VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: November 8, 2019

Honoring all who served. Thank you, Veterans!



Executive Branch Units’ Contract Ratification Ballot Emailed TODAY!

Today, VSEA’s Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee emailed contract ratification ballots to all eligible VSEA members belonging to the Non-Management, Supervisory and Corrections Units. The important email also contains the member’s online voting link, as well as links to a cover letter about the tentative agreement from VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley and a summary of the contract’s terms and conditions you are voting up or down. 

The deadline for eligible NMU, Corrections and Supervisory Unit members to cast their contract ratification vote is Friday, November 22, at 4:30 p.m.

As in recent elections, the firm SimplyVoting emailed 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 was sent to the primary email address that VSEA currently had on file for you. This is a big reason why VSEA is constantly soliciting members to contact your union with your updated email address. You can update your contact information here anytime.

If you do not receive an email tomorrow from SimplyVoting–or don’t recall receiving it–please look in your “Other” or “Spam” folders before contacting headquarters to request that your ballot be reissued.

VSEA Tentative Agreement & Pension Fight Tour Continues

Tentative agreement contract ballots are being emailed today, but until they are due back on November 22, VSEA will be continuing to visit worksites to provide members with an overview of the tentative contract agreement reached on October 22 by the Executive Branch Unit Bargaining Teams. In addition, they’ll talk 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.

Here Are The Upcoming Meetings:

* = Tentative Agreement Meeting Only

  • November 12, Newport – 100 Main Street, CCV Conference Room – 12:00 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
  • November 18, Barre* – 5 Perry Street, ESD Conference Room – 12:00 p.m. View flyer
  • November 18, Montpelier – 1 National Life Drive, Davis Building, Basement Conference Room – 12:00 p.m. View flyer
  • November 18, VPCH – 350 Fisher Road, Special Events Room – 2:00 p.m. View flyer
  • November 19, St. Albans* – 27 Federal Street, First Floor Conference Room – 12:00 p.m.
  • November 19, Waterbury – 280 State Drive, Cherry B Conference Room – 12:00 p.m. View flyer
  • November 20, Bennington – 150 Veterans Memorial Drive, First Floor Voc Rehab Conference Room – 12:00 p.m.
  • November 20, Vermont Veterans’ Home – 325 North Street, Canteen – 2:00 p.m.
  • November 21, Brattleboro – 232 Main Street, First Floor Conference Room – 12:00 p.m. View flyer
  • November 22, Burlington – 108 Cherry Street – 12:00 p.m.
  • November 22 – 4:30 p.m. – Deadline To Vote On Contract!

    Learn More:

  • View the "VSEA Retirement Security Fact Sheet" online

Have a question in advance about the tentative agreement?

VSEA Union Representatives’ Territories Updated

With the addition of new VSEA Union Representatives David Martinson (starts Nov. 12) and Tom Hango (starts Dec. 4) to VSEA headquarter’s staff, Field Services Director Gretchen Naylor is announcing a realigning of territories for all Union Representatives. 

Please click here to view an updated list of Union Representatives and their assigned territories. If your Union Representative has changed, please make a note of it for future reference. Thanks!

State Cryptically Announces Anticipated Budget Gap Will Be Addressed With "Structural Changes"         Uh Oh…

VSEA members Shelley Martin and Sue Baird protest State service and position cuts in 2010. Sadly, some things never change. 

VTDigger reported this week on a recent announcement on VPR by the State’s top official that an anticipated $70 to $80 million budget gap would be addressed with "structural changes" to government, as opposed to a tax or fee increase. Needless to say, VSEA members have heard this same kind of messaging from State officials far too many times over the past decade not to be concerned. 

From the story:

Adam Greshin, Vermont’s finance commissioner, said this week the [State] is still figuring out how to fill the gap and that it’s too soon to know whether there will be cuts to state programs or services next year.

 “We’re still making these decisions,” he said.  “I think it would be early to say we’re expecting programmatic cuts.” 


Sen. Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia, who chairs the Senate appropriations committee, said she had expected the budget gap would be somewhere around $50 million next year, but didn’t want to comment on the [State]’s estimate because she hasn’t seen its calculations.

“The [State] is really going to be the first out of the gate, [it]’s going to have to propose how [it] wants to align revenues and spending and we’ll be taking a look at that in terms of building the budget,” Kitchel said. 

Eyes & Ears Please!

If you catch wind of any of the State’s "structural change" plan(s), please let VSEA know. You can call (223-5247) or send an email (vsea@vsea.org). All information shared, and individual(s) sharing it, will be kept confidential. 

Data Shows Exempt State Employees Not Opting For 401K Pension Plan

Recently, the usual cast of characters–led, of course, by David Coates–has been squawking loudly and writing furiously about Vermont’s perceived, crushing state employee and teacher pension debt and the dire need now to place new hires to state government into a defined contribution pension plan, or 401K.

Another loud voice joining Coates is former House Minority Leader Don Turner, who recently penned a commentary that promotes putting new hires to state government into a defined contribution pension plan. In his piece, Turner writes, "Even if we don’t mandate a defined contribution plan for new workers, we should at least examine the possibility of allowing state employees to opt-in to the existing defined contribution plan."

So are exempt Vermont state employees exercising this opt-in option, since it’s been available to them since 2011? No. In fact, fewer exempt employees are exercising this option every year–and for good reason.  

Here’s the data from March 2019 (notice the trend!):

DC = Defined Contribution Plan 

Number of DC participants – 385
Number of Eligible Exempts – 980
Percentage – 39%

Number of DC participants – 386
Number of Eligible Exempts – 1008
Percentage – 38%

Number of DC participants – 380
Number of Eligible Exempts – 1004
Percentage – 38%

Number of DC participants – 382
Number of Eligible Exempts – 1045
Percentage – 37%

Number of DC participants – 352
Number of Eligible Exempts – 1034
Percentage – 34%

Number of DC participants – 342
Number of Eligible Exempts – 1049
Percentage – 33%

Number of DC participants – 317
Number of Eligible Exempts – 1062
Percentage – 30%

Number of DC participants – 321
Number of Eligible Exempts – 1059
Percentage – 30%

Source: State Treasurer’s Office, March 2019

Even given a choice, it’s very clear Vermont state employees choose a defined benefit pension plan by a very wide margin–and it’s getting wider every year.

Please share this data with your local lawmakers–especially in advance of the January 2020 session–to ensure they know what the data shows–and why. Thanks!

No Parade This Year For Bennington Chapter

VSEA Bennington Chapter President Victoria Thorpe asked WIA to share the following message with Chapter members:

"Regrettably, due to lack of response and interest, the Bennington Chapter will not be walking in the Veterans Day parade this year. [To date], I have received zero confirmations that members are willing to participate in this activity, despite a positive vote to participate at the last Chapter meeting."

Tomorrow Is Retiree Group’s “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 tomorrow, 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. 


  • Tomorrow, 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

View the full job posting online

Did You Know Vermont Ranks Last In The Nation For State College Funding?

Although Vermont is among the top five in the United States for K-12 education funding, Vermont is ranked 50th for state college funding.* VSEA members are standing strong in support of the Vermont State College staff and are demanding a solution to the many years of chronic underfunding.

To demonstrate how much our state colleges mean to Vermonters, VSEA is urging members, retirees, and the public to sign the union’s online petition, which calls on state officials and lawmakers to immediately increase VSC funding.

* Source: Inside Higher Ed.com – January 21, 2019


Sign The Petition Online!


Quote Of
The Week!


"I want to say thank you to our union families that helped make this election happen."

Newly elected Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, singling out unions, in particular, for helping him win election, defeating an anti-union incumbent.  Quoted in a Labor Press story.


Upcoming Meetings:


Tentative Agreement / Pension Meetings:

  • Morrisville
    Wednesday, November 13
    63 Professional Drive
    Shared Conference Room
    12:00 p.m.
  • White River Junction
    Thursday, November 14

    118 Prospect Street
    First Floor Conference Room
    White River Junction
    12:00 p.m.

Chapter Meetings:

  • NEK / St. Johnsbury
    Tuesday, November 19
    DCF District Office Building
    1016 U.S. Route 5
    St. Johnsbury
    12:00 p.m.

    Note: Includes a letter-writing campaign!

  • Bennington
    Tuesday, November 19
    Tap House – Catamount Glass
    Back Room
    304 County Street
    5:00 p.m.

  • Franklin / Grand Isle
    Thursday, November 21
    Mimmo’s Restaurant
    22 South Main Street
    St. Albans
    5:00 p.m.


Talking Points:


Newly Elected Kentucky Governor Credits Union Support For Victory

A major political upset in Kentucky on Tuesday night, as incumbent Governor Matt Bevin (America’s most unpopular governor, according to news accounts) was defeated by challenger Andy Beshear. Bevin was considered a very anti-union politician, so his loss was music to the ears of Kentucky trade unionists 

In his victory speech, Beshear said:

“I want to say thank you to our union families that helped make this election happen. To our educators, your courage to stand up and fight up against all the bullying and name-calling helped galvanize our entire state.”

Labor Press Article

Speech Video Clip

Chicago Teachers Succeed In Generating $30 Million In Extra Spending For City’s Public Schools

Vox posted an article this week, titled "The 11-Day Teachers’ Strike Paid Off," summarizing what the Chicago Teachers’ strike accomplished, above and beyond improved teachers’ wages and benefits.  

Here’s an excerpt:

Teachers returned to school Friday after going on strike for 11 days. They had picketed in the snow and rain until union leaders and city officials struck a deal to raise teacher pay and to put a social worker and nurse in each school. Some of the teachers’ most ambitious proposals, such as requiring the city to expand affordable housing, didn’t make the cut.

“Did we accomplish every single little thing? No. But I can say that we moved the needle on educational justice in the city,” Jesse Sharkey, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, said in a press conference Thursday.

The district also committed to spending $35 million to shrink oversized classrooms and to prioritize schools that serve the most at-risk students. The deal includes a 16 percent pay raise for teachers over five years, and a remarkable 40 percent raise for teaching assistants, clerks, and other lower-paid workers. The new, five-year contract will also boost investment per pupil and reduce the number of students in each class.

Teachers had wanted more, though. They also wanted more affordable housing in the city for students and teachers. That’s something no teachers union has demanded in recent contract negotiations.

These kinds of broad demands are part of a growing movement, led by teachers and labor unions, focused more on social justice issues affecting their communities than simply pay. It’s known as “bargaining for the common good.”


This Week:

Executive Branch Units’ Contract Ratification Ballot Emailed TODAY!

VSEA Tentative Agreement & Pension Fight Tour Continues

VSEA Union Representatives’ Territories Updated

State Cryptically Announces Anticipated Budget Gap Will Be Addressed With "Structural Changes"
Uh Oh…

Data Shows Exempt State Employees Not Opting For 401K Pension Plan

No Parade This Year For Bennington Chapter

Tomorrow Is Retiree Group’s “Fueling Senior Power” Forum

Organizer Job Opening At VSEA HQ!

Did You Know Vermont Ranks Last In The Nation For State College Funding?


Talking Points:

Newly Elected Kentucky Governor Credits Union Support For Victory

Chicago Teachers Succeed In Generating $30 Million In Extra Spending For City’s Public Schools



November 8
Executive Branch Units’ Contract Ratification Ballots Emailed

November 9

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

November 11
Veterans Day Holiday
VSEA & Most State Offices Closed

November 12

Pension / Tentative Agreement Meeting – Newport
State Offices
100 Main Street
CCV Conference Room
12:00 p.m.

November 13

Pension / Tentative Agreement Meeting – Morrisville
State Offices
63 Professional Drive
Shared Conference Room
12:00 p.m.
November 14

Pension / Tentative Agreement Meeting – WRJ
State Offices
118 Prospect Street
First Floor Conference Room
White River Junction
12:00 p.m.

November 15

VSEA Council Meeting
Capitol Plaza Hotel
State Street
9:00 a.m.

November 15


Important Reminders:

Fall 2019 Membership Drive!

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

Brattleboro Chapter’s Coat Drive Ends November 15!

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

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

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

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?


VSEA Videos:

Keynote Speaker At VSEA’s Annual Meeting

Told You’re Being Investigated?
Watch This Video!

More on YouTube


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 Ending Soon!

Fall Open Enrollment Ends November 15!

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


Brattleboro Chapter’s Coat Drive Ends November 15!

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 next Friday, 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.


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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