VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter: September 22, 2017
Week In Action will not publish next week, Friday, September 29.
VSEA NMU Executive Committee Ballot Sent Today!
Cast Your Vote NMU Members!
All eligible VSEA members belonging to the union’s Non-Management Unit (NMU) will be receiving an email this week from firstname.lastname@example.org containing your electronic ballot to vote in the NMU Executive Committee election. All seats are up for election.
Very important! Your electronic ballot was sent to the primary email address that VSEA currently has on file for you. If you do not recall receiving an email from email@example.com today, September 22, please look in your “Other” or “Spam” folders before contacting headquarters to request that your ballot
Reminder: VSEA is sending ballots to members’ primary email address, provided the union has your correct home and work email address. This is a big reason why WIA is constantly soliciting members to contact VSEA with your updated email address. You can update your contact information here anytime.
"The prevalence of wage theft in our country is shameful. No employer has the right to cheat workers out of their hard-earned money. Every working person deserves to be paid fairly and fully for their labor.”
Wage Authority Group Attorney Jason Thompson, commenting in an online piece this week about how wage theft is still a huge problem that “plagues” workplaces and costs workers $50 billion annually.
Most VSEA Bargaining Teams continue to meet weekly with the State to try to hammer out a new contract, but no deals have been reached to date. Units at the table this year include Non-Management, Corrections, Supervisory, Defender General and the Judiciary.
A reminder, as the bargaining season progresses, that VSEA is aware some members will want to know what happened in bargaining from a source other than WIA. This is why members are urged to save this link to view your Unit Bargaining Team members and their contact information. These are the handful of elected frontline workers who take the time to ensure that all state employees are treated fairly and that your wages and benefits are protected and enhanced.
Note: If you are talking with one of your Bargaining Team members, please remember to thank them for their service to their Unit and to VSEA.
VSEA Member Battling Very Serious Illness Sends Heartfelt Thanks For Members’ Help
Longtime Addison County VSEA leader Ken Bortell’s absence from this year’s Annual Meeting did not go unnoticed by many in attendance at this year’s VSEA Council and Annual Meetings. And when word began to spread that Ken is battling a very serious illness, a hat was passed at both meetings to collect funds to help him out and boy did members come up big, donating
Ken wrote VSEA this week to say thanks:
"My name is Ken Bortell, and I am a Union brother. When I think of my union, I think of our hard work for the good of all of my union brothers and sisters. The work we do now benefits our entire membership and the brothers and sisters who are not even here yet. Honestly, I never think of my union as benefitting a single person, but at the 2017 Council and Annual Meeting, my VSEA brothers, and sister came together to support one person–ME!
I was not able to attend Annual Meeting this year, and it was hard because I have not missed an Annual Meeting since joining VSEA. I am also chairperson of our union’s Special Events Committee, which is the best committee VSEA has. My thanks to the members of the committee for working so hard to give members the best weekend possible.
At this year’s event, due to my health issues, folks passed the hat and collected donations to support a brother in need. Donations came from people who know me, people who have heard of me and people who have no clue who I am. You don’t know how moved I was that members came together as one to give so generously.
People who know me well, know I am not an emotional person, but when I a sat there and opened my mail to find such a wonderful gift from so many caring, and loving brothers and sisters, I broke down. I do not know how to express how much it meant to me.
It didn’t matter how much was given. It was the fact that so many came together to support me.
As I write, I am becoming emotional again. So I just want to give my biggest , and most sincere, heartfelt thank you to all my union brothers and sisters."
VSEA Corrections employees should have received an email this morning that contains a link to an important survey your Unit leaders are circulating to learn more about the job issues that are most important to frontline DOC workers. If you don’t recall receiving the email, please contact VSEA Organizer David Oppenheimer (firstname.lastname@example.org) and he can provide you with the link to the survey.
Thanks in advance for completing this important survey.
October 4 Petition Deadline For Treasurer Candidates
Sawyer Joecks’ resignation from being VSEA’s newly elected Treasurer means VSEA’s Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee now must conduct a special election to fill the important post. Joecks has agreed to actively serve as Treasurer until a replacement is elected.
VSEA members interested in serving as your union’s next Treasurer must submit a petition by Wednesday, October 4, bearing no fewer than 25 VSEA members’ names, signature and employee number.
Note: VSEA encourages candidates to obtain more than 25 members’ signatures to ensure compliance with the eligibility requirements. Please note that “agency fee payers” are not full-fledged members and their signatures are not valid on your petition. You must provide petitions bearing original signatures. No faxes/scanned documents will be accepted.
Organizer Holding Worksite Meeting In St. Johnsbury On September 27
VSEA Organizer Danielle Warner has scheduled a worksite meeting on September 27 to talk about issues and concerns to state employees working in St. Johnsbury. The meeting begins at noon in the large conference room at 1016 U.S. Route 105 in
VSEA Fish Hatchery Workers Praised For Identifying Energy Efficiencies To Save The State $1.4 Million
A September 21 story in the Bennington Banner reports that thanks to energy-efficiency cost-savings identified by Fish and Wildlife Department employees, the State stands to reduce its budget deficit by $1.4 million. Story says the workers’ ideas are being implemented in partnership with BGS and will “reduce energy usage, produce green energy, save money and decrease greenhouse gas emissions at Vermont’s fish hatcheries.”
"We’re very proud of our staff for identifying and carrying out these projects, which are beneficial in so many ways," says F&W Commissioner Louis Porter. "What’s equally impressive is that we’ve been able to realize these financial and environmental benefits while continuing to raise the same amount of healthy fish needed to support Vermont’s fisheries and provide quality recreational fishing opportunities to Vermont anglers."
VSEA members are sending congratulations this week to teachers belonging to the Burlington Education Association and to U.E. Local 255 members working at Hunger Mountain Co-Op in Montpelier, in reaching tentative agreements this week with your respective employers. Negotiations in both cases were contentious and it took solidarity, a strike and a well orchestrated, inside campaign by workers to convince the boss to settle. BEA members have already voted to ratify the agreement and Hunger Mountain employees are voting soon.
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
New York State Lawmaker Introducing Bill To Prevent Employee
There has been a lot of debate sparked by a Wisconsin computer firm’s recent decision to begin implanting microchips in workers, and, according to a September 21 New York Daily News story, one New York lawmaker is taking steps now to prevent companies in his state from micro-chipping employees.
“No employee should be forced to sacrifice their bodily autonomy as a prerequisite to obtaining or keeping their employment," said State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens).
Avella’s bill would make it a misdemeanor for any employer to mandate implants.
Alarming Shooting Of Kansas Tax Department Employee Highlights Another Serious Problem With Privatization
The Wichita Eagle reports on Sept. 21 that there was no protection this week "when tax compliance agent Cortney Holloway was shot at the office. The suspect, 51-year-old Ricky Todd Wirths, of Wichita, owed nearly $400,000 in outstanding tax warrants."
Kansas labor unions are harshly criticizing the decision to provide no protection for state employees at offices the state rents from private owners.
Note: This is why VSEA members will continue to campaign to enhance employee safety and security while on the job and work to stop the practice of moving state employees out of State-owned property into leased property.
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 about an interview we recently conducted with longtime VSEA activist Ed Thomas, who spoke candidly with WIA about VSEA and what it means to him and his family. WIA is pleased to now feature Ed in the first of we hope will be many face-to-face sit-downs with VSEA members to talk union and why every member needs to be engaged and informed. A rough cut of the video premiered at the VSEA Council meeting last week and was well received.
“I want to thank the Council members who filled out a sign-up form at the meeting last Friday,” says Gibson. “Your voice matters and state employees—especially younger employees who might not know much about VSEA or about unions and their history here in Vermont—need to fully understand what life would be like without a union being here for workers. A wise person once said to me, ‘You pay for representation in your personal life, sending representatives to Congress, why wouldn’t you want to pay for representation in your work life, which is the union?’ We hope these video vignettes will help VSEA drive home this and many other important points about why unions matter. Ed was a fantastic voice and big thanks to him for being our first in this series.”
Union Rep Schedules Vet’s Home Meetings
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:
September 27 (Crispe Room)
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’s Field Department continues to host a series of “Steward Summits” across Vermont this year. At the Summits, VSEA Stewards learn the latest developments relating to contract enforcement and safety and health and find out about the other challenges that lie ahead for state employees. Stewards attending are being asked to immediately help out by taking some of what they learn back to the worksite to educate their colleagues.
Two, six-hour trainings remain, and every current VSEA Steward is required to attend one session.
Future Steward Summits (all 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) are scheduled for:
October 20 – Hotel Coolidge, 39 South Main St., White River Junction
November 3 – Holiday Inn, 476 Holiday Drive, Rutland
Are Required Emergency Drills Happening Where You Work?
With the bomb threat this summer at the State Office Building in St. Albans, VSEA wants to find out if the State of Vermont is following BGS emergency-situation protocol where you work.
The protocol on BGS’ website reads:
"All owned and leased State Office Buildings occupied by State employees will practice a minimum of (1) evacuation fire drill every year and (1) Active Shooter and hostile intruder drill at least every two years. A record of these emergency drills should be recorded in the EML by the designated ECM on the day of the drill. The Safety Committees will coordinate drills with their respective sites. The Safety Committees shall meet within (14) days after the drills to discuss, critique, and analyze the drill."
VSEA wants to know if the proper training is occurring at your workplace and when it occurred last. Also, if you are unaware of this protocol, that’s not good and VSEA wants to know this as well and also where you work.
Please send an email with your input to VSEA at firstname.lastname@example.org. Write "Protocol Status" in the subject line.
Threatened While On The Job? VSEA Wants To Know
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.
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.
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