VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: May 17, 2019

Time Running Out! See The Red Sox With Your Union In June!
Order your tickets today!


Help Spread The Word!
View, Print, And Post A Condensed Version Of This Week’s Issue!
(Opens/ downloads a PDF)


Update From The State House


Vermont lawmakers were hoping to adjourn this weekend, but that’s no longer the case, as a decision was made late this week by both bodies to reconvene next week. 

VSEA and its legislative team are thanking all the members who contacted their senators or representatives in recent days and weeks to lobby against ESD cuts and in favor of VSEA’s arbitration bill. 

As WIA was being finalized, here is the latest update on four bills important to VSEA members:

The House Government Operations Committee is currently considering H. 16, the bill that would grant VSEA neutral arbitration in the last-best-offer phase of contract negotiations for the Executive Branch and members in the Office of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs. VSEA is hopeful the bill will be voted out of committee either later today or when the House meets again next week. Once out of committee, the bill will head to the House floor for consideration.
The Committee of Conference on the budget bill met briefly this morning and is expected to reconvene briefly this afternoon. VSEA anticipates that the major issues still outstanding in the budget that affect VSEA members–primarily, funding for Reach Up case managers and other positions in the DCF’s Economic Services Division—may not be discussed by the Committee of Conference until next week.
A Committee of Conference has been formed to discuss S. 134, a bill addressing temporary workers, whose House counterpart would lift the cap on permanent classified positions in the Executive Branch and create 30 new Correctional Officer I positions. The committee’s first meeting, which was initially scheduled for this afternoon, was canceled. VSEA anticipates vetting of the bill to begin anew when the group meets again next week.
Family Leave 
Both the House and Senate have passed versions of the Family Leave bill. A Committee of Conference is meeting this afternoon and next week to attempt to find a compromise between the two chambers’ versions of this billl. ​

Note: VSEA members and retirees should be prepared to again contact your lawmakers next week at any time. This is because no one knows yet for certain which bills will demand member and retiree action or how this is all going to shake out next week, prior to adjournment. Thanks in advance for your help!

See The Red Sox With Your Union! 

Order Your Tickets Today!

Saturday, June 8

Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

$111.00 Per Person. Includes a ride to the park and a ticket to the game.

Bus Pick-Up Locations: 
Waterbury – 7:00 am 
White River Junction – 8:00 am 

To Purchase Tickets, or if you have questions, please contact either: Bob South at VSEA: 
bsouth@vsea.org, 802- 223-5247 or Sue DeVoid at VSEA: 

Payment must be received before tickets are released. 

No refunds on purchased tickets.

June Council Meeting Date Change!

VSEA Council Members: Please be aware that our June 13 Council meeting has been rescheduled to Wednesday, June 26. The meeting will be held at Vermont Technical College (VTC).

For more information or if you have questions please email VSEA First Vice President Aimee Towne: ATowne@vsea.org

President Bellini Working The Halls Of The State House As Session Closes Out

VSEA President Dave Bellini is at the State House today, helping VSEA’s legislative team lobby for the union’s important bills, like arbitration, temps and family and medical leave, as well as arguing against bills that would cut ESD and Woodside workers.

(Left) Bellini pictured with State Treasurer Beth Pearce and VSEA member and BGS Custodial Supervisor Jean Crockett (red shirt).

(Right) DOC Commissioner Mike Touchette and Bellini present Sen. Dick Sears with a department appreciation plaque for his recognition of department operations and its staff. 

VSEA Joins With America This Week To Honor Police Officers 

VSEA’s Facebook page posted the image above this week to say thanks to its police officer members and to honor all police officers who have died in the line of duty.  

Police Week came into effect under President John F. Kennedy’s administration in 1962 with the designation of May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day.

VSEA Retiree & Longtime Public Employee Vaughn Altemus Honored This Week With House Resolution

VSEA Retirees Chapter President and Vermont Rep. Bob Hooper introduced a resolution that was read this week in House chambers, honoring longtime VSEA member, now retiree, Vaughn Altemus. 

Read Rep. Hooper’s resolution, titled "House concurrent resolution honoring Vaughn Altemus for his career achievements in academia and Vermont State government."

Pictured here with Vaughn at the State House to hear the reading were (left to right) Rep. Terry Macaig, Debbie Altemus, Vaughn, Terry Lefebvre, Rep. Bob Hooper, State Treasurer Beth Pearce

Note: Congratulations and thanks for your service Brother Altemus!

VT F&W Reminds To Leave Fawns Alone

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is issuing its annual reminder about what to do if you stumble upon a fawn in the coming weeks.

A May 15 Associated Press story: 

Deer fawns are being born this time of year, and the Vermont Dept. of Fish & Wildlife asks that people avoid disturbing or picking them up.

Most deer fawns are born in late May and the first and second weeks of June, according to Vermont deer biologist Nick Fortin.

Fortin says it is best to keep your distance because the fawn’s mother is almost always nearby. When people see a small fawn alone, they often mistakenly assume it is helpless, lost or needing to be rescued.
Fawns do not attempt to evade predators during their first few weeks, instead relying on camouflage and stillness to remain undetected. During these times, fawns learn critical survival skills from their mothers. Bringing a fawn into a human environment results in separation from its mother, and it usually results in a sad ending for the animal.

Fortin encourages people to resist the urge to assist wildlife in ways that may be harmful, and he offered these tips:

  • Deer nurse their young at different times during the day and often leave their young alone for long periods of time. These animals are not lost. Their mother knows where they are and will return.
  • Deer normally will not feed or care for their young when people are close by.
  • Deer fawns will imprint on humans and can lose their natural fear of people, which is essential to their survival.
  • Keep domestic pets under control at all times. Dogs often will kill fawns and other baby animals.

Taking any wild animal into captivity is illegal in Vermont.

State Hired 20 New Social Workers To Help Reduce Caseloads. VPR Asks "Did It Work?"

VPR aired a piece this week that examines what happened to caseloads after the legislature approved money in 2015 to hire an additional 20 DCF social workers. The results are a mixed bag, according to the story. Here are excerpts:

By increasing staff, DCF hoped to bring caseloads down from nearly 18 per worker to 16. The Legislature signed off on the plan.

Not all of the $8.4 million approved went to the Department for Children and Families, but most of the money it did receive went toward hiring social workers. The department ultimately added 20 family service workers, in hopes of reducing caseloads.

But while the supply of caseworkers increased, the demand for their services has increased even more. DCF says the number of child-protection cases has risen by 33% since 2013.

With additional social workers, but also increased demand for services, at this time DCF caseloads are slightly down — around 17 per social worker — but still above the department’s goal set back in 2015.

May 24 Is The Deadline To Be Considered For Vacant NMU Bargaining Team Seats

VSEA Non-Management Unit Chairperson Bob Stone is reminding that the NMU Bargaining Team is actively looking to fill three vacant seats, representing state employees working in:

  • Building Maintenance;
  • Data Processing; and
  • Labor / Education 

 VSEA NMU members interested in any of the above positions are asked to send a letter or email of interest by 4:00 p.m., Friday, May 24, to:
Bob Stone
NMU Chairperson
c/o VSEA 
155 State St.
Montpelier, VT 05602
Email: bob272vsea@gmail.com

Note: NMU members specifically working in one of the groups looking to fill a vacancy will be given priority for consideration.

VSEA 2019 Election Season Officially Underway

All VSEA members were recently sent an email that explains how to run for a VSEA Officer or Board post up for election this year. The email will also contained blank petitions for interested candidates to complete.

Officer Posts Up for Election This Year:
(Petition Filing Deadline: June 3, 2019)

  • President
  • First Vice President
  • Second Vice President
  • Clerk
  • Treasurer

Board Seats Up for Election This Year:
(Petition Filing Deadline: July 16, 2019)

  • District 1 Trustee (Central Vermont, Barre)
  • District 2 Trustee (Waterbury, Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital)
  • District 5 Trustee (Bennington, Rutland)

Join The May 30 Anti-Scott Walker Rally In Burlington!

The Vermont labor community will be rallying and picketing outside the Hilton Hotel in Burlington on May 30. That night, ex-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is speaking at a fundraiser there. VSEA members will remember that, during his tenure as Wisconsin’s governor, Walker was notoriously anti-union and anti-worker, especially when it came to his treatment of public employees, which is a major reason VSEA is participating in the rally.    

Here’s how the evening is going to go:

  • Meet in front of Battery Park stage – 5:00 p.m.
  • March to Hilton – 5:30 p.m.
  • Picket in front of hotel and rally across street
  • Picket / rally concludes at 7:15 p.m. 

Here are reasons to join the picket.

Help Spread The Word!

Download, distribute and post these flyer in your worksite! Thanks!
(Opens/ downloads a PDF)

See you there!

NMU Sick Leave Bank Nearly Bankrupt!

It’s open enrollment time to donate some hours to the NMU Sick Leave Bank, which is on the brink of bankruptcy and needs your help.  

Please consider donating as much Annual and/or Personal leave as you are able to contribute.

Donating an hour of your time can mean the world to a fellow employee, who, along with their families, are struggling due to serious health issues.

Please print the Sick Leave Bank Donation Form, complete it, and forward it to your Human Resources Administrator between now and June 30, 2019.

Many thanks to those who previously donated time to the Sick Leave Bank. Your generosity is making a difference!

Reserve Your Room Now For VSEA’s 2019 Annual Meeting At Okemo 

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:


Reserve Room Now Here! 

Room types available:

  • 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.

"Annual Meeting 2019" Facebook Event Page

AFLAC Enrollment – Sign up through VSEA!

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!


"Reducing forced overtime is where I would encourage you to focus your efforts."

Michigan Sen. Jeff Irwin, advising the state’s Corrections Director, who was commenting on the Department’s decision to hire a Wellness Program Manager to help Corrections employees deal with high stress. In a Detroit Free Press story this week.   


Upcoming Meetings:


VSEA Chapter Meetings

  • Retirees’ Chapter 
    Wednesday, May 22

    9:00 a.m.
    155 State Street

    Questions: Contact VSEA Retiees’ Chapter President Bob Hooper: hooper9999@gmail.com

  • Waterbury Chapter 
    Wednesday, May 22

    12:00 p.m.
    DPS Headquarters
    45 State Drive

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

  • Brattleboro Chapter 
    Wednesday, May 22

    12:15 p.m.
    232 Main Street
    First Floor Conference Room

    Questions: Contact VSEA Brattleboro Chapter President Robin Rieske: robin.rieske@vermont.gov


Talking Points:


CT Senate Passes Bill Requiring Nursing Homes To Disclose Staffing Levels

The Connecticut Mirror reports this week that the state Senate passed a bill that would require nursing homes to disclose on a daily basis the number of direct-care staff members assigned to patients; a measure designed to increase transparency and encourage the facilities to hire more employees who work closely with residents.

Under the proposal, nursing homes would have to post the number of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, advanced practice registered nurses and nurse’s aides they have on staff, along with the hours they are scheduled to work during each shift.

The notice also must include the minimum number of employees per shift mandated by the state. Connecticut’s public health department requires nursing homes to provide at least 1.9 hours of direct care to each patient on a daily basis.

The information would have to be posted in “a conspicuous place” clearly visible to residents, employees and visitors.

The state’s largest health care workers union, District 1199 SEIU, backed the measure, arguing that too many facilities have insufficient staff providing direct care.
Unionized workers from 20 Connecticut nursing homes have threatened to strike if money isn’t added to the budget for pay raises.

“The Senate passed a bill that has been an important vehicle for a long-overdue public dialogue on the very significant staffing-related challenges Connecticut nursing homes face daily,” Matthew Barrett, head of the Connecticut Association of Healthcare Facilities, said Wednesday.“The difficult tradeoff is that the legislation also adds new administrative reporting requirements to already over-burdened nursing home staff.”

Editorial Ridicules PA Lawmakers For Hypocrisy On Their Pension Plan Choice

Pennsylvania lawmakers recently voted to place new hires to state government into a 401(k) pension plan, however, it was reported last week that a majority of lawmakers (who are full-time and receive a defined-benefit pension benefit) did not opt to make the switch with the new hires.

The editors of PennLive took notice and penned an editorial this week that calls out lawmakers who opted to stick with their defined benefit plan and not make the switch to a 401(k).  

From the editorial:

"The cool reception to new rules for state pensions — and the dose of outrage being directed at hypocritical lawmakers — isn’t surprising.

The revised pension options are mandatory only for new employees and lawmakers who started Jan. 1. Current employees and lawmakers have a choice of sticking with the defined benefit plan, or choosing one of the new plans.

The plan deadlines have arrived, along with boos from employees and a helping of citizen ire. The number of current state employees and lawmakers who opted to forgo the traditional plan and pick a new option falls somewhere between slim and none. Those keeping a death grip their current pensions include most lawmakers who voted to phase out the state’s traditional pension plan.

Just 20 of the 218 lawmakers participating in the state pension plan chose a new option, according to a PennLive analysis.

So, lawmakers broke the system, then sort of fixed it going forward, without addressing the $70 billion unfunded liability. Then most of them hypocritically opted out of participating in the new plans they voted for.

They’re getting the brickbats they deserve…"

Commentary Blasts Delta Airlines Insult To Employees Wanting To Organize

In a commentary this week in the Guardian, respected labor journalist Steve Greenhouse responds harshly to reports that, faced with a union organizing drive, Delta Airlines is circulating flyers / posters that suggest employees would be better served buying themselves an Xbox or beer, instead of paying union dues.  

From Greenhouse’s commentary: 

In its latest offensive to beat back unionization, Delta Air Lines displays total contempt for labor unions and an astonishing ignorance about what unions have accomplished to lift American workers.

Delta has a new anti-union poster that tells employees, “A new video game system with the latest hits sounds like fun. Put your money towards that instead of paying dues to the union.” Another Delta poster estimates that union dues cost $700 a year and says, “Nothing’s more enjoyable than a night out watching football with your buddies. All those union dues you pay every year could buy a few rounds.”

Economic studies have found that union members earn 13.6% more than comparable non-union workers, after adjusting for education, age and other factors. That means a Delta flight attendant who earns $60,000 a year might see her compensation rise by over $7,000 a year (far more than $700) if her pay rose 13.6% as a result of Delta’s flight attendants unionizing. Only Delta’s pilots and dispatchers are unionized although many of its flight attendants, baggage handlers and ramp workers are eager to unionize. Delta boasts that it provides the best pay and profit-sharing in the airline industry, although its employees often complain they have to pay more for health coverage than workers at other airlines.

I certainly enjoy my beer, but there’s no denying that unions provide workers far more sustenance than do video games or a few rounds of beer. Unionized workers are far more likely to have employer-sponsored health coverage – 75% of unionized workers participate in employer-sponsored health plans, compared with just 49% of non-union workers. And 83% of union members have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, but just 49% of non-union workers do.

Another Argument For Unions. Study Finds Half Of Americans "One Paycheck Away From Financial Disaster"

Providing more evidence of why labor unions are so vital, especially today, the online site MarketWatch, posted a story this week about a new NORC at the University of Chicago study that found that 51% of working adults in the United States would need to access savings to cover necessities if they missed more than one paycheck.

“Even short disruptions in pay can cause significant hardship, as most Americans appear to be living paycheck-to-paycheck,” Angela Fontes, director of the Behavioral and Economic Analysis and Decision-Making (BEAD) program at NORC at the University of Chicago, writes in the report.

Of course, many Americans don’t have savings to fall back on. A study from home repair service HomeServe USA found that roughly 50% of consumers either have nothing set aside to cover an emergency or less than $500 put away. And research from the Federal Reserve has indicated that roughly 4 in 10 Americans ouldn’t afford a $400 emergency.

This Week:

Update From The State House

See The Red Sox With Your Union!

June Council Meeting Date Change!

President Bellini Working The Halls Of The State House As Session Closes Out

VSEA Joins With America This Week To Honor Police Officers 

State Hired 20 New Social Workers To Help Reduce Caseloads. VPR Asks "Did It Work?"

VSEA Retiree & Longtime Public Employee Vaughn Altemus Honored This Week With House Resolution

VT F&W Reminds To Leave Fawns Alone

May 24 Deadline To Be Considered For Vacant NMU Bargaining Team Seats

VSEA 2019 Election Season Officially Underway 

Join The May 30 Anti-Scott Walker Rally In Burlington

NMU Sick Leave Bank Nearly Bankrupt!

Reserve Your Room Now For VSEA’s 2019 Annual Meeting At Okemo

AFLAC Enrollment – Sign up through VSEA!




May 21
Special Board of Trustees’ Meeting
155 State Street
9:00 a.m.

May 21
Awards & Scholarship Committee Meeting
155 State Street
9:00 a.m.

May 22
Retirees’ Chapter Meeting
155 State Street
9:00 a.m.

May 22
Waterbury Chapter Meeting 
DPS Headquarters
45 State Drive
12:00 p.m.

May 22
Brattleboro Chapter Meeting 
State Office Building
232 Main Street
First Floor Conference Room
12:15 p.m.

May 24
Deadline To Submit For Open NMU Bargaining Team Seats


Talking Points:


CT Senate Passes Bill Requiring Nursing Homes To Disclose Staffing Levels

Editorial Ridicules PA Lawmakers For Hypocrisy On Their Pension Plan Choice

Commentary Blasts Delta Airlines Insult To Employees Wanting To Organize

Another Argument For Unions. Study Finds Half Of Americans "One Paycheck Away From Financial Disaster"




2019 Legislative Session Online Hub

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

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

Strength In Numbers! VSEA Membership Drive 2019 Now Underway!

Told You’re Being Investigated?
Watch This Video!

"Protect Your Pension" Meeting Video

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

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

What Is The VSEA Advantage Program?


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.

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

VSEA HQ 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

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.

VSEA Membership Drive 2019
Now Underway!

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!

  • 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.
More Membership Drive Information Here!

Need a quick reference to help with your recruiting? You can view an informational webpage with some recruitment tips and advice here.

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

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.

"Protect Your Pension" Meeting Video

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

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

If you haven’t already, begin educating yourself today about what the Janus decision means—or supplement what you know already. Please also inform your co-workers about this Janus page and talk with them about what you learned and remind them of the importance of a union in their everyday life. You could make a difference. Every study shows that nothing is more effective than member-to-member communication.​

Learn More On VSEA.org

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 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


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Send A Threat Report To VSEA

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Council Member?

Join the VSEA Council Facebook group here!

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Join the VSEA Chapter Presidents 
group here!

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group here!





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