VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: March 22, 2019

Fox44’s "Celebrating Women" segment recently featured four female Vermont state troopers, two of whom are current VSEA members, one a former VSEA activist before she was promoted, and the fourth a new trooper recruit.

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View, Print, And Post A Condensed Version Of This Week’s Issue!
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VLRB Sides With VSEA On Case Concerning Parental Leave Rights For State Employee Foster Parents

VSEA’s legal team learned Wednesday that the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB) has sided with VSEA and affirmed that an employee who is a foster parent and ultimately adopts a child can take parental leave once the placement is for the purpose of adoption, The State denied parental leave because the child had been placed with the employee for more than a year in foster care, even though that placement was for the purpose of reunification with the biological parents. VSEA lawyers challenged the state’s interpretation, and the VLRB agreed with the union.

“The issue was whether a foster parent who ultimately adopts the child can take parental leave if the child was placed in foster care more than a year earlier,” explains VSEA General Counsel Tim Belcher. “It’s a good ruling, and it will help VSEA members who foster abused or neglected kids and then later adopt them if the biological parents give up parental rights.” 

From the VLRB ruling: "The State interpretation of Article 35 of the Contract – that it clearly and unambiguously provides that the one year requirement to take parental leave is triggered simply when a child is initially placed with an employee – is not reasonable."

Read Full VLRB Decision

Thoughtful VPR Commentary On State’s Infants-At-Work Policy & VSEA’s Position 

VPR published a thoughtful commentary this week by Karen Titterton, titled "Babies In The Workplace," which describes how the writer feels about the State’s new infants-at-work policy and what she thinks about VSEA’s decision to file an unfair labor practice to get the policy suspended until it can be negotiated with the union. 

Here’s an excerpt:

And when I first learned the [State] was implementing a bring-your-baby-to-work policy for infants under six months, I was heartened by this attempt to make the state workplace more family friendly.

But after a closer look and talking with some state employees, I think these good intentions miss the mark – never mind that the Vermont State Employees Association says the administration has changed the terms and conditions of state employment without negotiation.

Most people love babies, but some prefer them in small doses or not at all. And let’s be clear that babies in the workplace means diapers and tears in the workplace – which will be sure to challenge the productivity of some parents as they try to care for their kids, respect their co-workers, and do their jobs. And besides, an environment of cubicles and screens has never been characterized as warm and stimulating for anyone, let alone babies.

The VSEA claims that had they been consulted, they could have helped craft an outcome that was better for both families and workers.

Local TV Segment "Celebrating Women" Features Four Female State Troopers

Fox44’s "Celebrating Women" segment recently featured four female Vermont state troopers, two of whom are current VSEA members, one a former VSEA activist before she was promoted, and the fourth a new trooper recruit.

Featured in the piece are:

Lt. Teresa Randall (VSEA)
Lt. Julie Scribner (VSEA)
Maj. Ingrid Jonas (former VSEA activist)
Trooper Katrina Ducharme (VTA)

The women talk about what led them to become troopers and why women are an important part of any state or local police force, even though the profession is primarily male dominated. 

From the piece:

“There was some times where I had to struggle a little bit, work a little bit harder. I felt at times that maybe I had to prove myself because there was some doubt in some people,” said Lt. Teresa Randall. “I remember a delivery guy coming to my house one day, seeing my cruiser out there and saying ‘wow, is your husband a state trooper?’ ‘No, I’m a state trooper!’"

Eventually, they grew into their identity, shed the instinct to hide and embraced their femininity.

“It took me a long time, I’d say about 15 years before I realized that I am a trooper but I’m a female and men and women are different and it’s ok to stand up and say ‘I’m a female trooper and I can do the job too’," said Lt. Randall.

Note: VSEA appreciates your service!

Need To Contact A VSEA Staff Person Directly But Need The Number? 

VSEA 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:

Executive Director

Steve Howard – 802-262-1332


  • Tim Belcher. General Counsel – 802-262-1319
  • Doug Gibson, Communications Director – 802-262-1331
  • Gary Hoadley, Labor Relations Director – 802-262-1317
  • Amy Kinsell, Operations & Organizing Director, Financial Coordinator – 802-262-1314
  • Gretchen Naylor, Field Services Director – 802-262-1318


  • Thomas Abdelnour, Legislative Specialist – 802-262-1327
  • Susan DeVoid, Administrative Assistant – 802-262-1328
  • Kelly Everhart, Legal Counsel – 802-262-1320
  • Rachael Fields, Union Rep – 802-262-1329
  • Jennifer Larsen, Organizer – 802-262-1352
  • Kris Lizzari, Communications Specialist – 802-262-1313
  • Brian Morse, Union Rep – 802-262-1316
  • Adam Norton, Strategic Analyst – 802-262-1326
  • Vinnie O’Connor, Union Rep – 802-262-1334
  • Mike O’Day, Union Rep – 802-262-1337
  • David Oppenheimer, Organizer – 802-262-1324
  • Carmen Scoles, Organizer – 802-262-1339
  • Bob South, Union Rep – 802-262-1321
  • Nikolas Stein, Union Rep – 802-262-1310
  • Danielle Warner, Organizer – 802-262-1323

Note: For future reference, please save the direct numbers of staff pertinent to you. Thanks!

VSEA Mourns Passing Of Past President Bob Mumley 

VSEA is mourning the death this week of Robert (Bob) Mumley, who served as VSEA president from 1979 to 1981.

As a VSEA member, Mumley was employed as a game warden and later worked for the Department of Corrections. He was also a 30+-year Navy veteran.

Condolences to Brother Mumley’s family and friends.

VSEA NEK / St. Johnsbury Chapter Conducting Food Drive 

Throughout the month of March, VSEA’s NEK / St Johnsbury Chapter of VSEA will be reaching out to area members and retirees to solicit donations to local food shelves in Lyndonville and St. Johnsbury.

If you will be collecting at your office and want to arrange a donation(s) pickup, or if you have questions, please contact Ellen Hinman (Chapter President 751-0123), Dianne Rivers (Chapter Vice President 626-6497) or Monique Prive (Chapter Secretary/Treasurer 626-6364 )

Donations are being accepted until April 12, 2019.

Thank you in advance for donating to this worthy cause!

April 5 Is The Deadline To Contribute To A "Basket Raffle" To Help Family Of Employee Who Died In
Ice-Fishing Accident

Castleton University employees are hosting a basket raffle to help the Wiktorski family with some unforeseen expenses. Their own Lee Wiktorski lost his life in a recent, unfortunate ice-fishing accident. They are asking for any donation that you can give, no donation is too small. Here is what they need:

  • BASKETS!!  Themed baskets in a plastic wrapping.  We are shooting for 100 baskets. (Gift certificates count as a basket and do not need a “basket”)
  • Gift certificates
  • Large raffle donations; such as furniture, electronics, large gift certificate
  • Refreshments – baked goods, soups, sandwiches, chips, drinks, paper goods

Donations can be dropped off at the Castleton University library.

The Basket Party begins at 11:00 a.m. on April 6 and the raffle starts at 1:00 p.m. VSEA members, retirees or Chapters can send a donation / basket to Billie Langlois, Castleton University, 178 Alumni Drive, Castleton, Vt., 05735.

New Life For Salisbury Fish Hatchery? 

Seven Days reports on March 21 that a proposal is being introduced at the State House to raise fees for anglers and hunters to generate the additional funds needed to keep the Salisbury Fish Hatchery, where four VSEA members work, open and operating.

From the story:

If approved by the legislature, the deal would provide an additional $310,000 to keep the Salisbury Fish Culture Station open for another year while the state explores ways to prolong its life or move the hatchery operations elsewhere. 

“I feel like people have come together in good faith to try to keep the hatchery operating, and they’re working toward that goal,” Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter said Wednesday. 

NH Governor Continues To Push his Own Family Leave Bill, Even Though NH & VT State Employee Unions Reject His Proposal Outright

Several media outlets reported yesterday on NH lawmakers in both houses voting Wednesday to advance a family leave bill that Governor Sununu says he will veto. The plan NH lawmakers approved is similar to one currently working its way through the Vermont legislature. It calls for a payroll tax on employers and rejects Sununu and Scott’s joint proposal and its "voluntary" component. 

From a NH Business Review story (https://bit.ly/2TZ978e):

"Sununu, who favors a voluntary program, has said he will veto the measure, and neither the House nor Senate has yet to muster enough votes to override one.

Meanwhile, Sununu is pushing ahead with a voluntary program with Vermont for state employees of both states, with the option of local businesses and individuals signing on at a higher cost. But that plan requires legislative approval as well as buy-in from the state employee unions, neither of which seems likely."

Note: VSEA is already on record opposing Governor Sununu’s joint NH and VT "voluntary" proposal. While NH does not have the votes to override a veto, Vermont does.

New Rates For VSEA Members Skiing & Riding At Bolton Valley!

Buy next year’s season pass now and:

  • Get the lowest price of the year; AND
  • Ski & Ride the rest of this season FREE!!! That’s right, if you buy next year’s pass now, you can ski/ride Bolton for the rest of this season on next season’s pass!

All VSEA members in good standing are eligible to purchase a pass or passes. You can purchase yours today by first contacting VSEA by email at vsea@vsea.org. VSEA will verify your membership status and provide you with VSEA’s code, which you will need to complete your online purchase.

Once you have the required code:

  • Click here;
  • Click “Buy Online”;
  • In the “Cart View,” click on “Add / Change Guest” to set the pass-holder’s name and information to each pass, then;
  • Click “Proceed to Checkout”;
  • Enter VSEA’s promotional code and click “Apply Code.” The cart should refresh and reflect your discount.


Hurry! Prices go up after April 9!

Pass Type: 
Pre-April 9 Price /
April 9 – Oct 31 Price

Adult (18+): 
$379 / $399

Youth w/Adult

$129 / $159

Youth (7-17): 
$175 / $199

Senior (65-74): 
$219 / $229

Child (6 and under): $29 / $29

Insurance Benefits!

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!


“…this worry [that wealthy Vermonters will flee the state] is unfounded, and the result is that low- and moderate-income Vermonters pay higher taxes than they should and the state’s revenues are inadequate to meet the state’s needs.

Line from a recent Vermont Public Assets Institute posting, trying hard, once again, to dispel the tired myth floated every year that nominally taxing Vermont’s wealthiest at a higher rate will lead to them fleeing the state.  


Upcoming Meetings, Trainings, and Events:


Organizer’s Worksite Meeting:

  • Barre – AOE 
    Thursday, March 28

    12:00 p.m.
    Barre City Place
    Third Floor Conference Room (#304)
    219 N. Main Street

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

Chapter Meeting:

  • Waterbury Chapter 
    Wednesday, March 27

    12:00 p.m.
    State Office Complex 
    AHS Building A
    Cherry C Conference Room 
    45 State Drive

    Questions: Contact Waterbury Chapter President Brett Pierce: brett.pierce@vermont.gov

  • Chittenden Chapter 
    Wednesday, March 27

    12:00 p.m.
    State Office Building 
    Conference Room 3B
    108 Cherry Street

    Questions: Contact Chittenden Chapter President John Davy: davy.john.m@gmail.com



Points of Interest:


Maine AFL-CIO Unveils Its "2019 Working Class Legislative Agenda"

Maine’s labor unions (led by the state AFL-CIO) recently unveiled their 2019 Working Class Legislative Agenda at a press conference at the State House, outlining a range of priority bills that they said would ensure safe and healthy workplaces, protection for injured workers, corporate accountability and collective bargaining rights.

Bills spoken about by members of a variety of unions at the news conference were:

LD 369, which would create the right to earned paid sick leave for the 200,000 Mainers who don’t have the benefit.
LD 600, which would treat mental health injuries similarly to physical injuries when considering workers’ compensation claims.
LD 601, which would restore cost of living adjustments to workers’ compensation benefits for injured workers.
LR 225, which would create an exemption to antitrust laws to allow forest products workers to bargain collectively over rates, benefits and working conditions.
LD 201, which would protect Maine jobs by making companies that outsource call centers ineligible for state grants, loans or tax breaks. It would also prohibit state agencies from outsourcing call center work.
LD 900, which would give public sector workers the right to strike.
LD 1177, which would make arbitration binding on economic issues in the public sector.

Chicago Symphony Musicians Strike To Protect Defined Benefit Plan

The Reader posted a story this week about Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) musicians walking a picket line to defend their defined benefit pension plan.

From the story:

“…musicians at the nation’s half-dozen top orchestras, including the CSO—musicians who excel as much in their field as, say, the prized players on Major League Baseball teams—have been able to hang on to the old arrangement (a defined benefit pension plan), which they say is a crucial recruiting tool in a highly competitive market for new talent. Until now.

Which brings us to the picket line. In contract negotiations that have dragged on for nearly a year, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, which manages the CSO and employs the musicians, has made it clear that it intends to dump the defined benefit pension.

10,000 NYC Nurses Threaten Strike To Improve Safety

The website gothamist posted a story on March 20, titled "NY Nurses Say A Strike Is Needed To Keep Patients Safe."

"The threat of as many as 10,000 New York City nurses going on strike intensified Monday as members of the New York State Nurses Association rallied outside the Mount Sinai Hospital in East Harlem. The union announced that nurses at Montefiore Health System, Mount Sinai Health System, and New York-Presbyterian would strike starting at 6 a.m. on April 2 if those hospital systems do not agree to hire enough staff to maintain minimum nurse-to-patient ratios that the union says are needed to ensure patient safety.

“Most of the staffing really isn’t safe on most of the units at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore,” said Naomi Cordova, who has been working as a nurse there for nearly 30 years.

Cordova said she is usually responsible for five patients during her shifts, caring primarily for infants and small children with cardiological or gastrointestinal problems. Nurses say staffing needs vary from unit to unit; Cordova said she believes a safe staffing ratio on her unit would be three to one. She said being understaffed can prevent nurses from reporting children’s respiratory issues to doctors in a timely manner, among other dangers.

“You tend to prioritize when you have four to five patients,” said Cordova. “You say, ‘I’m going to concentrate on one kid, perhaps the sickest kid,’ and you tend to neglect the other patients. I feel horrible having to do something like that.”

This Week:

VLRB Sides With VSEA On Case Concerning Parental Leave Rights For State Employee Foster Parents

Thoughtful VPR Commentary On State’s Infants-At-Work Policy & VSEA’s Position 

Local TV Segment "Celebrating Women" Features Four Female State Troopers

Need To Contact A VSEA Staff Person Directly But Need The Number? 

VSEA Mourns Passing Of Past President Bob Mumley 

VSEA NEK / St. Johnsbury Chapter Conducting Food Drive 

New Life For Salisbury Fish Hatchery?

NH Governor Continues To Push his Own Family Leave Bill, Even Though NH & VT State Employee Unions Reject His Proposal Outright

New Rates For VSEA Members Skiing & Riding At Bolton Valley!​

VSEA Insurance Benefits!


Upcoming VSEA Meetings, Trainings, and Events:


Worksite Meetings:

Chapter Meetings:


Points of Interest:


Maine AFL-CIO Unveils Its "2019 Working Class Legislative Agenda"

Chicago Symphony Musicians Strike To Protect Defined Benefit Plan

10,000 NYC Nurses Threaten Strike To Improve Safety


VSEA Reminders:


2019 Legislative Session Online Hub

State Employees Who Are Threatened On The Job Should File "eAlert" Form

2019 VSEA Scholarship Application Available Now!​

VSEA Membership Drive 2019 Now Underway!

"Protect Your Pension" Meeting Now On Video

Told You’re Being Investigated?
Watch This Video!

Getting Ready To Retire? Retired Already? Join The VSEA Retired Members’ Chapter!

What You Should Know About The Anti-Worker Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

What Is The VSEA Advantage Program?


VSEA Calendar:

March 26
Union Rep. Meetings
Northwest State Correctional Facility
3649 Lower Newton Rd. 
Prior to 1400 and 2200 shift changes

March 27
Waterbury Chapter Meeting
State Office Complex
AHS Building A
Cherry C Conference Room
45 State Drive 
12:00 p.m.

March 27
Chittenden Chapter Meeting
State Office Building 
Conference Room 3B
108 Cherry Street
12:00 p.m. 

March 28
Organizer’s Worksite Meeting – Barre

Barre City Place
Third Floor Conference Room (#304)
219 N. Main Street
12:00 p.m.


2019 Legislative Session Online Hub

A collection of resources, reports, and tools to help VSEA members navigate the Vermont Legislative Session.

Clicking on the hub’s main link, members and retirees are taken to a page that lists a number of options to click on, including:

The hub will be updated with new information as it becomes available, such as the just-approved VSEA legislative priorities.


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.


2019 VSEA Scholarship Application Available Now!

Each spring, the VSEA Awards & Scholarship Committee solicits scholarship applications from VSEA members and their spouses, dependents and domestic partners. The application process is easy, requiring the applicant to write a couple of short essays as well as provide a grade history, employment history, personal references and a few other things. 
All applications received before May 8, 2019, will be reviewed by Committee members, who will then decide from among all this year’s eligible candidates who is awarded a 2019 VSEA scholarship. 
Winners will be announced at the VSEA Council’s June 2019 meeting.
Download a PDF application here 
(Opens/downloads PDF)


VSEA Membership Drive 2019
Now Underway!

Between January 1, 2019, and September 1, 2019, VSEA is calling on all members to become active recruiters—and you might be rewarded for your efforts. Here’s how:

  • Members who recruit two members will receive a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card;
  • Members who recruit five new members will receive a VSEA insulated coffee mug; and 
  • Members who recruit ten new members will receive a $50 Visa gift card.  

Every time you recruit a new member during the designated period*, your name is entered into a drawing to be conducted at VSEA’s 2019 Annual Meeting. Four names will be pulled at random and winners will receive a check for $300! 
Need a quick reference to help with your recruiting? You can view an informational webpage with some recruitment tips and advice here.

* Please be sure the new members you recruit add your name to the "Recruited By" line on their union card or membership application.
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


"Protect Your Pension" Meeting Now
On Video

Prior to the legislative 2019 session kicking off, VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard was conducting an education tour around the state, talking with VSEA members and retirees about an expected attack on your pension, who is behind it and how to help prevent it from happening. 

If you weren’t able to attend a presentation in your area, VSEA is pleased to now share this link to Steve’s December 2018 St. Albans presentation.

This video is for VSEA members only. To view it you must be logged into your VSEA.org user account. If you do not have a VSEA.org account, please sign up for a free account here.

Watch the presentation online


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.

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 You Should Know About The Anti-Worker Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

What You Should Know About The Anti-worker Janus U.S. Supreme Court Case

Real Talk About The Pending Changes To Your Union

Benefits of VSEA Union Membership VS Right To Work State (US Supreme Court Case Janus vs. AFSCME) PDF

5 Things You Should Know About The Anti-Worker Janus Case


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
VSEA Council Member?

Join the VSEA Council Facebook group here!

Are You A
VSEA Steward?

Join the VSEA Steward Facebook
group here!

Subscribe To VSEA Today!

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.

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 is working hard to collect members’ contact information.

You can help us 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.

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