VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: June 28, 2019

Have a Safe and Happy July 4 Holiday!



Week In Action Not Publishing Next Week

VSEA Week In Action won’t be publishing next week.

Please check and note this week’s calendar postings for VSEA events happening the week of July 8 to July 12. 

The VSEA Communications Department wishes you a safe and happy
Independence Day!

VSEA Council Begins Prepping For 2020

VSEA Labor Relations Director provided the Council with a comprehensive bargaining presentation, in advance of negotiations, which begin again
this fall.  

The VSEA Council met Wednesday at Vermont Technical College in Randolph, and a majority of the day was spent educating and preparing Council members for the challenges that lie ahead, including a new round of bargaining with the State on a successor agreement, ongoing Janus ruling concerns and 2020 legislative priorities. 
During the meeting, VSEA Legislative Committee Chair Margaret Crowley provided Council members with a comprehensive wrap-up of the 2019 legislative session, and VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley discussed how bargaining might go this time around, especially given the recent signing of VSEA’s arbitration bill and what it means for the process. Council members also approved a proposed FY2020 operating budget for VSEA and spent some time in the afternoon doing some strategic planning with a facilitator.

VSEA 2019 Scholarship Award Winners Announced

One of the highlights of each June VSEA Council meeting is the announcement of the winners of VSEA scholarship awards for the given year, and, on Wednesday, the children of four VSEA members received their 2019 scholarship award and were honored at a special ceremony and luncheon.

Here are this year’s pictured winners who attended the luncheon on Wednesday, in alphabetical order:

Evan Choquette is the son of VSEA member Kimberly Ann Choquette; a Business Services Specialist II in the Secretary of State’s office. Evan is beginning his studies this fall right here in Vermont at UVM. He’ll be pursuing a double major in environmental science and plant biology, as well as a minor in music.

Brianna Lynn McLlarky is the daughter of VSEA member Abbie Sherman; a Grant Programs Manager with the Agency of Commerce and Community Development in Barre. Brianna will be pursuing a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies at Keene College.

Michaela Ricker is the daughter of VSEA member Diane Ricker; a Reach-Up case manager with DCF in White River Junction. Michaela is currently enrolled at the University of Rochester, where she is pursuing a degree in Brain and Cognitive Science.

Fourth Winner Who, Unfortunately, Could Not Attend:

Brian George is the son of VSEA member Kathy George; a docket clerk with the Judiciary in White River Junction. Brian is a junior, studying at Northern Vermont University, where he is pursuing a degree in Business, with an emphasis on Hospitality and Tourism Management and Marketing.

VSEA congratulates all this year’s winners!

On One-Year Anniversary Of SCOTUS’ Janus Ruling, VSEA & Many Other Unions Remain Strong, Engaged & Ready To Fight

VSEA’s Communications Department posted this to your union’s Facebook page on June 27. 

Just a simple thanks to every VSEA member and retiree for your solidarity and support in the year following the Janus ruling, which came down June 27, 2018. As VSEA President Dave Bellini reported to the VSEA Council this week, VSEA remains strong, post-Janus.

Please continue to educate your colleagues who might be–knowingly or unknowingly–a VSEA non-member about how the union helps them. In addition, once they understand and agree, talk to them about signing up to be a full-fledged member.

Solidarity! Onward and Forward!

VSEA Webpage: Why Union Recruitment Is Essential 

Information about VSEA’s 2019 Membership Recruitment Drive

Watch: "I’m Sticking With My Union!" Videos

Online Registration Now Open For VSEA Annual Meeting At Okemo!

ALERT! Link To Reserve Room(s) Is Temporarily Down!

Register Online Here!

Downloadable Registration Form
(Opens/ downloads PDF)

VSEA’s Annual Meeting is September 14, 2019, which is approaching quickly. The Special Events Committee was recently made aware the link for VSEA members to reserve a room(s) is not working. Okemo is aware of the problem, which is system-wide, and is working to remedy. 

Room Reservation Information 

While Okemo works to fix its online reservation service, you can still reserve a room now by calling 1-800-786-5366.

VSEA members will need to use a special rate code for the event, which is:


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

Join The Annual Meeting 2019 Facebook Event Page

VSEA Officer Candidate Petitions Due July 16!

A reminder that July 16 is the deadline to submit your petition to run for election to one of the following Officer positions:

  • President
  • First Vice President
  • Second Vice President
  • Clerk
  • Treasurer

All Officer posts are two-year terms


  • Officer Petitions due to VSEA by 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 16;
  • Any member in good standing can run for an Officer position;
  • Any members interested in running for election are required to submit a petition bearing no fewer than 25* VSEA members’ names, signatures and employee number by the deadline above.

    * Candidates are encouraged to obtain more than 25 members’ signatures to ensure compliance with the eligibility requirements.

  • Non-VSEA member signatures are not valid on your petition. You can recruit non-members to become full-fledged members online here.
  • You must provide petitions bearing original signatures. No faxes/or scanned documents will be accepted.

If you have any questions about this process, please feel free to email vsea@vsea.org or call 802-223-5247.

Just Days Remain 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!

Make It A Union-Made Fourth of July Celebration

Union-Plus: "Your Union-Made Fourth of July Celebration

VSEA Board Reminds Members To Contact DHR If Over-Billed By Provider Due To Unpaid BlueCross BlueShield 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! 

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. 

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!


"Today’s vote, which comes exactly one year after the misguided Janus ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, makes clear that the Senate will always put hardworking families of Massachusetts first. Public workers are the backbone of our economy and deserve the ability to fight for fair wages, access affordable health care and work in safe conditions.”

Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka (D), in a statement she issued shortly after the Senate’s June 27 vote to expand the rights of the state’s public-sector unions, in response to SCOTUS’ 2018 Janus ruling. As posted to Mass Live


Upcoming Meetings:


Chapter Meeting 

  • Retirees’ Chapter  
    Tuesday, July 9

    9:00 a.m.
    155 State Street

    Questions: Contact VSEA Organizer Danielle Warner: dwarner@vsea.org

Organizer’s Worksite Meeting 

  • White River Junction 
    Thursday, July 11

    12:00 p.m.
    State Office Building
    First Floor Conference Room
    118 Prospect Street
    White River Junction 

    Questions: Contact VSEA Organizer Dave Oppenheimer: doppenheimer@vsea.org


Talking Points:


Illinois Unions Faring Okay Post-Janus

The Chicago Sun Times reported June 27 on the status of Illinois labor unions, one year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s awful Janus  ruling, which terminated agency fee. According to the story, the ruling has not had the impact its supporters thought it would, which, thankfully, is the same right here in Vermont.

From the story: 

Robert Bruno, a professor of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois, Urbana-ChampaignBruno, who has been studying the impact of the Janus ruling, said, on the whole in Illinois, there has only been a “small drop” in total revenues to the labor organizations because of the loss of fees from non-union member workers.

The unions “lost some of those fee payers but they’ve also converted a number of those fee payers into members and there hasn’t been an exodus of any significance of members,” Bruno said.

List Of Most-American-Made Vehicles Not All Ford & GM

Yahoo Finance posted a story this week that lists the top 15 vehicles on the road today that are "the most American-made" and the results are surprising, as there are a great number of foreign automakers represented. The Jeep Cherokee was was the most American. 

From the post:

"The most American-made vehicle in 2019, which includes criteria such as the number of factory jobs and where parts are sourced, was the Jeep Cherokee, according to Cars.com annual ranking. While it is built in Belvidere, Illinois, Jeep is owned by Italian-American carmaker Fiat Chrysler."

Here’s the top 15: 

  • Jeep Cherokee
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Honda Ridgeline 
  • Honda Passport
  • Chevrolet Corvette 
  • Acura MDX
  • Honda Pilot
  • Chevrolet Colorado
  • GMC Canyon 
  • Acura RDX
  • Chevrolet Camaro 
  • Toyota Avalon
  • Ford F-150
  • Honda Accord
  • Toyota Tundra 

GM Looking To Hire More Temps & Cut Health Care In Upcoming Negotiations

At a time when VSEA is working every year to reduce the number of temporary employees working in state government, Bloomberg News reports recently that General Motors’ bosses want to hire more temporary workers at U.S. plants and trim employee health care costs in upcoming contract negotiations.

From the story:

This sets up a hot summer of negotiations for the United Auto Workers and GM as the two try to hash out a new four-year labor deal in the coming months. The last contract was bargained over in better times, when auto sales were growing from financial crisis lows to all-time highs and GM was marching toward record profits.

This year will be much different. The U.S. auto market is still healthy but is widely expected to shrink for the second time in three years. GM has put four U.S. plants with 2,800 employees on the chopping block, forcing some workers to decide between transferring to out-of-state factories or leave the company. The UAW isn’t nearly as satisfied as President Donald Trump with GM’s efforts to offload one of the plants in Ohio to a tiny company with a scant track record of profitably manufacturing vehicles.

“It will be a tough set of talks,” said Harley Shaiken, a labor relations professor at the University of California at Berkeley. “GM is staking out tough ground going after health care and wanting more temporary workers. And all of this is in the context of closed plants.”

Report Finds Average CEO Earns 287 Times The Average American Worker

The national AFL-CIO has released its annual Executive Paywatch report, and according to a Yahoo News story this week, "the average S&P 500 CEO made 287 times what a typical American worker made last year.

From the story:

“We believe this disparity represents a fundamental problem with our economy,” said Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer. “For too long, corporate greed and rigged economic rules have created a relentlessly growing pay gap between CEOs and the rest of us.

The new report says CEOs of companies in the S&P 500 index made $14.5 million on average in 2018, compared to $13.94 million the year prior.

“Over the past decade, the average S&P 500 CEO’s pay increased by more than $5 million, while the average worker over the past decade only saw an increase of less $800 a year,” said Shuler on a call with reporters.

Full Report

This Week:

Week In Action Not Publishing Next Week

VSEA Council Begins Prepping For 2020

VSEA 2019 Scholarship Award Winners Announced

On One-Year Anniversary Of SCOTUS’ Janus Ruling, VSEA & Many Other Unions Remain Strong, Engaged & Ready To Fight

Online Registration Now Open For VSEA Annual Meeting At Okemo!

Reminder! VSEA Officer Candidate Petitions Due July 16!

Just Days Remain To Donate To The NMU Sick Leave Bank!

Make It A Union-Made Fourth of July Celebration

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

Defender General Unit Seeking Bargaining Team Members

Next VSEA Steward Training Is July 20!

AFLAC Enrollment – Sign up through VSEA!




July 2
Safety Health & Maintenance Committee Meeting 
Vermont DOL
5 Green Mountain Drive
Conference Room
1:00 p.m.

July 4
Independence Day Holiday

July 9
Retirees’ Chapter Meeting
155 State Street
9:00 a.m.

July 10
Board Of Trustees’ Meeting
155 State Street
9:00 a.m.

July 11
Corrections Unit Bargaining Team Meeting
155 State Street
8:00 a.m.

July 11
Organizer’s Worksite Meeting – WRJ
State Office Building
First Floor Conference Room
118 Prospect Street
White River Junction 
12:00 p.m.


Talking Points:


Illinois Unions Faring Okay Post-Janus

List Of Most-American-Made Vehicles Not All Ford & GM

GM Looking To Hire More Temps & Cut Health Care In Upcoming Negotiations

Report Finds Average CEO Earns 287 Times The Average American Worker




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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