Relocation Creates Open Seat On VSEA Board Of Trustees
VSEA member Sawyer Joecks informed headquarters this week that a change in his work location was forcing him to have to step down from his District 2 seat on the VSEA Board of Trustees. This means the District 2 seat, which includes Waterbury and the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital in Berlin, is currently open. To be eligible for this seat, interested members must reside or have an assigned workstation in District 2.
All interested members must obtain the signatures of 25 or more full-fledged VSEA members on a petition, which is due to headquarters by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, December 5, 2016.
State employees weren’t happy about having to weather an 18% health-care premium increase two years ago, which, according to VSEA President Dave Bellini, was caused by the State’s raiding of the fund’s entire $38 million reserve and by implementing “premium holidays"—against VSEA’s advice. But late last week, VSEA learned that the additional funding from employees has allowed the fund to stabilize, meaning its reserve has now been nearly replenished. This is really good news, and, because of it, VSEA was informed that employees’ health care premiums will rise by only 3%, beginning January 1, 2017. This increase is well below the historical 6% increase level usually seen, and the high-level increase other plan’s are experiencing.
"The low increase is because state employees stepped up two years ago, and we went to the legislature and exposed the State’s fund-raiding practices to ensure it wouldn’t happen again," explains Bellini. He adds that most of the 3% increase (1.65%) is due to the claims experiences and inflation, and the remaining 1.35% will further strengthen the plans reserves to help mitigate drastic premium increases in future years.
VSEA Membership Recruitment Committee Launching New Recruitment Effort
The VSEA Membership Recruitment Committee is launching a 2016/2017 “Membership Engagement and Recruitment Initiative” to grow the union’s ranks, asking members to talk with current agency-fee payers about the benefits of full-fledged membership and why s/he should make the switch. If they decide 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 fleece vest (8 prizes awarded)
1 Grand Prize – $1,200
Note: WIA will periodically remind members about this effort until its culmination in August 2017.
Now Is The Time To Donate To The NMU, Corrections & Supervisory Unit Sick Leave Bank
VSEA member Dawn Carrillo staffs the Non-Management Unit Sick Leave Bank, and she asked WIA to remind not only NMU members but also Corrections and Supervisory Unit members that you can donate a few hours to your Unit’s sick leave bank from now until December 31.
“Just donating an hour of your time can mean the world to a fellow employee,” reads a flyer DHR is circulating. It also informs state employees that they can donate any amount of time to the NMU, Corrections and Supervisory Sick Leave Banks. “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 Strategic Analyst’s "Right To Work (For Less)" Presentation Now Available Online
VSEA Strategic Analyst Adam Norton’s presentation on everything wrong with America’s so-called “Right-to-Work” movement was so well received at VSEA’s Annual Meeting that Norton is now fulfilling requests to give the presentation to Chapters. Adam is pictured here delivering his presentation last week to the Bennington Chapter.
Norton’s “Right To Work (For Less)” presentation is a must-view for all state employees who are concerned about the move across America to bust unions and hasten the race to the bottom for workers. Please share this presentation with interested colleagues.
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.”
Happy Veterans Day VSEA. Thank You For Your Service To Your Country & To Vermont
Happy Veterans Day! VSEA is sending thanks to every VSEA member, active and retired, who has ever served, or is currently serving, in our nation’s Armed Forces.
“It’s an honor for me to get to meet a lot of VSEA members and retirees who have served our country, or are serving it,” says VSEA President Dave Bellini. “Some tell me about how their union contract helped them with issues related to their military service, and this is a big reason why VSEA does what it does. Nowadays, even our veterans sometimes have to fight for something they have earned, and that’s a shame. VSEA thanks our veterans and their families. We really, really appreciate your service to your country and to Vermont.”
Bellini adds a special thanks to VSEA members working at the Vermont Veterans’ Home and all of the veterans in their care.
“Our Vets’ Home is acknowledged as one of America’s best, and a lot of that has to with the dedicated staff, some of whom, every year it seems are forced to come to Montpelier to defend their facility from being privatized. That kind of stress, year after year, takes a toll, and I have heard that from workers down there. They think—and I agree—that their primary concern should be their residents’ health and safety, not if the Home is going to be sold to some for-profit company,” explains Bellini. “These efforts have got to stop. Instead, let’s concentrate on giving the Vets’ Home workers the support and resources they need and deserve. I mean, c’mon, this is about the care of Vermont veterans.”
80% Of VSEA-Endorsed Candidates Successful On Election Night
VSEA endorsed 84 candidates running in statewide and Senate and House races on November 8. In those 84 races, VSEA-endorsed candidates won 80% of the time. Based on the Secretary of State’s “unofficial” results, here’s how it broke out:
Won = 5
Lost = 1
Won = 19
Lost = 3
Won = 45
Lost = 13
“VSEA-endorsed candidates did very well on election night, but there were still some stinging losses, including the defeat of Representative Susan Hatch Davis, who has been such a good friend to state employees and such a strong defender of our services at the State House,” VSEA VTPAC Chair Aimee Towne tells WIA. “In addition, we all know that the state’s top post has now switched parties again, so VSEA members will have to adapt to new sets of players at the top, both on the fifth floor of the Pavilion Building and in agencies and departments statewide. We’ll also be dealing with new faces at the bargaining table when we sit down again to negotiate, but it’s way too early for conjecture on how that will go—but there were some not so good signals during the campaign.” She continues, “VSEA members have been down this road before, so we know we need to stay on guard and stay engaged with our union and our members’ campaigns and fights. For right now, I just want to say to stay strong VSEA, and I urge members to get involved today!”
VSEA is sending condolences and thanks to longtime VSEA ally and working Vermonters’ champion Rep. Susan Hatch Davis (P/D – Orange 1), who was narrowly defeated by just eight* votes in her re-election bid on Tuesday. Once a state employee herself, VSEA had recently recognized Rep. Hatch Davis for her dedication and service to all working Vermonters at the State House, but especially to state employees. As Chair of the Vermont Workers’ Caucus at the State House, Hatch Davis rallied other lawmakers to help VSEA fight back against service and position cuts as well as several recent privatization efforts. She ensured workers had a voice, and she will be greatly missed. Thank you again Rep. Hatch Davis.
Bennington Chapter Looking For Members To March In Friday’s 2016 Veteran’s Day Parade
Bennington Chapter President Victoria Thorpe sent a message to Chapter members this week, letting them know that she is looking for members to march with her and others in Friday’s Veterans’ Day parade in Bennington. She adds that members will be distributing patriotic "VSEA THANKS ALL VETERANS FOR THEIR SERVICE" wristbands along the parade route.
If you would like to march with the Bennington Chapter tomorrow, please notify Chapter President Victoria Thorpe ASAP at email@example.com or call her at 802-753-6485.
> Marchers will begin lining up at 10:00 a.m., near the former Middle School on Main Street. The parade begins at 11:00 a.m.
Baking Help Also Needed!
Thorpe is also appealing to members to help the Chapter bake cookies for a Chapter "Employee Appreciation Event" on Saturday, December 3, 2016, in the Crisp Room at the Veterans’ Home.
If interested, please notify Chapter President Victoria Thorpe by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 802-753-6485.
> If you want to help bake, please let Victoria know what you plan on baking and how much.
Alliance For Retired Americans 12th Annual Conference Is Saturday! Register Today!
The Vermont Chapter of the Alliance for Retired Americans (VT ARA) is holding its annual conference on Saturday, November 12, and VSEA retirees and members are invited to attend. The feature topic of this year’s VT ARA conference is “Health Care For All: The Vermont Way,” and speakers include Dr. Deb Richter, Paul Cillo and Ellen Oxfeld.
Conference participants are invited to help shape the future of health care in Vermont. Guest presenters will address the confusion surrounding the proposed “All Payer and Accountable Care Organization” model the state is considering. The VT ARA is inviting participants to help develop the organization’s 2017 health care goals and then strategize about how best to achieve them. Individuals and organizations are invited to attend and become engaged!
The official meeting begins at 10:00 a.m. and ends at 2:00 p.m. It’s being held at the McClure Multigenerational Center at 241 North Winooski Avenue in Burlington.
Conference Registration is $15 per person or $20 for 2 and includes morning refreshments. The cost of lunch is $10, and membership in the Vermont Alliance for Retired Americans is $10 per year.
For information or to register, contact Jane Osgatharp, President: email@example.com or (802) 229-0850.
NEA Picks Longtime Counsel Jeff Fannon To Be New Executive Director
On the heels of longtime Vermont National Education Association (NEA) Executive Director Joel Cook’s announcement that he was retiring, it was announced this week that the union has chosen its General Counsel Jeff Fannon to replace him, beginning January 1, 2017.
In a press release, NEA President Martha Allen says:
“On behalf of the entire board, I am pleased that Jeff will continue his career-long dedication to working families and his deep commitment to Vermont’s educators and students. We look forward to Jeff’s enthusiasm for unions as he works with the board, staff, and, most importantly, the members to make Vermont-NEA the strongest advocate for students it can be.”
Fannon is quoted as well, saying, “I am uniquely suited to help our members navigate the changes ahead. I’m looking forward to it. Health care is a big issue. There are some shoes to be filled, but I am going in knowing the players, and we are doing good work to help our members and, ultimately, Vermont students. We have great students in our state. They do well. I want to help them continue that tradition.”
A reminder to VSEA Judiciary Unit members that Friday, November 18, is the deadline to submit your ballot in the run-off election between Penny Hogan and Deb Stevens for the final seat on the Unit’s Bargaining Team. Judiciary members Penny Hogan and Deb Stevens received an equal number of votes in the first election, so a run-off election is being conducted. Judiciary members must submit ballots to VSEA by 4:30 p.m. next Friday.
VSEA First Vice President Looking To Fill Vacant Council Seats
VSEA First Vice President Aimee Towne is casting a net to try to fill several open seats on the VSEA Council. With more than 120 VSEA members, the VSEA Council is one of your union’s primary governing bodies and its largest and most diverse, with departmental representatives from across state government. The Council meets quarterly and retains a right to override decisions made by the VSEA Board of Trustees.
The following Council seats (by departmental heading) are currently open, and interested VSEA members are urged to self nominate:
Aging and Independent Living – 2 seats available
Auditor of Accounts
Buildings and General Services – 3 seats available
Children and Families – 2 seats available
ACCD/Marketing and Tourism
Commission on Women
Criminal Justice Training Council
Finance and Management
Forests and Parks
AHS/Rate Setting & Auditing
Public Safety – Civilian – 3 seats available
Public Service Board
Public Service Department
Secretary of State
Transportation – 2 seats available
Transportation Agency/DMV – 2 seats available
> You can find a self-nominating form by clicking here. (opens/ downloads as a PDF)
Questions? Please contact VSEA Administrative Assistant Ayla Hudson at 802-223-5247, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VSEA Sponsoring A New Year’s Eve Trip To See Disney On Ice In Boston!
On the heels of successful VSEA “NASCAR Day” and “Day at Fenway” events, VSEA’s Membership Recruitment Committee is now scheduling a “VSEA Disney on Ice” event for interested members and your families.
The performance is New Year’s Eve, December 31, at 3:00 p.m. at Boston University’s Agganis Arena.
The package price is $60 per member/family member and that includes your ticket and transportation to and from the arena.
A chartered bus will pick members up members at:
9:00 a.m. – Waterbury
10:00 a.m. – White River Junction
10:30 a.m. – Springfield Park & Ride
Here’s a synopsis of the show: Experience Disney’s hilarious hair-raising escapade, Tangled; as Rapunzel, her unlikely companion, Flynn, and Maximus, embark on an uproarious journey that takes adventure to new lengths! Boogie to the beat of the bayou with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen in a magical, musical journey that all begins with a fateful kiss. And fanciful dreams become reality as Cinderella meets her Prince Charming, with a glass slipper fit for an unforgettable fantasy come true. All your favorite princesses take to the ice in a spectacular finale at the ultimate Disney Princess event of a lifetime! Experience the beauty, sparkle, and spirit when Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream comes to your hometown!
VSEA Offering Discounted Long-Term Care Insurance To Members
VSEA President Dave Bellini sent an email to members yesterday, announcing a new and valuable benefit for VSEA members. Your union is partnering with National Long-Term Care Brokers (NYLTCB) to offer Long-Term Care Insurance with discounted premiums.
The program is subject to medical underwriting and insurability is not guaranteed.
Some reasons people plan ahead for Long-Term Care:
To protect retirement assets and pension income;
To prevent Medicaid spend down (impoverishment);
To ensure options for health care; and
To avoid being a burden to loved ones.
As a VSEA member, this offering is made available to you and your eligible family members with a permanent discount, not available to the general public. Eligible family members include spouses/domestic partners, adult children and parents/parents-in-law.
You will have access to a dedicated Long-Term Care planning specialist to help determine if coverage is appropriate for you, and compare policies from different insurance companies to ensure the best coverage at the most competitive premium.
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.