Tomorrow, Saturday, May 6, Vermonters across the state will be out in force, volunteering to pick up trash on Green-Up Day—an annual event to improve Vermont’s environment and beauty. VSEA members are strongly urged to participate in your local community’s green up—as you always do!
Find a list of Green-Up Day volunteer opportunities here
Brattleboro Chapter President Reminds About Chapter’s Green-Up Day Table
Brattleboro Chapter President Robin Rieske is urging VSEA members in her Chapter to help out tomorrow on Green-Up Day, reminding that bags can be picked up from 8:00 a.m. to noon at the following locations: Restless Rooster Café, Brattleboro Food Co-op, Subaru and the new W. Brattleboro Fire Department. Wear your VSEA t-shirt and grab a bag to help clean up Vermont!
Rieske also asked WIA to include this shout-out to VSEA’s AOT members, “Many thanks to the hardworking state employees at the Vermont Agency of Transportation who clean Vermont’s Interstates and state highways, some 2,707 miles, every spring.”
VSEA is proud to join once again with all Americans to celebrate the quality public services our nation’s federal, state and local government employees provide every day. Since 1985, America has paid tribute to its public-service employees by honoring them during “Public Service Recognition Week,” which, this year, is May 7-13.
VSEA President Dave Bellini and the entire VSEA Board of Trustees are wishing every state and public employee a happy Public Service Recognition Week and a huge thank you for your service to the people of Vermont.
“While it is important for America to designate a week each year to officially celebrate the outstanding work that public service workers perform, VSEA appreciates your contribution 365 days a year,” Bellini tells WIA. “VSEA is proud to represent you, and we take great pride in providing all the support and assistance we can. This includes bargaining help, complaint and grievance assistance, steward support, legal help, legislative lobbying, skills training, and assistance with many other work-related issues. All too often, the essential services provided by America’s public-sector workers are overlooked and undervalued. It’s unfortunate that many average citizens do not think about their daily use of public services and the people that provide them. One of VSEA’s top priorities will continue to be highlighting the essential services you provide. On behalf of VSEA and the more than 5,600 public service employees we represent, we thank you for your commitment and service to the citizens of our great state.”
The Legislative Is Wrapping Up… Now, More Than Ever, Stay Engaged!
VSEA’s Legislative team sent an email to all members on May 3, urging calls to House members on a number of issues, including:
Garnering support for S.131; a bill allowing employees in State’s Attorneys offices across Vermont a vote to unionize;
Asking for the Windsor Prison to remain open and operating;
Advising House conferees to support the Senate’s proposal to fund Judiciary workers’ retroactive pay;
Full funding for Vermont’s State Colleges; and
Supporting a one-year ban on any privatization of the Department of Liquor Control.
Heading into the session’s home stretch, these were the issues identified as requiring the most VSEA member attention but the situation remains fluid at the State House and members are advised to pay special attention in the coming days to all VSEA email alerts, phone text alerts, website, Facebook and Twitter posts.
Vermont Teachers Narrowly Escape Imposed Erosion Of Their Collective Bargaining Rights
Vermont teachers belonging to the Vermont National Education Association (VTNEA) breathed a sigh of relief this week after House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-Grand Isle) cast the tying vote (74-74) on May 4 to kill ill-advised legislation that would have placed all Vermont teachers into one statewide health care plan. The legislation purported to save the state $26 million, but no actual numbers to demonstrate the savings were ever provided during the debate. More important, the bill would have destroyed decades of health care plan improvements secured over the years through individual teacher unit’s statewide through the collective bargaining process. In fact, seven individual teacher units have just completed negotiations that include health care enhancements that this bill would have stripped away with one stroke of a pen.
“Disrupting the collective bargaining process and getting the state more entangled in education isn’t a solution,” VSEA President Dave Bellini posted to a VTigger story about the legislature’s attempt to circumvent the bargaining process. “I don’t buy [some lawmakers and officials] $26 million dollar claim either.”
Note: VSEA members are reminded to continue to watch this debate closely, especially if the proposal somehow gains new life today, tomorrow or someday down the road. If this injustice is ever allowed to happen, there is no doubt it will have ramifications for VSEA members across our state.
VSEA AOT Members Continue To See Progress Thanks To Labor-Management Committee Process
VSEA Union Representative Dave Van Duesen sent a detailed update to VSEA AOT members this week about the April 27 Labor-Management Committee meeting.
In it, members learn that the AOT has hired a new Maintenance Transportation Administrator, which is a good thing, but more important is that, for the first time ever, a frontline AOT employee was on the hiring committee making the final decision. AOT worker and VSEA Committee member Jerold Kinney says he is “very happy” with the hiring outcome.
Another area where it’s reported labor and management are making progress is in working together to prevent the privatization of state guardrail maintenance; an issue important enough to VSEA AOT members that they took it personally to the Governor’s office. Thanks to the workers’ outreach and activism, management quickly responded, asking to talk with employees about the issue in the labor-management committee process, where it’s reported the two sides agree that the great majority of guardrail work should remain within the AOT.
If you would like to learn more about the labor-management committee process, or whether or not your work group has an existing committee, please contact VSEA by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Write “LMC?” in the subject line.
VSEA Salutes Firefighters On International Firefighters Day
May 4 was “International Firefighters Day,” and VSEA’s Facebook page saluted and thanked firefighters worldwide for the invaluable service they deliver every day, 24 hours a day. Firefighters who have perished in the line of duty are also remembered on this day.
VSEA is proud to represent firefighters at the Vermont Air National Guard base, located on the grounds of the Burlington Airport. VSEA is also proud to represent employees working for the Vermont Fire Safety Division.
Thank you one and all for your service to Vermont and the nation!
Friday Is The Deadline To Enroll In VSEA’s Popular Delta Dental Supplemental Plan Benefit!
Friday, May 12, is the deadline to enroll in your union’s very popular Delta Dental Supplemental Plan. 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.
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:
VT DOC Inks New Deal Requiring State To Send $7.1 Million To Pennsylvania Annually To House 250 Vermont Inmates In That State’s Prisons
VTDigger was one of several news outlets reporting on May 1 about the Vermont DOC’s signing a new contract with its Pennsylvania counterpart to house 250 Vermont inmates in two Pennsylvania prisons. The deal comes with a hefty price tag of $7.1 million annually for three years (with extensions possible). The move runs counter to several State officials and lawmakers recent public declarations that it is the goal of Vermont to return all of its out-of-state inmates back to their home state.
In the Digger story, Vermonters’ for Criminal Justice Reform leader Suzy Wizowaty offers dead-on analysis of the new DOC deal, telling Digger, “We had an opportunity this spring to not enter into a new contract, and it would not be that hard to do. We just apparently lack the political will.”
VSEA Congratulates Barre Granite Workers On New Contract
The April 30 Times Argus reports that workers belonging to two unions at Rock of Ages (RoA) in Barre have agreed to new contracts that afford them improved wages and enhanced health care and insurance benefits. RoA was just sold to Canadian “stone giant” Polycor Inc., in September 2016, so this was the workers first formal contract negotiation with the new boss.
The new contracts cover 40 members of the Granite Cutters Association and 13 members of United Steelworkers of America Local #4
“It’s a nice contract,” Granite Cutters Business Agent Matt Peake tells the Argus. “I’m very pleased.” He does add that bargaining to improve health care benefits “was one of the tougher negotiations we’ve had in recent years.”
Steelworkers’ Representative Ray Bettis echoes Peake, saying, “I’m comfortable with where we ended up and the members were as well.”
VSEA congratulates the workers on their victory and applauds the employer’s respect for the collective bargaining process.
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.
The 2017 Corporate Cup 5K Race is being held Thursday, May 11, at the State House in Montpelier, beginning at 6 p.m. Once again, race planners are casting a net for volunteers, and VSEA is urging members and retirees who are able to sign up to help—much as you have in years past!
Volunteer opportunities include registering races, distributing t-shirts, manning the food tents and mid-point water stop, helping at the start and finish lines, assisting the timing company with posting race results and two individuals to help on the cone truck.
To volunteer, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Cindy Hier by email at email@example.com. Please let Cindy know your task preference and your anticipated arrival time.
Remember: volunteers can walk or run, too. Invite friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to volunteer with you. Receive a free t-shirt!
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.
The website CareerCast has released its annual ranking of jobs, based on criteria like work environment, stress, projected growth and median salary. Surprisingly, statistician ranked highest, followed by numbers two through ten, which are: Medical Services Manager, Operations Research Analyst, Information Security Analyst, Data Scientist, University Professor, Mathematician, Software Engineer, Occupational Therapist and Speech Pathologist.
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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VSEA Organizer’s Worksite Meeting
State Office Building
232 Main St.
Delta Dental Supplemental Plan Enrollment Deadline Read More Here
Read Contracts Online At VSEA.org
VSEA members belonging to the Non-Management, Corrections, Judiciary, Defender General and Supervisory Units can click here to view your contract. All these contracts expire on June 30, 2018.
Quote of The Week!
“What I want to point out to you is this creates a very strange construct in collective bargaining. There is collective bargaining going on, but neither side is at the table. I object to that.”
House Rep. Tommy Walz (D-Barre), remarking in Seven Days on an amendment to put all teachers into one statewide health care plan, administered by the State; a move that would obliterate teachers’ collective bargaining rights across Vermont.
How To Print Week In Action
Looking for a quick and easy way to printWeek In Action to post in your worksite?
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.
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
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.”
VSEA Schedules 2017 “Day At Fenway” Event For August 27
Last year, VSEA scheduled its first-ever “VSEA Day at Fenway” event, and it was a huge success. This year, VSEA will again be sponsoring a trip to Fenway, this time to see the Red Sox battle the Baltimore Orioles in a 1:05 p.m. start on Sunday, August 27. The estimated cost is $80 per person, which includes a bus ride to and from the park, as well as a ticket to the game.
If you and your family would be interested in joining your union and fellow members at Fenway on August 27, 2017, you should contact VSEA Union Representative Bob South. You can reach Bob by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 223-5247.
Bolton Valley Already Offering VSEA Members Discounted 2017-2018 Passes
Bolton Valley (BV) Ski Resort has been a VSEA Advantage Program participant for years, offering state employees discounted season passes. It’s a popular item, and while winter 2016 is not even over yet, BV is already offering VSEA members discounted 2017-2018 ski passes.
Important! To purchase an online, discounted BV 2017-2018 pass, you must first receive a special promotional code directly from the VSEA Advantage Program. To get a promo code, contact VSEA’s Susan DeVoid by email (email@example.com) or by phone at 802-223-5247. Susan is only available during normal VSEA operating hours.
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.
VSEA Advantage Discount Program
Member only discounts on goods and services such as skiing, clothing, automotive, insurance, lawyer referral program, workers compensation advice and more! The VSEA Advantage Program is proof that there is power in numbers. It keeps working for you when the workday is through.
Just Present Your VSEA Union Card To Receive These Great Discounts! Don’t Have A Union Card? Request One Here!
Popular Advantage Program Discounts Include:
Discount Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom (2016 discount was $23 off day passes)
Discount Passes for ski resorts like Sugarbush Resort ($899 season passes) and Bolton Valley ($70 off season passes) – 2015/2016 season enrollment period has ended.
Winter/ Summer tire discounts for various locations across Vermont (5-10% off depending on location)
Movie theater discounts at select theaters in Vermont.
Restaurant discounts throughout Vermont (5-20% off depending on location).