VSEA Members Pack VLRB Hearing Room On Tuesday, March 20.
VLRB Hearing Complete. Decision Next Week!
VSEA’s Non-Management, Corrections and Supervisory Unit Bargaining Teams were at the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB) in Montpelier on Tuesday to argue to three Board members that the state employees’ contract last-best-offer (LBO) reflects compromise, is fair and should be the LBO they select.
The State also attempted to defend its LBO, and VLRB members are right now choosing between the State’s and the VSEA Teams. A formal decision is expected sometime next week, and it will be final and binding.
VSEA wants to thank all the members who took time to attend and show the Board that this hearing was not being held in a vacuum.
The VSEA Teams’ were represented at the Board by Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley, General Counsel Tim Belcher, Strategic Analyst Adam Norton, Field Director Gretchen Naylor and Dr. Gerald Friedman (economic consultant).
Lots Of New Names Added To List Of Lawmakers Who Support VSEA’s Campaign To Keep CoreCivic Out Of Vermont—But Fight Continues
In mid-February, VSEA posted a meme to its Facebook page that listed and thanked the Vermont House and Senate members who had signed on to a VSEA letter to oppose allowing the private, for-profit, out-of-state firm CoreCivic to set up shop right here in our state. WIA is pleased to report that since that meme posted, the list of signers and supporters has grown by a large number.
Today, an updated list was posted to the VSEA Facebook page that contains a link to a web page with the names of all the House and Senate members who, to date, have indicated their support VSEA’s efforts to keep CoreCivic out of Vermont.
While growing lawmaker support on the letter is a great thing, oddly, the debate around CoreCivic being permitted to build a mega-prison in Vermont is still alive at the State House. Given this unfortunate reality, VSEA’s legislative team is continuing to lobby lawmakers to just stop the proposal in its tracks now.
If your lawmaker(s) signed VSEA’s CoreCivic letter, please do thank them but also ask them to lobby their colleagues who for some reason have yet to lend their name to stopping this private, for-profit, out-of-state firm (with a notorious reputation) to come to Vermont. Find your Lawmaker’s contact information here.
"It’s a little embarrassing to be beaten out by Mississippi.”
Former Vermont Gov. Madeline Kunin, commenting in a March 23 Associated Press story about Vermont now being the only state in the union never to elect a woman to the U.S. Congress. However, one story this week did note that women currently constitute 40% of the Vermont legislature, which is much better than the 25% national average.
VSEA members sitting on the labor side of the Department of Health’s Labor / Management Committee sent an update this morning that included a special appeal to WIC employees to complete a short survey to determine how WIC workers are viewing changes made within the Division in the past year. Your answers will educate your labor team members about how you are feeling and allow them to conduct an informed discussion with VDH management about WIC employee workload and morale issues.
If you are a WIC employee who doesn’t remember seeing today’s email and need the survey link, please contact a member of the VDH labor team, who are:
State Orders Flag At SSCF To Half-Staff To Honor VT Corrections Officer
VSEA sent condolences this week to its members working at the Southern State Correctional Facility (SSCF) in Springfield after learning that a CO there, David Harty, had passed away unexpectedly on March 19. In response to the sad news, the State immediately ordered the flag outside the SSCF to be flown at half-staff.
Cause of death is still being determined, but it is not considered work related.
Again, VSEA expresses its deepest condolences to David’s family, friends and co-workers at the SSCF. Harty became a CO in 2014.
Bill Would Stop Drones Flying Over Vermont Prisons
DOC officials are responding to increased cases of drones flying directly over Vermont prisons, especially—according to a March 22 Seven Days’ story—the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield.
“This has been an issue as of recently, particularly at Springfield at the Southern State Correctional facility,” Deputy Corrections Commissioner Mike Touchette testified this week to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We’ve had about a dozen drones fly over that facility in the last year.” He explains that officials are concerned “the drones could be used to drop contraband into the prison, though there isn’t evidence of that happening in Vermont.”
Lawmakers aren’t wasting time reacting to the DOC request, already passing H.615 in the House. “The proposed bill would create a $500 fine for anyone caught flying a drone over a prison. The prohibition wouldn’t apply to commercial drone flights, FAA-approved flights, or drone operators doing work for the Department of Corrections, such as inspecting solar panels.
“Touchette reassured senators that the bill would not outlaw drone flights near prisons, so hobbyists could fly drones on adjacent properties — just not directly above state prisons.”
Treasurer’s Office Holding One More Public Meeting To Discuss The Green Mountain Secure Retirement Plan
Earlier this year, the Treasurer’s Office held a series of public meetings to solicit input from employers and employees on the implementation of the Green Mountain Secure Retirement Plan. This week, the Treasurer’s Office announced that it had scheduled an additional meeting for:
VSEA Organizer David Oppenheimer is holding a meeting on March 29 with VSEA members working in White River Junction. The meeting begins at 12:00 p.m. at the State Office Building, located at 118 Prospect Street in WRJ. There will be pizza and beverages for members attending.
Union Rep At Bennington State Office Building On March 30
VSEA Union Representative Rachael Fields will be available to meet with Bennington state employees on March 30 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the ESD Conference Room (second floor, suite 6), located in the State Office Building at 200 Veterans’ Drive in Bennington.
If you work in the State Office Building, please mark the date and time down to stop by and talk with Rachael.
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
It’s Time! Please Donate Today To Your Unit Sick Leave Bank
Donations Being Accepted
April 1 To June 30
VSEA member Dawn Carrillo staffs the Non-Management Unit Sick Leave Bank, and she is once again asking WIA to help her solicit time donations to the bank from VSEA members. Carillo is also announcing that the donation period is April 1 to June 30, 2018, and she 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.”
Bolton Valley Offering “Industry Rate” To VSEA Members On 2018-19
All-Access Season Passes
Must Purchase By
April 2, 2018
Longtime VSEA Advantage Discount Program participant Bolton Valley let VSEA know this week that, for a limited time, the popular ski resort is offering VSEA members the “industry rate” on 2018-19 all-access season passes.
All VSEA members in good standing are eligible to purchase a pass or passes through April 2, 2018. You can purchase yours today by first contacting VSEA Administrative Assistant Susan DeVoid at 802-223-5247, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sue will verify your membership status and provide you with VSEA’s code, which you will need to complete your online purchase.
National Nurses United Boasts 43 Co-Sponsors On Bill To Mandate Safe RN-To-Patient Ratios
In early February, WIA informed readers about a campaign by the National Nurses United (NNU) to convince the U.S. Congress to pass federal legislation to mandate national, safe RN (registered nurse)-to-patient staffing levels.
This week, the NNU’s Facebook page posted an update on the legislation, listing the 43 House members who have already co-sponsored the important legislation.
From the NNU Facebook post:
"We currently have 43 co-sponsors on H.R. 2392, the Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act of 2017. This legislation would create mandated minimum nurse-to-patient staffing ratios.
Has your representative co-sponsored this legislation? Find out here."
Note: VSEA members, especially health care workers, are urged to contact Rep. Welch’s office to ask for his support for H.R. 2392. As of this morning, he is not listed as a co-sponsor.
Missouri Seeks To Change State’s “Employee Culture” By Targeting Poor Management
In the summer of 2017, the state of Missouri issued a survey to basically try to determine how state employees were feeling about their current work situation. What leaders discovered is that a large majority of workers felt their managers were simply doing a poor job of managing. This revelation prompted Missouri Governor Eric Greitens to announce this week that a new survey is soon being issued to zoom in on specific management challenges waiting to be addressed.
The state’s Chief Operating Officer adds that last summer’s survey showed 75 or 80 percent of state employees are willing to put more effort into their jobs, and they have a strong sense of personal accomplishment. However, he reminds, they want a better sense of direction, with better leadership.
"OSHA documented an uneasy culture at Unity. During interviews, some employees told OSHA investigators they wouldn’t report minor assaults such as a punch in the face because they didn’t want to appear to be complainers or feared that they might be viewed negatively by administration. Others said they hadn’t noticed safety changes after previous reports of assaults were made, so they didn’t bother reporting new assaults, according to the OSHA report.
‘A few employees stated that they realize where they work and it was dangerous, and it’s OK to get hurt,’ the report said.
Employees suggested ways to improve safety, including installing more panic buttons that would summon help during emergencies. Currently, there is one panic button at the front desk, the report said.
Employees also asked for more staff to be on duty — and noted sometimes two employees need to be assigned to one patient at a time, according to the report."
Note: VSEA looks forward to seeing how the new management team at the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital works with staff to address assaults on workers there. A Safety Council has been formed, which is a step in the right direction.
The Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently mandated that, to avoid being fined, VPCH management must meet several worker and patient safety improvement benchmarks in the coming months.
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.
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 Legislative Team Weekly Updates
VSEA’s legislative team at the State House is now publishing a short, information-packed, weekly recap of what’s happening in Montpelier that VSEA members need to know about.
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.
New LifeLock Identity Theft Protection Benefit Being Offered To VSEA Members, Beginning April 1!
VSEA H.Q. sent an email last week 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 email@example.com
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.
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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.