VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: November 1, 2019



VSEA At Worksites To Talk Tentative Agreement & Pension Fight

VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard leads a discussion in Rutland this week about the tentative agreement reached by VSEA’s Executive Branch Units and about engaging in VSEA’s fight to protect pensions.

This week, VSEA leaders began a worksite tour to provide members with an overview of the tentative contract agreement reached on October 22 by the Executive Branch Unit Bargaining Teams; talking about both the process and the result. In addition, they also talked about an anticipated, renewed attack on VSEA members’ defined benefit pension plan and how members and retirees can help their union in the coming months.VSEA leaders were in St. Johnsbury, Rutland and (until the power blew out this morning) Brattleboro this week.The Brattleboro meeting is being rescheduled. 

Important! The meeting schedule is subject to change, pending the scheduling of a ratification vote.

Here are the upcoming meetings:

  • November 6, Springfield – 100 Mineral Street, Shared First Floor Conference Room – 12:00 p.m. View flyer
  • November 7, Montpelier – 155 State Street, Leithead Board Room – 5:00 p.m. View flyer
  • November 13, Morrisville – 63 Professional Drive, Shared Conference Room – 12:00 p.m. View flyer
  • November 14, White River Junction – 118 Prospect Street, First Floor Conference Room – 12:00 p.m. View flyer

Learn More:

Executive Branch Unit Bargaining Teams Finalizing Ratification Ballot 

The Bargaining Teams representing VSEA members belonging to the Non-Management, Supervisory and Corrections Units are finalizing the tentative agreement ratification ballot, and VSEA’s Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee will soon be emailing an online voting link to eligible members. As in recent elections, the firm SimplyVoting will be emailng the link to you. 
If you requested a paper ballot in the past, your ballot is being mailed to you.
Very important! Your electronic ballot will be sent to the primary email address that VSEA currently has on file for you. If you want to ensure you receive this important SimplyVoting email, update your primary email address here.

Have a question in advance about the tentative agreement?

You’re Invited To VT Retiree Group’s Upcoming “Fueling Senior Power” Forum 

The Vermont Chapter of the Alliance for Retired Americans is inviting VSEA retirees and members to a “Fueling Senior Power” forum on Saturday, November 9.
ARA president and VSEA retiree Jane Osgatharp explained to WIA what the forum is about, saying, “Seniors are the largest voting group in the nation. Why, given that, is it so hard to get adequate resources for the programs that are critical to our needs and our actual survival? Our voices NEED to be heard! Our speakers can educate you to recognize your POWER. The more we know, the more power we have!
Forum speakers include:

  • Former Vermont Gov. Madeline Kunin;
  • Richard Fiesta, National Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, talking about seniors’ congressional issues in Washington; and
  • Rep. Dan Noyes, talking about seniors’ legislative issues in Vermont issues. 


  • Saturday, November 9
  • Registration begins at 9:00 a.m.;
  • Forum begins at 9:30 a.m. and ends at 1:00 p.m.;
  • $5 fee covers coffee & "goodies", a light lunch, and plenty of handouts; and
  • At the Unitarian Church of Montpelier, located at 130 Main St.

Please RSVP to Jane Osgatharp, annajaneo@aol.com or 802-229-0850

Organizer Job Opening At VSEA HQ!

VSEA headquarters is hiring. If you’re a member who is interested in applying for the position listed below, please email your resume and a cover letter to vsea@vsea.org. Please write "Union Organizer Position" in the email’s subject line. 

Position: VSEA Union Organizer

General Work Performed:

The union organizer reports to the Director of Organizing and the Executive Director. 

The job of the union organizer at the Vermont State Employees’ Association is to build the organization by recruiting new members, as well as identifying new activists and leaders and work with these members to develop the skills needed to play an active role in building a power through their union. In addition to building new leadership within VSEA, the union organizer is expected to support those members who currently hold leadership positions within the union. 

The union organizer must work with members to identity key issues impacting their daily lives, both in and out of the workplace, and engage in the development and execution of an action plan that engages members to take action on improving their existing situation. 

Specific Areas of Responsibility

The VSEA union organizer’s work will include:

Leadership Development

  • Identify existing leaders within VSEA and build relationships with those members through the work of building the union
  • Identifying and recruiting members to fill leadership roles within the structure of VSEA
  • Assigning and following up with members on work that leads to the growth of their union or a win on a given issue
  • Educate and support members on ways in which they can talk to their colleagues about the union, effective strategies for identifying issues and using direct action to make improvements
  • Work with the VSEA Labor Educator to have input into membership training needs and curriculum

Support VSEA’s broader organization goals and activities

  • Turnout to events, trainings and meetings
  • Participating on key legislative, community and workplace issues as outlined by the VSEA Strategic Plan

Identify Key Issues for Members and Move Plan of Action

  • Meet with members to discuss current issues that are of importance
  • Assess whether direct action can affect the current situation
  • Work with members to develop a clear work plan around the issue and execute such a plan
  • Coordinate communications, admin, legal and field rep support as needed 
  • Become proficient in leadership ID and mapping out social relationships of a worksite and within the broader union

 Increase Union Membership

  • Demonstrates proficiency in a basic organizing conversation
  • Proven success in signing up fee payer and new employees as VSEA members
  • Engages union activists and leaders in the process of signing up new members

Communicates with Members

  • Have regular and frequent presence in worksites, holding face-to-face conversations with VSEA leaders, activists and rank-and-file members
  • Provide the VSEA Communications Department with regular updates on internal and external organizing efforts
  • Update VSEA bulletin boards in worksites by providing activists and leaders with updated materials as often as possible. 

Record Keeping

  • Charting and mapping out worksites and support
  • Keeping up-to-date lists and records in the database
  • Reporting progress to the organizing team, VSEA staff and the Director of Organizing, along with openly communicating and brainstorming around the existing challenges 
  • Completing accurate timesheets, expense reports and mileage reimbursements

Other Duties as Assigned

The activities by which we do this and the emphasis on different parts of that process may shift throughout the year, but those goals and a core set of responsibilities should remain relatively consistent. Union organizers will works as a team and with field representatives and the rest of the staff. They will also work independently at times. The population of workers may be fluid between existing VSEA members and non-union workers, depending on external campaign needs. 

Environmental Factors

  • This position is based out of the VSEA Headquarters in Montpelier, although the union organizer’s work will require travel to worksites and locations across the state on a regular basis. 
  • The VSEA Union Organizer will be required to work long and irregular hours and will receive compensation for over 40 hours as determined by the collective bargaining agreement between the Staff Alliance and the VSEA. 

Brattleboro Chapter Participating In Coat Drive

VSEA’s Brattleboro Chapter is participating in the Community Hope and Action Program’s annual winter coat drive and giveaway. CH & A is based in Townshend, Vermont.  

Chapter President Robin Rieske says all coats will be collected on November 15, and all sizes are welcome.

To donate your gently worn coats, please leave them at Robin’s office, which is located at the Department of Health in Brattleboro. Robin will take all collected coats to the Community Hope and Action Harvest Potluck in Townshend on November 16.

For more information, call Robin at (802) 275-7232.  

VSEA Circulating Petition To Increase Funding For State Colleges

VSEA is now circulating a hard-copy petition to increase Vermont State Colleges’ funding, and an online version of the petition has also been posted for members, retirees and the public to sign.

Here’s what the petition says:

Every Vermont State College (VSC) in the system has been going above and beyond for decades to provide Vermonters and our families with a quality education that leads to gainful employment–often right here in Vermont. However, recent news of the serious financial pressures that are currently clouding every VSC campus’ future are of great concern, and they must be addressed now with adequate funding and a renewed commitment by our elected officials and lawmakers to protect Vermont’s valued institutions of higher learning.
By signing this petition, I am joining those who are calling on the VSC Chancellor and our elected officials and lawmakers to increase funding NOW for our Vermont State Colleges!


Sign The Petition Online!


Quote Of
The Week!


"And what they do is they don’t give their employees raises that they should get."

Former Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin–seemingly forgetting his own record in VSEA negotiations–chastising "big business" in a recent VTDigger story for not providing their employees with the wage increases necessary to cover health care premium increases. Story is about Shumlin’s new fellowship at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


Upcoming Meetings:


Tentative Agreement / Pension Meetings:

  • Springfield
    Wednesday, November 6
    100 Mineral Street
    Shared First Floor Conference Room
    12:00 p.m.
  • Montpelier
    Thursday, November 7

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

Chapter Meeting:

  • Franklin / Grand Isle
    Monday, November 4
    22 South Main Street
    St. Albans
    5:00 p.m.

Organizer’s Worksite Meeting:

  • Global Foundries
    Wednesday, November 6
    1000 River  Street
    Spruce Conference Room
    12:00 p.m.


Talking Points:


Chicago Teachers Settle. Strike Ends. 

The Chicago Tribune reported late yesterday that, after 11 days walking the picket lines, Chicago public school teachers are back at work today, following agreement on a tentative contract. The deal nearly fell apart when the teachers demanded that Chicago’s mayor extend the school year by 11 days, but she would not, agreeing in the end to just a five-day extension. 

From the story:

The union ultimately agreed to accept a compromise to make up five school days. But leaders weren’t happy about it. They expressed frustration with the mayor for refusing to make up the full 11 days teachers have been on strike.

Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates called it a “sad day” and criticized Lightfoot for taking “vengeance” on teachers and students.

“We have a better Chicago Public Schools as a result of the last 10 days,” Davis Gates said.

Sharkey said the last two weeks have been “tense” but added that “it’s not about me or the mayor. It’s about the members of the Chicago Teachers Union."

Of those 25,000 union members, Sharkey said: “They don’t need to see me smiling with the mayor. In fact what they need to see is they need to see we have a tentative agreement, we now have a return to work agreement. … Frankly it’s been hard on teachers to be out this long, and it’s been hard on parents to be out this long. It’s been hard on our students.“And so I just didn’t feel like doing a celebration lap with the mayor right now,” he said. “It’s not what our members need to be looking at. That’s not what people in the city need to be seeing.”

Despite the late hiccup over the makeup days, union officials said they were overall pleased with what’s in the tentative agreement, while the mayor called it the most generous contract in CPS history.

Teamsters Refused To Cross Chicago Teachers’ Picket Lines

Note: There’s a tentative agreement now, so it’s back to business as usual for Chicago Teamsters members, but WIA wanted to share this story of solidarity with VSEA members

The Chicago Tribune recently published a story about how Teamsters members across the city were refusing to cross the picket lines of striking Chicago teachers, as they entered their third week on strike. 

From the story:

When Teamsters Local 705 official Juan Campos heard that the Chicago Teachers Union was going on strike, his first reaction was to text union stewards, reminding them that Teamsters honor strike lines of other labor groups.

He also encouraged them to display their red-and-white buttons that state: "Teamsters don’t cross picket lines.”

Campos, the secretary-treasurer of a local that represents about 17,000 workers including UPS drivers in Chicago, said that’s important to him because “today it’s them, tomorrow it’s us.”

“We stand behind the teachers union 100% and believe they should fight for every form of benefits and relief for the children they are seeking,” Campos said.

“Our drivers are not delivering any goods across any picket lines that are manned by the teachers,” Campos said. He noted they do have to abide by the law, which means if there’s no line, they must deliver.

UAW Members Ratify New Agreement

Industriall reports this week that 57 percent of United Auto Workers Union members voted to ratify a new, four-year contract that ends the workers’ month-long strike against General Motors. The strike is estimated to have cost GM as much as $2 billion in lost profits.

The workers’ new contract contains some significant union victories: every worker will receive a signing bonus of US $11,000, and the two-tier labor system has effectively been abolished. The contract also includes performance bonuses, annual raises, lump sum payments and maintains health care coverage. The strong stance by the workers was however not enough to move GM from its plans to shut plants.

Another Take: Opinions Differ On Outcome Of GM Strike


This Week:

VSEA At Worksites To Talk Tentative Agreement & Pension Fight

Executive Branch Unit Bargaining Teams Finalizing Ratification Ballot

You’re Invited To VT Retiree Group’s Upcoming “Fueling Senior Power” Forum

Organizer Job Opening At VSEA HQ!

Brattleboro Chapter Participating In Coat Drive

VSEA Circulating Petition To Increase Funding For State Colleges


Talking Points:

Chicago Teachers Settle. Strike Ends.

Teamsters Refused To Cross Chicago Teachers’ Picket Lines

UAW Members Ratify New Agreement



November 4
State Colleges’ Bargaining Team Meeting
155 State Street
9:00 a.m.

November 4
Franklin / Grand Isle Chapter Meeting
22 South Main Street
St. Albans
5:00 p.m.

November 5
Board Of Trustees’ Meeting
155 State Street
9:00 a.m.

November 5
Joint Safety & Health Maintenance Committee Meeting
5 Green Mountain Drive
Conference Room
1:00 p.m.

November 6

Pension / Tentative Agreement Meeting
State Offices
100 Mineral Street
Shared First Floor Conference Room
12:00 p.m.
November 6

Organizer’s Worksite Meeting
Global Foundries
1000 River  Street
Spruce Conference Room
12:00 p.m.

November 7

Pension / Tentative Agreement Meeting
155 State Street
Leithead Board Room
5:00 p.m.

November 9

Alliance For Retired Americans Forum
Unitarian Church
130 Main Street
9:00 a.m. – Registration
9:30 a.m. – Forum Begins


Important Reminders:

Fall 2019 Membership Drive!

VSEA’s Popular Delta Dental Supplemental Plan Open Enrollment Is Now!

UMass Labor Center’s "Visions Of Labor" Conference Coming In November

WATCH: Video Of Keynote Speaker At VSEA’s Annual Meeting

Bolton Valley Again Offering Discounted Ski & Ride Passes To VSEA Members!

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

Told You’re Being Investigated?
Watch This 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?


Thank you for reading Week In Action!


Fall 2019 Membership Drive!

After a very successful membership-recruitment initiative this past summer, VSEA is excited to announce a new membership drive for the next quarter, or the fall of 2019.

Never forget that ongoing recruitment is vital to the strength of your union! 

  • Members who recruit TWO members will receive a VSEA insulated travel mug; and
  • Members who recruit FIVE new members will receive a dues holiday for a month; and
  • Members who recruit TEN new members will receive a check for $50!

Each time you recruit a new member during the designated period (September 1 – November 30, 2019), your name is entered into a drawing. Four names will be pulled at random and winners will receive a check for $100!  

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:

Help spread the word!
Download, distribute and post this flyer in your worksite! Thanks!


VSEA’s Popular Delta Dental Supplemental Plan Open Enrollment Is Now!

For VSEA members who are not currently enrolled in your union’s Northeast Delta Dental Supplemental Program, you should have received an email recently from VSEA with information about the plan’s 2020-2021 open enrollment period. The VSEA supplemental program is designed to enhance your current State-provided dental insurance benefit. VSEA non-members were also emailed the information, in hopes the benefit will prompt them to join their union.

This 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. You also received an email this week with details about how to update your information.

Very important! This email was sent to the primary email address that VSEA currently has on file for you. If you did not receive the Delta Dental email–or don’t recall receiving it (sent on October 10)–please look in your “Other” or “Spam” folders before contacting headquarters to request the information.
Learn More About VSEA’s Insurance Benefits


UMass Labor Center’s "Visions Of Labor" Conference Coming In November

The VSEA Board of Trustees is reminding members and retirees about a UMass Labor Center conference coming in November, titled "Visions of Labor: Film and Worker Voices." The conference will take place November 9-10, 2019, at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

According to a conference website page, "Together, as workers and social justice activists, we will watch and discuss new and classic labor films, along with worker-created videos, as we explore the power of worker stories and how these stories can be used to inspire reflection and spur creative action. You’ll also have the opportunity to get a sneak preview of a major labor film in-progress, and hear from the film’s award-winning director. The films and videos shown will reflect the diversity of the labor movement and working people, and our discussions together will highlight the many ways in which worker voices can be effectively heard."

Conference Information & Registration Page

Note: Sorry. No financial assistance is being offered to members who attend the conference.


WATCH: Video Of Keynote Speaker At VSEA’s Annual Meeting

If you want to feel inspired, view and listen to the rousing "why unions matter" keynote address that UFCW Local 1445 President Jeff Bollen delivered to members and retirees attending VSEA’s 75th Annual Meeting on September 14. Bollen is a leader of the successful Stop & Shop strike in April 2019.


Bolton Valley Again Offering Discounted Ski & Ride Passes To VSEA Members!

WIA was asked by Bolton Valley Group Sales Manager, Eric Davis, to include the following in this week’s newsletter:

Buy next year’s season pass now and:

  1. Get the lowest price of the year AND…
  2. Ski & Ride the rest of this season FREE!!! That’s right, if you buy next year’s pass now, you can join us for the rest of this season on next season’s pass!

Learn more or purchase passes here!

Please contact me with any questions.
Eric Davis
Group Sales Manager


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.


Told You’re Being Investigated? Watch This Video!

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.


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 is asking VSEA 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 appeals to VSEA members to talk up the co-workers they know who might be preparing to retire. 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? 

Don’t Have
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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