prize;
Team entries are being accepted. Please register with Membership Recruitment Committee Chair Katelyn Chase by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members who recruit a new member, who then agrees to join your union’s political awareness committee (VTPAC) will receive an additional chance to win the Grand Prize, and
The cut-off date for this competition is August 30, 2017.
Here are the different prize levels:
$10 gift card and a VSEA water bottle (75 prizes awarded)
$25 gift card and a VSEA hat
(40 prizes awarded)
$50 gift card and a VSEA tote bag
(15 prizes awarded)
$100 and a VSEA vest
(8 prizes awarded)
1 Grand Prize of $1200
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