VSEA issued a press release this week, announcing your union’s endorsed candidate in the 2018 race to be Vermont’s next Governor. VSEA’s release also shared the union’s endorsements in statewide and federal races. WIA cannot share the endorsements with you openly in this publication because state email policy does not allow it.
Show Him The Money! Senator Sears Continues To Press For Accounting Of $2.2 Million Paid To Centurion
A September 30 VTDigger story reports on the state’s chief health care advocate continuing to call out the private, for-profit contractor (Centurion) that is supposed to be providing health care treatment to Vermont inmates. He is citing his own office’s findings that Centurion is not treating some inmates with hepatitis C, and that the company is not complying with a new state law that expands access to medication-assisted addiction treatment in prison. But also part of the discussion around Centurion is what happened to $2.2 million of the money Vermont taxpayers gave to the company to fulfill its contractual duties.
In advance of the 2019 legislative session, AHS Secretary Al Gobeille is in the press, doing damage control after DOC officials could not account for the missing $2.2 million when recently questioned about it by members of the Legislative Joint Fiscal Committee, including Bennington Senator Dick Sears who WIA reported labeled the officials’ lack of knowledge at the hearing “appalling.” Seven Days followed up with a story on October 2, and, in it, Secretary Gobeille disputes the money is “missing,” saying, “There’s no missing money. I don’t want anyone to think that we paid for a bunch of pharmaceuticals that never got used.” To Senator Sears’ credit, he wants more clarification and proof, telling Seven Days, “I’m gonna certainly want a full accounting of that money.”
Note: VSEA continues to advocate for bringing prison health care services back under State direction, using state employees, as it was for decades.
Northeast Facility Locked Down On Tuesday After Fentanyl Scare
VTDigger reports October 3 on the Northeast Correctional Facility in St. Johnsbury being on lockdown for most of Tuesday this week after reports that fentanyl had been "smuggled" into the prison. The lockdown began around noon, and the facility was immediately thoroughly searched. The lockdown was lifted around 6:30 p.m. that evening, and two packets containing suspicious white powder were found. DOC officials say that no inmates or employees are reporting ill effects from possible fentanyl exposure.
“There’s been no indication that anybody is currently under the influence, or was under the influence, or exhibiting any signs of distress related to a fentanyl overdose,” DOC Deputy Commissioner Michael Touchette tells VTDigger.
The Vermont State Police are now investigating what was in the packets found during the search, and say it could be a few weeks.
State Treasurer Attending VSEA Chapter Meetings To Discuss Retirement Issues
With a new effort allegedly coming from the State to force new hires to state government into a defined contribution pension plan, as opposed to defined benefit pension plan, State Treasurer Beth Pearce is volunteering her time to attend VSEA Chapter meetings across the state to educate employees and retirees why this is a bad idea.
Beth is already scheduled to attend the following Chapter meetings, and members and retirees are urged to come and hear Pearce’s presentation:
Bennington – October 8
Brattleboro – October 16
Springfield – October 16
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 (firstname.lastname@example.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).
TODAY Is The Deadline For VSEA Supervisory & State Colleges’ Unit Members To Submit Your Online Unit Elections Ballot!
NMU Ballots Due October 19!
VSEA’s Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee is reminding all eligible members belonging to VSEA’s Supervisory and State Colleges Units that your Unit elections ballot must be submitted today, October 5.
Non-Management Unit election ballots were emailed on October 5 and are due back on October 19.
2018 General Election Early
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.
"I’m gonna certainly want a full accounting of that money."
Bennington Senator Dick Sears, responding to a Seven Days reporter in an October 2 story about AHS Secretary Al Gobeille’s attempt to explain what happened to $2.2 million, unaccounted for in a contract with the private vendor (Centurion) contracted to provide health care inside Vermont prisons.
To register or if you have a question, please email VSEA Union Representative Bob South (email@example.com) or Administrative Assistant Sue DeVoid (firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com. VSEA will verify your membership status and provide you with VSEAâ€™s code, which you will need to complete your online purchase.
Representatives of AFSCME Local 1201 put an action alert this week, asking working Vermonters to contact specific Castleton (Vt.) Board of Selectman members (one, in particular) to urge them to return to the bargaining table to negotiate a fair contract with the men and women who drive the town’s plows. The Castleton DPW workers have been without a new contract for two years now, and the latest offer from management is not acceptable in the least, according to the alert. AFSCME has also filed two unfair labor practices against the employer and is awaiting decisions.
Polls Show Scott Walker’s Failed, Anti-Union Policies Could Cost Him Re-Election
An October 4 story in the Leader-Telegramreports that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union policies are not only costing the state money and jobs but could also cost him re-election in November.
Walker’s opponent is pouncing on the backlash, his campaign spokesperson telling the reporter, “One in 5 Wisconsin workers hold poverty-wage jobs, 870,000 families can’t afford basic necessities, and health care costs continue to climb because Walker puts his political interests before the people of Wisconsin. The bottom line is that our economy isn’t working for hardworking families. That’s why we’re ready for a change in Wisconsin.”
Federal Tax Cuts Provide Limited Boost To Workers’ Wages
An October 2 Wall Street Journal story reports that just a tiny fraction of the savings generated by federal tax cuts earlier this year is making its way into employees’ wallets.
From the story:
"Various surveys indicate that most companies aren’t passing the money directly to employees.
A new survey of 152 companies by executive-recruitment firm Korn Ferry International revealed 14% were putting part of their tax-cut savings into base salary increases. A poll of 1,500 companies by consulting firm Mercer LLC showed 4% are redirecting tax savings to budgets for bigger paychecks in the coming year. And in a survey of more than 1,000 companies published by human-resources consulting firm AonPLC, 99% said the tax cuts weren’t prompting them to increase minimum wages.
Companies are reluctant to grant higher-than-usual pay raises in part because it adds to their fixed labor costs, compensation experts said.
Companies say boosting employee compensation is a lower priority than capital investments and worker training.
“They’re doing everything they can to avoid seeing their permanent payroll go up,” said Bill Ravenscroft, senior vice president at Adecco Staffing, which recruits workers for companies.
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 last week. 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.
Minnesota Begins To Address Safety For Corrections Officers
An October 4 Minnesota Public Radiostory reports on a series of meetings being held to address the safety of frontline corrections officers after two COs died in the line of duty in the past three months.
"I expect there will be legislative hearings after the election,” one lawmaker tells MPR after the first meeting was held on October 3. “They’ll be very bi-partisan, to just get to the bottom of what it is that needs to be done to ensure the safety of everyone."
The story says the state’s DOC issued a statement about the meetings, which included the mention of an outstanding department request to lawmakers to add nearly 200 additional COs across the system.
The first safety meeting came one day after the second CO who was recently killed was being laid to rest.
Note: VSEA is analyzing a document it just received that lists assaults on Vermont COs, by facility, to better determine where safety issues exists and where more COs (not temps, mind you) are needed to enhance safety for frontline workers.
Kentucky Frontline Teachers Say "Enough Is Enough" And Begin Running For State Office In Large Numbers
Kentucky Frontline Teachers Say "Enough Is Enough" & Begin Running For State Office In Large Numbers
The Louisville Courier Journalreports today that this could be "the year of the teacher" in Kentucky, after teachers there took to the streets and the Statehouse earlier this year to protest poor working conditions, lack of support and low wages and benefits.
From the story:
Denise Gray decided she needed to do more than talk and vote.
Gray, 39, who is a para-educator working with special-needs children for Fayette County schools, did something she had never done before: She filed to run for office.
“This is a time when we need to make a difference,” said Gray, who is running state Senate as a Democrat for in a district that includes Clark and Montgomery counties and part of Fayette. “We can’t continue to complain about a situation and not be willing to step up. I just had enough of complaining.”
Gray, of Mount Sterling, is part of an unprecedented wave of educators running for the General Assembly this fall — 51 of them if you include active and retired educators and members of local school boards.
VSEAâ€™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. VSEAâ€™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 membersâ€”and really all those members who want to know whatâ€™s going on in their unionâ€”VSEA will be working hard in the coming months to collect membersâ€™ emails on its own and begin to build contact lists that cannot be altered by a State download.
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