Rally To Support Vermont Public Schools & Teachers!
Across the nation, public school teachers are taking to the streets to demand improved working conditions (for both themselves and their students), dignity and respect while at work and fair compensation for the valuable service they provide daily to America’s school-age children. On Saturday, VSEA members are invited to attend a rally to support our state’s public schools, teachers and support staff.
We Love Our Public Schools Rally
Saturday, May 12, 2018
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Montpelier High School Auditorium
5 High School Dr.
Have you been watching as your peers in Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and West Virginia have taken to state capitols by the tens of thousands to stand up for their schools? They have demanded an end to shortchanging their schools and students, as well as stand up for fair pay and decent working conditions.
If you thought that what they are facing can’t happen here, look no further than the governor’s education plan, which would make massive cuts in programs that our kids depend on while slashing more than 2,000 of your jobs.
Join your colleagues and others for a rally to show how much we love Vermont’s public schools – and to let the governor and lawmakers know we won’t stand for this attack on our schools, educators,
VSEA Members Included In Castleton University Layoffs
Citing a need to align Castleton University’s budget with its “enrollment realities,” Dean of Advancement Jeff Weld told the Rutland Herald on May 17 that 10 support staff employees had been laid off, five of whom were VSEA members. Seventeen employees retired, including five VSEA members.
From the story:
CU President Karen Scolforo said she was proud(?) of the work done to put Castleton “on a positive trajectory for the future.”
“While we are saddened that some our staffing levels are affected by this process, we have maintained our focus on our students first and foremost throughout this process,” she said, “and ultimately we feel strongly that the number of positions affected was minimized through strong collaboration.”
Note: VSEA staff has visited the Castleton campus on several occasions, since learning the administration was discussing employee layoffs and retirements, advising VSEA members about their rights, helping guide them through the process and answering
Get Involved! Seats Up For Election To The VSEA Board Of Trustees. June 1 Deadline To File Your Petition!
VSEA’s Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee is reminding that June 1 is the deadline for interested members to submit a petition to run for a seat on the VSEA Board
As set forth in VSEA Bylaws, the following seats on the VSEA Board of Trustees are up for petition and election:
Non-Management Unit Trustee
Judicial Unit Trustee
District 3 Trustee (Newport/ Island Pond, Lamoille, Northeast Kingdom, St. Johnsbury)
District 6 Trustee (Brattleboro, Springfield, White River Junction)
Trustees elected in the above Districts must reside or have an assigned workstation, and continue to reside or have an assigned workstation, in the respective District. Trustees that represent units must stay a classified employee in that unit during the duration of their term.
If you are interested in placing your name into nomination to run for election for a seat on the VSEA Board of Trustees, please complete the attached petition and return it to VSEA headquarters by the deadline date of 4:00 p.m., June 1, 2018. To be eligible for candidacy for this position, you must be an active member of VSEA. In order for your petition to be accepted, it must have the signatures of at least 25 VSEA members. Please note that “agency-fee payers” are not full-fledged members and their signatures are not valid for inclusion on your petition. Therefore it is suggested that you obtain more than 25 signatures.
Role of a Trustee:
The VSEA Board of Trustees manages the internal affairs of the union and ensures that the policies of VSEA are followed. It reviews and approves the union’s budget for submission to the membership, and it reviews committee reports and recommends action by the Council and members. The Board also sets policy for VSEA.
The Board meets monthly and Trustees are expected to attend all the meetings as well as all quarterly Council meetings and the VSEA Annual Meeting. Release time from work is authorized under the unit collective bargaining contract. Each Trustee is also assigned to at least one VSEA Chapter to attend meetings and provide any necessary assistance.
If you have questions regarding your petition to fill a VSEA Trustee seat, please email the ERN committee (firstname.lastname@example.org). The deadline to submit petition to fill one of the three VSEA Trustee seats is 4:00 p.m., Friday, June 1, 2018."
Send your petition to:
155 State Street
Montpelier, VT. 05602
No faxes /or scanned documents will be accepted.
*If you are unable to access a petition online, please contact VSEA headquarters at 223-5247 to request to have a hard copy petition mailed to your home. Petitions are also available on the VSEA website in the Members Only Documents.
VSEA Judiciary Unit Members Overwhelmingly Ratify New Two-Year Agreement With Courts
Just weeks after reaching tentative agreement on a new two-year contract with the Judiciary, VSEA members belonging to the Unit voted overwhelmingly by electronic ballot to ratify the agreement.
The Judiciary Unit’s new contract includes first-time hourly pay of 60 cents for "Relief from Abuse" stand-by assignment (starting in year two) and improvements to overtime and to the Unit’s designated education and development fund. The Unit’s contract mirrors the wage and benefit package just imposed on the VSEA Executive Branch Bargaining Teams.
VSEA State Colleges’ Unit Members Upcoming Raise To Match CPI
VSEA Vermont State Colleges’ Unit Chairperson Sandra Noyes sent an email to Unit members this week, reminding about an upcoming negotiated raise, which kicks in on July 1, 2018.
From Noyes’ email:
According to Article 28 [Wages, paragraph 1 c)] of our current VSCSF bargaining agreement:
"Effective July 1, 2018, each bargaining unit member will receive an increase of 2.0% or CPI, whichever is higher, to his or her annual base salary."
Because the CPI (Consumer Price Index) is currently running at 2.5%, all VSCSF members employees covered under our contract will be receiving a 2.5% cost-of-living adjustment on July 1, 2018.
Additionally, as contained in Article 13 [Evaluations, paragraph 8], Unit members with satisfactory evaluations are eligible for an additional 1.5% salary increase, raising your total increase on July 1, 2018, to 4.0%.
Fire Claims House Where VSEA State Colleges’ Member & Her Daughter Were Tenants
They Are Okay, But, Tragically, Their Pets & All Belongings Were Lost
Just a week after posting about a VSEA Corrections Officer losing his home and pet in a tragic fire, VSEA was saddened to learn that, this past Sunday, longtime State Colleges’ member and activist Monique Prive lost her pets and all her belongings when a house where she was a tenant burned to the ground in West Burke. Monique’s daughter Tiffany also lost all her belongings.
UVM Nurses Rally In Advance Of June Contract Negotiations
Photo: Erin Green
Several Vermont media outlets reported this week on a Saturday rally by hundreds of UVM Medical Center nurses to raise awareness about their contract issues in advance of formal negotiations with the boss. The primary bargaining issues for the group are working conditions, pay and staffing levels. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders delivered a speech and his support to the nurses in their upcoming
She adds that “UVM Medical Center has a ‘huge vacancy rate’ for nurses, with 180 open positions. She says the hospital is having a hard time retaining nurses because of relatively low pay and difficult working conditions.
It was pouring down rain on Tuesday, but that didn’t stop Community College of Vermont faculty and supporters from conducting a spirited picket outside the Chancellor’s office in Montpelier. According to a May 16 VTDigger story, members of the CCV faculty’s newly formed union are “seeking a new contract for part-time adjunct faculty.”
“The contract would be a first for the 538 educators who work at CCV’s 12 campuses. Part-time faculty members are asking for higher wages and job security. Workers at the lowest end of the pay scale earn about 2 percent less than their full-time colleagues; faculty at the highest end earn 43 percent less, according to data from the union.”
Mark Janus About How His Union Helps Him
Unionized workers across America are right now nervously waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a decision on a lawsuit, titled Janus vs. Illinois. If the Court rules as expected, public-sector unions will be harmed
The man who brought the anti-union lawsuit is named Mark Janus, who claims, in part, that his union dues are spent promoting an agenda that he doesn’t support.
Without our union, Mr. Janus’s job would probably have been outsourced by now;
Mr. Janus has received $17,000 in union-negotiated raises.
The public—including the parents and kids Mr. Janus serves—has access to resources like childcare that our union has fought to defend.
Our union blocked the employer from doubling the cost of Mr. Janus’s health benefits.
We make sure Mr. Janus’s office is warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Thanks to our union, Mr. Janus will retire with a pension.
Mr. Janus can get sick and still have a job when he comes back; and
Our union ensured that Mr. Janus could be fairly hired, regardless of his politics.
VSEA is sure members sometimes encounter state employees like Mr. Janus, who constantly grouse about the union and ask aloud what it does for me. It’s important for VSEA members to respond with a list of examples like the ones Mark Janus’ co-worker writes about in his commentary.
Here are some of the examples VSEA promotes on its website:
Yearly wage increases totaling more than 45% in cost-of-living and step increases since 1990;
Improved health benefits, comprehensive dental insurance including benefits for domestic partners;
A 30-year/no-penalty retirement plan with five-year vesting;
Enhanced mental health benefits;
Double-your-salary life insurance;
Time-and-a-half overtime benefits for over 4,600 employees;
Guaranteed maternity/paternity and adoption leave;
A strong grievance procedure to guarantee your rights;
Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) tells the paper that the problem was caused by Act 10, the 2011 law championed by Governor Scott Walker that all but eliminated collective bargaining for correctional officers—and most other employees—and required them to pay more for their benefits. Workers have not wanted to take or stay in prison jobs when the pay is low and they can’t negotiate over safety conditions, he says.
“The whole idea of Act 10 worked as far as Walker was concerned because it busted unions, but it’s costing taxpayers more in the long run because you can’t hire workers,” Erpenbach says.
West Virginia Lawmaker Who Mocked Striking Teachers Not Re-Elected—Thanks To Teachers
West Virginia Teachers Strike, February 27, 2018
The RawStory reported recently that a West Virginia state lawmaker who was openly mocking state teachers for going on strike has lost his re-election bid, mostly thanks to teachers turning out to vote.
When the WV teachers first decided to go out on strike, the lawmaker belittled the effort, saying, “I can’t say that it will have zero effect, but I don’t think it’ll have any significant effect…” How wrong he was.
“Teachers showed up and they were voting in their ‘55 united, 55 strong shirts,’” one teacher says in the story. “Once the results started rolling in, it was phenomenal. Teachers were really empowered to say, if we stick together we can make a difference.”
Note: Teachers are mobilizing, and across the nation they are leading get-out-the-vote efforts like this one in West Virginia in advance of mid-term elections and other important state and local races as they are contested. Looks like their efforts are already paying dividends.
Note: VSCSF scholarships are not to be confused with VSEA’s annual scholarships. Eligibility does not require attendance at one of the VSCSF’s four designated colleges or universities.
Labor Relations Director’s Contract Summary Available Online
VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley’s comprehensive summary of the contract recently imposed on VSEA members belonging to the Non-Management, Corrections and Supervisory Bargaining Units is now available online by clicking here.
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.”
VSEA Insurance Benefits Enrollment
WIA was asked by VSEA Insurance Benefits Administrator, Joanne Woodcock, to include the following announcement:
Specified Health Event
GREAT NEWS! We’ve been working hard to make it easier for VSEA members to sign up for our insurance benefits.
You can now enroll anytime just by making an appointment.
The sign up is done remotely using your computer and speaking to me over the phone.
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.
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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.