VSEA Prepping Membership For Anticipated Attack On Retirement
With a new effort allegedly coming from the State to force new hires to state government into a defined contribution pension plan, as opposed to defined benefit pension plan–or worse, VSEA is working with the State Treasurer to begin educating members and retirees about the importance of a defined benefit pension plan versus the perils of a 401K.
"It’s no secret that Vermont is not immune to the large sums of out-of-state corporate money being sent here and elsewhere to finance public employee, pension-gutting campaigns," explains VSEA Communications Director Doug Gibson. "VSEA is aware of the players and the anticipated campaign, and that’s why we are working with the Treasurer’s Office right now to educate members and retirees on the issue and enlist their help in any upcoming fight."
Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with these bullet points included on a recent "Retirement Security Fact Sheet" that Organizers are passing out to VSEA members and retirees statewide.
VSEA members’ and retirees’ current pension plan is called a defined benefit pension plan. This plan provides you a guaranteed and specified monthly amount in retirement, and your benefit level is in no way impacted by Wall Street and the unreliable fluctuations in financial markets.
Some politicians and wealthy corporate interests will be actively lobbying this session to place future new hires to Vermont state government into a defined contribution pension plan (a.k.a. 401K) instead of into employees’ and retirees’ current defined benefit plan. A 401K would offer VSEA members and retirees no specific amount of benefits at retirement because a person’s benefit level would be at the mercy of Wall Street, meaning every fluctuation in the market, good or bad, impacts your retirement. If the market goes down when you retire, it’s your problem. Imagine if you were set to retire with a 401K right as the market is crashing, like in 2008. You could be financially devastated.
Equally troubling, the onus is on the individual employee to adequately be investing into his/her 401K during their working years, which studies have shown is too often not the case.
Your defined benefit pension plan did not magically appear in your contract. It was selected and implemented for state employee’s decades ago by lawmakers and the Governor. Even back then, they understood the importance of a defined benefit plan’s stability to state workers, as opposed to a 401K’s volatility or some other pension option at the time.
If you live longer than expected, your 401K can run out, whereas a pension lasts your entire life.
The average VSEA retiree earns roughly $19,000 annually in retirement, and that’s with a stable plan.
In 1999, 93% of VSEA members voted to reject a proposal to switch from a defined benefit pension plan to 401K’s.
VSEA members and retirees have actively and successfully fought back against several attempts over the years, by candidates and politicians, to force a switch to 401K’s from our defined benefit pension plan, most recently in early 2016.
VSEA members and retirees have repeatedly stepped up to the plate over the years to ensure the defined benefit pension plan’s annual retirement contribution (ARC) is funded. That time is coming again soon!
In April 2017, the VSEA Board of Trustees presented the state’s highest official with a petition signed by over 1200 members and one of the four main asks was “to protect state employees’ benefits, especially our defined benefit pension plan, because this benefit plays a large part in attracting and retaining new talent to state government.”
State Treasurer Beth Pearce often reminds Vermonter’ that defined benefit plans are more cost effective for Vermont taxpayers. She’s right. A 2017 study found that “rather than lower costs by moving from a defined benefit plan to a 401K plan, states actually experience increased retirement costs for themselves and taxpayers.”
VSEA Brattleboro Chapter President Pens Letter About Importance Of Retirement Security
To support VSEA’s campaign to defend employees’ defined benefit pension plan, VSEA Brattleboro Chapter President Robin Rieske penned this letter to the editor of her local paper:
[The State] is working with [its] wealthy in-state and out-of-state friends to attack state workers’ defined benefit pension plans, despite repeatedly being strongly advised not to by Vermont’s’ State Treasurer, Beth Pearce, who cites numerous studies supporting her position. Pearce also dispels the myth that forcing new hires to state government into a defined contribution pension plan, or 401K, will save Vermont money. It won’t.
As part of [the State’s] attack, [it] and others have teamed up with John Arnold, a Texas hedge-fund billionaire who is dumping millions of dollars into campaigns nationwide with a sole purpose to gut public pension plans in Vermont and elsewhere. My union, the VSEA, will be fighting back hard against any proposal that might be spawned by this bogus campaign orchestrated by Arnold, [the State] and others.
Currently, state worker’ defined benefit plan guarantees us a set amount of money in retirement that can’t be lessened if the stock market tanks, as with a 401K.
State employees’ defined benefit pension plan is a key benefit that lawmakers and the then Governor saw fit to implement decades ago, as a way to provide a stable working life and retirement for career state employees. They also recognized that offering employees a solid retirement benefit would serve as a valuable recruitment tool; something [the State] seems to be forgetting, as [it] tries to convince people to move to Vermont.
Please help Vermont state employees and our retirees stop any proposal by the [State] to switch new hires from a defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution plan. Tell [the State] to continue to support employees’ defined benefit pension plan, [as it has] for decades. Doing so provides retirement security for hard-working state employees and provides retired state workers with the means they need to support themselves and their local communities in retirement.
Note: VSEA urges as many members and retirees as possible to consider drafting your own letter to the editor on this important issue, or engaging in this campaign in other ways, by educating your colleagues, family and friends, posting on social media or contacting your local lawmakers.
ERN Committee Announces Winners In Recent Unit Election
VSEA’s Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee met this week to count the votes cast in a recent online election to win seats on the Judiciary Unit’s Bargaining Team and Executive Committee, as well counting the votes cast as in a recent election to be the new vice chair of VSEA’s State Colleges’ Unit.
VSEA congratulates the winners, who were:
Judiciary Unit Bargaining Team
Judiciary Unit Executive Committee
State Colleges’ Unit Vice Chair
VSEA Sends Condolences To Colleagues, Family & Friends Of VT Lottery Employee Timothy White
VSEA sent condolences this week to the colleagues, family and friends of 14-year Vermont Lottery employee Timothy White, who was tragically killed in a house fire Tuesday morning in Guilford, Vermont.
"Tim White was a friend and colleague who worked at the lottery for over 13 years as a field sales representative," a VT Lottery representative told WPTZ. "He took tremendous pride in helping our agents and customers, contributing to our success. The lottery has a small staff and his loss will be great."
State Treasurer Attending October 16 Springfield Chapter Meeting To Discuss Retirement Issues
WRJ & Brattleboro Chapters Invited As Well!
With a new effort allegedly coming from the State to force new hires to state government into a defined contribution pension plan, as opposed to defined benefit pension plan, State Treasurer Beth Pearce is volunteering her time to attend VSEA Chapter meetings across the state to educate employees and retirees why this is a bad idea.
Beth will be attending the October 16 Springfield Chapter meeting, and VSEA members and retirees living and working in the White River Junction, Springfield and Brattleboro corridor are urged to come and hear Pearce’s presentation. Share what you learn with your colleagues, family and fiends and enlist their help to defeat any attack on employees’ defined benefit pension plan.
Defending Your Retirement
Tuesday, October 16
4:45 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
State Office Building
1st Floor Conference Room
100 Mineral Street
Continuing To Call All VSEA Campaign 2018 Volunteers!
In the weeks leading up to Vermont’s November 6 general election, VSEA Legislative Committee members, HQ staff and retirees will be soliciting for members and retirees who want to volunteer some time to assist candidates who have received VSEA’s endorsement and who deserve our support.
There are many ways for you to participate in VSEA’s Campaign 2018 activities, including:
Participate in a VSEA- or candidate-sponsored phone bank;
Participate in a VSEA- or candidate-sponsored honk-and-wave;
Participate in a VSEA- or candidate-sponsored door-to-door canvassing effort;
Participate in a VSEA- or candidate-sponsored candidate(s) rally;
Educate your family, friends and colleagues about the candidate and his/her positions on issues important to VSEA members;
March with a candidate in a parade;
Volunteer to help at a candidate’s headquarters (if applicable) with things like answering phones, filing, assembling educational packets/mailings, etc.;
Put a yard sign in your yard, or help the candidate distribute signs in your area;
Host a candidate house party;
Drive voters to the polls on Election Day;
Pen a letter to the editor in support of VSEA-endorsed candidate(s); and
Make a monetary contribution to a candidate(s).
If you would be interested in volunteering some time to help your union’s campaign 2018 efforts, please contact VSEA Organizing Director Ray Stout by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or by phone at 223-5247.
IMPORTANT!!In order to keep members and retirees as up to date as possible on all VSEA’s Campaign 2018 activities, VSEA must have your updated HOME email address. VSEA cannot send emails of a political nature, such as campaign announcements about the union’s endorsed candidates, to state email addresses. If you are unsure, or don’t remember ever providing VSEA with your most up-to-date home email, please take time today to submit your name and home email address to VSEA@VSEA.org (please write “Home Email” in the subject space).
2018 General Election Early
VSEA is joining with the Secretary of State’s office to remind Vermont voters that absentee ballots for the November general election are now available. If you can’t make it to the polls on November 6, or you don’t like dealing with the crowds or parking, the Secretary of State’s office has several options available to you to cast your vote ahead of time.
To register or if you have a question, please email VSEA Union Representative Bob South (email@example.com) or Administrative Assistant Sue DeVoid (firstname.lastname@example.org). Each can be also reached by phone at 802-223-5247.
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 email@example.com. VSEA will verify your membership status and provide you with VSEA’s code, which you will need to complete your online purchase.
New Report Says States Should Actively Be Promoting Government Benefit Packages To Prospective Employees Or Transplants
VSEA members and retirees are on high alert for any proposal this session by the State or a lawmaker to put new hires to state government into a defined contribution pension plan instead of into current state employees’ defined benefit plan. It’s a move that doesn’t jibe at all with the findings of a new report from the Society for Human Resource Management that compared 300 benefits offered by private companies versus those offered in the public sector. The report’s authors point out they did so because states are “increasingly using benefits to attract workers.”
“Some good news for governments is that 87 percent of millennials labeled ‘professional or career growth and development opportunities’ as important in a job, according to a 2016 Gallup poll.
Still, governments struggle in getting the word out on what they offer.
Governments don’t do a great job of talking about all of the attractive features that we have particularly vis-à-vis the private sector,” says Robert Lavigna, director of the Institute for Public Sector Employee Engagement at CPS HR Consulting. ‘These are benefits that are more common in the public sector that could be a huge benefit to attracting talented young people to government.’”
Note: This report comes out just as VSEA members and retirees are bracing for a renewed attack on their defined benefit pension by the State, aided by wealthy local and out-of-state corporate interests. Some officials constantly lament the lack of people—especially young people—moving to Vermont, but they ignore the solid advice offered in this report. Makes no sense.
Each month, more than 62 million people, including nearly 43.4 million retired workers, receive a Social Security benefit check. Of these retirees, 62% are reliant on the program to provide at least half of their monthly income. If you weren’t aware of just how important Social Security is to seniors, this fact from the Social Security Administration (SSA) certainly sums it up nicely.
But what you may not realize is that the average Social Security benefit can vary pretty dramatically depending on the state you live in.
Need Another Reason To Dislike The NY Yankees? They Cross Picket Lines!
The Intelligencer published a story just prior to the beginning of Major League Baseball’s Division Championship Series last Friday between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees that reports the Yankees crossed a worker picket line outside the Boston Ritz Carlton.
New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento responds, “As a lifelong Yankee fan and a proud New Yorker, I am disgusted the management of a team representing the strongest union town in America would choose a hotel where workers are on strike. Make no mistake, despite the Yankee organization’s callous decision to cross a picket line, New York’s labor movement stands in solidarity with the strikers and supports all working men and women across the country fighting for fairness and dignity at their jobs.”
Brian Lang, president of Unite Here Local 26, which represents the picketers, lit into the team for undermining striking workers. “We understand that there’s a very intense rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, but quite frankly we’re a little outraged they would take it out on working-class people who are out here sacrificing to improve their livelihoods. This is a slap in the face to all Bostonians.”
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 last week. 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.
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.