VSEA Bargaining Teams Head To VLRB Next Week For Hearing
With the State leaving VSEA’s Non-Management, Corrections and Supervisory Unit Bargaining Teams with little choice but to argue their case for a fair contract to the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB), Team members and staff negotiators are readying themselves for the initial VLRB hearing on March 20.
The hearing is a step in the process that all Teams had hoped to avoid this year, but, as in 2016, the State is choosing to roll its dice again at the VLRB. VSEA members working in 2016 will recall that the VLRB ended up ruling largely in favor of VSEA members that year, and VSEA Teams are hopeful the result will be similar in 2018.
The hearing begins at 9:00 a.m. in the VLRB’s hearing room, located at 13 Baldwin Street in Montpelier.
This is the final stage of the collective-bargaining impasse process, following unsuccessful negotiations that began in August 2017. The VLRB is charged with selecting between the parties’ last-best-offer packages, considering them in their entirety and without amendment. However, should the VLRB find that each side’s last-best-offer is unreasonable and likely to produce undesirable results—or likely to result in a long-lasting negative impact upon the parties’ collective-bargaining relationship—the VLRB may select the fact-finder’s recommendations on disputed issues submitted to the VLRB in the last-best-offers.
The VLRB’s decision is expected by March 30, and it will be final and binding.
Note: If you are not a Bargaining Team member, you will need to use your own time to attend the hearing. Please know that seating is very limited so arrive early if you are attending.
VSEA Creates “2018 VSEA Member Bargaining Resources” Page
In an effort to provide all VSEA members in good standing with access to both sides’ last best offers, staff and union bargaining statements and other helpful information, VSEA’s Communications Department has created a special “2018 VSEA Member Bargaining Resources” webpage.
The page will be updated with new information, as needed, and members are encouraged to reference the page throughout the negotiating process.
In order to view the resources page, VSEA members in good standing will need to first log into their VSEA.org account.
Last Call To Get On Board VSEA’s Foxwoods Casino Bus!
Today is the cutoff for VSEA members wanting to hop on the bus to Foxwoods next week for a two-night stay at the resort casino.
March 23 to March 25, 2018
Lodging Cost: (Two Nights at Two Trees Inn):
$138 per person/double occupancy; or
$122 per person/triple occupancy.
Bus Cost: $70 per person Bus will depart from Waterbury at 12:00 p.m. and White River Junction at 1:00 p.m.
(2) $10 food credit or full Festival Buffet;
$5 food credit or full Breakfast Buffet;
$20 slot play;
20% discount at any Foxwoods gift shop with a purchase of $25 up to $1,000; and
A Foxwoods souvenir.
To register or for more information, please contact VSEA Union Rep Bob South (email@example.com) or Administrative Assistant Sue DeVoid (firstname.lastname@example.org). Each can be reached by phone at 802-223-5247.
Payment must be received within one week of registering or you will lose your spot. Cash, check and credit card payments accepted. To pay, please contact VSEA Union Representative Bob South by email (email@example.com) or phone 802-223-5247. Thank You!
New LifeLock Identity Theft Protection Benefit Being Offered To VSEA Members, Beginning
VSEA H.Q. sent an email this afternoon to all members, announcing that long-time VSEA insurance provider R.K. Tongue Company will begin offering LifeLock identity-theft protection to union members on April 1, 2018. In the email, it’s explained that additional information and enrollment instructions will be emailed to all VSEA members on April 1. The enrollment period begins April 1 and ends April 30.
In the interim, VSEA members with enrollment questions can contact R.K. Tongue by phone, 800-638-6353 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
This week’s Nor’easter is another reminder of how valuable Vermont’s AOT plow operators are, and, once again, VSEA is thanking all the men and women who keep our highways an byways clear, ensuring Vermonters can get where they need to—safely. VSEA also thanks its members working in Public Safety and all other agencies and departments with employees who contribute to keeping Vermonters’ safe during storms.
The deadline to submit proposals for changes to VSEA’s Master Bylaws is Friday, May 11, 2018. Proposals must be mailed to: Cassandra Edson, Bylaws Committee Chair, c/o VSEA Headquarters, 155 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05602.
Proposals should reference the number, section, sub-section, etc. of the bylaw you would like to change. You should also include the language you want to add, delete or substitute. Also include the reason(s) you are making this proposal. Example: “Bylaw 0 A (1) (b) Change: Monday to Sunday. Reason: Makes it easier to work with the calendar.”
Please be sure the changes you are recommending include all Articles and/or Bylaws that may be affected by the proposed change.
Alaska Taking Action & Hiring Special Investigator To Look Into Staff & Patient Assaults At The State’s Lone Psychiatric Hospital
As Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital (VPCH) management and State officials and lawmakers continue to debate how to better protect patients and frontline employees from being assaulted, Alaska leaders aren’t wasting time and are taking action, hiring a special investigator this week to look into assaults on workers inside the state’s sole
Mike Robbins, business agent for the Alaska State Employees Association, said the union drafted a letter to API’s management this week. He said the union would like to see more experienced, permanent staff hired in place of temporary staff.
The letter, shared with ADN by Robbins, asks for better training and adequate workers’ compensation, among other things.
Robbins said staff were afraid to report more minor assaults — when they are slapped, threatened or bitten, for instance — for fear of being disciplined.
"I think that this is a good opportunity to make a significant impact in changing the way mental health workers, those on the floor of mental health institutions, have been treated nationwide," Robbins said. "It’s an occupation that suffers from an unbelievable number of physical assaults."
Note: Pretty sure VPCH employees appreciate Alaska union’s work to bring change for the nation’s mental health workers.
In Vermont: VOSHA/ VPCH Agreement Benchmark Dates Clarified
A few weeks back, WIA informed readers that VPCH management signed an agreement on February 17, 2018, with the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration (VOSHA) to implement a series of actions designed to improve the safety of frontline employees and patients. Within the agreement, there are timelines attached to each of the actions VPCH management is required to complete, and VSEA staff and members were originally told the timeline benchmarks started when the agreement was signed. Not so.
This week, VOSHA’s top official informed VSEA that management is not forced to begin implementing the agreement’s action steps until the document is “reviewed” and signed off on by members of the Vermont Occupational Safety & Health Review Board. According to VOSHA’s Dan Whipple, that officially happened on March 8, 2018, which means the dates VSEA thought the steps needed to be implemented are now pushed forward by almost a month. Whipple’s clarification means VPCH management must now produce a required survey by Friday. March 23. Another training is required to be offered 15 days after this one.
VSEA will keep members updated on how VPCH management is doing when it comes taking the actions required in the
"Former NHH nurse June Garen, injured in a patient attack last year, has tried to get improved worker protections enacted through a bill sponsored by state Rep. Mark MacKenzie, D-Manchester, a Democratic candidate in the First Congressional District.
The bill, HB 1500, ended up retained in committee.
‘Since I was assaulted at work in June 2017, I have been committed to speaking out about workplace violence and working for improved protection of workers in the public sector,’ wrote Garen in an email to supporters on Monday.
‘At this point, I feel that in spite of our efforts, the culture in the New Hampshire political arena is invested in stonewalling HB 1500. This stone wall is built along partisan lines, seemingly, and ignores the actual issue of safety in the workplace. It will be up to the folks who have sent this bill off to interim study to explain the wisdom behind this move if more workers suffer workplace injuries similar to mine.’”
Related: Vermont Lawmakers Not Prepared To Move On Construction Of A Much-Needed Mental Health Forensic Unit
"A secure forensic unit, to house inmates with significant mental illness, may not make the cut. The administration wants a placeholder unit at the Northwest State Correctional Facility. [House Institutions Chair Alice] Emmons is skeptical: ‘Why should we put this kind of money into a temporary 12-bed facility? Is a prison the best setting?’ She suggests the forensic unit "may be down the road.’"
Note: A forensic unit is an idea VSEA, advocates and workers have been trying to get lawmakers to green light for more than a decade now, stressing its importance to relieving the VPCH of some long-term, forensic patients and freeing up beds for Vermonters in need. Looks like we all will continue to watch and wait.
Franklin/ Grand Isle Chapter Meeting Rescheduled For March 20
Weather forced the VSEA Franklin / Grand Isle Chapter to cancel its March 13 meeting and reschedule it to Tuesday, March 20, at 5:00 p.m. at Mimmo’s Restaurant, located at 22 South Main Street in St. Albans. Food is being provided!
Please direct any questions or comments to VSEA Franklin / Grand Isle Chapter President Janine Cary via email at email@example.com.
Organizer’s Worksite Meeting On March 23 In Burlington!
VSEA Organizer Carmen Scoles is holding a meeting on March 23 with VSEA AHS members working in Burlington. The meeting begins at 12:00 p.m. in the State Office Building’s Room 3B, located at 108 Cherry Street in Burlington.
Belonging To A Union Gives Working People Like Us The Power To Make Positive Change!
“Having an equal voice at the table when decisions are being made about our workplace, our livelihood, our health, and well being is the way we build better stronger communities for our families and future generations.”
Chair, VSEA Judiciary Unit Executive Committee
Two Men To Plead Guilty To Using Stolen VT State Employee Data To File Fraudulent Tax Returns
The Times Argus reports on March 13 that two Nigerian men will plead guilty to filing fraudulent tax returns with stolen personal information from hundreds of Vermont state employees.
From the story:
"Eneye Dania, 30, and Osariemen Isibor, 31, are both scheduled to admit to a felony wire fraud charge on March 22 in U.S. District Court in Rutland, court records show. Both have signed seven-page plea agreements that have been filed in federal court."
"Vermont officials said an estimated 500 state employees potentially were affected in January 2016 when they clicked on a link on a bogus email sent by scammers.
The operation, known as “phishing,” sends emails intended to trick victims into giving conspirators access to the victims’ personal financial information. The criminal recipients often live outside the United States.
The bogus notice told Vermont state employees that their electronic W2s were available and to click on the link to log in to view and print them. The employees thought they were connecting to a state human resources website, but it was bogus, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Drescher said in September. When they logged in, their credentials with personal information were stolen."
"Oklahoma state employees will join teachers in an April strike if lawmakers fail to deliver on demands for increased pay and funding.
Following a Saturday morning meeting, the Oklahoma Public Employees Association board of directors voted to move forward on a work stoppage plan if more than $213 million in state employee pay raises is not approved by April 2."
VSEA Urges State Employees Who Are Threatened On The Job To File Form
After leading a successful training last week for VSEA stewards, VSEA Field Services Director Gretchen Naylor asked WIA to remind all VSEA members that there is an online form to fill out if you are threatened while at work. Naylor said promoting the form and its link is something several stewards said would be useful.
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, but the form’s actual entry fields are located in a menu in the page’s left-hand column.
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. Oddly, the policy does not include a reference to the State’s eAlert online reporting function.
VSEA Council And Steward Facebook Groups
VSEA Council Members and/or VSEA Stewards can request to join these groups here:
VSEA Policy Analyst Pens Overview Of State’s FY19 Budget Proposal
Following the FY19 budget address by the State’s top official, VSEA Policy Analyst Adam Norton reviewed all the documents made available to the press and public, and he has boiled down his findings into a one-page summary. VSEA members are urged to read through Norton’s summary to learn what’s being proposed and if your service could be hurt or helped by language in the State’s FY19 budget proposal.
Collective bargaining is the process by which unionized employees negotiate with their employer over mandatory subjects of bargaining, including wages, benefits like health insurance, working conditions and a grievance procedure to enforce the contract.
Note: VSCSF scholarships are not to be confused with VSEA’s annual scholarships, also being offered right now (which can be found here). Eligibility does not require attendance at one of the VSCSF’s four designated colleges or universities.
Is Next Opportunity To Enroll In VSEA’s Popular Delta Dental Supplemental Plan Benefit
Emails will be sent to VSEA members in April 2018, announcing a new, open-enrollment period to participate in your union’s very popular Delta Dental Supplemental Plan. The enrollment period is also when members already in the program can amend their number of dependents also using the program, if this number has changed in the past year.
Once received in your mailbox, all enrollment forms will be due back on a May 2018 date to be announced.
Note: If you are already taking advantage of this benefit, and you have no changes this year to your coverage, you do not need to send back a new form, as you will be automatically renewed.
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.
Full Service Catering & Pig Roasts:
Whole Butchered Pig:
Half Butchered Pig:
Stellafane Farm provides full catering services and pig roasting throughout Vermont and New Hampshire. We cook on-site and use local products whenever possible. We raise our pigs without unnecessary antibiotics on pasture. We also sell whole & half pigs processed to fill your freezer! Book early to reserve pigs for fall butcher dates. Payment plans available.
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?
GET EXCLUSIVE OFFERS, DISCOUNTS & MORE
It’s free, just for being a Vermont State Employees’ Association PerksConnect member!
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.