State Conducts Ceremony To Honor Employees During Public Service Recognition Week
The Department of Human Resources held its annual ceremony this week to honor individual state employees and state-employee teams who have contributed above and beyond to the service they deliver to Vermonters. The State’s ceremony coincides each year with America’s annual celebration of “Public Service Recognition Week,” which this year is May 7 to May 13. In addition, VSEA joins America in celebrating corrections officers and nurses this week as well.
On May 3, the State honored the following individual VSEA members for their service:
Bonnie Boyce – Attorney General’s Office
Krista Chadwick – AOT Policy, Planning and Intermodal Development
Katie Green – Treasurer’s Office
Tracey O’Connell – AHS Central Office
Adam Parry – Buildings & General Services
Barbara Reilly – Vermont Vets’ Home
Barbara Schultz – Department of Forest Parks & Recreation
Pat Scully – Department for Children & Families
The State honored the following teams for their service:
Family Services Division Risk Management Team;
Workforce Development’s Learning Management System Implementation Team;
Economic Development’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center Team;
Digital Services’ Office 365 Project Team;
Corrections Special Response Team;
DAIL Disabilities Act Rules Revision Team;
Health Department’s Website Design Team;
DVHA’s Payment Reform Team;
ANR’s St. Johnsbury Regional RIOT Team;
DEC’s Underground Storage Tank Team;
DFW’s Southern District Wardens Team;
AOT Right-Of-Way Team;
AOT Learning Management System Project Team;
DMV American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators Regional 1 Charity Team;
DOL’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration Unit Team;
Liquor Control’s Warehouse Team;
Military Department’s Fire Protection Team;
Public Safety’s Fire Academy Training Team; and
Tax Department’s VTax Project Team.
To see individual team member’s names, click here.
Corrections’ Special Response Team Acknowledged
Several VSEA Corrections members reached out to WIA to ask that we share the description for the reason the DOC’s Special Response Team was chosen with the full membership. We are happy to oblige.
“SRT serves as VTDOC’s emergency response team and must maintain a capability to respond to emergencies in a Correctional Facility 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Each Correctional Facility has an individual team and uses a ‘mutual aid’ system to respond to nearby facilities when additional assistance is needed.
Under the direction of their respective Superintendents, this Team selects members through formal try-out processes, develops and oversees training for new and current members, supervises members in performance of these duties, oversees procurement, maintenance, and replacement of equipment, and commands the team in response to emergent incidents.
Over the past few years, we’ve re-organized these teams and invested resources in them. This year has seen the results of this investment and has been a significant leap forward for the teams, under the leadership of this group. Across the state, we’ve seen an increase in the capabilities and professionalism of the respective teams. No investment of resources would have been effective without the dedicated leadership and commitment of the SRT Leadership.
SRT has managed a host of routine tasks – coordinating with VSP to conduct searches with K-9s, supporting facility-wide searches, resolution of routine incidents, and completion of high-risk transports. Each of these ‘routine’ tasks requires a high level of knowledge and skill and carry with it potential for danger.
In addition to this, SRT has responded to a number of more significant emergencies, including a staff being held hostage, an inmate being held hostage, an inmate holding himself hostage, and a multi-inmate disturbance/unit takeover. Each of these situations bore a real risk of serious injury, even death. In each case, SRT members, under the direction of members of this team, were critical components in supporting a successful resolution that resulted in the rescue or release of hostages, preserved the safety of staff and inmates involved, prevented or minimized property damage, and restored order to institutions without notable injury despite the presence of armed resistance.
Their performance in these incidents was selfless – being activated both day and night, traveling to other sites, and putting themselves into dangerous situations. It provided direct evidence of the value of the training and supervision provided by this Team.
VSEA’s Legislative team continues to camp out at the State House, waiting for a Conference Committee to hammer out a final budget and watching to see what happens with the State’s proposal to obliterate decades of teachers’ health care bargaining history, based on unsubstantiated savings the move would allegedly generate. As you have probably read and heard, the debate about what’s going to happen to teachers’ health care is center stage right now at the State House, which has put a lot of additional budget discussions on hold.
With respect to the State’s desire for a blanket approach to address teachers’ health care, VTDigger reports on May 10 that State House lawyers have identified several areas of concern with the proposal, and Digger follows up on May 11 with a story about legislative leadership introducing a counter proposal on teacher health care and the State’s quick dismissal of it, in lieu of announcing their own counter today. The debate continues, as does the session.
VSEA is thanking all the members who responded to your union’s request this week for calls and messages to House members, urging them to advise their Conference Committee participants to support keeping the Windsor prison open and support funding Judiciary workers’ retroactive pay.
As reported last week, the situation remains fluid at the State House and members are advised to continue paying special attention to all VSEA email alerts, phone text alerts, website, Facebook and Twitter posts.
VTDigger reports on May 11 that lawmakers have attached language to a bill that would create a “task force” to design what a new Liquor Control and Lottery merger would look like. According to the story, the task force will present a plan to the legislature in 2018. VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard cautions that whatever plan is presented is still subject to comment and scrutiny.
In an effort to better educate frontline worksite Stewards about their role in VSEA, as well as provide them with enhancements to their existing skill set, VSEA’s Field Department is hosting a series of “Steward Summits” across Vermont throughout 2017.
Stewards will also learn the latest developments relating to contract enforcement and receive an overview of the budget, safety and health and other challenges that lie ahead for state employees. Stewards who attend will be asked to immediately help out by taking some of what they learn back to the worksite to educate their colleagues.
Four, six-hour trainings have been scheduled, and every current VSEA Steward is required to attend one session.
The Steward Summits (all 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) are:
May 19 – Best Western, 45 Blush Hill Road, Waterbury
August 18 – Best Western, 45 Blush Hill Road, Waterbury
October 20 – Hotel Coolidge, 39 South Main St., White River Junction
November 3 – Holiday Inn, 476 Holiday Drive, Rutland
A Message To VSEA Council Members From VSEA 1st Vice President, Aimee Towne:
"The most important word in the language of the working class is solidarity."
I hope this message finds everyone in good spirits, refreshed and feeling appreciated.
As we approach the end of another legislative session, the VSEA Council will soon take stock of what state employees won and lost in this budget and we’ll examine how any new law passed will impact our services–both pro and con. After that, we have to turn our attention to the U.S. Congress and some lawmakers’ desire to pass a federal budget that could contain some very deep cuts to many of the programs and services Vermonters depend on us to provide. The full impact of the coming federal cuts is still unknown, but initial reports are not promising for some sectors of government, and VSEA members must begin preparing now for whatever could come our way.
I want to begin this serious discussion about both the state and federal budget impacts at our June 13 Council meeting, which is being held at Northern Vermont University (Lyndon State College). And while a budget(s) discussion is a key agenda item, there are others too, including VSEA bylaw changes, a wrap on the 2018 legislative session, a VSEA Communications Department training and the Awards and Scholarship Committee’s annual awards presentation to this year’s VSEA scholarship winners. As always, it will be a busy day.
Addison Chapter Sponsoring May 19 Employee Appreciation Day Event!
VSEA’s Addison Chapter is hosting a special Employee Appreciation Day event on May 19 in the first-floor lobby at 156 South Village Green in Middlebury. Chapter members are invited to stop by the event to receive a small token of your Chapter and VSEA’s appreciation for your service to Vermonters. The EAD begins at 11:30 a.m. and continues until 1:30 p.m.
Bennington Chapter Seeks Volunteers For May 20 Youth Appreciation Day Event
VSEA Bennington Chapter President Victoria Thorpe is actively looking for members to help her staff a craft tent the Chapter is hosting at a Saturday, May 20, Youth Appreciation Day event being held in Willow Park’s Upper Pavilion. This free community event begins a noon and goes until 4:00 p.m.
Any VSEA member who would like to help Victoria staff the Chapter’s craft tent should email her at email@example.com or call her at 802-753-6485.
In celebration of tomorrow’s “Global Labor Film Festival,” the Vermont Workers’ Center and the Old Labor Hall are sponsoring a screening of the award-winning documentary A Day’s Work, which exposes the adverse implications to workers of modern temp employee work (an issue VSEA has also been trying to highlight in recent years).
Admission is free, and the screening begins at 7:00 p.m. at the Old Labor Hall, located at 46 Granite Street in Barre. Light refreshments will be available, and, as always, donations to the Hall are greatly appreciated.
One of the best ways to get involved in your union is to run for elected office. VSEA is now accepting petitions for the Officer and Board of Trustee positions listed below.
Members simply download a petition, collect the required signatures and then submit the petition to VSEA to place your name into nomination for one of the following union positions up for election in 2017:
VSEA Insurance Benefits Enrollment In Montpelier, Berlin And Middlesex During May
Learn More Or Schedule An Appointment Today!
By Appointment Only:
VSEA Insurance Representative Joanne Woodcock will be at the following locations to talk with interested VSEA members about member-only insurance benefits.
109 State Street – Montpelier, Vt.
4th Floor Conference Room
May 15 and 16 – 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm You must bring State ID
National Life – Montpelier, Vt.
4th Floor – Room 414
May 17 and 18 – 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Middlesex Therapeutic Community Residence (MTCR)
MTCR Conference Room
May 23 and 24 – 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Receive information on disability coverage, family life insurance, family accident, cancer and hospital coverage. You must be a member paying full dues to be eligible for this VSEA benefit. If you are an agency-fee payer, Joanne can provide you information about signing up for full membership.
All applications need to be taken in person.
Email Joanne@vseainsurance.com for an appointment. Please provide your age, hourly wage and job description so I can send a quote BEFORE we meet.
VSEA Organizer Tim Lenoch is personally conducting informational meetings in set workplaces on set days in four locations. He says the purpose of the meetings is to provide members with an opportunity to “join with their colleagues and VSEA staff for updates and discussion on the issues and challenges facing state employees and the impact on your working conditions and the services they provide.” He adds that members are welcome to “come share their ideas and hear from co-workers on how to build a stronger union and improve public services.”
Snacks and refreshments are provided.
State Office Building
232 Main Street
White River Junction
State Office Building
118 Prospect Street
First Floor Conference Room
State Office Building
100 Mineral Street
AHS Conference Room
State Office Building
63 Professional Dr.
Nation’s CEO Pay Continues To Surge When Compared To Average Worker
The national AFL-CIO website’s “Executive Paywatch” page was recently updated to reflect new data on the amount of pay and compensation awarded in 2016 to America’s Chief Executive Officers (CEOs). Here are the report’s five key findings:
The average compensation for an S&P 500 CEO last year was $13.1 million. In contrast, production and nonsupervisory workers earned only $37,632, on average, in 2016. The average S&P 500 CEO makes 347 times what an average U.S. rank-and-file worker makes;
Last year, S&P 500 CEOs got a 5.9% raise while working people struggled to make ends meet;
Many U.S. corporations aren’t paying taxes on their offshore profits, shifting the burden to working people. The worst of the tax avoiders, 18 Fortune 500 companies, paid $0 in federal taxes between 2008 and 2015;
Fortune 500 corporations are avoiding up to $767 billion in U.S. federal income taxes by holding $2.6 trillion of "permanently reinvested" profits offshore. This offshoring isn’t an accident, it’s a choice, and it has an impact on the lives of Americans. For example, last year, Mondelēz International chose to offshore some 600 jobs from its Chicago Nabisco bakery. In the same year, its CEO, Irene Rosenfeld, made $16.7 million.Seven years ago, Congress passed a law that included a rule requiring all publicly traded companies to disclose their CEO-to-worker pay ratio. But Wall Street and big corporations have lobbied hard to stop the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from enforcing this rule. Take action now to change that.
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.
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We want to know what you think of VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter or if there is anything we could be doing better.
VSEA’s Legislative Team has begun to post weekly reports to let members know what’s been happening at the State House in Montpelier. To get the latest VSEA updates from under the Golden Dome, you will first need to log into your VSEA.org account (log in here) and then click here.
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.
NMU Sick Leave Bank Teetering On Bankruptcy! VSEA Members Urged To Contribute
Donations Being Accepted
April 1 To June 30
VSEA member Dawn Carrillo staffs the Non-Management Unit Sick Leave Bank, and she is again asking WIA to sound the alarm that the bank is nearly depleted of hours. She is also announcing that NMU members can donate a few hours to your Unit’s sick leave bank from April 1 to June 30, 2017.
“Just donating an hour of your time can mean the world to a fellow employee,” reads a new flyer DHR is circulating. It also informs state employees that they can donate any amount of annual- or personal-leave time to the NMU 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.”
Threatened While On The Job? VSEA Wants To Know
VSEA President Dave Bellini is asking all state employees who are threatened while performing your job duties to provide an account of the threat not only to your supervisor or the State, but also to VSEA.
“VSEA wants to begin to compile its own record of threats against frontline state employees, no matter your occupation,” explains Bellini. “I’m asking all employees who are threatened, especially those working in AHS, to take a few minutes to fill out an online form VSEA made to collect your report. The information will help us provide a firsthand account of the number of threats being made and where they are being made, in addition to some other things.”
What’s VSEA Done For Vermont State Employees? See For Yourself
A lot has happened since the VSEA was officially recognized in 1944 as the voice for Vermont’s state employee workforce, and VSEA’s Communications Department has now compiled many of your union’s notable victories and achievements in a new online chronological history of the VSEA.
“Thankfully, VSEA formed a special committee in the mid-eighties to put together a historical synopsis of what had happened within the union from 1944 to then, and it was a great piece for us to build from,” explains VSEA Communications Director Doug Gibson. “This up-to-date history will hopefully help educate more VSEA members about the fights and campaigns of past state employees, reminding them how long it actually took for workers to get to where they are today, in terms of wages, benefits and working conditions. We hope it will be a good resource and tool for members.”
Last fall, VSEA’s Membership Recruitment Committee launched a “Membership Engagement and Recruitment Initiative” to grow the union’s ranks. The Committee asked members to talk with current agency-fee payers about the benefits of full-fledged membership and why the member should make the switch. If the member decides to upgrade their membership, the recruiting member will have the satisfaction of knowing they helped their union become stronger, but, in addition, the Membership Recruitment Committee will be awarding different levels of prizes to members, based on the number of new VSEA members recruited.
Here are the guidelines to participate and be eligible for a prize:
Whether submitting your recruited member(s) name(s)on a physical recruitment card or online, you must include your name as the recruiter;
Every member who recruits a new member will has his or her name entered into a drawing for the Grand Prize. The winner’s name will be drawn at VSEA’s Annual Meeting in September 2017, and the winner must be present to claim the prize;
Team entries are being accepted. Please register with Membership Recruitment Committee Chair Katelyn Chase by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members who recruit a new member, who then agrees to join your union’s political awareness committee (VTPAC) will receive an additional chance to win the Grand Prize, and
The cut-off date for this competition is August 30, 2017.
Here are the different prize levels:
$10 gift card and a VSEA water bottle (75 prizes awarded)
$25 gift card and a VSEA hat
(40 prizes awarded)
$50 gift card and a VSEA tote bag
(15 prizes awarded)
$100 and a VSEA vest
(8 prizes awarded)
1 Grand Prize of $1200
Note: WIA is periodically reminding members about this effort until its culmination in August 2017.