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, 2019!
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.
With an unfair labor practice pending against the State for implementing an infants-at-work policy without first bargaining it with your union, VSEA leaders are seeking immediate input from members in the know on issues and concerns with Vermont’s current child-care system, what improvements are needed and what child-care options the State should consider offering, i.e. on-site child-care facilities in state office buildings.
To find out how members feel, a VSEA child-care survey has been created. VSEA leaders are asking any and all members to complete this important survey, so they can be as prepared and educated as possible, if the Labor Board rules for VSEA and we end up at the table, working with the State to craft a thoughtful policy with input from any and all state employees who will benefit.
Woodside Members At State House To Educate Lawmakers About Their Facility And Its Importance To Vermont At-Risk Youth
VSEA members working at the Woodside Youth Facility were at the State House on Thursday to testify to lawmakers about the important service being delivered there and what is needed to improve conditions at their beleaguered worksite.
Pictured above testifying to members of the Senate Health & Welfare Committee is Alex Hodgetts, a Clinical Services Rehabilitation Coordinator at Woodside. He was joined by colleagues Matt Messier and Chris Hamlin.
The three points the frontline employees stressed to lawmakers were:
Build a facility to accommodate all Vermont youth needing the services we provide. We have too many kids out of state right now;
Vermont’s community-based programs can’t handle the load they are being asked to. They are simply not equipped; and
Woodside gets great results!
VSEA and its Woodside members continue to lobby for the construction of three new youth facilities in Vermont, one secure and paid for by the State; the other two less secure, making them eligible for Medicaid funding.
DCF is expected to deliver a much-anticipated report to lawmakers on Woodside on April 1.
Barre Chapter President’s Excellent Letter To The Editor On Anti-Union Radio Ads
In response to an Ethan Allen Institute-sponsored, anti-union radio ad airing across Vermont, VSEA Barre Chapter President Sue LaFleche wrote the following excellent letter to the editor of the Times Argus newspaper:
I have recently heard the anti-union radio ads on WDEV. I am not sure who is paying for them. Could it be the Ethan Allen Institute, or some unknown corporate backer? This is another way the wealthy undermine the efforts of workers. Let’s look back to when there were no unions. Most people probably don’t give the 40-hour work-week a second thought — much less the hard-fought battle that came before it was law, not to mention safety protections or child labor laws. I may not have been around when unions were fighting for workers’ rights initially, but I want to remind others not to go backward.
I am grateful that I have union representation at the bargaining table when the state negotiates its contract with employees, often proposing pay cuts and large increases to our health insurance costs. These ads encourage people to leave their unions. If there are no unions, there are no negotiations. We get what we get, and that’s that. Don’t fool yourself to think that you might be saving money to opt out of the union. They are trying to erode the effectiveness of the unions in Vermont and across the country. It is an attack on the middle class. We have been doing the hard work educating our members about the benefits of membership and subsequently our membership has increased, not decreased as they might have hoped.
Note: The Times Argus also published a great letter this week from Barre Chapter member Sue Viens, blasting the ad, but sorry to report that the paper has yet to post Sue’s letter to its website.
Negotiations Training Scheduled May 3 For VSEA Bargaining Team Members
Seems like the last round of negotiations with the State just wrapped up, but it’s already time to begin the process all over again, which is why VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley sent this notice this week to VSEA Unit Bargaining Team members.
SAVE THE DATE! VSEA Bargaining Teams’ Negotiating Training
VSEA Schedules 2019 “Day At Fenway” Event For Saturday, June 8!
“VSEA Day 2019 at Fenway” has been scheduled and the bus will be headed to Fenway Park on Saturday afternoon, June 8, to see the Red Sox battle the Tampa Bay Rays, starting at 1:00 p.m. The cost is $111 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 (State Office Complex, 7:00 a.m.) and White River Junction (I-91, Exit 12, 8:00 a.m.).
New seat location this year is Section 89, Rows DD-HH (Right Field).
If you and your family would be interested in joining your union and fellow members at Fenway on June 8, 2019, contact VSEA Union Representative Bob South or VSEA Administrative Assistant Sue DeVoid. You can reach Bob by email at firstname.lastname@example.org by phone at 223-5247 You can reach Sue by email at email@example.com by phone at 223-5247.
Note: Payment must be received before tickets are released, and there is no refund on purchased tickets.
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
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”)
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.
Annual Meeting Update From Special Events Committee
VSEA’s Annual Meeting is September 14, 2019, which is approaching quickly. The Special Events Committee is letting VSEA members know that you can reserve a room now through a special link created by Okemo.
VSEA members will need to use a special rate code for the event, which is:
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
The Committee is also sharing that there are two things members identified in the survey as important discussions to be conducted at Annual Meeting, including a review, discussion and vote on the union’s operating budget and a celebration of "surviving the Janus decision."
The Committee is reminding members to keep an eye out in future WIAs for more 2019 Annual Meeting updates.
VSEA Bennington Chapter President asked WIA to include the following announcements for Chapter members and retirees:
The Chapter will be holding a food drive throughout the month of May to help fortify local food shelves. If you need bags for donations, or a food receptacle, contact Chapter President Victoria Thorpe by email vthorpevsea@ gmail.comor by phone (802) 753-6485;
The Chapter will be participating in the Youth Appreciation Day on May 11, 2019. If interested in helping out in the craft tent, contact Chapter President Victoria Thorpe;
The Chapter is seeking interested members to fill the remainder of its Chapter Clerk and Chapter Treasurer’s existing terms; and
The Chapter is looking to recruit members interested in becoming a Council member. Currently, there are vacancies in both the Chapter and VVH seats. To learn more about becoming a Council member, contact Chapter President Victoria Thorpe.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. VSEA will verify your membership status and provide you with VSEA’s code, which you will need to complete your online purchase.
* 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
“During the 2011 negotiations, the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition reportedly gave a list of 344 suggestions to Hearst Media, which wrote that most of the suggestions were reducing the number of consultants the state uses.”
Line from a story this week about Connecticut lawmakers considering reimplementing a suggestion box for state employees to identify ‘gross’ waste and be rewarded; a concept the state’s Governor first rolled out in 2011 (without a reward), only to learn that consultants are the issue. The box idea was then killed.
At a time when the unemployment rate is a low 3.8 percent, the public sector is falling far behind in its desperate search for talented employees.
Even though postings for state government jobs rose 11 percent from 2013 to 2017, the number of applicants for those jobs dropped by 24 percent, according to a study that will be released this afternoon by the National Association of State Chief Administrators (NASCA).
The chief administrative officers (CAOs) who were surveyed blame this workforce dilemma on several issues: 85 percent said states can’t offer salaries that are competitive with the private sector; 55 percent said there’s a negative public perception about working for the government; and a third cited the lack of recruitment tools at their disposal as one of the biggest barriers to hiring.
"If governors, legislators and state chief administrators don’t take action today, if they don’t modernize job descriptions and change employee culture, the ultimate failure will be to the citizens," says Jamie Rodgers, deputy director of NASCA.
Note: Take away employees’ defined benefit pension plan, and watch the numbers plummet even faster!
The publication NH Labor News published a story this week about SEIU Local 1984 "filing an unfair labor practice (ULP) complaint against public transit provider Cooperative Alliance For Seacoast Transportation (COAST) on behalf of an employee who was working to organize co-workers into a union."
From the story:
The unfair labor practice complaint, which was filed with the state Public Employee Labor Relations Board, alleges that COAST interfered with the election process in violation of the state’s collective bargaining law, then terminated the employee who had been working to unionize.
That employee, Ellen Read, said that union organizing efforts came in response to what employees viewed as abuse and disrespect on the part of COAST management.
“My colleagues and I have been facing safety, scheduling and targeting issues for years,” said Ellen Read. “The only way to end this and ensure that it never comes back is to give the workers a voice by forming a union.”
The blog Yankee Institute posted a piece this week about Connecticut lawmakers considering reimplementing a suggestion box concept for state employees who identify practices that are determined by the state auditors to be a “gross waste of funds." If legislation passes, employees who do so would be rewarded with a lump-sum payment equal to 10 percent of the state’s savings. As the post notes, "that 10 percent could potentially mean big money if a state employee can find those gross wastes of funds." The Auditor’s Office is pushing back on the idea due to staff burden.
Note: Interesting that when the Governor implemented a suggestion box in 2011, the majority of suggestions coming in from state employees were to reduce the number of consultants the state uses.
"Of those 55 and older, 48 percent had nothing put away in a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan or an individual retirement account, according to a GAO estimate for 2016 that was released Tuesday. That’s an improvement from the 52 percent without retirement money in 2013.
Two in five of such households did have access to a traditional pension, also known as a defined benefit plan. However, 29 percent of older Americans had neither a pension nor any assets in a 401(k) or IRA account.
The estimate from the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, is a brief update to a more comprehensive 2015 report on retirement savings in the U.S. Both are based on the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances."
Remembering The Triangle Shirtwaist Tragedy 108 Years Later
Eight chalk silhouettes cover the sidewalk at the corner of Greene Street and Washington Place. On Monday, union members, activists, city officials and others gathered outside the landmarked site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory to honor the 108th anniversary of the historic blaze that revealed abhorrent working conditions but ultimately strengthened the labor movement.
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.
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!
* 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: email@example.com
"Protect Your Pension" Meeting Now
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.
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!
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.
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.