Is Your VSEA Work Site Bulletin Board Up To Date? Do You Have A Work Site Bulletin Board?
VSEA’s Organizing Department asked WIA to remind members statewide that, consistent with the contract, there should be a VSEA-designated bulletin board visible somewhere in your work site. This space is reserved for VSEA-only material and hopefully your bulletin board is up to date, but Organizers report seeing more than one bulletin board with outdated, irrelevant or even zero content.
“VSEA Organizers want to get a bulletin board hung in every work site, and we want to make sure the board’s content is from 2016 and not 2006,” explains VSEA Organizing Director Vinnie O’Connor. “I urge members in work sites without a bulletin board—or who want help with their board’s content—to contact VSEA’s Organizing Department. We want to help.”
Note: VSEA Organizers like Jen Larsen (pictured above) ask that you to also make sure your work site bulletin board is accessible, unlike the one pictured here that required Jen to climb on a counter to post material.
Upcoming Vermont Political Events Now On VSEA.Org
It’s election season and VSEA’s political awareness committee, VtPAC, is now posting upcoming political events of interest to VSEA members on the union’s website homepage.
Vermont Tech Jam Gubernatorial Candidate Debate
Film House @ Main Street Landing
60 Lake Street Burlington
Local Candidate VSEA Questionnaire Answers Online For Review
Recently, VSEA’s Legislative Committee sent questionnaires to candidates for local office. In an effort to better educate members about these candidates, prior to the November 8 general election, VSEA is pleased to make each candidate’s questionnaire answers available for review here. Please take time to review their answers and then consider casting your vote on November 8 for candidates whose answers reflect that they will work hard to support and defend state employees and the services you provide.
VSEA’s Legislative Department is casting a net to find VSEA members who are interested in volunteering some time to staff a phone bank in support of VSEA-endorsed candidates. The calls will be targeted solely to fellow VSEA members.
If you would like to volunteer a few hours of your time in the coming weeks to make some calls to promote VSEA-endorsed candidates, please contact VSEA Organizing Director Vinnie O’Connor by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Campaign Season, Ask Yourself: “Is It Fact, Or Is It Myth?”
With Vermont’s general election cycle now gearing up, it means there will now be a lot of rhetoric flying around about why Vermont continues to have budget deficits, with some candidates almost certainly talking about having to “streamline” or “modernize” government” or they will propose giving more tax breaks to corporations to entice them to do business here. VSEA has listed some of the more prevalent myths we hear each election about Vermont’s economic and social climate, and included a fact to counter each. During the campaign, VSEA members are urged to question candidates who continue to promote some of the more common myths.
Here’s an example:
Myth: Too many Vermont young people are leaving the state.
Fact: From a July 15, 2016, VPR story: “According to data from the Internal Revenue Service, nearly as many young people are moving to Vermont as those leaving, dispelling the popular notion that Vermont is losing young people in droves.”
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.”
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 email@example.com.
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.
VSEA State Housing Authority Ratifies New Contract
VSEA’s Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee Chair Rubin Jennings sent a note to VSEA’s State Housing Authority Unit members today, informing them that they had voted unanimously to approve a new, two-year contract with the State. With the vote to ratify, the State Housing Authority becomes the sixth Bargaining Unit to reach agreement. The only Unit yet to reach agreement is VSEA’s Judiciary Unit, which is still in tough bargaining, awaiting a fact-finder’s report.
At its October 11 meeting, the VSEA Board of Trustees appointed 10-year DOC member Jonathan Bruce to the DOC seat recently vacated by Brad Dunsmore. Bruce is a Corrections Services Specialist II who works at the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport.
Sarah Ballou Elected Vice Chair Of State Colleges’ Unit
The votes are in, and VSEA Vermont State Colleges’ members have elected Vermont Technical College employee Sarah Ballou to be the Unit’s Vice Chair. Sarah is an eight-year Administrative Assistant in VTC’s Admissions Office.
VSEA Bennington Chapter President Victoria Thorpe asked WIA to remind Chapter members that your next meeting is Tuesday, October 18, at Madison’s Brewery (upstairs), located at 428 Main Street in Bennington. The meeting begins at 5:00 p.m., and the Chapter is contributing up to $10 towards each member’s meal or non-alcoholic beverages. There is also a cash bar.
VSEA is saying goodbye today to Organizer Tim Boyle (pictured here, talking with a reporter at the 2014 Climate Change march in NYC), who is sadly leaving the union to go to work for another cause he cares deeply about. Tim started with VSEA in April 2013.
VSEA thanks Tim for his dedicated service to the VSEA membership during his tenure and wishes him the best in all his future endeavors.
VTPAC Hosting Event On Friday, October 21, To Honor 20th Anniversary
New: Happy Hour Added!
A reminder that VSEA’s “Vermont Political Awareness Committee” is hosting a special event next Friday, October 21, to celebrate its 20-year anniversary and honor longtime VSEA friend, Senator Anthony Pollina and several other “labor heroes.”
Just added! VSEA will sponsor a happy hour, prior to the main event, beginning at 4:30 p.m. All VSEA members who attend will receive one free drink ticket.
VTPAC’s 20th Anniversary Celebration
Friday, October 21
Happy Hour Starts At 4:30 p.m.
5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
If you are an existing VTPAC member, meaning you currently contribute to your union’s PAC through payroll deduction, you are cordially invited to attend the event free of charge. For members and others who don’t currently belong to VTPAC, there is a suggested contribution at the door. Members can also contribute to VTPAC prior to the event here.
This event will feature food, drinks, music and live sculpting demonstration by local Vermont artist Heather Milne Ritchie.
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.”
Ruthie Is Still Looking To Solve The Annual Meeting Gas Gift Card Mystery
No luck yet. VSEA Special Events Committee member Ruthie Leithead is still trying to find out out which VSEA Chapter purchased a $25 gasoline gift card from a Jolly’s store to donate to Annual Meeting. The member who won the prize recently informed Ruthie that the card was not activated. Anyone who might know which Chapter donated this card should contact Ruthie at 802-635-9282.
“Strengthening unions might also have the knock-on effect of decreasing populism. At least some of the ugliness we’ve seen this election cycle has been rooted in rising inequality. Meanwhile, about one-third of the recent increase in wage inequality for American males can be attributed to weakening unions, according to research by Harvard and Washington University academics. A separate IMF study found that countries without unions see a 10% increase in the share of income that goes to the highest earners.
By contrast, the social benefits of unions stretch across generations. American children of fathers without a college education earn 28% more if their dad was in a labor union, compared to those whose fathers were non-union. In other words, the demise of American unions — only about 7% of private sector workers currently belong to one — has been a key factor in the rising wealth gap, but also in the sort of horrific, Hobbesian presidential politics we’ve seen over the past year. (Many economists see the wealth gap as a big reason why we aren’t enjoying a more sustainable recovery.)
The big challenge to revitalizing unions is moving beyond today’s system of labor law, which hasn’t been updated since 1935. Unions get a bad rap in the U.S. in part because most collective bargaining can be done only at a firm-by-firm level. That creates a race to the bottom away from higher-wage unionized firms. Yet there is a wealth of research that shows that when bargaining can be done at an industry level — the way it is in most other countries, including Germany, Sweden, Australia, and Canada, among others — you get higher national wages without sacrificing economic competitiveness. That’s because factors like labor representation on corporate boards and the ability to bargain collectively is associated with greater productivity levels, as management and labor are better able to work together to solve problems. (See here for an example of how this helped German companies gain market share against U.S. firms in the wake of the financial crisis.)”
VSEA Insurance Representative In St. Johnsbury Next Week
By Appointment Only: VSEA Insurance Representative Joanne Woodcock will be at 67 Eastern Ave. In St. Johnsbury to talk with interested VSEA members about member-only insurance benefits on Thursday, October 20 and Friday, October 21.
Receive information on disability coverage, family life insurance, family accident and cancer coverage. You must be a member paying full dues to be eligible for this VSEA benefit. If you are an agency-fee payer, Joanne can provide you information about signing up for full membership.
Many VSEA members have reached out to VSEA’s Communications Department to ask why they don’t see their union’s posts in their Facebook newsfeed. Facebook has limited space to show you posts, so if you like a lot of Facebook pages, VSEA’s posts may not be appearing in your feed. But fear not, Facebook provides a way to prioritize your favorite pages, so you can ensure you don’t miss VSEA’s posts. It’s an easy process:
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.
Bolton Valley Extends Season Pass Offer To VSEA Members
For the fourth year in a row, the VSEA Advantage Discount Program is pleased to offer discounted season passes to the Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Bolton.
VSEA members who order before October 31, 2016, can purchase a discounted season pass for $269!
Discounted youth passes for your family members are also available ($199/$159).
Like last year, this offer is available only to VSEA members who are currently paying full dues to their union.
The sign-up process is pretty straightforward, but, like last year, in order for a member to view the special VSEA discount promo code (which can be found by clicking here), you must be a registered user of the VSEA website, which also requires you to be a full dues-paying member.
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.