VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: October 25, 2019

Pictured here signing a tentative agreement on Tuesday night on behalf of members working in VSEA’s three Executive Branch Units are (left to right) VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley, Supervisory Unit Chair Joe Silvestri, NMU Chair Bob Stone and Corrections Unit Chair Daniel Broe. 

 

 

VSEA Executive Unit Bargaining Teams Reach Tentative Agreement With State On New Contract

After a second day of mediation on Tuesday, members of VSEA’s Non-Management, Corrections, and Supervisory Unit Bargaining Teams and the State reached tentative agreement on a successor contract. Specific details are being withheld from the public until members can vet the agreement in private and then vote to ratify or reject.

Late Wednesday, VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley posted a summary of what is in the tentative agreement to VSEA’s website. Members can read Hoadley’s summary in the "Members Only" section of VSEA.org. Only registered users can view. Register Here  After logging in to VSEA.org, registered members can navigate to the “Quick Links” panel in the left-hand column of VSEA.org. From there select “Negotiation Notes”.

Gary Hoadley’s "Negotiation Notes"
Log-in Required

Have a question about the tentative agreement or bargaining?

VSEA Coming To Worksites To Talk Tentative Agreement & Pension Fight

VSEA leaders are announcing an upcoming worksite tour to provide members with an overview of the tentative contract agreement reached on October 22 by the Executive Branch Unit Bargaining Teams; both about the process and the result. In addition, there will also be a discussion about an anticipated, renewed attack on VSEA members’ defined benefit contribution pension plan and how they can help their union in the coming months.

Important! The meeting schedule is subject to change, pending the scheduling of a ratification vote.

Here are the meetings scheduled to date:

  • October 29, St. Johnsbury – 1016 U.S. Route 5, Shared Conference Room – 12:00 p.m. View flyer
     
  • October 30, Rutland – 88 Merchant’s Row, Fourth Floor Conference Room – 12:00 p.m. View flyer
     
  • November 1, Brattleboro – 232 Main Street, First Floor Conference Room – 12:15 p.m. View flyer
     
  • November 6, Springfield – 100 Mineral Street, Shared First Floor Conference Room – 12:00 p.m. View flyer
     
  • November 7, Montpelier – 155 State Street, Leithead Board Room – 5:00 p.m. View flyer

VSEA Executive Director Rips Placing Blame For Woodside’s Issues On Workers

After reading a a VTDigger story this week that reports on new incident policies and practices for employees being implemented at the beleaguered Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center, VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard felt compelled to post a comment on the story, in defense of the Woodside employees, who he and VSEA’s legislative team have been assisting, advising and helping shield from being scapegoated for the State and lawmakers’ continued lack of necessary funding and resources.

Howard posted:

Someday the truth about Woodside will be told. The dedicated staff work diligently and tirelessly to help kids that so often nobody else will. These attacks by outside forces on their work is appalling. Woodside employees have a right to protect themselves when they are in danger.

I have to say if the public only knew about the crazy policies that the workers are forced to follow by management and imposed by outside forces that claim to care about kids…they would be horrified. I stand with the workers at Woodside and I applaud their dedication to these residents.

Let’s not make the same mistake we made with the Mental Health System. Build a better Woodside so kids don’t end up piled up in the ER waiting for someone to care.

Reserve judgment until you hear from the frontline workers rather than just court room hawks. The truth about a Woodside is so different than how they are portrayed.

Note: If you’re talking with your local lawmakers, remind them of the importance of Vermont’s sole juvenile-detention facility and also about the dedication of the workers there, who continue to do the best they can with the resources provided.

All Invited To A Celebration Of Ruth Leithead’s Life Tomorrow Afternoon In Morrisville

The family of Ruthie Leithead is inviting VSEA members and retirees to a special event tomorrow afternoon to celebrate the life of Sister Ruthie, who, sadly, passed away October 8.

Here are the details:

Celebration of Ruthie
Saturday, October 26
1:00 p.m.
Morrisville VFW
28 VFW Street
Morrisville

Brattleboro Chapter Participating In Coat Drive

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 on 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.  

Bennington Chapter Food Drive Ends October 31!

A reminder that the VSEA Bennington Chapter’s annual food drive ends next week on October 31. Here are some of the items Chapter President Victoria Thorpe says you can donate you can donate:

  • Canned or dry beans;
  • Canned fish or meat;
  • Canned vegetables;
  • Canned fruits;
  • Canned soups & chili
  • Peanut or almond butter;
  • Grains;
  • Boxed mac & cheese;
  • Pasta and sauce;
  • Hot or cold cereal;
  • 100% juice and juice boxes;
  • Low sodium, low sugar, and whole grain;
  • Paper towels and toilet paper;
  • Diapers and formula; and
  • Toiletries, including feminine products.

Collection bins are located at State Offices.

Chapter Also Still Seeking Parade Marchers

If you are willing and available to participate with other VSEA members in the Bennington Veterans Day Parade please contact Chapter President Victoria Thorpe (vthorpevsea@gmail.com) or Chapter Vice President Gina Condo (ginahalona1@gmail.com). Thank you!

Get Rid Of Your Old Prescription Drugs Safely Tomorrow!

Every spring and fall, the Vermont Department of Health and drug disposal sites around the state join the federal Drug Enforcement Agency in holding "National Prescription Drug Take Back Days." This twice-yearly event provides a safe, convenient and responsible way to dispose of your prescription and over-the-counter medications, while educating about the potential for medication misuse, accidental ingestion and overdose. During the 2018 spring event Vermonters disposed of 6,008 pounds of medication.
 

Find A Drop-Off Location Near You

VSEA Circulating Petition To Increase Funding For State Colleges

VSEA is now circulating a hard-copy petition to increase Vermont State Colleges’ funding, and an online version of the petition has also been posted for members, retirees and the public to sign.

Here’s what the petition says:
 

Every Vermont State College (VSC) in the system has been going above and beyond for decades to provide Vermonters and our families with a quality education that leads to gainful employment–often right here in Vermont. However, recent news of the serious financial pressures that are currently clouding every VSC campus’ future are of great concern, and they must be addressed now with adequate funding and a renewed commitment by our elected officials and lawmakers to protect Vermont’s valued institutions of higher learning.
 
By signing this petition, I am joining those who are calling on the VSC Chancellor and our elected officials and lawmakers to increase funding NOW for our Vermont State Colleges!

 

Sign The Petition Online!

 

Quote Of
The Week!

 

"We’ve been identifying this as a priority for a long time but until you’ve got the land and the plans, you don’t actually have to come up with the money. And now we’re actually going to have to come up with it."

Rep. Anne Donahue, cautioning her colleagues at the State House in a VTDigger story this week about the State and lawmakers allegedly moving ahead with plans to replace the Middlesex Secure Residential Facility; a temporary mental health facility constructed after Hurricane Irene hit Vermont. Details on the plan moving forward still remain unclear. Costs are estimated to be $4.5 million.

 

Upcoming Meetings:

 

Tentative Agreement / Pension Meetings:

  • St. Johnsbury
    Tuesday, October 29
    1016 U.S. Route 5
    Shared Conference Room
    St. Johnsbury
    12:00 p.m.
     
  • Rutland
    Wednesday, October 30

    88 Merchant’s Row
    Fourth Floor Conference Room
    Rutland
    12:00 p.m.
     

  • Brattleboro
    Friday, November 1
    232 Main Street
    First Floor Conference Room
    Brattleboro
    12:15 p.m.

 

Talking Points:

 

Chicago Teachers Still Striking! Close To Deal?

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike nine days ago, putting 27,000 educators on the picket lines, where they have remained strong and united.

The union demands include salary raises for all school employees, smaller class sizes, and hiring more support staff such as teacher’s assistants.

The Chicago Sun Times reports this morning that the two sides may be inching closer to a deal, writing:

"Members of the Chicago Teachers Union bargaining team said Thursday night there was “good progress” at the bargaining table with Chicago Public Schools. In particular, talks on special education were “very productive.”

Asked whether there was “a realistic hope we could be back in the classroom on Monday morning,” Jen Johnson, CTU chief of staff, said “That is absolutely our hope.”

Chicago Sun Times Live Strike Updates

Note: Solidarity with the CTU members!

Miners Who Blocked Railroad Tracks To Receive Back Pay!

The New York Times reports Thursday that a decision by a small band of Kentucky coal miners to protest not being paid by blocking the company’s railroad tracks for two months will soon be receiving back pay. 

From the story:

The protest started as a five-man blockade in July and grew to include dozens before it was disbanded last month. Labor activists, local politicians and the governor of Kentucky visited. United States senators Bernie Sanders and Mitch McConnell offered public support. The United States Department of Labor intervened.

And now, the miners have received good news. In a series of settlements made public this week in federal courts in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia, Blackjewel agreed to pay about 1,100 workers some $5.1 million in unpaid wages.

“I’m really happy,” said Jeffrey Willig, 40, who helped start the protest. “It’s the whole reason we took our stand. We just wanted the money that we worked for.”

Start Of A Great Time For Unions?

Bloomberg News published a story this week, titled, "This Looks Like the Start of a Great Time for Unions," in large part due to a "tight labor market in the U.S. is leading to a shift in the balance of power between labor and capital, giving more leverage to workers."

From the story:
 

But there are signs in the data that conditions have changed. Last year, more laborers were involved in work stoppages than any year since the mid-1980s. Through the middle of this year that trend had continued. A way to think about the scale of the UAW strike is that mass work stoppages in 2018 led to 2.8 million lost work days. With the UAW still needing to ratify its proposed deal, its 46,000 workers have already been out of work for more than a month, and by the end of the strike will have contributed to more than 1 million lost work days.

 
Employers now find themselves negotiating with emboldened unions, who have shown they’re willing to strike and stay on the picket line for weeks. Further evidence: Industrial employers are choosing to cut hours rather than resort to layoffs amid a slowdown in demand for manufactured goods. They’re worried they won’t be able to find new workers if things pick up.

Public opinion on organized labor has improved alongside the tightening in the job market. Gallup’s annual survey of confidence in institutions shows that organized labor’s net approval is at its highest level in 15 years.

 

This Week:

VSEA Executive Unit Bargaining Teams Reach Tentative Agreement With State On New Contract

VSEA Coming To Worksites To Talk Tentative Agreement & Pension Fight

VSEA Executive Director Rips Placing Blame For Woodside’s Issues On Workers

All Invited To A Celebration Of Ruth Leithead’s Life Tomorrow Afternoon In Morrisville

Brattleboro Chapter Participating In Coat Drive

Bennington Chapter Food Drive Ends October 31!

Get Rid Of Your Old Prescription Drugs Safely Tomorrow!

VSEA Circulating Petition To Increase Funding For State Colleges

 

Talking Points:

Chicago Teachers Still Striking! Close To Deal?

Miners Who Blocked Railroad Tracks To Receive Back Pay!

Start Of A Great Time For Unions?

 

Calendar:

October 26
Celebration Of Ruthie Leithead
Morrisville VFW
28 VFW Street
Morrisville
1:00 p.m.

October 29

Pension / Tentative Agreement Meeting
State Offices
1016 U.S. Route 5
Shared Conference Room
St. Johnsbury
12:00 p.m.
October 30

Pension / Tentative Agreement Meeting
State Offices
88 Merchant’s Row
Fourth Floor Conference Room’
Rutland
12:00 p.m.
 

October 31
Bennington Chapter Food Drive Ends

November 1

Pension / Tentative Agreement Meeting
State Offices
232 Main Street
First Floor Conference Room
Brattleboro
12:15 p.m.

 

Important Reminders:

Fall 2019 Membership Drive!

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

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

WATCH: Video Of Keynote Speaker At VSEA’s Annual Meeting

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

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

Told You’re Being Investigated?
Watch This Video!

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?

 

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:
 akinsell@vsea.org

Help spread the word!
Download, distribute and post this flyer in your worksite! Thanks!

 

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

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

 

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
edavis@boltonvalley.com

 

Reminder: 
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!

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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