“We achieved every goal, without exception, with no concessions to Harvard.”
Unite HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang, cheering a contract victory this week for 750 dining hall workers at Harvard University. The workers walked off the job three weeks ago, after negotiations went south. The workers received strong support from the student body.
Results Of VSEA General Election “Endorsement Survey” Online
VSEA was alerted this week about some recent discussions on social media, concerning which candidates for statewide office VSEA members supported in a recent general election "endorsement survey." In an effort to address some of the misinformation being floated, here are the official results of that survey for all members and the public to see.
Don’t Forget To Vote On Tuesday, November 8!
VSEA Strategic Analyst’s "Right To Work (For Less)" Presentation Now Available Online
VSEA Strategic Analyst Adam Norton’s presentation on everything wrong with America’s so-called “Right-to-Work” movement was so well received at VSEA’s Annual Meeting that Norton is now fulfilling requests to give the presentation to Chapters. Adam is pictured here delivering his presentation last week to the Bennington Chapter.
Norton’s “Right To Work (For Less)” presentation is a must-view for all state employees who are concerned about the move across America to bust unions and hasten the race to the bottom for workers. Please share this presentation with interested colleagues.
VSEA Reminds Corrections & Law Enforcement Members About Legal Defense Fund Opportunity
VSEA sent a message this week to its Corrections and law enforcement members, informing them that now is the time to decide whether or not their work site wants to adopt a program to provide legal defense to members who face criminal charges or other civil or administrative challenges arising from actions taken in the course of their employment. As is explained in the message, before the program can be implemented, more than half the employees at each worksite must indicate their support for it, via an online survey. Once all qualifying work sites are identified, VSEA will begin scheduling informational meetings for members at the individual work sites.
Thanks in advance for your attention to this important survey. If you are a VSEA Corrections or law enforcement member who did not receive the survey message this week, please email email@example.com to receive the link. Write “legal defense” in the subject line please.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.”
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 email@example.com.
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.”
State employees weren’t happy about having to weather an 18% health-care premium increase two years ago, which, according to VSEA President Dave Bellini, was caused by the State’s raiding of the fund’s entire $38 million reserve and by implementing “premium holidays"—against VSEA’s advice. But late last week, VSEA learned that the additional funding from employees has allowed the fund to stabilize, meaning its reserve has now been nearly replenished. This is really good news, and, because of it, VSEA was informed that employees’ health care premiums will rise by only 3%, beginning January 1, 2017. This increase is well below the historical 6% increase level usually seen, and the high-level increase other plan’s are experiencing.
"The low increase is because state employees stepped up two years ago, and we went to the legislature and exposed the State’s fund-raiding practices to ensure it wouldn’t happen again," explains Bellini. He adds that most of the 3% increase (1.65%) is due to the claims experiences and inflation, and the remaining 1.35% will further strengthen the plans reserves to help mitigate drastic premium increases in future years.
VSEA’s VTPAC Presents First-Ever “Labor Hero” Award To Sen. Anthony Pollina
The Vermont State Employees’ Association (VSEA)’s “Vermont Political Awareness Committee’s (VTPAC)” 20th Anniversary Celebration at the Barre Granite Museum on Friday night, October 21, featured the presentation of the union’s first-ever “Labor Hero” award to Senator Anthony Pollina. Moving forward, the award will be officially named the “Anthony Pollina Labor Hero Award,” and VTPAC will award it annually to Vermont lawmakers and elected officials who go the extra mile to support public services and the Vermonters who provide them daily.
“Anthony Pollina has always been a true friend to state employees—and this was the case even before he was elected to serve in Montpelier—so the VSEA Board’s decision to create an award in his name was an easy one,” says VSEA Legislative Committee Chair Margaret Crowley, who mc’d Friday’s event. “It was an honor for VSEA to present the award to Senator Pollina. When he ran for governor in 2008, VSEA broke off and endorsed him because of his consistent and unwavering support and advocacy for Vermont workers—especially state employees. Anthony is a true fighter. He’s not afraid to stand with state employees to prevent an ill-advised privatization effort or an attempt to balance Vermont’s budget by cutting essential services and the state employees who provide them. VSEA members owe Senator Pollina a debt of gratitude, and this award is one small token of our appreciation.
After accepting the award on Friday night, Senator Pollina, who was introduced by his good friend and colleague Sen. David Zuckerman, delivered an impassioned speech to the assembled crowd about the importance of organized labor and the need for lawmakers to support the movement and tens of thousands of Vermont workers and their issues. Pollina pledged to continue fighting as hard as he can to ensure working Vermonters are treated fairly, with the dignity and respect they have earned.
Pollina was the night’s guest of honor, but VTPAC also acknowledged five other lawmakers for their state employee advocacy, including Senator Kevin Mullin and Representatives Johanna Donovan, Susan Hatch Davis, Paul Poirier and Tommy Walz.
VSEA Sponsoring A New Year’s Eve Trip To See Disney On Ice In Boston!
On the heels of successful VSEA “NASCAR Day” and “Day at Fenway” events, VSEA’s Membership Recruitment Committee is now scheduling a “VSEA Disney on Ice” event for interested members and your families.
The performance is New Year’s Eve, December 31, at 3:00 p.m. at Boston University’s Agganis Arena.
The package price is $60 per member/family member and that includes your ticket and transportation to and from the arena.
A chartered bus will pick members up members at:
9:00 a.m. – Waterbury
10:00 a.m. – White River Junction
10:30 a.m. – Springfield Park & Ride
Here’s a synopsis of the show: Experience Disney’s hilarious hair-raising escapade, Tangled; as Rapunzel, her unlikely companion, Flynn, and Maximus, embark on an uproarious journey that takes adventure to new lengths! Boogie to the beat of the bayou with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen in a magical, musical journey that all begins with a fateful kiss. And fanciful dreams become reality as Cinderella meets her Prince Charming, with a glass slipper fit for an unforgettable fantasy come true. All your favorite princesses take to the ice in a spectacular finale at the ultimate Disney Princess event of a lifetime! Experience the beauty, sparkle, and spirit when Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream comes to your hometown!
ERN Announces Winners In NMU & Judiciary Bargaining Team Elections
VSEA’s Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee was at headquarters earlier this week to count the votes cast in recent elections to fill Bargaining Team seats in both the NMU and Judiciary Units. Some races were too close to call, so VSEA is holding off announcing who will fill those seats until the process to move forward is explained to all impacted candidates. The ERN Committee is at headquarters again today to conduct one recount, and WIA will share that result and others once they are announced.
Here are the winners we can report now:
Building Maintenance Seat: Seth Perry (AOT)
Administrative Professionals Seat: Dawn Carrillo (DII)
Conservation/Agriculture Seat: Tom Benoit
Date Processing Seat: John Mangione (DPS)
Labor/Education: Jonathan Leibold (DHR)
Law Enforcement: Kelly Price (F&W)
Transportation: Pierre LaMarche (AOT)
Bargaining Team Clerk: Cassandra Edson
Note: Both Penny Hogan and Deb Stevens received an equal number of votes in the first election, so a run-off election will be conducted for the Judiciary’s last seat. You should start seeing ballots in your mailbox as early as today. The deadline to vote is November 18, at 4:30 p.m. Ballots must be returned to VSEA by 4:30 on November 18.
Monday Is DEADLINE To Reserve Discounted Bolton Valley Season Pass
Monday, October 31, is the deadline for VSEA members to reserve your discounted season pass or passes to the Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Bolton.
VSEA members who order before October 31 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.
After acquiring the special VSEA promo code, VSEA members can go here to place your season pass order.
Follow these instructions to make your purchase:
Click on “Buy Online” and select pass products, accepting or declining pass protection and adding each product to your cart;
In the Cart view, click on “Add/Change Guest” to set the pass holder’s name and information to each pass product, then click “Proceed to Checkout”;
Enter your Promo Code in the box where it asks for your promo code then click “Apply Code”; and
The cart should be refreshed and show the discounted corporate pricing.
A 2016-17 Bolton Valley All Access Season Pass includes:
Unlimited alpine skiing and riding;
100km of Nordic and backcountry skiing;
A 20% discount on rentals, retail shop purchases, group ski and ride lessons, and lodging (includes condos, suites, or hotel rooms); and
Sports Center Membership including access to an indoor heated pool, hot tub, and sauna.
If you have any questions, please contact Eric Davis at 802-434-6813 or firstname.lastname@example.org
New Resources Available To State Employees Covered Under Minnesota Life’s Group Policy
VSEA is sharing the following communiqué with members:
The following services are available to employees covered under Minnesota Life Insurance Company’s group life insurance policies and their spouses and dependent children.
There is no additional fee or enrollment for the services beyond the group life insurance program. Just access these resources, as you need them.
Travel Assistance Services – RedpointWTP LLC (Redpoint) provides travel assistance services to all active U.S. employees covered under our group life insurance policies and their spouses and dependents. The services are available 24/7/365 for emergency assistance and transport when traveling 100 or more miles away from home. For service terms and conditions, and pre-trip information visit www.LifeBenefits.com/travel or call 1-855-516-5433 in the U.S. and Canada. From other locations, you can call collect to 1-415-485-4677.
Legal, Financial and Grief Resources – LifeWorks provides U.S. active employees covered under our group life insurance policies, and their spouses and dependents, access to counseling professionals and related resources and referrals in each of the three areas. Contact LifeWorks at 1-877-849-6034 or visit LifeWorks.com (user name: lfg, password: resources).
Legacy Planning Resources – Active and retired employees covered under our group life insurance policies, and their families, can access resources to help them deal with the loss of a loved one or to plan for their own passing. These resources are available at LegacyPlanningResources.com.
The following service is available to beneficiaries of employees and spouses covered under Minnesota Life Insurance Company group life insurance policies. Access information is provided with claims payment. The program is optional.
Beneficiary Financial Counseling – PricewaterhouseCoopers provides Beneficiary Financial Counseling to beneficiaries of our group life insurance plans. The independent and objective financial counseling resources are available at a time when they are needed most. The resources are available to beneficiaries who receive proceeds of $25,000 or more.
Services provided by LifeWorks, RedpointWTP LLC, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP are their sole responsibility. The services are not affiliated with Minnesota Life or its group contracts and may be discontinued at any time. Certain terms, conditions and restrictions may apply when utilizing the services. To learn more, visit the appropriate website included above.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ Get-Out-The-Vote Rallies Continue This Weekend
Vermont Senator and U.S. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been conducting well-attended, get-out-the vote rallies across Vermont in recent weeks, and VSEA members are invited to attend one or all. Sanders is rallying with a host of Vermont statewide candidates who have been endorsed by VSEA. Sanders says the goal of his rallies is to energize Vermont voters and share his and other candidates’ vision for the future.
Saturday, October 29
Brattleboro Union High School, Brattleboro
2:30 p.m. > RSVP Here
The Vermont Secretary of State’s Office is making it easy for Vermonters to educate themselves, prior to voting on November 8. If you aren’t sure where your polling place is, need registration help or want to see a sample ballot to better prepare, then visit the Secretary of State’s online “My Voter Page.”
"Patients at [California’s] five [psychiatric] hospitals committed nearly 26,000 assaults between 2011 and 2014, the latest year for which data are available, according to aggressive incident report records obtained from the Department of State Hospitals, which oversees the facilities.
Staff were the victims of 11,000 — more than 42 percent — of those assaults, the records show. Psychiatric technicians, nurses and their colleagues sustained 2,745 assaults at the five facilities in 2014, nearly 150 more than the year before. In the past two fiscal years, 2013-14 and 2014-15, they lost 105,108 days of work, the equivalent of 473 full-time employees."
"With so many battered workers unable to do their jobs (they’re out on worker’s comp due to the assaults), the Department of State Hospitals has asked psych techs and nurses to work more than 4.7 million hours of overtime — at time and a half — since 2012 to meet legal staffing requirements. Overtime hours for psych techs have increased more than a third since 2012, reaching 1.2 million hours last year at a cost of $53 million, Pizzotti testified before the Little Hoover Commission."
Note: VSEA did a FOIA earlier this year and was able to examine the incident reports filed by staff at Green Mountain Psychiatric Hospital from January 2015 to June 2016. More than 200 reports were filed, most concerning incidents of being kicked, punched, slapped, spit at or on, having an object thrown at them and a host of additional things no one should have to endure while at work.
Workplace Injury & Illness Rates Fall In Private Sector But Rise Slightly In Public Sector
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual report on private- and public-sector workplace injury and illness rates on October 27, and its findings show that the rate is decreasing in the private sector (3.0 recordable cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers in 2015 from 3.2 in 2014) and increasing slightly in the public sector (5.0 in 2014 to 5.1 in 2015). A map in the report shows that Vermont ranks second highest in the nation, in terms of private-sector, non-fatal occupational injury and illness incidence rates. Only Maine has a worse number.
A chart in the report shows the public-sector groups with the highest incident rates were for workers in:
State-run nursing, residential care facilities: 12.6 (12.6 in 2014)
Local justice, safety activities: 9.5 (9.5)
State-run hospitals: 8.1 (8.7)
Local government heavy, civil engineering construction: 8.0 (8.6)
Local government transportation, warehousing: 7.6 (7.5)
Local government nursing, residential care facilities: 7.2 (7.4)
Report Examines How Different Generations Of Public Employees View Today’s Workplace
The International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) recently published a report that looks at how public employees of different age groups view recruitment, benefits, career advancement and other aspects of the workplace. As an article about the report says, “Not surprisingly, [across the board] retirement plans, health care, compensation and job security topped all other benefits in their importance,” which only reemphasizes why labor unions remain so important. VSEA and America’s labor unions truly are the last barrier to many of these desired employee benefits being reduced or eliminated outright. Stay engaged and get involved!
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.
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.