VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: June 21, 2019

VSEA Arbitration Bill Becomes Law!


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.


Big Win! VSEA’s Arbitration Bill Signed!

VSEA members are cheered news Monday that the Governor  signed VSEA’s bill to restore fairness to the collective bargaining process by using an arbitrator mutually selected by VSEA and the State to resolve future Executive Branch contract-negotiation disputes.

VSEA drafted and championed the legislation in response to the State—prior to the last round of bargaining—appointing someone with a strong management background to a “neutral” seat on the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB), or the body that, until today, had been charged with resolving contract disputes. Now, both VSEA and the State will mutually agree on an arbitrator to make a decision.

“The last round of bargaining with the State left a bad taste in the mouths of VSEA members statewide, knowing the deck had been stacked against us with the appointment of Karen O’Neill to the VLRB,” said VSEA President Dave Bellini after learning the bill was signed. “We are very happy lawmakers heard us, and that the Governor signed the bill. It’s a shame it had to come to this, given the decades of civil and productive bargaining that preceded VSEA needing to take the action we did. With a new round of bargaining with the State coming up soon, hopefully this bill won’t even come into play and we’ll be able to reach a contract agreement without having to use an arbitrator.”

Note: VSEA’s Board of Trustees and Legislative Committee are again thanking every member and retiree who contacted their lawmakers and then the Governor to voice support for this important bill. 

You Can Now Register Online To Attend VSEA’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

Council Meets Next Week! Scholarship Winners Announced!

VSEA Council members at the State House in February 2019

A reminder that the VSEA Council is meeting next on Wednesday, June 26, at Vermont Technical College in Randolph. 

At the meeting, members of VSEA’s Scholarships and Awards Committee will be presenting 2019 VSEA scholarship awards to four lucky recipients.  

Just One Week Remains To Donate To The NMU Sick Leave Bank!

Just one week remains for NMU members 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!

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! 

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

VSEA’s Central Vermont Chapter is inviting Chapter members to attend a “Night At The Ballpark With The VT Mountaineers” on Tuesday, July 23. Tickets for members and their family member(s) 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​

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 

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. 

Food For Thought

RTW is acronym for "Right To Work", just in case. 

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!


"That is huge. That 1982 ruling has been held up over and over again.”

Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at Cornell University, commenting in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this week on a recent and terrible NLRB ruling that restricts workplace communications for union purposes. It reverses a 38-year precedent.


Upcoming Meetings:


Council Meeting 

  • VSEA Council Meeting  
    Wednesday, June 26

    8:30 a.m.
    Vermont Technical College
    124 Admin Drive

    Questions: Contact VSEA First VP Aimee Towne: atowne@vsea.org


Talking Points:


New Study Ranks VT #5 In Nation For Best State Health Care System Performance, But…

Good news, bad news. A new study released this week by The Commonwealth Fund found Vermont to have the nation’s fifth best health care system performance, however, it also found that our state’s premium costs per capita are pretty high. 

View Vermont Summary 
View Full Report

NJ Governor Threatens Gov’t Shutdown Because  Millionaires Tax Not Included In Budget

NJ.com reports Wednesday that New Jersey’s Governor stood side-by-side with state public-sector union leaders earlier in the week to call on state lawmakers to include a millionaire’s tax in the budget being sent soon to the Governor for his signature. If they send him a budget without the tax, which is expected, he is threatening to shut down government.
“To every legislator willing to kick the can down the road instead of picking it up and doing what’s needed right now, I want to be perfectly clear: The pressure to pass a millionaires tax will intensify and not lessen if it is not included in this budget,” warned Gov. Phil Murphy (D). He added, “Tax fairness is not simply a budget issue," he said. “It is an issue of equality, of fairness and of investing in middle-class priorities like education and transportation and healthcare.”

“This is a challenge to the Legislature,” adds Chris Shelton, the national president of the Communication Workers of America, New Jersey’s largest state workers union. “We want to know whose side the Legislature is on.”

Murphy has until the end of the month to negotiate with lawmakers, sign the budget, veto it in whole or in part, or refuse to act. If he doesn’t sign it by the end of the month, he could order a state government shutdown.


The NJ Senate passed its budget late Wednesday, and it did not contain the Governor’s tax on millionaires.

From a report:

Gov. Murphy accused the leaders of replacing a popular tax increase with “voodoo” and “fuzzy math.”

“There are revenues included in your budget that I will have difficulty certifying,” the governor said in a letter to lawmakers Wednesday. 

Article Examines Why UAW Lost In Chattanooga …Again

Last week, WIA reported that workers at a Volkswagen facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, would soon be learning the results of a worker election to join the United Auto Workers of America (UAW). Well, they did on Friday night, but, unfortunately, the vote was 776 to join the UAW  to 833 against.

This week, Labor Notes posted a story, titled, "Why the UAW Lost Again in Chattanooga," which thoroughly examines the UAW’s organizing campaign’s hits and misses, as well as details Volkswagon management’s expensive, corporate, anti-union campaign in advance of the vote. 

From the story:

What went wrong? Most obviously, the 1,700 hourly production workers voting were subject to a brutal employer campaign quite unlike VW’s studied neutral posture in the 2014 drive, which the union lost narrowly.

This time, although Volkswagen continued to claim neutrality, supervisors inside the plant were hell-bent on scaring and cajoling workers into voting no.

Meanwhile outside the plant, workers faced a rerun of the 2014 barrage of pressure. Business-backed astroturf groups flooded the airwaves and television with ads attacking the UAW. The state’s politicians threatened to withdraw support for state incentives tied to an upcoming plant expansion and production of a new electric vehicle.

As terrible as these attacks on workers were, they were also predictable. Why didn’t the union have a plan to defeat them?

30 Years After Launch Of SEIU’s "Justice For Janitors" Campaign, Work Remains To Be Done

Thirty years ago, June 15, a group of 80 southern California janitors peacefully marched to Century City in Los Angeles to protest low wages, dangerous working conditions and lack of benefits. They were met by a large group of LA police, who told the protesters they were to disperse but when they would not (many sitting down on the road), things went south quickly, and it sparked a confrontation that would prompt SEIU to create its "Justice for Janitors" campaign. 

The Mercury News reports this week that JFJ campaign participants and supporters gathered this week to commemorate the Century City protest and talk about the challenges that still exist for janitors to this day. 

“I think this event commemorates 30 years of struggle against very powerful groups by some of the most vulnerable people out there,” says Andrés Quintero, chief of staff for San Jose city Councilwoman Maya Esparza. “It’s their victory that was placed 30 years ago and the struggle has not finished.”

For a detailed description of what happened on June 15 in Century City, check out this excellent paper, authored by a UCLA student and titled "One Industry, One Union, One Contract: How Justice For Janitors Organized The Invisible

This Week:

Big Win! VSEA’s Arbitration Bill Signed!

You Can Now Register Online To Attend VSEA’s 75th Annual Meeting At Okemo

Council Meets Next Week – Scholarship Winners Announced!

Just One Week Remains To Donate To The NMU Sick Leave Bank!

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

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

Defender General Unit Seeking Bargaining Team Members

Next VSEA Steward Training Is July 20!

Food For Thought

AFLAC Enrollment – Sign up through VSEA!




June 26
VSEA Council Meeting 
Vermont Technical College
124 Admin Drive
9:00 a.m.

June 30
Deadline to Contribute to NMU Sick Leave Bank


Talking Points:


New Study Ranks VT #5 In Nation For Best State Health Care System Performance, But…

NJ Governor Threatens Gov’t Shutdown Because  Millionaires Tax Not Included In Budget

Article Examines Why UAW Lost In Chattanooga …Again

30 Years After Launch Of SEIU’s "Justice For Janitors" Campaign, Work Remains To Be Done




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!





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