VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: May 3, 2019

Vermont Green-Up Day Is Saturday, May 4!

Tomorrow, May 4, is a day for all Vermonters to lend a hand to ANR, DEC, AOT and all other state agency and department employees who maintain, protect and enhance our state’s environment daily. Participate in Vermont Green-Up Day 2019! Image: 2019 award-winning poster entry by Chloe Jenkins.

Green-Up Day Webpage  –  Green-Up Guide


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View, Print, And Post A Condensed Version Of This Week’s Issue!
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Debate Over ESD Position Cuts Moves To House

The Senate Appropriations Committee agreed to language this morning that would cut $1.2 million in funding from DCF’s ESD budget and $400,000 from Parent Child Centers. This would make it necessary to cut ESD positions, which is why VSEA is not happy about the Senate’s decision and will be lobbying hard for the House to substitute its own budget proposal—which fully funds ESD—for the Senate’s in conference committee.

In the coming days, VSEA First Vice President Aimee Towne and the VSEA legislative team will be updating ESD members regularly on any and all developments around ESD funding in the House and Senate, or in ​conference committee, and what action members can take to help.

Photo Gallery:
Click images to see a larger version:

VSEA ESD case managers in St. Albans depict life for Vermonters with full budget funding, versus life without it.


Morrisville ESD members send powerful messages to lawmakers to respect their work, their knowledge and their dedication to the important service they provide.  ​


Barre ESD workers send messages to lawmakers to fully fund their budget and protect their important service.


Deadline To Apply For 2019 VSEA Scholarship Is May 8!!

Winners of a 2018 VSEA Scholarship received their award at a special luncheon, which is held each year at the June VSEA Council meeting.  

The VSEA Awards & Scholarship Committee’s deadline to apply for a VSEA scholarship is Wednesday, May 8! Scholarship applications will be accepted from VSEA members and / or retirees and their spouses, dependents or 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. 

Again, the deadline to submit an application is Wednesday, May 8.

Download an application here (opens/ downloads a PDF)

VSEA 2019 Election Season Officially Kicks Off With May 1 Email

All VSEA members were sent an email on Wednesday 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)

Rally Time! VT Labor Community Prepping To Rally Against Ex-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s May 30 Visit To State 

The Vermont labor community is planning a rally outside the Hilton Hotel in Burlington on May 30. That night, notorious anti-union, ex-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is speaking at a fundraiser there. Walker’s visit comes eight years after working Vermonters and their unions, including VSEA, participated in an anti-Scott Walker solidarity rally to support Wisconsin workers, who were under attack from their governor.

On Wednesday, May 8, at 5:00 p.m., AFSCME is hosting a meeting of unions, allied community organizations and Vermont activists to plan the logistics of the May 30 rally against Scott Walker. All pro-labor groups and persons are welcome. More information here

Once the final rally details are nailed down, VSEA will be sharing the information with members and retirees and inviting your participation.

Remember, as Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker’s “right-to-work” (for less) legislation stripped away vital worker protections in Wisconsin. He also supported and championed legislation that:

  • Required most public employees to pay more towards health insurance and pensions, resulting in a drop in take-home pay of 8 to 10 percent (police and firefighters were exempted from most of those provisions);
  • Severely restricted the rights of public workers to collectively bargain by mandating annual certifications for the representatives of bargaining units; requiring that a majority of all members must vote to certify – not just a majority of those voting; and prohibiting employers from deducting labor union dues from paychecks;
  • Prevented unions from requiring an employee to be a union member in order to reap the benefits of contract provisions the union has negotiated in bargaining on behalf of its members;
  • Changed the way wages are calculated for members of certain trade groups on certain local public works projects, which resulted in less pay for the workers;
  • Eliminated the practice of requiring all workers to be given one day off within a seven-day week;
  • Limited options for women to sue to enforce equal pay provisions;
  • Eliminated language in state law that asserted the state’s interest in having workers receive wages that provide for an adequate standard of living; and
  • Changed the state’s pioneering civil service system by consolidating the personnel process within the partisan Department of Administration (DOA), replacing merit exams for most civil service positions with resume screening by DOA, and making it easier and faster to fire employees.

More To Come On Rally… Stay Tuned For Location & Time! 

Hope To See You At The Rally!

View Larger Image

Influential NH Newspaper Advises Governor To Move On From His NH/VT Joint Family Leave Proposal

New Hampshire’s Governor is signaling he will veto family leave legislation that implements a .5% payroll tax, much like legislation being debated right now in Vermont. He’s vetoing it because he wants his own proposal passed, which would require a partnership with Vermont and both states’ state employees being dumped into a pool together. VSEA quickly rejected this idea when it was promoted here by Governor Scott.

On Tuesday, the Concord Monitor penned an editorial that urges NH’s Governor not to veto the legislation. Here’s an excerpt:

Help Wanted” signs hang in hundreds of windows. Short employees, some businesses have reduced the hours they’re open. Others have closed. At 2.6%, New Hampshire’s unemployment rate is, save for South Dakota at 2.5%, the lowest in the land. Employers are desperate for workers. But with the race to fill vacant positions underway, the state is poised to shoot itself in the foot.

It will do that, and lose what’s become an intense regional competition for workers, if Gov. Chris Sununu vetoes Senate Bill 1, legislation that provides employees up to 12 weeks of paid family leave. The Legislature lacks the Republican support necessary to override Sununu’s veto.

The bill is actuarially sound. Versions of it have been used by other states for years. The benefits it provides, time off at partial pay to care for a newborn, ill spouse or aged parent, will be funded by a 0.5% tax on payroll that can be paid by employers or employees or shared between them. Benefits would be distributed through the state’s Labor Security Department, which already runs the unemployment insurance program.

The governor claims to have a rival plan. It involves voluntary participation with coverage purchased from private insurers.

There is no there there, at least for now, to Sununu and Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s proposal to use state employees to provide a pool of buyers big enough to attract the interest of private insurers. The union representing Vermont’s state employees rejected the idea. New Hampshire’s state employees union has been noncommittal. Nor is it clear that insurers are interested in selling paid family leave coverage, at least at a price employers and employees would be willing to pay.

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!

May 17 Is The Deadline To Enroll In VSEA’s Popular Delta Dental Supplemental Plan 

For VSEA members who are not currently enrolled in your union’s Northeast Delta Dental Supplemental Program, now is the time to join, during the open enrollment period for the 2019-2020 plan year. The VSEA supplemental program is designed to enhance your current State-provided dental insurance benefit.

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. 
All enrollment forms will be due back on May 17, 2019. 
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

Learn More About VSEA’s Insurance Benefits


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!


“The union representing Vermont’s state employees rejected the idea.

Line from an editorial this week in the Concord Monitor (NH), advising lawmakers of just one of the major reasons the state legislature should forget about a family leave proposal floated by the governors of both NH and VT to combine state employees into a pool.  


Upcoming Meetings:


Chapter Meetings 

  • VSHA Chapter’s Annual – VSEA HQ
    Tuesday, May 7

    5:00 p.m.
    155 State Street
    Large Conference Room

    Special Note! Officer & Steward Elections!

    Questions: Contact VSHA Chapter President Nate Schmechel: nateschmechel@gmail.com

  • Central Vermont – VSEA HQ
    Wednesday, May 8

    5:00 p.m.
    155 State Street
    Large Conference Room

    Questions: Contact VSEA Organizer Carmen Scoles: cscoles@vsea.org

  • Franklin / Grand Isle – 
    Wednesday, May 8

    4:45 p.m.
    14th Star Brewery
    133 N. Main St.
    St. Albans

    Questions: Contact F / GI Chapter President Janine Cary: janine.cary@vermont.gov


Know Your Rights Trainings

  • St. Johnsbury – DCF / P&P District Office
    Thursday, May 9

    12:00 p.m.
    DCF / P&P District Office
    1016 U.S. Route 5
    St. Johnsbury

    Questions: Contact VSEA Organizer David Oppenheimer:doppenheimer@vsea.org


Talking Points:


Oregon Lawmakers Debate Bill To Protect Nurses From Assault & Violence

Oregon television station KMTR reported this week on a bill making its way through the state legislature that seeks to enhance safety protections for health care professionals. 

From the report:

"…violence in healthcare facilities nationwide is a growing epidemic. One in four nurses are physically assaulted every year, mostly by patients, according to the American Nurses Association.

That’s why state lawmakers have passed a bill in the Oregon senate that, if it becomes law, would require health care facilities to establish violence prevention plans, protect workers’ right to report, and create team-based solutions, bringing nurses into the conversation."

The Nation Reports: How Private Equity Is Turning Public Prisons into Big Profits

The Nation published a very well-researched article this week about America’s growing private-prison industry and who is making money off the nation’s incarcerated. 

Here’s the story teaser… "In recent years, corporations have privatized almost every part of the public prison system. Now, private-equity firms are swooping in, seeking lavish returns for investors."

From the story: 

Bianca Tylek, the founder of Worth Rises, an advocacy group that tracks commercial interests in corrections, has catalogued 3,100 companies with a financial stake in mass incarceration. Her findings were released last April in a Corrections Accountability Project report and include not only the well-known, publicly traded private-prison contractors but also divisions within companies with household names like Amazon, General Electric, and Stanley Black & Decker. In addition, dozens of boutique firms are dipping deep into the corrections-industry well, from Wall Street Prison Consultants, which provides advice to white-collar offenders, to a lawn-mower service that sells only to prisons. “We’ve underestimated the size of the prison-industrial complex,” Tylek said. “Every estimate you’ve seen until now is a conservative one.”

Or as Alex Friedmann, associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center and managing editor at Prison Legal News, put it, “Pretty much every conceivable service in the public prison system has been privatized in one form or another, with the exception of putting people to death.”

Connecticut Nursing Home Workers Renew Strike Threat 

The CT Post reports on May 1 that 3,100 employees working at 25 nursing homes across Connecticut are renewing their threat to strike after calling off a strike they had scheduled for May 1. 

From the story:

"Workers like Reid called off their May 1 strike last week because they received a letter from Gov. Ned Lamont indicating he would work to increase their pay and state funding for nursing homes.

But the legislature’s Appropriations Committee revealed their state spending plan Tuesday with no increase. That disappointed workers, who showed up force Wednesday and sat in on a meeting of the legislature’s tax policy committee to pressure lawmakers."

The story says workers will meet again on May 8 to conduct a new strike vote.

Day Of Protest Features Largest Gathering Ever Of South Carolina Teachers 

Several media outlets reported this week on teachers across South Carolina walking out of classrooms on Wednesday to protest poor wages and working conditions. In the state capital, Columbia, 10,000 teachers rallied, which is the largest gathering of teachers in South Carolina ever. 

From a Greenville News story:

Duncan Chapel Elementary School teachers Lindsey Finley, Taylor Long and Patricia Enfinger were among those who took a leave of absence to participate in the rally organized by the advocacy group SC for Ed.

Long said she and her Greenville County colleagues have to pay for classroom supplies out of pocket and hold multiple jobs to make ends meet, and she believes state lawmakers should do more to provide teachers and students with more.

“Our students deserve to be fully funded,” she said. "We have to work with other teachers and create (materials) ourselves to find things that work for the curriculum.”

This Week:

Debate Over ESD Position Cuts Moves To House

Deadline To Apply For 2019 VSEA Scholarship Is May 8!!

VSEA 2019 Election Season Kicks Off With May 1 Email

Rally Time! VT Labor Community Prepping To Rally Against Ex-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s May 30 Visit To State 

Influential NH Newspaper Advises Governor To Move On From His NH/VT Joint Family Leave Proposal

NMU Sick Leave Bank Nearly Bankrupt!

May 17 Is The Deadline To Enroll In VSEA’s Popular Delta Dental Supplemental Plan Benefit 

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

AFLAC Enrollment – Sign up through VSEA!




May 4
Vermont Green-Up Day

May 7
Board Of Trustees Meeting
155 State Street
9:00 a.m.

May 7
VSHA Chapter Meeting 
155 State Street
5:00 p.m. 

May 8
VSEA 2019 Scholarship Application Deadline
4:30 p.m.

May 8
Franklin / Grand Isle Chapter Meeting 
14th Star, Grazers
133 N Main Street
St. Albans
4:45 p.m. 

May 8
Central Vermont Chapter Meeting 
155 State Street
5:00 p.m. 

May 9
Know Your Rights Training – St. Johnsbury
Main Office Building
Shared Conference Room
1016 US Route 5,
St. Johnsbury
12:00 p.m.


Talking Points:


Oregon Lawmakers Debate Bill To Protect Nurses From Assault & Violence

The Nation Reports: How Private Equity Is Turning Public Prisons into Big Profits

Connecticut Nursing Home Workers Renew Strike Threat 

Day Of Protest Features Largest Gathering Ever Of South Carolina Teachers 




Sign Up Today! 2019 “Day At Fenway” Event Is Saturday, June 8!​

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?


Sign Up Today!
2019 “Day At Fenway” Event Is Saturday, June 8!​

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: 
sdevoid@vsea.org, 802-223-5247. 

Payment must be received before tickets are released. 

No refunds on purchased tickets.

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


Need To Update Your Contact Information
With VSEA? 

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Union Card? 

Request A Green VSEA Union Card

Have You Been Threatened
At Work? 

Send A Threat Report To VSEA

Are You A
Council Member?

Join the VSEA Council Facebook group here!

Are You A
Chapter President?

Join the VSEA Chapter Presidents 
group here!

Are You A

Join the VSEA Steward Facebook
group here!





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