VLRB Grants VSEA Bargaining Teams A New Hearing On Contract
In case you missed it, VSEA sent the following message to members and retirees on June 19:
VSEA received some very welcome news this morning when the union was notified by Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB) Chair Tim Noonan that the Board has granted VSEA’s request to present oral argument on our Motion to Reconsider the VLRB’s March 30 decision in favor of the State’s last-best-contract-offer. This means the VLRB is taking VSEA seriously and is giving union Bargaining Teams another chance to argue their case, which is more than VSEA members and retirees had a week ago. Remember, implementation of the State’s last best offer is coming fast.
VSEA Contract Oral Argument @ VLRB
Thursday, July 12
13 Baldwin Street
In advance of an anticipated government shutdown on July 1, 2018, VSEA’s Council and the VSEA Board of Trustees are calling the VSEA Council to Montpelier for an important meeting to discuss strategy and next steps in the event of a shutdown. The meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Montpelier.
The Board of Trustees and the Council are VSEA’s two primary governing bodies.
VSEA members, retirees and supporters should check VSEA’s Facebook page, website, etc. to learn what action steps the Board and Council decide to take and how you can contribute to your union’s campaign to stop a shutdown.
VSEA Bargaining Teams Meeting With DHR On Tuesday To Discuss Shutdown
It took a while, but the Department of Human Resources finally responded on Wednesday to a June 7 request from VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley and three Bargaining Teams to meet to discuss how a government shutdown will work. The meeting will take place on Tuesday, June 26, beginning at 9:00 a.m.
Here’s another reminder of the primary issues for clarification that Hoadley and the Bargaining Teams will bring to the table on Tuesday:
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.
Note: Check the VSEA Facebook page, website and your email on June 26 for a summary of what comes out of Tuesday’s important meeting.
Lip Service? State Officials Tell Workers Not To Worry About A Shutdown
In a poorly conceived effort to try to tamp down state employee and retiree anxiety about a potential state government shutdown on July 1, VTDigger reports on June 22 that agency and department heads began sending out emails and memorandums this week, advising anyone concerned about a shutdown not to worry.
"I encourage you to be skeptical of the political and media noise about a shutdown,” Tax Commissioner Kaj Sampson wrote to his workers. “Everyone has Vermont’s best interest at heart and in the end I really believe there will be a way to avoid to avoid the shutdown,” AOT Secretary Joe Flynn told his. But VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard tells VTDiggerthat the union is not content to rely on lip service from State officials, saying “Unfortunately for the people for whom this game is being played, whether or not they get a paycheck on July 5 is not something they can’t worry about."
demands to meet immediately, discuss the issues, get answers for its members, and be provided with requested information.”
VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley in a letter this week to the Department of Human Resources, again demanding to meet about a shutdown. DHR finally did respond, and VSEA’s Bargaining Teams will be meeting with DHR on June 26.
Monday’s House Vote To Override Budget Veto Fails By 5 Votes
House Republicans voted as a block on Monday to prevent an override of the State’s budget veto. Because there were no GOP defections, the vote was 90-51 to override, but, sadly, that is still 5 measly votes short of the 2/3 needed to spare Vermonters a lot of pain come July 1.
After the vote, VSEA identified 33 Republican House members who switched their May “yay” vote on a budget to a “nay” vote in June. You can view the list of House flip floppers here.
VSEA thanks it members, retirees and supporters for your recent calls to targeted GOP lawmakers, who obviously care more about partisan politics than they do about the well being of Vermont and Vermonters.
VSEA General Counsel’s Commentary Warns Of
Harm From Government Shutdowns, Pointing To What Happened In Maine
VSEA General Counsel Tim Belcher wrote an excellent commentary, warning against government shutdowns, which posted to VTDigger on June 21. Belcher, who was General Counsel for SEIU Local 1989 in Maine before coming to work at VSEA a few years back, cites what happened in Maine when the government shut down—and not just once.
Here’s an excerpt:
“I worked in Maine as a union lawyer for the state workers before moving to Vermont, to take the same job. I’ve had a front-row seat to watch two state shutdowns and one near miss. I understand exactly what the [State] means when [it] talks about “leverage.” Gov. John McKernan shut Maine state government down in 1991 to force the Democratic Legislature to gut the state’s workers’ compensation system.”
Sitting VLRB Members Write To State, Urging It To Obey Statute (Unlike What Happened With Karen O’Neill) When Appointing To Fill Two Current Vacancies
VSEA’s case against the State for failing to follow statute when appointing Karen O’Neill to fill a "neutral" seat on the Vermont Labor Relations Board got a boost on June 19 when two sitting VLRB members wrote to the state’s top official to remind him that "labor organizations" must be consulted in the appointment process, not just one labor union, as was the case with Ms. O’Neill.
"When a vacancy on the Board arose last fall, upon the resignation of a Board member with a neutral background, the Labor Board Review Panel had to be convened to present nominees to you to fill the vacancy. The Commissioner of Labor contacted Jeffrey Wimette of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and asked him to serve as a Labor Representative on the Review Panel. The Commissioner subsequently appointed Mr. Wimette. The Commissioner received input from one labor organization before appointing Mr. Wimette to the Review Panel, even though statute requires that names be provided by labor organizations. The Review Panel as constituted with Mr. Wimette as Labor Representative subsequently submitted nominees to you to fill the vacancy, and you appointed Karen O’Neill from these nominees as a Board member with a neutral background to fill the vacancy."
"It is our understanding that the Labor Board Review Panel is now considering nominees and applicants for the Board member appointments awaiting action with no changes having been made with respect to the Labor Representative on the Review Panel. We are concerned that the legitimacy of any future appointments made to the Labor Relations Board may be questioned under this present arrangement because the Labor Representative has not been appointed to the Review Panel from names provided by "labor organizations" as required by 3 V.S.A. 921 (a)(1). The statutory language is the plural, explicitly requiring input from more than one labor organization before appointing the Labor Representative to the Review Panel. We raise this concern now so that a correction consistent with statutory direction may be made prior to any further Board appointments. It would be detrimental to the credibility and effectiveness of the Board, as well as unfair to the person appointed as the Board member, if uncertainty exists as to the legitimacy of the appointment. The possibility of future appeals of Board decisions based on this issue needs to be avoided. The impartiality, and appearance of impartiality. of the Board is of fundamental importance and can be promoted with this correction."
State Reach Agreement On Executive Branch’s Use Of Temporary Employees
VSEA and the State reached a mediated settlement this week to a legal challenge to gain a better understanding of how the Executive Brach is using temporary employees. The agreement increases the State’s transparency by ensuring VSEA will receive monthly reports from the Department of Human Resources (DHR) that identify temp positions and provide sufficient detail to permit VSEA to monitor compliance with the law and promptly challenge violations. The new data should also help VSEA provide concrete and detailed facts to both the public and the legislature about the State’s use of temporary employees and aid in the drafting of any legislative improvements that may be needed.
The settled case was based on a VSEA FOIA, seeking temporary employee requests made in 2017 for 2016. After analyzing the records provided, VSEA filed a request to the DHR Commissioner to reconsider 61 requests by agencies or departments for waivers of statute’s 1,240- hour cap for temps. That request was denied in late 2017, and VSEA’s legal team promptly filed an appeal and unfair labor practice charge. After some initial discovery, both parties agreed to mediate the case.
VSEA did receive some anecdotal evidence yesterday that its challenge has already had some positive impact on the use of temporary employees in the Executive Branch. The new monthly data should allow VSEA to police this process effectively and in a timely way.
This settlement is one step in a long-term strategy that may require additional litigation, legislation, or other union responses. It represents significant and hard-earned progress, but not an end to this work.
Judiciary Temp ULP
VSEA is continuing to prosecute an unfair labor practice against the Judiciary for misclassifying an individual employee as a temporary employee. In that case, the employee contacted VSEA immediately after she resigned to work for another employer. She had worked in a bargaining unit classification for years, under terms that don’t qualify as “temporary” under any definition, let alone the Judiciary’s own policies.
VSEA Elections, Rules & Nominating Committee Reminds Members To Vote In Four Board Of Trustees’ Elections
Deadline to vote is August 1!
Members of VSEA’s ERN Committee asked WIA to share this letter:
As many of you know, there are four elections going on right now for seats on the VSEA Board of Trustees (NMU, Judicial, District 3 and District 6). This is a reminder that ballots for these elections were issued Friday, June 15, at 8:00 a.m. All members who are eligible to vote in one or more of these elections should have received an electronic ballot(s) from “Simply Voting” in your primary email (a.k.a. home email, unless VSEA does not have a home email for you, then we use your work email). All email providers filter mail differently, so if you did not see the ballot in your primary mail box please do a keyword search of “all mail boxes” for “Simply Voting” or “elector” and this should bring up your e-ballot. If you are unable to locate your ballot, VSEA can have Simply Voting re-issue the ballot. Your unique ID ensures you can only vote once per election.
To request a new ballot, or have your ballot sent to a new email address, please email Ray Stout at VSEA at Rstout@vsea.org. Voting in any of these elections closes on August 1, 2018, and, until then, members will be receiving weekly reminders to vote, including a voting link.
In the past few years, VSEA and the ERN Committee decided to make the switch to electronic balloting, and, to date, it’s been successful, evidenced by a member-participation rate that has nearly doubled.
Members, of course, have the option to opt-out of electronic balloting and receive a standard paper ballot via US Mail. You can request a paper ballot be sent in future elections by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “paper ballot.”
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.”
Organizer’s Worksite Meeting On June 26 In Rutland!
VSEA Organizer David Oppenheimer is holding a meeting on June 26 with VSEA members working at the Rutland Probation & Parole Office, located at 92 State Street. The meeting begins at 2:00 p.m. in the P&P meeting room.
Organizer’s Worksite Meetings On June 27 In Bennington!
VSEA Organizer Danielle Warner is holding two meetings on June 27 with VSEA members working at the Vermont Veterans’ Home in Bennington. The first meeting begins at 11:00 a.m. in the Home’s Crispe Room, and the second meeting begins at 1:00 p.m. in the same room. 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 28 In White River Junction!
VSEA Organizer David Oppenheimer is holding a meeting on June 28 with VSEA members working at the State Office Complex’s First-Floor Conference Room in White River Junction, located at 118 Prospect Street. The meeting begins at 12:00 p.m., and there will be pizza for those attending.
Employee Appreciation Day Event
June 29 In Burlington!
There will be an Employee Appreciation Day event on June 29 for VSEA members working at the State Office Building in Burlington and the surrounding area. The event begins at 11:00 a.m. in Conference Room 1A at 108 Cherry Street. There will be giveaways for VSEA members attending.
Members with questions can contact VSEA Organizer Danielle Warner by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone at
UVM Nurses Holding Town Hall Strike Meeting Tonight!
University of Vermont (UVM) Medical Center nurses are holding a Town Hall meeting tonight 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
Countless younger workers today are saddled with student debt to the point where it seems unshakable. Throw in the fact that younger workers tend to earn less than their older counterparts and their paychecks are often eaten up by debt payments and living expenses, and it’s no wonder so many have written off retirement completely.
Though the idea of ever establishing enough of a nest egg to retire might seem undoable, one thing younger workers need to remember is that they have an extremely valuable weapon on their side: time. And if they take advantage of it, they just might manage to retire after all.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com or by phone at 223-5247. You can reach Sue by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 223-5247.
Note: Payment must be received before tickets are released, and there is no refund on purchased tickets.
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.