Week In Action: June 9 – June 13, 2014

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June 13, 2014

In This Issue:


Annual Meeting Toll-Free Reservation Number Correction

VSEA Gathers To Say Goodbye To Mitchell And McBroom

DCF Family Services’ Division Workers Concerned They Are Being Scapegoated!

Council Members Meet At Johnson State

2014 VSEA Scholarship Winners Announced!

Vets’ Home Workers One Step Closer To Seat On Facility’s Board

Summer Steward Training Schedule Announced

Summer Employee Appreciation Day Event Season Is Here!
 


Registration Now Open For VSEA’s 70th Annual Meeting

The Employee Assistance Program: A Valuable Resource For Employees Needing Help

VSEA Advantage Discount Program Pleased To Once Again Offer Discounted Day Tickets To The Great Escape

VSEA Needs To Know If Your Mailing Address Is Different Than Your Home Address
 


VSEA Calendar:

June 18
Newport Chapter Employee Appreciation Day VSEA Council Meeting  

Emory Hubbard Building
100 Main St.
Lawn Event
Newport
11:00 a.m.
Click Here For More Info

June 20
Retirees’ Chapter Executive Board Meeting

VSEA HQ
155 State St.
Montpelier
9:30 a.m.
 


 

In The News:

Editorial On The Downside Of Privatization

 
In response to the release last week of a study titled "Race to the Bottom: How Outsourcing Public Services Rewards Corporations and Punishes the Middle Class" by the group In The Public Interest, the Brattleboro Reformer published an editorial on June 13, titled “The Downside of Privatization.”
 
Agreeing with much of what the study found, the Reformer writes: “…new studies indicate that our own local, state and federal governments are contributing to the problem [of income inequality] by outsourcing and privatizing public services in order to save money and balance their budgets. The irony is that this practice has been shown to actually have greater financial and societal costs in the long run.”
 
The editorial also quotes one of the study’s authors saying, "In theory, privatization is a great deal for taxpayers because it saves a few bucks in the town budget. In reality, taxpayers are funding the downward spiral of their own communities—and often paying far greater costs in the long run. The degradation of formerly family-supporting jobs through government outsourcing turns middle class careers into poverty-level jobs. Governments across the country are using our public dollars to fuel the low-wage economy and increasing economic inequality."
 
The Reformer editorial ends with: “While it's easy to blame politicians for these decisions to privatize and the fallout they create, we as taxpayers need to accept part of the blame because we're the ones putting pressure on them to reduce government budgets and deficits. So before we jump headlong into embracing promises of lower taxes, we need to consider the long-term ramifications for our communities, our country and our children.”
 


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Annual Meeting Toll-Free Reservation Number Correction

 
VSEA’s Special Events Committee asked WIA to issue this urgent update to VSEA members trying to dial the Killington Grand’s toll-free reservation line number listed in the recently mailed 2014 VSEA Annual Meeting registration information. The published number with the 888 area code is incorrect.

The correct number to call is 800-282-9955.

VSEA Gathers To Say Goodbye To Mitchell And McBroom

Tears were flowing and laughter was everywhere last night, as members, staff and friends of VSEA Director Mark Mitchell and Associate General Counsel Rebecca McBroom gathered at the Montpelier VFW to say “goodbye.”
 
Mitchell is departing to Florida to assume a new role with a new union, and McBroom is leaving to begin work as a staff attorney for the Vermont NEA.
 
VSEA wishes both Mark and Becca very happy and fulfilling careers. All the best to you both!

DCF Family Services’ Division Workers Concerned They Are Being Scapegoated!

 
VSEA staff met on June 13 with frontline staff working in the Department for Children and Families’ Family Services Division in Williston, primarily to listen to their concerns about the fallout from the recent tragic and unfortunate deaths of two Vermont children; one whose case is being handled out of their office.
           
For nearly two hours, the group discussed a host of internal issues and problems they say are now being magnified due to the recent deaths. The workers asked VSEA to keep details of the discussions and action plan private for now, but they did want VSEA members to know that each and every employee is following policy and procedure and that it’s unfair to scapegoat the workers for system failures beyond their control.   
           
On June 17, the Williston workers were somewhat relieved to learn that the Vermont Attorney General had found in the case of a similar tragic death in Rutland that there was “no criminal conduct on the part of any individual involved in the handling and investigation of the case.” However, the Williston workers say there is still a real fear the public remains unaware of the real internal, system-wide issues related to the deaths and that workers will continue to be scapegoated until an effort is made at the highest levels to publicly highlight the issues and then fix them.
           
Sorrell told WCAX that his Rutland report cites “a lack of communication between DCF, law enforcement and the court system, which needs to be changed. He also hopes criminal laws will be looked at as situations often arise where children are injured and lack of evidence makes it difficult to bring charges. He also cites confidentiality laws as being a hindrance to certain abuse investigations.
           
DCF workers received another vote of support on June 8 from the Campaign for Vermont’s Executive Director Cyrus Patten. In a commentary he penned for the Times Argus, Patten writes: “Although it provides a fleeting relief to point anger, the social workers did not cause this. Even if they were flawless in their execution of their protocols, this was caused by a deeply flawed system. I wrote about it in 2011 while I worked closely with social workers on the front lines. These insiders aren’t allowed to raise flags of concern about the system they are a part of, so I did. Unfortunately, the same epic failures I witnessed three years ago are present today. A series of failed attempts at reform have left us with an ineffective child-protection system hamstrung by bureaucracy. Blaming social workers who function in a broken system is akin to blaming fish for dying in polluted water. If we must blame, blame the culture of politics that pervades the Agency of Human Services. It’s time to change that culture.”
           
Patten also reminds that “Vermont caseloads are 130 percent of the national standard” and that “More social workers will immediately ease this pressure and allow them to focus on helping bad parents become good ones.”
           
VSEA members across the board are asked to lend extra support right now to Department for Children and Families Family Services Division employees statewide as they continue to protect some of Vermont’s most vulnerable children, adhering steadfastly to the current policies and regulations that exist. 

Council Members Meet At Johnson State

The VSEA Council met June 10 at Johnson State College to begin the process of vetting a series of bylaw changes proposed recently by the union’s Bylaws Committee. Most of the well-attended meeting was spent discussing the bylaw proposals and there was a lot of healthy debate and some amendments were added to certain bylaws. The Council’s recommendations now go to the Board of Trustees and then final bylaw change proposals will be voted on by VSEA members attending the union’s 2014 Annual Meeting in Killington. All VSEA members will be “warned” about the proposed bylaw changes in the 2014 VSEA Annual Meeting warning, which is expected to be mailed in late July.

2014 VSEA Scholarship Winners Announced!

At the June 10 VSEA Council meeting, the union’s Scholarships and Awards Committee presented its 2014 scholarship awards to:
 

Hugh Bradshaw IV
 
Son of VSEA member Hugh Bradshaw; Employment Services Manager with the Department of Aging and Independent Living in Williston.
 
Accepted to: American University - Washington, DC  
 
Focusing on: Foreign Diplomacy and International Relations 
 
From Hugh’s Essay: “After college, I hope to pursue a career in either the Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer or as a Defense Analyst for the Department of Defense.”
 

Kaylee Herring 
 
Daughter of VSEA member Joanne Herring; Financial Administrator III for the Department of Aging and Independent Living in Williston.  

Attending: Bay Path College - Longmeadow, MA
 
Pursuing degree in: Forensic Science
 
From Kaylee’s Essay: “My goal is to obtain a job at the Vermont State Crime Lab and specialize in DNA testing, fingerprinting and ballistics.”
 

Catrina Hood
 
Daughter of VSEA member Jodie Wright; Administrative Assistant B with the Department Of Buildings and General Services in Montpelier.
 
Attending: Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH
 
Pursuing degree in: Biology with minor in Chemistry, Pre-med track
 
From Catrina’s Essay: “Becoming a pediatrician will allow me to apply my scientific passion toward the health and wellbeing of young people.”
 

Anastasia Kanishcheva
 
VSEA member working as a Mental Health Specialist for the Department of Mental Health in Berlin. Previously worked as a Corrections Officer.
 
Attending: Community College of Vermont
 
Pursuing degree in: Criminal Justice

From Anastasia’s Essay: “After I receive my associate’s degree in Criminal Justice, I hope to start in UVM’s Bachelor’s Degree program in Psychiatry.”
 

Kyley Lavigne
 
Son of VSEA member Michelle Lavigne; Environmental Technician IV with the Department of Environmental Conservation in Montpelier.
 
Accepted to: University of Vermont

Pursuing degree in: Business Administration
 
From Kyley’s Essay: “I have always been a problem solver, looking for different ways to approach a situation and providing strategies that lead to a successful result.”
 

Kelley Lawrence
 
VSEA member working as a Financial Specialist II with the Department of Motor Vehicles in Montpelier.
 
Attended: Community College of Vermont
Accepted to: Norwich University in Northfield
 
Pursuing a degree in: Criminal Justice
 
From Kelley’s Essay: “It was challenging for me at times, trying to juggle a full-time job, being a single mom and trying my hand at college, but at the same time it was also very rewarding.”
 

Maegan Moran
 
Daughter of VSEA member Robert Moran; Probation and Parole Officer in St. Johnsbury.
 
Attending: University of New Haven, CT
 
Pursuing degree in: Criminal Justice: International Justice and Security
 
From Maegan’s Essay: “At this point in my education and life, I feel as though I am at a crossroads because I am unsure if I want to follow the path of Corrections or Law Enforcement.”
 

Matt Moulten
 
Son of VSEA member Patrick Moulten; Maintenance Worker at Johnson State College.
 
Attending: Vermont Technical College in Randolph
 
Pursuing degree in: Mechanical Engineering
 
From Joshua’s Essay: “I think that I have the chance to help many people with the skills that I am learning at Vermont Tech, and this is what matters to me most.”

Vets’ Home Workers One Step Closer To Seat On Facility’s Board

The Vermont Veterans’ Home’s (VVH) Board of Trustees met on June 18, and one of the key topic discussions was the establishment of a seat on the Board for a classified VVH employee. The seat was created in statute this year, thanks in large part to the hard work of frontline VVH workers and VSEA’s Legislative team.
 
As reported in the June 13 Bennington Banner, “one member of the 21-member Board of Trustees is to be a classified employee with at least five years of service at the home and shall serve a 3-year term and may be removed by the governor for cause. This member will be elected by secret ballot administered by the board, with the voters being the home's classified employees.”
 
“VSEA is very pleased that the Vets’ Home Board is prepared to implement this important legislative achievement for our union,” VSEA President Shelley Martin told the Rutland Herald. “Classified employees at the Vets’ Home have told VSEA for years that they want an employee voice on the facility’s governing board, and [now we have] moved one step closer to making that happen. All that’s left now is to hold an official election to fill the Board seat, and VSEA looks forward to working cooperatively with Vets’ Home management to conduct the election—which we hope will include a candidate forum—and then tally the votes.”

VSEA Legislative Director Steve Howard echoed Martin in his comments to the Banner, saying, "We really believe, honestly, that our members are the experts on the care that they provide to veterans, who are many of them like their families. I know that the [frontline employees] are looking forward to having someone on the board."
 

VSEA Director Raises Issue With VVH Pharmacy
 
Outgoing Executive Director Mark Mitchell spent one of his last days at the union, attending the June 18 Bennington VVH Board meeting. It was appropriate, as one of the first fights Mark took on after being hired at VSEA was to help VVH workers prevent the privatization of their facility and assist them with improving their working conditions. At the June 18 meeting, Mitchell continued to champion for the workers, raising the following issue related to the delivery (actually, sometimes non-delivery) of pharmaceuticals to the VVH: 
 
(From the Bennington Banner)
 
"What our nurses are reporting is, it's not an internal error in processing here, it's the pharmacy that's generating an inordinate amount of either non-delivery of pharmaceuticals that have been ordered by a doctor/provider or the pharmacy delivers the incorrect dosage or incorrect medicine for a patient and then there's a delay in delivery because the nurse has to write it up and then ask for the correct dosage or the correct medicine to come. There's a delay. In regulatory compliance it's a delay of care or denial of care. It's an issue."

Mitchell said the increase of these problems is due to a change in the pharmacy that supplies the home.

"The nurses are reporting not that there's millions and millions of these [problems] but that there used to be virtually none under Kinney's pharmacy, and now with Omnicare there's a much greater number that they're experiencing.”
 
Note: Through a Freedom of Information Act request, VSEA learned this week that Omnicare is being paid $700,000 for its services.

Summer Steward Training Schedule Announced

 
 
VSEA Labor Educator Tim Lenoch is announcing the next series of Steward Trainings, which will be held during the summer 2014.
 
All trainings begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 4:00 p.m. Each is open to all VSEA members.
 

July: Topic Trainings

State Policies and Procedures
Tuesday, July 22
Liquor Control Conference room
13 Green Mountain Drive
Montpelier

Health and Safety
Thursday, July 24

VTrans Training Center, Room 201
1716 U.S. Rte. 302
Berlin

Stewards and Working for the Public Good
Tuesday, July 29

McFarland House
3rd Floor Conference Room
5 Perry St.
Barre

Diversity and Solidarity 
Thursday, July 31

VTrans Training Center, Room #201,
1716 U.S. Rte. 302
Berlin
August:  Bargaining Unit/NMU Agency Focus*

Agency of Transportation
Tuesday, August 19

McFarland House
3rd floor conference room
5 Perry St
Barre

Department of Corrections Bargaining Unit
Thursday, August 21

BGS Conference Room #21
133 State Street
Montpelier

Agency of Human Services (non-DOC)
Tuesday, August 26

Liquor Control Conference room
13 Green Mountain Drive
Montpelier

Supervisory Bargaining Unit
Wednesday, August 27

McFarland House
3rd floor conference room
5 Perry St.
Barre

Health Care Facilities (VVH, VSH, Woodside)
Thursday, August 28

Location: TBD

To register for a training, please click here

Questions? Contact Tim Lenoch for details: tlenoch@vsea.org

*Stewards are strongly encouraged to attend the training specific to your Bargaining Unit or NMU Agency. NMU stewards can attend any of the NMU Agency trainings. Some Agencies do not have a specific training due to size and/or number of stewards.

Summer Employee Appreciation Day Event Season Is Here!


State employees enjoy free ice cream at the Central Vermont Chapter’s 2013 Employee Appreciation Day.

VSEA Organizer Josh Massey announced this week that the first 2014 Employee Appreciation Day event is being held 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Wednesday, June 18, on the lawn of the Emory Hubbard State Office Building in Newport. As in years past, there will be free ice cream for VSEA members and some VSEA giveaway items. Hope to see a lot of Newport VSEA members at the event! 

Registration Now Open For VSEA’s 70th Annual Meeting


VSEA’s Special Events Committee met this week to finalize the registration form to attend the union’s 2014 Annual Meeting on September 13 at the Killington Resort in Killington. This year, VSEA is celebrating its 70th birthday, so the Committee is sponsoring a special birthday party event on Friday night, September 12. 
 
Here is how the Committee is billing the events on the forms:
 
“The 70th VSEA Annual Meeting is being held on Saturday, September 13, 2013. All members are encouraged to attend the meeting and participate in the festivities. Friday night there will be a dinner banquet followed by a Happy Birthday VSEA Party (ADULTS ONLY). Feel free to wear your fanciest birthday attire! There will be games and tear-off tickets with the proceeds going to VSEA’s Member Support Fund, so bring your dollars and play!!”
 
To find official VSEA Annual Meeting 2014 registration forms online, please click here.

The Employee Assistance Program: A Valuable Resource For Employees Needing Help

VSEA Members! This is a reminder that your Employee Assistance Program is strictly confidential, free and here for you 24/7 at 1-888-834-2830. 
 
Employees call for all sorts of reasons: stress, relationship problems, parenting issues, workplace issues, financial, legal, substance dependence or abuse, anxiety, depression, etc. When you call the general toll-free number, you will speak immediately with one of our licensed, masters' level counselors. That person will listen and help you with your issue and, if you wish to see a counselor in person near home or work, will provide you two names and contact numbers to set up an appointment. We are not just here for crises. We are here for the small stresses that when unaddressed can build up and lead to big problems.
 
Also, let us know if your office needs EAP brochures and we will get those to you. If you and your co-workers would like to have an EAP rep come to a staff meeting to explain the EAP (15 minutes), we are happy to do that, too. Call us at 1-888-834-2830 for any service.

VSEA Advantage Discount Program Pleased To Once Again Offer Discounted Day Tickets To:

The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom
Lake George, New York

“Two parks of fun for the price of one!"
 

Park Opens Today, May 23, 2014, & Splashwater
Opens May 24, 2014
 

Discount Tickets Now Available Through
VSEA HQ & Online*

 

2014 Regular Day Tickets —
$31 each ($24 Savings)

 
To Get Tickets:
Send or drop off check (made out to VSEA), noting how many tickets you need. VSEA can mail your tickets or you can pick them up at VSEA HQ in Montpelier. VSEA members can also order tickets online by going to GE’s homepage, looking in the upper right-hand corner for the “Promo Code” box and entering VSEA’s promo code, which can be found here*. GE Phone Number: 1-888-792-3500
 
New this year is the Extreme Supernova thrill ride!

*Note: You must be a registered VSEA website user to view the VSEA promo code. You can sign up
online here.

VSEA Needs To Know If Your Mailing Address Is Different Than Your Home Address

Many VSEA members have a mailing address that is different from their home address. They may keep a P.O. Box at the post office, or they may have a mailbox with an address different from their actual house address. If this is the case with you, please email the Union at nstein@vsea.org and let us know! Our reason is that the address information for our members that we receive from the State is unreliable. The State cannot report to us both a “Mailing Address” and a “Home Address.” We only occasionally send paper U.S. mail, but, when we do, it’s important, and includes: Ballots for Union elections, insurance information, and legally-required warnings of Union meetings.

If your mailing address is different from your home address, we need you to tell us! Email nstein@vsea.org. Thanks!
 

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