VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: November 30, 2018

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VSEA Ramping Up "Protect Your Pension" Campaign In Advance Of Legislative Session

VSEA’s "Protect Your Pension" educational tour kicked off Nov. 29 in White River Junction!

VSEA’s tour to educate members statewide about the need to protect your existing defined-benefit pension plan by stopping any proposal to move new hires to state government into a "defined-contribution" pension plan (401K) is underway. 
 
Moving new hires into 401Ks means they are no longer contributing to the existing pension fund, and that’s a serious problem. It’s also bad for the new hire, as they would be at the mercy of Wall Street’s ups and downs to ensure future retirement security.   
 
Please attend an upcoming meeting in your area to learn about the importance of this fight, its outcome and, most important, your role in it. 

Upcoming "Protect Your Pension" Meetings (All Begin in At Noon!):

December 3
Morrisville
State Office Building
63 Professional Drive
AHS Large Conference Room

December 5  
Montpelier
National Life Complex
Davis Building
1 National Life Drive
Winooski Room

December 6
St. Johnsbury
State Shared Office Building
1016 U.S. Route 5
Shared Conference Room

December 12
Middlebury
State Office Building
156 South Village Green 
Conference Room

December 13
Rutland,
Asa Bloomer Building
88 Merchant’s Row
# 300

December 18 
St. Albans
State Office Building
First Floor Conference Room
11:45 a.m.

December 19
Newport
Emory Hebard State Office Building,
100 Main St.
Conference Room 250

Take It From The Former House Speaker!

Former Vermont House Speaker Shap Smith was speaking at a September 2018 public forum in Bennington when he was asked about Vermont’s pension dilemma, meaning Vermont ranking dead last in nation in terms of people adequately saving for retirement. As you read, Smith, like VSEA, is not a fan of 401ks being dangled as a cure for Vermont’s pension woes. 

Well put, Mr. Speaker. 

VTDigger: At Bennington Forum, Former House Speaker Reflects On Powers Of State Government 

Reminder: WIA February 2017 Post On 401ks & Retirement Security 

From a January 4 Mother Jones story, titled “Were 401(k) Plans Just a Big Mistake?”:

“Many early backers of the 401(k) now say they have regrets about how their creation turned out despite its emergence as the dominant way most Americans save. Some say it wasn’t designed to be a primary retirement tool and acknowledge they used forecasts that were too optimistic to sell the plan in its early days. Others say the proliferation of 401(k) plans has exposed workers to big drops in the stock market and high fees from Wall Street money managers while making it easier for companies to shed guaranteed retiree payouts.”

Read the full story here.

WIA also reminded readers about a 2015 VPR story that highlighted how millions of Americans have a defined contribution plan through their employer, but how Vermonters rank dead last in the nation, in terms of how much money an individual has contributed to supplement their plan.

VSEA members are urged to help your union spread the word that defined contribution pension plans are not the answer.

Welcome Back Ceres!

Vermonters welcomed Ceres, the Roman goddess of Agriculture, back to the top of the Vermont State House this afternoon. State officials, lawmakers and the public were on hand to watch as a newly carved statue of Ceres was lifted up to her new home.

This is the third Ceres statue to grace the top of the State House. The last one was removed in the spring over concerns that it was rotting after nearly 80 years there.

December Supplemental Dental Enrollment Period Just Announced!

VSEA is pleased to announce that—due to large demand—your union is offering a second chance in 2018 for members to enroll in VSEA’s popular “Supplemental Dental Program.”

This program is offered as an enhancement to your State-administered dental insurance benefit. The additional open-enrollment period will be in December and VSEA will be sending out more information next week.

Stay Tuned!

Friendly Reminder: Don’t Crowd The Plow!

Now that the snow is flying, WIA is sharing a link to an AOT public service announcement about winter driving, which includes most plow drivers’ favorite saying, "Don’t crowd the plow!"

Watch the AOT winter driving ad here!

Big thanks to all VSEA AOT members for the excellent service you provide to motorists throughout Vermont’s often tough winters.  

December 7 Is The Deadline For NMU Members To Vote In Online Unit Chair Election!

Completed Non-Management Unit Chair ballots are due back by close of business Friday, December 7.

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 vote@simplyvoting.com on November 23, please look in your “Other” or “Spam” folders before contacting headquarters to request that your ballot be reissued.

VSEA Announces 2019 Steward Training Schedule

VSEA Stewards are urged to mark the date of the 2019 Steward training nearest you.

* designates a Unit-specific training 

Saturday, January 12
8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Double Tree by Hilton Hotel 
870 Williston Road
South Burlington 

*Friday, February 15
8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.  
Judiciary Steward Training
VSEA HQ
155 State Street
Montpelier 

*Friday, March 15
8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
VT State Colleges’ Steward Training
VSEA HQ
155 State Street
Montpelier 

Friday, April 26
8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. 
Holiday Inn
476 Holiday Drive
Rutland

Saturday, July 20
8:30 – 3:00 p.m.
TBD 
St. Johnsbury 

Thursday, October 17
8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Vermont Veterans’ Home 
325 North Street
Crispe Room
Bennington

 

Told You’re Being Investigated? 

In response to member inquiries about state employees’ rights when being investigated, VSEA is ramping up its efforts to educate members about their "Weingarten Rights" when being investigated and provide Stewards and Chapters with some tools and resources to have on hand, if needed.  VSEA will also be discussing investigator conduct and what employees should know about certain investigator tactics. 

WIA will let readers know when the Weingarten materials are available for downloading and posting to worksite bulletin boards! 

If contacted in the interim that you are the subject of a pending investigation, please immediately contact a VSEA Steward or your VSEA Union Representative.  

 

Quote Of The Week!

 

“By unilaterally eliminating the health care reimbursement program, which has been in effect for years now, the village is effectively increasing health care premiums and or instituting a wage reduction as the nine bargaining unit members affected by the change would be stripped of a benefit that provided reimbursement of either $1,250 or $2,500 per year.”

International Union of Operating Engineers’ Local 98  Vice President Keith Hancock, in a recent letter he sent to Bellows Falls, Vt., town officials, who were threatening to eliminate an important employee health care benefit for nine town employees. The Brattleboro Reformer reports on Nov. 28 that the union did cause the employer to drop the proposal. 

Help A Fellow State Employee By Donating Some Time To Your Unit’s Sick Leave Bank!

Donation Period Ends December 31!

VSEA member Dawn Carrillo is reminding Non-Management Unit members that your Unit’s Sick Leave Bank is currently accepting annual and personal leave time donations to the bank and that the deadline to do so is December 31, 2018. Carillo reminds that donations to the Corrections and Supervisory Unit Banks are also needed

“Just donating an hour of your time can mean the world to a fellow employee,” reads a DHR flyer. It also informs state employees that they can donate any amount of annual- or personal-leave timeto their respective Unit 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.

VSEA members interested in donating some much-needed time to the NMU, Corrections and Supervisory Sick Leave Banks can find a donation form here. 

"Big thanks to 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.”

Guaranteed Issue Term and Whole Life Insurance for VSEA Members!

WIA was asked by VSEA Benefits Administrator, Joanne Woodcock, to include the following in this week’s newsletter:

Aflac life insurance helps take care of your loved ones* immediate and future needs if you should pass away. Immediate needs can include burial/funeral expenses, uninsured medical costs and current bills and debts. Future needs could include income replacement, education plans, ongoing family obligations, emergency funds, and retirement expenses.

Aflac is insurance for daily living. It’s never easy to think about life insurance, but it can mean that your family will have added financial resources to help with ongoing living expenses. Aflac life insurance is designed to provide you and your beneficiary(ies) with cash benefits. The following options are available and can help provide peace of mind during a very difficult time.

  • Guaranteed-issue** – 10-year, 20-year, or 30-year Term Life coverage up to $50,000.

    … or Guaranteed-issue** Whole Life coverage up to $50,000.
     

  • Ability to borrow from the policy’s cash value to help pay medical expenses, college tuition, down payment on a new home, or any other bills you may have.

Apply Today – No health questions asked.  Ask your VSEA Insurance Benefits Advisor how an Aflac life policy can help you and your family.

Joanne Woodcock
VSEA Insurance Benefits
888-510-4467 (call me toll free)
Joanne@vseainsurance.com
Learn More 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

Bolton Valley Again Offering “Industry Rate” To VSEA Members On 2018-19
All-Access Season Passes

All VSEA members in good standing are eligible to purchase a pass or passes. You can purchase yours today by first contacting VSEA by email at vsea@vsea.org. VSEA will verify your membership status and provide you with VSEA’s code, which you will need to complete your online purchase.

Once you have the required code:

  • Click here;
     
  • Click “Buy Online”;
     
  • In the “Cart View,” click on “Add / Change Guest” to set the pass-holder’s name and information to each pass, then;
     
  • Click “Proceed to Checkout”;
     
  • Enter VSEA’s promotional code and click “Apply Code.” The cart should refresh and reflect your discount.

Pricing:

Pass Type: Pre-April 2 Price/Post-April 2 Price

Adult (18+): $379 / $429

Youth w/Adult (7-17): $159 / $179

Youth (7-17): $199 / $239

Senior (65-74): $229 / $239

Child (6 and under): $29 / $29

Ski Bum (18-25): $179 / $279

 

VSEA Meetings/ Trainings/ Events:

 

Upcoming VSEA Chapter Fundraiser 

  • Brattleboro Chapter
    Saturday, December 8

    7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    I-91Rest Area
    North Mile Marker 5.4
    Guilford

    Food / bake sale to raise funds for Brattleboro Chapter. Need baked goods and other food, as well as volunteers. 

    Questions: Contact Brattleboro Chapter President Robin Rieske: 
    robin.rieske@vermont.gov

 

Points of Interest:

 

Article Advises "Now Is The Time To Enact An Affirmative Agenda For Workers’ Rights At The State Level"

The website Slate posted a good piece on November 26, concerning working people’s expectations, post election. It reads, in part:

"Right now, the real opportunity for enacting an affirmative agenda for workers’ rights lies at the state level. Democrats gained majorities in seven state legislative chambers, flipped seven gubernatorial seats, and gained six new trifectas, where both legislative houses and the governor are Democratic. These state-level victories represent a key opportunity for restoring greater fairness in the workplace.

While each state is obviously dealing with its own set of laws, there are five general areas in which all progressive states should take action to protect and expand workers’ rights. Some of them require legislative movement, while others could be done by a governor and executive team."

Reminder: In 2018, Vermonters elected a veto-proof majority, meaning the situation is similar here. It’s time!

The Atlantic Reports On "The Tragedy Of Mental Illness In American Prisons"

The Atlantic published a story this week about the issue of mental illness in America’s prisons, something VSEA’s DOC members report is a concern to many of them as well. 

From the story:

In New York, the number of inmates with mental-health issues has risen even as the overall number of people held in the state’s prisons has fallen, from a high of 72,000 in 1999 to some 48,000 currently held in the state’s 54 correctional facilities. And New York is not alone. “It is almost everywhere,” Roth says. “Even as the number of prisoners goes down, the number of people incarcerated with mental illness goes up.”

In an earlier era, many of those now incarcerated might have been committed to large public mental hospitals, most of which were shuttered decades ago amid reforms and the increased use of psychotropic drugs aimed at allowing patients to remain in their community. “Where did a lot of these people end up? They ended up in prison,” says James Walsh, who, as the superintendent at Sullivan from 1999 to 2007, saw much of his facility become a de facto mental ward.

The rising ranks of inmates with a serious mental illness has made the job of those charged with managing the prison population infinitely harder, says Brian Fischer, who served as New York’s correctional commissioner from 2006 to 2013. “We’re not designed for it,” Fischer told me. “We can do crisis management, but that’s not treatment.” Inmates with a mental illness constantly bump up against rules, he said. “A guy who acts out, do we know what to do?” Fischer asked. “If he is hearing voices and along comes a guard and gives him an order, which voice does he listen to first? The one in his head, or the one on the other side of the bars?”           

This Week:

VSEA Ramping Up "Protect Our Pension" Campaign In Advance Of Legislative Session

Take It From The Former House Speaker! 

Reminder: WIA February 2017 Post On 401ks & Retirement Security 

Welcome Back Ceres!

December Supplemental Dental Enrollment Period Just Announced!​

Friendly Reminder: Don’t Crowd The Plow!

December 7 Is The Deadline For NMU Members To Vote In Online Unit Chair Election!

VSEA Announces 2019 Steward Training Schedule

Told You’re Being Investigated?

Help A Fellow State Employee By Donating Some Time To Your Unit’s Sick Leave Bank!

VSEA Insurance Representative In Newport Next Week!​

Guaranteed Issue Term and Whole Life Insurance for VSEA Members!

Bolton Valley Again Offering “Industry Rate” To VSEA Members On 2018-19 All-Access Season Passes

 

VSEA Meetings/ Trainings/ Events / Fundraisers:

 

Upcoming VSEA Chapter Fundraiser 

 

Points of Interest:

 

Article Advises "Now Is The Time To Enact An Affirmative Agenda For Workers’ Rights At The State Level"

The Atlantic Reports On "The Tragedy Of Mental Illness In American Prisons"

 

VSEA Reminders:

 

Complete Summary Of Changes Made To NMU, Corrections & Supervisory Units’ Contract

New Contract Printing Can Move Forward

What You Should Know About The Anti-Worker Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

What Is The VSEA Advantage Program?

 

VSEA Calendar:

December 1
VSEA Foxwoods Casino Trip

December 3
Retirement  
Education Meeting
Morrisville 

State Office Building  
63 Professional Drive
AHS Large Conference Room 
Morrisville
12:00 p.m. 

December 5
Retirement Education Meeting
Montpelier 

National Life
1 National Life Professional Drive
Davis Building
Winooski Room 
Montpelier 
12:00 p.m. 

December 6
Retirement Education Meeting
St. Johnsbury 

State Shared Office 
1016 US Route 5
Shared Conference Room
St. Johnsbury
12:00 p.m. 

December 7
Board of Trustees’ Meeting 
VSEA HQ
155 State Street
Montpelier
9:00 a.m. 

December 7
NMU Chair Ballots Due!

December 8
Brattleboro Chapter Fundraiser
I-91 Rest Area
North Mile Marker 5.4
Guilford 
7:00 a.m.

 

Complete Summary Of Changes Made To NMU, Corrections & Supervisory Units’ Contract

To view the comprehensive overview of all the changes made to the contracts covering VSEA members in the Non-Management, Corrections and Supervisory Units, please click here (PDF). 

Note: Members with specific questions about the new contract should contact a Steward or a Union Representative.

 

New Contract Printing
Can Move Forward Now

To date, the contract the VLRB ruled in favor of has not been printed or posted because, as many VSEA members and retirees know, VSEA and the State just completed VLRB-requested mediation. But now that mediation has concluded, and an agreement has been reached and the VLRB has approved it, it should pave the way for the new contracts to be printed and posted soon.

In the interim, members with specific questions about the new contract should contact a Steward or a Union Representative.

 

What You Should Know About The Anti-Worker Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

Thanks in advance for visiting VSEA’s Janus webpage to ensure you are an informed union member. 
 

 

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!

GET EXCLUSIVE OFFERS, DISCOUNTS & MORE

It’s free, just for being a Vermont State Employees’ Association PerksConnect member!

Learn More!

Questions? Feel free to email vsea@ vsea.org

 

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Subscribe To VSEA Today!

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.

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 is working hard to collect members’ contact information.

You can help us 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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