VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: October 26, 2018


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Votes Tallied In Recent NMU Elections

VSEA’s Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee members were at headquarters last Friday to tally the votes cast in recent Non-Management Unit (NMU) elections.   
Numbers are online votes cast (+) paper votes cast. 


  • See Next WIA Story 

Vice Chair

  • Shawn Ainsworth– Agency of Transportation 276+8

NMU Treasurer

  • Kelly Price– Fish and Wildlife Department 277+8

NMU Unit Clerk

  • Ellen Hinman– Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation 277+10




  • Jean-Paul "JP" Isabelle – Secretary of State 281+7

Case Workers

  • Aimee Bertrand Towne – Department for Children and Families 169 +4

Administrative Professionals 

  • John Davy– Department of Health 293+5

Conservation & Agriculture

  • Thomas "Tom" Benoit– Department of Environmental Conservation 143 +6


  • Brad Herring– Agency of Transportation 279+10

Health Services

  • Cheryl Brinkman– Department of Health 197 +6

Law Enforcement

  • Kelly Price– Fish and Wildlife Department 96+2

Patient Care, Mental Health

  • Melissa Walsh– Vermont Veterans Home 285+10


  • Pierre "P.I." Lamarche – Agency of Transportation 280+8

Bargaining Unit Team Clerk

  • Leslie Matthews – Department of Environmental Conservation 284 +8


(four seats)

  • Thomas “Tom” Benoit– Department of Environmental Conservation 245 +9
  • Melissa Walsh– Vermont Veterans Home 239 +10
  • Pierre “P.I.” Lamarche– Agency of Transportation 232 +9
  • Marion Allen – Department of Labor 230 +9


Open NMU Bargaining Team seats still remain in the following occupational groups: 

  • Building/Maintenance;
  • Data Processing; and
  • Labor/Education.

The NMU Executive Committee will soon be re-soliciting for member interest in these occupational groups.


VSEA Is Again Soliciting For NMU Members Who Want To Self-Nominate To Run For Unit Chair

Role of the Unit Chair: 

Shall conduct all business of the Unit during the interim between the Annual Meeting and between meetings of the Executive Committee; shall be a member of the Unit Bargaining and Master Bargaining Teams; preside at meetings of the Executive Committee and Unit Bargaining Teams; appoint Committees, serve as ex-officio member on all unit committees; and shall fill all vacancies in elected positions with approval of the Executive Committee.
Only members in good standing of the Unit and VSEA shall be eligible for election to this Unit office.
If you are interested in running for Non-management Unit Chair please send a letter of interest to Ray Stout at VSEA (rstout@vsea.org) no later than 4:00 November 9, 2018. Please contact Ray Stout or ERN Chair Sandy Noyes (snoyes@vsea.org) with any questions. 

Monday’s Pensions Symposium Postponed! New Date Coming

Due to circumstances beyond VSEA’s control, the State Treasurer’s Public Pensions Symposium scheduled for Monday, October 29, had to unfortunately be postponed this week. A new date for the symposium before year’s end is expected soon, and WIA will let readers know as soon as it’s announced.  

Because VSEA was a co-sponsor of the symposium, the union apologizes for any inconvenience caused by the postponement.  

UVM Report Concludes Vermont Will Need 29 To 35 New Mental Health Beds 

Before getting to the report, a little background:

Nearly a decade ago, VSEA members working at the Vermont State Hospital were part of a legislatively mandated "Futures Committee" process to come up with a replacement concept for the aging mental health care facility in Waterbury. Then-Gov. Jim Douglas allowed the committee to carry out its charge, but, at the same time, he was actively promoting privatizing the entire service and moving it to Fletcher Allen; an idea the Futures Committee and even Fletcher Allen’s Director of Psychiatry openly rejected and fought.

After the dust settled, the Futures Committee agreed to promote a proposal that would have had the State build a 54-bed, stand-alone, state-of-the-art psychiatric hospital in central Vermont, in close proximity to the Central Vermont Medical Center. The initial building costs were hefty, but the Committee estimated that the facility would pay for itself over a short period of time. The facility would also remove Vermont from a federal requirement to limit mental health facility beds to just 16, in order to receive federal funding. However, the Governor and many lawmakers were too terrified of the state’s budget deficit at the time, so the Committee’s proposal died on the vine but, thankfully, so did the Governor’s privatization proposal. As for the Vermont State Hospital, it continued chugging along until August 2011, when Hurricane Irene hit Vermont and rendered the hospital unusable.

Post-Irene, VSEA members at the VSH were again asked to weigh in on options and the almost universal message from VSEA and the rank-and-file was "build a larger facility with more beds and a forensic unit." Gov. Peter Shumlin didn’t listen though, instead joining with lawmakers to build a 25-bed acute facility in central Vermont and place additional beds in private hospitals in Brattleboro and Rutland. Shumlin also rolled out a community-based mental health care initiative that was terrific in theory but lacked the state funding required for success–and still does.  

Now, this week, a new report from the University of Vermont (UVM); a private entity which is lobbying hard right now to convince Vermont leaders and lawmakers to move our state’s acute-mental-health-care services to a new multi-million-dollar building to be constructed at the UVM Medical Center. This would privatize the acute-care service, but Vermont taxpayers would still bear liability in the event of an accident or worse.  

From October 23 VTDigger story on report, which seems now to confirm the number of estimated beds VSEA frontline employees said would be needed a decade ago: 

The study also looks forward, projecting that an additional six adult psychiatric beds would cover the forecasted growth in mental health needs over the next decade. The final tally to meet current and forecasted needs is 29 to 35 beds.

Note: VSEA and its members working at the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital in Berlin are reviewing the report and will be meeting again soon with AHS Commissioner Al Gobeille to discuss it and continue their campaign to dissuade the State from privatizing Vermont’s acute mental health care services. 

Corrections Unit Members! Deadline To Self-Nominate For Bargaining Team Seat Is November 2.

Now is the time for interested VSEA Corrections Unit members to self-nominate to win a seat on your Unit’s Bargaining Team.

Corrections members interested in running are needed from each correctional facility and from each P&P office. To be considered, you must send your letter of interest to Ray Stout (RStout@vsea.orgno later than 4:00 p.m., Friday, November 2

What Does A Bargaining Team Member Do? 

Corrections Unit Bargaining Team members are expected to represent all their fellow VSEA colleagues at the bargaining table, with a focus on the employee’s area(s) of expertise. This requires you to reach out to VSEA members in your respective district to collect their ideas and then share them with the Bargaining Team, which will then work come to turn  ideas and proposals into viable, concrete bargaining proposals.

Bargaining Team members receive leave time to attend six Bargaining Team meetings prior to negotiations, as well as leave time to sit down with the State to bargain. Note too that you may need to devote some of your own time after work as well.

This is a great opportunity to serve your fellow union members working in Corrections.

"The Pension Gamble" Premiered This Week On PBS’ Frontline.

Worth Watching!

Fearing proposals are coming to target the pensions of new hires to state government and possibly even state employees’ existing defined benefit pension plan, VSEA members and retirees are urged to watch a new episode of PBS’ Frontline series that premiered this week.  

From the PBS Frontline teaser for "The Pension Gamble":

"FRONTLINE investigates the role of state governments and Wall Street in driving America’s public pensions into a multi-trillion-dollar hole. Marcela Gaviria, Martin Smith, and Nick Verbitsky go inside the volatile fight over pensions playing out in Kentucky, and examine the broader consequences for teachers, police, firefighters and other public employees everywhere."

View the episode online here!

State Treasurer Giving Pension Presentation At Two VSEA Chapter Meetings Next Week!

Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce will be at VSEA Waterbury and Chittenden Chapter meetings next week to provide members with an education about the major differences between state employees’ current defined benefit pension plan and a 401K plan, as well as why it’s so important for employees and retirees to band together to protect the defined benefit plan. 

Chittenden Chapter
Wednesday, October 31
108 Cherry St., Room 2B

Waterbury Chapter
Friday, November 2
State Office Complex, Beech Room

In Advance Of November Health Plan Open Enrollment, DVHA Launches New Site To Help Vermonters Compare 

VSEA President Dave Bellini has been reminding members and retirees for weeks now that November is open enrollment month for state employees’ health plans, recommending members and retirees "review the details of both the Selectcare and Total Choice plans."

To make that review easier, the Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) announced this week in a press release that it has launched an online tool to help Vermonters compare plans in advance of November open enrollment.

From the release:

The Plan Comparison Tool was developed by the non-profit Consumers’ Checkbook and has won the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s award for best plan choice tool. This is the fourth year that Vermont is using the tool. It has been used in nearly 60,000 sessions over the last twelve months.

After taking a couple minutes to enter age, income, health status, and expected use of medical services, the anonymous tool tells the user if they qualify for financial help to lower the cost of coverage. It also presents the estimated total annual costs (premium minus subsidies plus estimated out-of-pocket) of each of the 26+ qualified health plans. The user then has several options for sorting and screening results, or they can dive into plan details and link to more information on the BCBSVT and MVP websites.

“This kind of resource is very important because a consumer just can’t figure out: is a plan with the $200 deductible and a $10,000 out-of-pocket limit better for me than a plan with a $2,000 deductible and $4,000 out-of-pocket limit—and how about differences in co-pays, co-insurance, etc.?” said Robert Krughoff, president of Consumers’ Checkbook. “People don’t know how much various health services cost or their likelihood of needing different services – and even health insurance experts can be hard-pressed to figure out which plan is best without a helpful tool. Vermont Health Connect is a leader in making this help available.”

About 2019 Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment is the time when new applicants can use the marketplace to sign up for health and dental plans for the coming year. It is also an opportunity for existing members to change plans – an option that many more members than usual will want to consider for 2019.

This year’s Open Enrollment runs from November 1 to December 15, just like last year. Vermonters who sign up or request a new plan will have a start date of January 1. Those who miss the deadline could have to wait until January 2020 to start health coverage, although residents who qualify for Medicaid can sign up throughout the year and those who qualify for a Special Enrollment Period generally have 60 days to sign up.

Starting November 1, applicants can sign up in one of four ways: online, by phone, by paper, or with an in-person assister. For more information or to get started, click here or call 1-855-899-9600.

Buy Union This Halloween!

If you want your Halloween to be all treats and no tricks, make sure all your candy is union-made in America. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s resource site, Labor 411, has a list of union-made candies, as does Union Plus. Here are some highlights, featuring sweets made by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW):

  • 5th Avenue
  • Abba-Zaba
  • Almond Roca
  • Baby Ruth
  • Big Hunk
  • Bit-O-Honey
  • Butterfinger
  • Cadbury
  • Candy House Buttons
  • Caramello
  • Clark Bar
  • Dum Dums
  • Ghirardelli Chocolate
  • Gimbal’s Fine Candies
  • Hershey’s Kisses
  • Hershey’s Hugs
  • Hershey’s Nuggets
  • Jawbreakers
  • Jelly Belly
  • Kit Kat
  • LOOK!
  • Mallo Cups
  • Mary Jane
  • Mighty Malts
  • Necco Wafers
  • Red Vines
  • Rocky Road
  • Rolo
  • Russell Stover
  • See’s Candies
  • Sky Bar
  • Smarties
  • Snaps
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Sour Punch
  • Super Ropes
  • Toblerone
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • U-NO
  • York Peppermint Patties
  • Zagnut

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 (rstout@vsea.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
& Absentee
Voting Underway

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.

Quote Of The Week!


"I think there’s a complete misunderstanding of this. We have $4.5 billion of pension assets to pay plans. This is a liability that exists for all employees out to their date of retirement, and we have a funding plan in place to pay down that liability by 2038.

State Treasurer Beth Pearce, commenting in an October 25 VTDigger story about Moody’s downgrading Vermont’s bond rating this week and some of the pension-gutting crowd already on their soapboxes, blaming alleged underfunded state employee and teacher pension plans. There were other factors attributed to the downgrade, as Pearce also reminds.

Book Today For VSEA Bus Trip To Foxwoods Casino For Two-Night Stay In Late November!

November 30 to December 2, 2018

There are still seats left on the bus for the VSEA Membership Recruitment Committee’s November trip to the Foxwoods Casino for a two-night stay.

More Information

To register or if you have a question, please email VSEA Union Representative Bob South (bsouth@vsea.org) or Administrative Assistant Sue DeVoid (sdevoid@vsea.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 vsea@vsea.org. VSEA will verify your membership status and provide you with VSEA’s code, which you will need to complete your online purchase.

Once you have the required code:

  • Click here;
  • Click “Buy Online”;
  • In the “Cart View,” click on “Add / Change Guest” to set the pass-holder’s name and information to each pass, then;
  • Click “Proceed to Checkout”;
  • Enter VSEA’s promotional code and click “Apply Code.” The cart should refresh and reflect your discount.


Pass Type: Pre-April 2 Price/Post-April 2 Price

Adult (18+): $379 / $429

Youth w/Adult (7-17): $159 / $179

Youth (7-17): $199 / $239

Senior (65-74): $229 / $239

Child (6 and under): $29 / $29

Ski Bum (18-25): $179 / $279


VSEA Meetings/ Trainings/ Events:


Upcoming Chapter Meeting

  • Chittenden Chapter
    Monday, October 29

    5:30 p.m.
    Halverson’s Upstreet Cafe
    16 Church Street
    Back Room

    Questions: Contact VSEA Chittenden Chapter Clerk John Davy: davy.john@gmail.com

Upcoming Organizer Worksite Meetings

  • Burlington – 108 Cherry
    Wednesday, October 31

    Special Guest! Treasurer Beth Pearce
    12:00 p.m.
    State Office Building
    108 Cherry Street
    Conference Room 2B

    Questions: Contact VSEA Organizer Danielle Warner: dwarner@vsea.org

  • Waterbury – State Office Complex
    Friday, November 2

    Special Guest! Treasurer Beth Pearce
    12:00 p.m.
    State Office Complex
    Beech Conference Room
    280 State Drive

    Questions: Contact VSEA Organizer Danielle Warner: dwarner@vsea.org


Points of Interest:


Time To Ban "Don’t Darken My Door" Language From ALL Discrimination Agreements

The Burlington Free Press published a couple of stories this week on the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, and one piece details how four female state employees filed sexual harassment claims and were eventually cajoled into signing what are called "Don’t Darken My Door" agreements as part of their settlement. These agreements ban future employment in a specific state agency or department, or state government entirely in some cases.

Attorney General T.J. Donovan has properly addressed the problem by removing the agreement from any future sexual harassment settlements, but…

From story:

The Vermont Legislature passed a law this year that makes "do not darken my door" agreements illegal in sexual harassment settlements. The law does not retroactively release people from agreements they already signed.

It remains legal for Vermont officials to use the agreements when settling any other claims of discrimination by state employees, such as racial harassment.

[One state worker] is about to retire, and she hopes her successor will ask the Legislature to stop the use of "do not darken my door" agreements in any illegal discrimination cases. The attorney general supports an expansion of the law, Gallagher said.

Note: The only ban should be to ban these agreements, across the board, when it comes to any case of discrimination.

Related Free Press Story: Sex Discrimination, Harassment Cases Have Cost Vermont $1M. What’s Changed?

New Hampshire Could Become 11th State To Pass Strong Anti-Privacy Initiative, But… 

An article this morning on Governing reports on a ballot initiative that New Hampshire voters will be passing or defeating on November 6. 

From the story:

Question 2 aims to protect Granite State residents’ privacy rights in the digital age. If approved by voters, the measure would amend the state constitution to say: "An individual’s right to live free from governmental intrusion in private or personal information is natural, essential and inherent."

The goal is to ensure that governments get permission before snooping through citizens’ private social media accounts, internet search histories, emails and text messages.

Ten states have passed similar initiatives, but, as the story reports, the Concord Monitor recently penned an editorial, urging voters to reject the initiative, writing that "more debate is needed."

L.A. Dodgers Cross Same Picket Line The Yankees Recently Crossed. Boo!

A couple of weeks ago, WIA shared a story about the New York Yankees crossing a picket line outside the Ritz-Carlton in Boston and the blowback the move was getting from local labor leaders. Now, according to an October 22 story posted to SBNATION, the Los Angeles Dodgers are also ignoring the hotel’s striking workers and are also crossing the picket line. 

From the posted story:

UNITE HERE President Brian Lang tells SB Nation of the situation, "The bottom line is workers out there who are on their third week of striking, who live paycheck to paycheck, who are fighting for a livable income so one job would be enough. You’ve got millionaire ball players who would rather sleep in a hotel, even if it’s struck, because it has suites. I personally think that Jackie Robinson is rolling over in his grave right now. He’s an icon who that organization hails as a hero and they act completely differently than he would in this situation."

To its credit, the Major League Baseball Players Association issued a statement this week in support of the striking hotel workers, saying, "From what we understand, these workers have been trying to negotiate a fair contract for more than six months. They deserve to be heard and deserve our support."

This Week:

Votes Tallied In Recent NMU Elections

VSEA Is Again Soliciting For NMU Members Who Want To
Self-Nominate To Run For Unit Chair

Monday’s Pensions Symposium Postponed! New Date Coming

UVM Report Concludes Vermont Will Need 29 To 35 New Mental Health Beds

Attention Corrections Unit Members! Now Is The Time To
Self-Nominate For Bargaining Team Seat 

"The Pension Gamble" Premiered This Week On PBS’ Frontline 

State Treasurer Giving Pension Presentation 
At Two VSEA Chapter Meetings Next Week!

In Advance Of November Health Plan Open Enrollment, DVHA Launches New Site To Help Vermonters Compare 

Buy Union This Halloween!

Continuing To Call All VSEA Campaign 2018 Volunteers!

2018 General Election Early & Absentee Voting Begins

Reserve Your Seat(s) Today For VSEA November Bus Trip To Foxwoods Casino!

Bolton Valley Again Offering “Industry Rate” To VSEA Members On 2018-19 All-Access Season Passes


VSEA Meetings/ Trainings/ Events:


Upcoming Chapter Meeting

Upcoming Organizer Worksite Meeting


Points of Interest:


Time To Ban "Don’t Darken My Door" Language From ALL Discrimination Agreements

New Hampshire Could Become 11th State To Pass Strong Anti-Privacy Initiative, But… 

L.A. Dodgers Cross Same Picket Line The Yankees Recently Crossed. Boo!


VSEA Reminders:


Complete Summary Of Changes Made To NMU, Corrections & Supervisory Units’ Contract

New Contract Printing Can Move Forward

What You Should Know About The Anti-Worker Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

What Is The VSEA Advantage Program?


VSEA Calendar:

October 29
Chapter Meeting

Halverson’s Upstreet Cafe
16 Church Street
Back Room
5:30 p.m.

October 31
Meeting – Burlington  

State Office Building 
108 Cherry Street
Conference Room 2B
12:00 p.m.

November 2
Meeting – Waterbury 

State Office Complex 
Beech Conference Room 
12:00 p.m.


Complete Summary Of Changes Made To NMU, Corrections & Supervisory Units Contract

To view the comprehensive overview of all the changes made to the contracts covering VSEA members in the Non-Management, Corrections and Supervisory Units, please click here (PDF). 

Note: Members with specific questions about the new contract should contact a Steward or a Union Representative.


New Contract Printing
Can Move Forward Now

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. 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.

In the interim, members with specific questions about the new contract should contact a Steward or a Union Representative.


What You Should Know About The Anti-Worker Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

Thanks in advance for visiting VSEA’s Janus webpage to ensure you are an informed union member. 


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
VSEA Council Member?

Join the VSEA Council Facebook group here!

Are You A
VSEA Steward?

Join the VSEA Steward Facebook
group here!

Subscribe To VSEA Today!

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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