VSEA Mobilizing In Wake Of U.S. Supreme Court Decision To Kill Agency-Fee
VSEA Council Chair Aimee Towne called a special meeting of the body this week, but what was supposed to be a meeting to plan primarily for a state shutdown turned instead into a post-Janus decision strategizing session for worksite activity and brainstorming session for Council members to share ideas about how to talk with state employees, member or non-member, about what happened and what could happen.
VSEA members learned Wednesday morning that the U.S. Supreme Court had finally delivered its long-awaited decision in an anti-union lawsuit WIA has written about a lot in the past year, titled Janus vs. AFSCME. As feared, by a 5-4 vote, the Justices ruled that public-sector unions could no longer collect agency fees from non-members. It’s a huge blow to American and Vermont workers, and many fear the ruling is just the first of many to come, all designed to crush public-sector unions and drive private-sector unions to extinction as well. Workers’ fears about how to win in a stacked Supreme Court were heightened after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced after the Janus ruling was public that he is retiring, opening the door for the appointment of what will almost certainly not be a union-friendly Justice.
"It’s a huge blow to American and Vermont workers"
VSEA leaders wasted no time, post-Janus ruling, putting out a message to the entire membership and retirees, explaining what happened and reminding about the importance of belonging to VSEA and why solidarity is more important now than ever before. If you don’t remember receiving VSEA’s post-Janus email on Wednesday, you can read it here. One important point in the message was clarification about VSEA’s future obligation to represent “non-members” and the hourly rate the member would pay for representation. VSEA will continue to represent non-members without regard to their membership status; however, VSEA will begin charging an hourly fee for work performed by VSEA staff representatives or attorneys on grievances or disciplinary matters. This fee is consistent with Vermont law and with longstanding VSEA policies that preceded agency fees. VSEA’s decision to charge an hourly rate was supported in the Janus decision by Supreme Court Justice Alito, who wrote: “individual non-members could be required to pay for that service or could be denied union representation altogether.” Even though not mandated by the ruling, VSEA will provide representation without regard to membership, but VSEA will begin immediately to bill non-members on an hourly basis for work performed by a field representative or attorney. As a reference, here is VSEA policy 10-F (Login required), which governs VSEA’s non-member representation
Important: VSEA will also immediately be canceling “Member-Only” benefits (i.e. Delta Dental Supplemental Plan, Advantage Discount Program, etc.) for current members who opt to stop paying dues to VSEA.
VSEA Council members during yesterday’s brainstorming session.
“Make no mistake about it: this decision is a direct assault on working families all over America. While today’s ruling is a major setback for working families, we must redouble our efforts to make it easier, not harder, to join a union. We cannot rebuild the disappearing middle class without revitalizing the trade union movement.”
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, in a
June 27 statement on the Supreme Court’s decision this week to stop public-sector unions from collecting “agency fees.”
Show Your Facebook Friends You’re VSEA Strong With VSEA Facebook Profile Picture Frame!
In light of this week’s Janus Supreme Court decision, consider using VSEA’s newly created “I’m Sticking With The Union” profile picture frame to send a message that you are VSEA strong and you’re sticking with your union.
State Tells VLRB Members It Believes It Is Following The Law When Making VLRB Appointments, Contrary To What The VLRB Members, VSEA & Others Contend
IMPORTANT: This story was overshadowed this week by the shutdown crisis and then Janus ruling, but, make no mistake, it is not a small matter and VSEA members are urged to keep the heat on, now that the State has spoken.
VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard fires back at Anderson’s cavalier answer in the story, saying, “I think it’s the height of arrogance to suggest that they can ignore the law,” adding that the State appeared to be avoiding its legal obligation to engage unions in a process that already marginalized labor voices. “They don’t have to agree with the labor movement, but if they want to have a non-antagonistic relationship than they would consult with us and have us submit names. It’s very clear what the law is.”
Note: VSEA remains committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure the prescribed VLRB appointment process is followed and that the Board itself remains credible. Remember, all of Vermont labor supports VSEA’s position, as the Board’s decisions matter to these unions and their members as well.
VSEA members and retirees cheered this week’s news that the State would not be signing the legislature’s latest budget agreement, which means the budget is now approved, but without the State’s blessing. Regardless, a government shutdown was prevented, and that’s great news for state employees and the Vermonters who depend on public services. It’s also good news for VSEA retirees, who were concerned about pension checks being cut and mailed.
VSEA President Dave Bellini and the Board of Trustees are thanking VSEA members, retirees and supporters for your calls, emails, personal exchanges and for any other way you reached out to the State and lawmakers to stress how important it was to break the budget stalemate, reminding of the harm that would result to critical services and to your livelihoods.
If You Are Considering Filing A Class-Action
“Request For Reclassification…”
First, you must:
Tell VSEA by July 15; and
Submit paperwork to VSEA by August 1
VSEA’s Executive Branch collective-bargaining agreements require that all class-action RFRs must be filed within a certain window, following July 1 in any given year—and the window differs depending on Unit-specific contract language. The State will not even entertain RFRs that did not receive prior VSEA approval. The VSEA Board of Trustees adopted a new policy to ensure that VSEA has time to properly evaluate class-action RFRs before they are submitted to the State. This deadline was needed because some RFRs are still being submitted right before the deadline, which prevented VSEA from making sure that the RFR protected all members’ rights.
The Board’s new policy requires any member(s) who want to submit a class-action RFR to VSEA for review and approval must provide notice to VSEA of their intention to file a class-action RFR on or before July 1 in any given year. Given the late notice this year, that deadline is extended to July 15. A copy of the proposed class-action RFR must then be submitted to VSEA before August 1 in any given year. All class-action RFR’s received at VSEA after August 1—or those submitted directly to the State Classification division without notice and consultation with VSEA—will not be “recognized” and/or “signed off” on by the union.
VSEA Bargaining Teams Heading To VLRB On
July 12 For Hearing On “Motion To Reconsider” Contract
A reminder that the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB) recently granted VSEA’s request to present oral argument on its “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
Thursday, July 12
VLRB, 13 Baldwin Street
Fund Created To Help Defray VSEA Member’s Son’s Unforeseen Medical Costs
VSEA member Eric Scribner and his wife have created a GoFundMe page to help defray medical costs for their son Caleb, who, according to the page, “was admitted into the hospital early last week with what they thought was a stomach bug, but his health went south quick and he was airlifted to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center where he is currently in the ICU.”
VSEA’s Awards and Scholarships 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 in September.
VSEA’s Awards And Scholarship Committee Needs You!
VSEA’s Awards And Scholarships Committee meets twice a year to administer your union’s award and scholarship programs, which primarily involves reviewing applications to determine winners of scholarships and winners of VSEA Annual Meeting awards.
VSEA members interested in becoming a member of your union’s Awards And Scholarships Committee should email the committee’s staff liaison, VSEA Communications Specialist
Kris Lizzari at email@example.com
UVM nurses met with management for two final bargaining sessions this week to try to secure a fair contract, but it was fruitless and the two sides were unable to reach a deal, meaning the workers are now one step closer to going on strike. The two sides did agree to schedule an additional session for tonight. The primary issues the nurses want to address in bargaining are staffing and wages.
If an agreement cannot be reached tonight, the nurses’ Bargaining Committee will assess how far apart the two sides are and then will decide whether or not to issue a 10-day “notice to strike.” If a decision is made to strike, the nurses will most certainly be reaching out to VSEA and other union and community allies to join them on a picket line and help them ramp their campaign up to the next level. The UVM nurses’ contract ends at 12:01 a.m., Monday, July 9.
How To Help Today:
Call UVM CEO John Brumsted and UVMMC President Eileen Whalen to demand they avert a strike by immediately agreeing to settle on a fair contract.
VSEA Congratulates CCV Faculty Union On First Contract
VSEA is congratulating members belonging to the new faculty union at the Community College of Vermont (CCV) for signing a first-ever contract with their employer on June 11. VTDigger reports on June 27 that the new, three-year agreement “provides for a pay increase and ensures that faculty with seniority teach at least one course each semester.”
From the story:
Despite the progress on salary and job security, union negotiator Emily Casey said much work remains to be done. Pay for CCV faculty is roughly 45 percent less than that received by adjunct faculty at other Vermont State Colleges, she said, adding that she hopes to get closer to the union’s goals in future contracts.
Casey said union leaders feel that “we’ve created a first step, or a first level, of job security that is a really good spot to
build off of.”
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 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 re-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.”
The VSEA ERN Committee
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.
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.
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.
Select a category and start saving!
Present your VSEA union card, mobile device or printed coupons and offers at participating businesses and receive immediate discounts.
Don’t see what you are looking for?
Request a merchant by filling out the Vendor Information form here. Please note submissions are subject to approval.
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.