VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: October 20, 2017
VSEA Judiciary Members
As Management Finally
Last Wednesday, VSEA Judiciary Unit members were outside the Vermont Supreme Court and the Washington County Courthouse, leafleting the public to call attention to the Court Administrator’s refusal to bargain with Judiciary workers in a timely fashion. What a difference a week makes! WIA is happy to report that, in response to the leafleting and a recently filed unfair labor practice that VSEA leveled against the Judiciary for refusing to bargain, the Court Administrator met at the Labor Board late last week with VSEA Unit Chair Margaret and Unit Vice Chair Beth Aiken, where the parties agreed to begin bargaining in good faith on October 20.
“VSEA Judiciary Unit members are very pleased with management’s decision to come to the bargaining table this week and not put off full negotiations, including over money, until January or February, which is a timeline that doesn’t serve employees well and that workers have been trying to get changed in recent negotiations,” explains Crowley. “Judiciary Unit members believe that negotiating a new agreement now will give lawmakers and the State some time to allocate whatever money is necessary to fund the contract’s terms and conditions agreed to at the table. In the past, when we started in January or February, we would not reach an agreement with management until after the legislature had already adjourned, which made it hard to get the funding needed for the improvements our members deserve.”
VSEA Judiciary Unit members add that this is a huge victory for the employees because this is the earliest that management has ever agreed to start bargaining.
“[The assaults on workers are] terrible. I have to think about the people who work there, and who would want a job where you’re going to get assaulted?”
Maryland House Health and Government Operations Committee Chairperson Shane Pendergrass, commenting in a Baltimore Sun story this week about lawmakers launching a formal investigation into spike in number of patient-on-worker assaults at the state’s largest psychiatric hospital.
St. Johnsbury & Newbury AOT Garages Presented With “Spirit of the ADA” Awards
VSEA is sending congratulations to AOT members at the St. Johnsbury and Newbury VTrans garages, who this week were awarded “Spirit of the ADA” awards for their “exemplary work supporting workers with disabilities.” Top State officials, lawmakers and other dignitaries were at the AOT Garage in St. Johnsbury on October 17 to present the awards to the management and staff of both garages.
According to a State press release about the awards ceremony, this award is given to “employers who reflect the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act in their employment practices, including:
Recruitment, outreach and equal accessibility in the application, interviewing and hiring procedures for people with disabilities.
Use of on-the-job accommodations, modifications, progressive employment methods and/or creative solutions for successful training and employment of people with disabilities.
Accessible physical structures, buildings, work stations and equipment, and services.
Support for the employment of a person(s) with a disability as an overall employment strategy.”
Your Survey… Your Future: VSEA Corrections Survey 2017
VSEA sent an email to Corrections members this week, reminding them to complete a recently posted, comprehensive, online survey to find out how DOC employees feel about their working conditions and what their priority issues are moving forward.
VSEA Corrections leaders on the Unit’s Bargaining Team and Executive Committee will be using employees’ answers to help them shape their agendas and draft beneficial policies. Your Unit’s survey results will also be shared with VSEA’s Legislative team, so it can begin to educate lawmakers about how they can help Vermont’s Corrections workers provide the safest and best service possible to our state’s taxpayers.
VSEA Lamoille Valley Worksite Meeting Is October 26
VSEA’s Lamoille Valley Chapter is meeting Thursday, October 26, beginning at 12:00 p.m. at the State Office Building, located at 63 Professional Drive in Morrisville. Food is being provided. Stop by for bargaining and other union updates!
White River Junction Chapter Holding Employee Appreciation Day Event On October 26
VSEA’s White River Junction Chapter is holding an Employee Appreciation Day event on Thursday, October 26, beginning at 11:00 a.m. at the State Office Building, located at 118 Prospect Street in WRJ. Food and beverages being provided.
VSEA Member Sought To
Take Over For Retiring District 5 Trustee
A petition is now available online for VSEA members interested in running to fill VSEA’s District 5 Board seat; a leadership role that allows you to serve as the voice for Rutland & Bennington’s VSEA members at the Board table.
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
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.
More Contributions Needed Now To The Non-Management Unit’s Sick
Donations Being Accepted October 1 To December 31
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
“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.”
Health Care Is The Topic Of The VT Chapter Of The Alliance
For Retired Americans
13th Annual Conference
The Vermont Chapter of the Alliance for Retired Americans (VT ARA) is holding its 13th annual conference on Saturday, October 28, and VSEA retirees and members are invited to attend.
The feature topic of this year’s VT ARA conference is “From Expensive To Affordable: Vermont’s Health Care Future” and featured speakers include Dr. Deb Richter and Public Assets Institute President Paul Cillo. A representative from Senator Bernie Sanders’ office will also be providing an update on S. 1804, which is also known as the “Medicare for All Act of 2017.”
Conference participants are invited to join in the discussion about how we can work together to overcome the challenges that are currently preventing Vermont from being able to provide quality, accessible and affordable health care coverage to all its citizens. The VT ARA wants to send conference participants home with the knowledge and tools they need to educate their fellow Vermonters about the need “to establish universal, publicly financed primary health care in Vermont.”
The official meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. and ends at 2:00 p.m. It’s being held at the Montpelier Senior Activity Center, located at 58 Barre Street in Montpelier.
Conference Registration is $15 per person or $20 for 2 and includes morning refreshments. The cost of lunch is $10, and membership in the Vermont Alliance for Retired Americans is $10 per year.
For information or to register, contact
Jane Osgatharp, President: annajaneo@ aol.com or (802) 229-0850.
VSEA Insurance Benefits Enrollment In Waterbury From October 24 to 26
Learn More Or Schedule An Appointment Today!
VSEA Insurance Representative Joanne Woodcock will be at the following location to talk with interested VSEA members about member-only insurance benefits.
October 24, 25, and 26
Waterbury State Office Complex
Email for an appointment: Joanne@ vseainsurance.com
Receive information on disability coverage, family life insurance, family accident, cancer and hospital 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.
By Appointment ONLY
Email Joanne@vseainsurance.com for an appointment. Please provide your age, hourly wage and job description so I can send a quote BEFORE we meet.
VSEA is congratulating the Community College of Vermont’s (CCV) 500+ “adjunct faculty” on voting 298-131 on October 12 to unionize. The vote count translates to 80% of the unit’s members’ casting votes in the election. CCV faculty are joining the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which is a natural fit, as the AFT already represents faculty at all Vermont State Colleges.
In an October 13 Rutland Herald story about the vote, CCV Educator Emily Casey thanks management for not interfering in the election, saying, “We feel like they were professional and they allowed us to have a fair and free election.
The CCV faculty says its primary issues in upcoming bargaining will be a to have a greater say in CCV “governance” and to implement a step process, which does not currently exist.
New Report Examines Policies To Improve Economic Outcomes For Working Women
Politico reports on October 19 about a newly released report this week from the Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project, titled Modernizing U.S. Labor Standards for 21st-Century Families. In it, the authors identify caregiving responsibilities, burdensome scheduling practices, and wage discrimination as the three main roadblocks to women improving their economic outcome. Some of the solutions to the problem suggested by the report’s authors include: creating a paid leave policy that accounts for all reasons someone would need it; making employers cover the costs of last-minute schedule changes; and prohibiting employers from asking about salary history in job interviews.
Maryland Lawmakers Launch Investigation Into Assaults On Workers At State’s Largest Psychiatric Hospital
WIA has reported recently about VSEA members’ concerns about patient-on-worker assaults at the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital (VPCH); most recently, a vicious September 12 attack on four VPCH workers that sent three of them to the emergency room. Judging by a story this week in the Baltimore Sun, VPCH workers are not alone in their efforts to educate lawmakers about the assaults and lobby them to help.
According to the Sun story, some Maryland lawmakers are so alarmed at what they are hearing that a formal investigation of the state’s Health Department and its handling of the crisis.
From the story:
“[The assaults on workers are] terrible,” says Del. Shane Pendergrass, the Howard County Democrat who chairs the House Health and Government Operations Committee. “I have to think about the people who work there, and who would want a job where you’re going to get assaulted?”
Pendergrass said she asked the Senate Finance Committee to join the inquiry into the facility.
Finance Committee Chairman Thomas “Mac” Middleton said he has so many concerns about the state’s ability to treat mental health patients that he wants his own briefing from state health officials.
"What are they going to do about this?" said Middleton, a Charles County Democrat. "It is reaching a really, really chaotic situation right now. It needs to be addressed."
Pendergrass said lawmakers will also demand answers on why the state has failed to provide treatment for all the mental health patients referred by the criminal justice system — patients that are instead languishing in jails for months at a time.
A Baltimore judge held five top Maryland officials in contempt of court last month for failing to address that problem more quickly.
“We had thought things were moving forward. We thought there was a plan in place, and it is disheartening to see that we are not moving forward,” Pendergrass said. “We are moving backward.”
Note: AFSCME represents workers at the Maryland psychiatric hospital and issued a statement on the investigation.
Worker At Maine Psychiatric Hospital Suing Former Patient For Assault
The Caledonian Record reports this morning that a worker at a state of Maine psychiatric hospital is suing a former patient who was later sentenced to prison for assaulting her. The nurse alleges the patient punched her in the head from behind, causing
Study Finds Vermont Has Nation’s Second-Highest Prison Health Care Costs
A new study this week from the Pew Charitable Trusts finds that Vermont spends the nation’s second-highest amount of money, per-inmate to provide health care. According to the report, California spent the most in year 2015 at $19,796 and Vermont spent $13,747.
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.
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A few weeks back, WIA informed readers that the first in a series of video chats with frontline state employees had posted. It featured longtime Military Department employee Ed Thomas in the first 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.
For members who might not have seen VSEA’s September 26 Facebook post about the second in the video-series posting, featuring Reach Up Case Manager
Sign Up Today For February 2018 VSEA Trip To TD Garden For Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs Game
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 you want the Committee to pursue in the future. Coming up number one was a trip to Boston for a Bruins game, so the Committee is wasting no time responding, scheduling the following:
VSEA Boston Bruins Bus Trip
Saturday, February 3, 2018
TD Garden, Boston
Section: Balcony 321 $170 Per Person Includes: Bus ride to and from TD Garden in Boston and a ticket to the game.
To reserve your seat(s), please send your non-refundable payment in full to Susan Devoid/Bob South at 155
State Street, Montpelier, VT.
We cannot guarantee you a seat until your payment is received.
Tickets will be distributed on a first come, first serve basis depending on when we receive you payment.
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:
October 25 (Upstairs Board Room)
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.
President Bellini Wants Your Cost-Savings Idea(s)!
In past deficit years, VSEA members have been asked to voluntarily submit cost-savings ideas to headquarters, in hopes that some of your ideas could be adopted and implemented, eventually generating the funds needed to save a service or jobs. In 2010, the Vermont Legislature followed VSEA’s lead, passing legislation to provide cash awards to state employees whose ideas were vetted by a special committee and found to generate savings. Unfortunately, this legislation sunset in 2012, and lawmakers have not resurrected it–yet.
For this reason—and in advance of the 2018 legislative session—VSEA President Dave Bellini is again asking frontline state employees with “department- or agency-specific cost-savings ideas” to please submit them to VSEA as soon as possible. Again, President Bellini is looking for department or agency-specific ideas, and nothing "philosophical," he politely requests.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this very important request.
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.”
If you are a state employee who is threatened on the job, please click here to find the online report form, which will remain confidential, unless otherwise approved by you.
VSEA Advantage Discount Program 2017 Killington & Pico Ski Offers
New this week, the VSEA Advantage Discount Program is pleased to welcome the Killington and Pico Resorts back your union’s popular longtime, ski-discount program:
Killington Ski Resort
Killington Resort is offering VSEA members a discount on day tickets!
$76* each (nearly a $40 savings!)
Killington Resort is offering VSEA members a discount on day tickets!
$50* each (nearly a $30 savings!)
*No blackout dates or restrictions
Program Terms & Conditions:
Upon purchase, a ticket order will be created in the Killington Resort & Pico Mountain ticket system under the client’s name.
Tickets may be picked up at any ticket window location throughout Killington Resort or Pico Mountain.
Killington Resort Tickets are valid any day during the 2017/2018 season at Killington Resort.
Pico Mountain Tickets are valid any day during the 2017/2018 season at Pico Mountain ONLY.
Important! VSEA is waiting for Killington to send a link for members to use, but you can still order your Killington tickets today by contacting VSEA Administrative Assistant Sue Devoid, who will give you the code you need. Sue can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone
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!
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.
Select a category and start saving!
Present your VSEA union card, mobile device or printed coupons and offers at participating businesses and receive immediate discounts.
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