VSEA President Dave Bellini and the Board of Trustees want to wish every VSEA member and your family a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.
Thanks to the efforts of generations of VSEA members—and the efforts of today’s VSEA leaders and activists—here are just a few of the workplace and livelihood victories Vermont state employees can be thankful for this Thanksgiving:
Comprehensive Dental Care;
A Grievance Procedure To Resolve Workplace Disputes;
“A part of me thinks I want to start my career feeling good about being a teacher, and being respected, and having the benefits that a union can give me. But if the students from the state’s top teaching school don’t even want to teach in their own home state, I don’t think that’s a very
Wisconsin Teacher Britta Pigorsch, commenting to CNN about how bad things have become for teachers in the state after Gov. Scott Walker led the effort to pass Act 10 in 2011. The Act gutted teachers’ and state workers’ collective bargaining rights, while also cutting their benefits.
Lawmakers’ Survey Looks For Vermonters’ Input On State Budget
With Vermont lawmakers returning to the State House in January, having to address yet another new multi-million-dollar budget deficit, a survey has posted online where Vermonters can share their thoughts with lawmakers about Vermont’s current budgeting process, the services important to you and how Vermont taxpayer dollars should be allocated.
VSEA is urging every state employee to log on and take this important survey because no voices are more important in this upcoming budget debate than those of the frontline state workers who provide many of the services that are sure to be scrutinized when push comes to shove at the State House.
Reminder: VSEA Negotiations Are (Again) Headed To Fact Finding
WIA is re-running the following bargaining update by VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley, which first published last week:
“Once again, the VSEA must present its case before a neutral, third party fact finder to seek fair, reasonable contracts for the Non-Management, Corrections, and Supervisory Units; contracts that will become effective on July 1, 2018.
The State of Vermont and VSEA have been engaged in negotiations since early August for successor collective bargaining agreements and after several months of direct negotiations with the Administration, bargaining impasse was declared. The Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB) appointed a federal mediator and the VSEA Bargaining Teams participated in mediation but were unable to reach a tentative settlement with the State and the parties remain at impasse.
The State Employees Labor Relations Act (SELRA) provides for dispute resolution processes of mediation, fact finding, and selection of last best offers by the VLRB to resolve negotiation impasses. The VLRB recently appointed Richard Boulanger, Esq. to serve as the neutral, third party fact finder. Mr. Boulanger will conduct fact-finding hearings on December 15, 2017, and December 18, 2017, to hear testimony and review evidence relevant to the issues remaining in dispute. The State and VSEA will then receive a fact-finding report from Mr. Boulanger with written findings and recommendations.
You may recall that in early 2016, WIA reported on fact-finding hearings in the previous round of bargaining, when the Shumlin Administration showed little interest in reaching a fair, negotiated settlement. At that time, the State rebuffed the recommendations of the fact finder and VSEA was forced to take its case to last best offer at the VLRB for a binding decision. VSEA encourages Non-Management, Corrections, and Supervisory Unit employees to stay informed about the issues and contact Your Bargaining Team members for specific details or with your questions.”
Monday Is Deadline To Self Nominate For District 5 Seat (Bennington & Rutland) On VSEA’s Board
Monday is the deadline to submit your petition to fill VSEA’s District 5 Board seat. All that’s needed is for interested member(s) to submit a petition. The District 5 Trustee serves as the voice for Rutland & Bennington’s VSEA members on the Board.
Two years remain on retiring Vets’ Home employee Barbara King’s current term, meaning whoever is appointed to the position will serve out her term and then have to run for official election in the next campaign cycle.
To be eligible for election to the District 5 seat, a member must reside or have an assigned workstation–and continue to reside or have an assigned workstation–in District 5.
If interested, you must be a member in good standing, and you must collect the signatures of 25 or more full, dues-paying VSEA members.
VSEA’s Brattleboro Chapter will meet next on Wednesday, November 29, beginning at 12:00 p.m. at the State Office Building’s First-Floor Conference Room in Brattleboro. Food and beverages are being provided.
Note: The following message was submitted to WIA for publication by VSEA’s Probation and Parole members:
“Your fellow VSEA members working in Probation and Parole (P&P) need your help!
Every day, P&P members are out in communities across Vermont, working to rehabilitate criminal offenders. Much of a P&P worker’s job is performed in an offender’s home or somewhere right in the community, and we want you to know that our jobs are becoming more and more dangerous. According to the latest FBI crime data, violent crime in Vermont recently spiked by 15%, and this statistic isn’t lost on P&P officers, especially since more and more of us are finding ourselves in situations that are increasingly threatening, dangerous and unpredictable.
It’s for this reason that VSEA’s P&P members are collectively lobbying Vermont officials and lawmakers to allow us to join the 34 other states that already allow P&P Officers to be trained to carry defensive weapons on the job. We’ve made tremendous progress so far, and we’re happy to report that our bill to allow this important change has already been supported by 30 lawmakers on both sides of the aisle at the State House.
We feel like we’re in the homestretch now, which is why VSEA’s P&P members need every member to join with us in solidarity to get this important language passed and implemented.
Have You Voted Yet In VSEA Treasurer Election? Online Ballot Link Was Emailed To Members On November 14!
VSEA’s Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee sent eligible members a link to their official online VSEA Treasurer-election ballot on November 14. If you requested a paper ballot, it was mailed to you last week.
Very important! Your electronic ballot was sent to the primary email address that VSEA currently has on file for you.
If you did not receive an email from email@example.com in your inbox on November 14, please look in your “Other” or “Spam” folders before contacting headquarters to request that your ballot be reissued.
Role of the Treasurer: The Treasurer shall oversee the receipt and disbursement of all funds of the VSEA and its various sub-entities. S/he shall keep or cause to be kept a true record of all receipts and disbursements. S/he shall disburse funds only when directed to do so by the Board of Trustees and then only when the disbursement is approved by the President or by the President’s authorized representative; provided however, that s/he shall reimburse any member of VSEA for necessary expenses in connection with the performance of his/her duties when so authorized by the Board of Trustees or the President.
The Treasurer shall keep all corporate funds in accounts under the name of the Corporation and shall submit all books and accounts to the auditor within thirty (30) calendar days following the close of the fiscal year or any other time when so directed by the Board of Trustees. The Treasurer shall furnish a bond in such amount as the Board of Trustees may require, the cost thereof to be paid by the Corporation.
In the absence of the President, the First Vice-President, and the Second Vice-President, the Treasurer shall preside at Council Meeting.
Below is a full list of candidates for this office:
Candidates for VSEA Treasurer:
(Click a candidates name to read their candidate statement, opens a PDF)
Just 11 Seats Remain For VSEA Boston Bruins Bus Trip!
VSEA’s Membership Recruitment Committee had a great response to this week’s email solicitation for an upcoming Bruins’ bus trip, and they want VSEA members to know that just 11 tickets now remain for:
Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Saturday, February 3, 2018
TD Garden (Section: Balcony 321)
Based on the popularity of the first few member bus trips sponsored by VSEA, your union’s Membership Recruitment Committee (a small group of rank-and-file state employees who coordinate and host VSEA’s outings) recently polled members to find out what kinds of bus trips members want the Committee to pursue in the future. Coming up number one was a trip to Boston for a Bruins game, so the Committee has scheduled this trip.
$170 Per Person – Includes a bus ride to and from the park, as well as a ticket to the game.
To reserve a seat(s) on the bus, contact VSEA Union Representative Bob South. You can reach Bob by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 223-5247.
Important! VSEA will be taking the names down of those interested, as members contact VSEA, but you will not be officially on the bus until full payment is received at headquarters. Please make checks
payable to VSEA.
This Thanksgiving, Please Consider Giving Some Time To The NMU Sick
Deadline For Donations Is December 31, 2017
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 really needs your donated hours. NMU members can donate a few hours to your Unit’s sick leave bank from now until December 31, 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.”
While Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF) employees continue to work with management and the State to address well-documented, on-the-job personal and child safety issues, their counterparts in Illinois are just now starting to call for action after a DCF Investigator was left in a coma after being severely beaten in late September by a boy’s mother. The Chicago Tribune published a story on the assault on November 20, and, according to research the paper conducted for the story, “At least a dozen [IL DCF] workers have been attacked or seriously threatened as they entered homes to protect children or investigate mistreatment allegations since 2013.” The IL DCF workers are represented by AFSCME, and the union will be introducing legislative proposals this session to address the workers’ safety concerns.
From the Tribune story:
“A bill introduced earlier this month by state Rep. Brian Stewart, R-Freeport, would give DCFS workers the same protections as police officers, firemen and peace officers by making it a Class 1 felony to batter a DCFS worker performing his or her official duties. Perpetrators would face more severe penalties upon sentencing.
A dozen central Illinois lawmakers, 11 Republicans and 1 Democrat, have signed as co-sponsors.
‘It’s unfortunate an act of violence was inflicted on a DCFS worker in order for legislation to be proposed," said co-sponsor state Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna. "This bill will give DCFS workers the additional legal protections they deserve.’"
Actors Depicting Pilgrims At Plimoth Plantation Using Thanksgiving Holiday To Inform Public About
The National Post reports on November 21 that workers who depict pilgrims at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts will be using the Thanksgiving holiday to educate the public about their contract fight with their employer. The workers organized a year ago and have been fighting for a fair, first contract ever since.
A strong possibility exists that there could be a delay in how quickly Americans receive their online purchases this holiday season.
Business Insider posted a story this morning about United Parcel Service (UPS) aircraft mechanics, who are represented by the Teamsters, threatening to strike over management’s proposed cuts to their health care benefits. The workers placed ads this week in USA Today and the Seattle Times that read, in part:
"What every American should know before they ship with UPS during the holidays: UPS wants to make deep cuts to its aircraft mechanics’ health care benefits. That’s why the 1,300 aircraft mechanics who keep UPS planes running during the holiday season are ready to strike."
One key point the story reports is, “UPS and the union have been in mediated contract negotiations over the changes. The union, which has voted to authorize a strike, recently filed a request with the Federal National Mediation Board asking to be released from the negotiations. The workers cannot go on strike unless the board releases them from negotiations.”
UPS spokespersons say they are confident a settlement can be reached.
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.
We Want To Know What You Think of VSEA’s Week In Action
"The reality of it is, you want to save money for taxpayers however you can, but you can’t cut a meaningful service and not suffer at the other end."
A few weeks back, WIA informed readers that the second in a series of video chats with frontline state employees had posted. It featured Reach Up Case Manager Sue LaFleche in the second of what the VSEA Communications Department hopes will be many face-to-face sit-downs with VSEA members to talk union and why every member needs to be engaged and informed.
VSEA posted the third in the video-series, and it features DOC Corrections Educator John Vorder Breugge:
VSEA members who want to appear on video to let the membership and public know what your union means to you and your family are urged to email VSEA Communications Director Doug Gibson (email@example.com).
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 compiled many of your union’s notable victories and achievements in an online chronological history of the VSEA.
VSEA Union Representative Rachael Fields has scheduled a series of meetings to talk with Vet’s Home employees about their issues and concerns.
If you work at the Vet’s Home, please mark one of these dates and times down to stop by and talk with Rachael:
November 29 (Crispe Room)
December 27 (Crispe Room)
Available Times: 6:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
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.
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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