VSEA members using an iPhone or Android can now download the new VSEA App called “VSEAUnite.”
Once registered, users identify their VSEA bargaining unit and location, and the App will allow you to view your Unit’s contract, find contact information for your nearest VSEA steward (to report contract infractions), see a calendar of upcoming VSEA events and read the latest news about working people to hit the wires.
The download is free, so your union hopes all VSEA iPhone and Android users will download it today!
The VSEA Council meets on Tuesday, March 18, at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Montpelier. VSEA First Vice President Michelle Salvador has put together an exciting agenda that includes an update on VSEA’s strategic plan and a discussion/training on how to strengthen VSEA’s power at the bargaining table while building a stronger union, which is being facilitated by retired New England labor leader and activist Jerry Brown. VSEA Council members will also hear updates from VSEA President Shelley Martin, Executive Director Mark Mitchell and Treasurer Sheila Coniff.
As always, there will be a donation area for Council members to drop off non-perishable food items to go to Vermont families in need.
Game Warden Appointed
New NMU Clerk
VSEA’s Non-Management Unit has appointed Game Warden Kelly Price to be the Unit’s new Bargaining Team and Executive Committee Clerk. Price is based in Brattleboro and has been a state employee since 2002. He’s filling the positions left vacant after longtime NMU Clerk recently decided to resign as Clerk.
Congratulations Kelly and welcome aboard!
BGS Custodians Meet With Management To Discuss Creation Of Safe Mold Removal Policy
In early February, a majority of the custodians working for Buildings and General Services at 120 State Street sent a letter to BGS Commissioner Michael Obuchowski, requesting to meet with him to discuss their desire for a mold removal protocol. On March 5, the meeting happened, and the custodians were able to directly pitch a mold removal policy they drafted to BGS officials. Custodians at the meeting report it went very well, and their proposal was positively received by BGS management.
Obuchowski opened the meeting by encouraging BGS workers to continue talking with him directly about workplace issues like safe mold removal. VSEA members and custodians Deb Franks and James Hale then fully explained the workers’ mold removal proposal and expressed their desire for a policy to be implemented soon, adding that everyone wants to ensure our State office buildings are safe and mold free. They also stressed that, when mold is found, BGS must ensure that custodians have the safety protections needed to shield themselves from harmful mold spores.
The meeting concluded with all the parties agreeing to reconvene in a month to continue discussing the custodians’ mold removal policy draft. BGS officials said they would be seeking additional input from other BGS employees across Vermont. Officials also provided the custodians with some literature on safe mold removal and asked them to provide feedback to them on the material at the next meeting.
In the coming days and weeks, BGS employees may be contacted by your supervisor or BGS management, soliciting your opinions about what would make good mold removal policy. VSEA urges you to provide feedback, and tell management, “We support a reasonable policy that will protect Custodians and the public from the negative effects of mold exposure.” VSEA also encourages you to contact Union Representative Dave Van Deusen (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have additional thoughts, questions, concerns, or want to share a story about your own experience with mold removal.
The proposal being floated by BGS custodians asks that they only be tasked with mold
The moldy area is less than 5 square feet;
All Custodians first receive a basic mold safety training;
All Custodians receive training on proper use of disposable gloves;
All Custodians receive training on proper use of respirators;
Gloves be required during any mold removal assignment;
Respirators me encouraged but optional when removing mold;
Custodians be educated on potential symptoms associated with dangerous mold exposer;
If a Custodian suffers such symptoms as a result of a mold removal assignment, that the Custodian immediately stop working, and report health effects to Supervisor;
If a Custodian suffers such symptoms, BGS Management would make sure that working conditions are safe before work resumes;
If a Custodian is tasked with cleaning a moldy area that is larger than 5 square feet, the Custodian in question must first go through a comprehensive and advanced mold safety training.
DCF Workers Cheer Return To District-Based Servicing
Several very happy Department for Children and Families’ (DCF) Benefits Programs Specialists contacted WIA this week to break the news that they had received an e-mail that read, in part, “Effective March 17th, 2014, the ADPC will begin to dispatch cases to the district where the client resides. We are going back to district caseloads.” This is welcome news to beleaguered DCF employees, many of whom say the move back to district-based servicing should have happened years ago. They also remind that DCF employees loudly protested management’s original decision to move away from the district-based system, cautioning officials at the time that the move would result in workers losing the local contact with clients that they say is required to provide the best service possible to these Vermonters in need. Some DCF employees attending VSEA’s recent Lobby Day actually discussed their desire to move back to a district-based system with House Human Services Committee Chair Rep. Ann Pugh (D-Chittenden), and they believe she may have used what she learned from them to help spur the move back.
Retired Members’ Chapter Executive Board Meeting
VSEA Retirees’ Chapter President Joanie Maclay invites any and all current-dues-paid members of the Retirees’ Chapter to attend the next VSEA-RC Executive Committee meeting, Friday, March 21, 2014, 9:30 a.m. till 4 p.m., at VSEA H.Q. At 10 a.m., VSEA Executive Director Mark Mitchell will update Retirees on “EGWP + Wrap.” Other agenda items include the VSEA-RC 2014 Annual Meeting and Luncheon and the Chapter bylaws.
VSEA-RC members in good standing who cannot attend in person may join the meeting’s conference call by phoning 1-800-416-4956. Callers will be prompted for a call-in participant code. Prior to the meeting, please call Union-Retirees staff liaison, Nikolas, at 1-800-427-5247, to check your membership status and receive the call-in code.
VSEA Board Issues Statement On CCTA Drivers’ Monday Strike
The VSEA Board of Trustees sent a statement of solidarity today to Teamster Local 597 bus drivers working for the Chittenden County Transit Authority (CCTA). Earlier this week, the drivers rejected CCTA management’s latest contract offer and voted to go on strike, beginning Monday, March 17. The VSEA Board’s statement read:
“The Board of Trustees of the Vermont State Employees’ Association, on behalf of its 5400 members, stands in solidarity with Teamster Local 597 bus drivers in their fight to secure a fair contract from the Chittenden County Transit Authority (CCTA). We call today on CCTA management to work collectively with its drivers to negotiate a new contract that affords them dignity and respect on the job, a fair process to report safety and health issues, appropriate limits on the use of part-time drivers and reasonable work schedules. The VSEA Board also calls on elected officials representing areas served by CCTA to join our call for CCTA management to return to the bargaining table and agree to a fair contract.”
In advance of Monday’s strike, VSEA members are invited to support the drivers this weekend by:
Attending an informational picket and speak tonight from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the bus terminal located at Church and Cherry streets. There will be picketing and leafleting from 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. and the Speak Out begins at 5:00 p.m. It will feature CCTA bus riders who will live without a bus to support the drivers, religious leaders and link bus commuters.
Volunteering on Saturday, March 15, to help the drivers and their supporters canvas door-to-door with flyers explaining why the drivers will strike and what Vermonters can do to help. There’s an urgent need for 75 leaflet volunteers. The average route is one hour. Volunteers can pick leaflets up at the Vermont Workers Center (294 No. Winooski Ave.) from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. If you can’t get there between those hours call Matt at 373-0133 and we can arrange a time for you to get your leaflets.
Attending a Sunday, March 16, strike kick-off meeting at the Workers’ Center, beginning at 3:00 p.m. Meet and hear from drivers, find out how you can assist on picket lines, learn plans for pickets during the week and help make signs. Pizza and drinks!
For an update on the situation first thing Monday morning, you can click here
10 New Businesses Added To The VSEA Advantage Discount Program!
5-Star Energy Tech
85 Blackwell St.
Barre, VT 05641
Contact: Bruce Landry
Comprehensive energy audit savings. Normally $450, but a 55% discount for VSEA members, making the cost $200! Offer good thru Dec. 31, 2014.