Week In Action! Newsletter: January 20 – January 24

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Weekly News From Your Union ~ January 20, 2013 – January 24, 2013

VSEA 2014 Scholarship Applications
Now Being Accepted

            Each winter, the VSEA Scholarship & Awards Committee begins to solicit scholarship applications from VSEA members and their spouses, dependents and domestic partners. Committee Chair Janis Henderson is pleased to announce that scholarship applications are now being accepted from students seeking financial assistance in the pursuit of post-secondary educational goals.
            The application process is easy, requiring the applicant to write a couple of short essays as well as provide a grade history, employment history, personal references and a few other things. All applications received before the official deadline of May 19, 2014, are then reviewed by all Committee members who debate the eligible candidates and then vote to decide a particular year’s winners. The Scholarship and Awards Committee will announce the recipients of the scholarships at the June 2014 VSEA Council Meeting.
            The guidelines to apply for a scholarship are as follows:

Applications will be considered from persons entering or engaged in:

  • Educational or vocational degree or licensed programs
  • Course(s) to further skill development
  • Self-improvement courses 

Those persons eligible for scholarship consideration are as follows:

  • VSEA members
  • VSEA members’ dependents
  • VSEA members’ dependent step-child
  • VSEA active members’ spouses/domestic partners 

The Scholarship Committee will base its decision for the scholarship eligibility on the following criteria:

            * Career goals
            * Financial need
            * Abilities and initiative
            * Life experiences
            * Class standing (recent graduates)
            * Community and school involvement

VSEA Scholarship Applicant Requirements
The VSEA Scholarship Application must be completed in full, with the appropriate accompanying materials, including:
  • High school/college transcripts or other information (i.e., resume, personal statement) that provide an overview of the applicant’s academic/work record or ability;
  • Two written letters of reference must accompany the application. (These letters should reflect the student’s level of achievement, rather than provide a testimonial to the student’s good character); and
  • Copies of W2 tax forms to show income.
The Scholarship Award money available for 2014 Scholarships is $6,000 and shall be divided into several scholarship prizes as determined by the Awards/ Scholarship Committee. 

All completed applications and all accompanying data must be received at VSEA Headquarters no later than 4:30 PM, Friday, May 19, 2014.
VSEA Awards/Scholarship Committee
c/o VSEA Headquarters
155 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
Please direct any questions concerning the scholarship awards/application process to the Chair of the VSEA Awards/Scholarship Committee:           

Janis L. Henderson
VSEA Awards/Scholarship Committee
Work Phone: 802-626-6575              
Personal E-mail: jhenderson@vsea.org

To Download Your 2014 Scholarship Application, Please Click Here

NMU Tentative Agreement Ballots Due January 31!

               On January 21, NMU Bargaining Team Chair Bob Stone, Team members Rebecca Trower and Arthur Hamlin and VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley conducted the Team’s final contract information meeting, via Vermont Interactive Television. to interested members in Bennington, Brattleboro and White River Junction. Ballots to vote the tentative agreement up or down were recently sent via U.S. Mail to the homes of all NMU members, and the deadline for NMU members to cast their ballots is Friday, January 31.

VSEA Needs Input From Vermont State Hospital Members

               Longtime VSEA activist and State Hospital employee Kris Martin was back at the State House this week to offer testimony to the House Human Services Committee on a draft staffing plan being proposed for the new Vermont State Hospital, which is being built in Berlin, Vt. Martin was there to offer committee members a little history about how staffing worked at the old State Hospital and what worked and what didn’t, but he also provided the committee with an overview of the current situation for employees working at the State’s temporary, acute-care facility in Morrisville, Green Mountain Psychiatric Care Center (GMPCC).
            With lawmakers now focusing attention on the new State Hospital, VSEA’s Legislative team is asking VSEA members who currently work in Morrisville, another acute-care State mental health facility in Vermont or in the State Hospital’s administrative offices to please take some time to review the draft staffing proposal and then provide your input to VSEA via a one-question survey that can be found by clicking here.
            “Lawmakers want to hear directly from frontline mental health workers, and we want to be able to provide them with as much feedback—and from as many members as possible—about the staffing plan,” explains VSEA Legislative Specialist Anne Accettella. VSEA members with questions can contact Accettella by e-mail at aaccettella@vsea.org or by phone at 223-5247.  

Lamoille Valley Members To Phone Bank On Jan. 30 About VSEA’s 2014 Lobby Day  

               VSEA Organizer Josh Massey and members of VSEA’s Lamoille Valley Chapter will be hosting a special VSEA Lobby Day phone bank on Thursday, January 30, at the Stowe Library at 90 Pine Street in Stowe, Vt. VSEA members in the Lamoille Valley area are urged to drop in and spend a few minutes helping, if you’re able. The phone bank begins at 5:00 p.m. and ends at 7:00 p.m.
            “Lobby Day provides VSEA members with a golden opportunity to talk face-to-face with your legislators about the service you provide, your successes, and the challenges you and your colleagues face every day,” explains Massey. “Legislators want and need to hear from state employees…and especially now, as they are working to come up with ways to close a projected $70 million budget gap, which, in the past, has often meant cuts to state services and positions. VSEA members also need to remind lawmakers that our retirement fund is in pretty good shape, comparatively speaking, and that the state employee health care plan should be the baseline for any new system being adopted to cover all Vermonters.”
            In addition to the Lamoille Valley phone bank, Massey is also hosting phone banks at VSEA headquarters on February 6 and February 13. Volunteer today to help protect your wages, your health care and your retirement by contacting your fellow state employees about Lobby Day. To volunteer, please contact Josh Massey by e-mail at jmassey@vsea.org or by phone at 223-5247. 

Policy Change Allows Montpelier State Employees To Park Two Days A Week (After 11:30 a.m.) In Spaces Reserved For Legislative Staff

            Thanks to the work of VSEA members on the Montpelier Parking Committee, a policy decision was made this week to allow state employees in Montpelier to park in any “legislative staff” reserved space that is unoccupied after 11:30 a.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.
            “This is a victory,” says Union Representative Dave Van Deusen. “It’s especially good news for select BGS staff who begin their shift at noon. Two days isn’t seven days, but this is a good start to meeting a priority goal VSEA members set when their campaign began. Without the organizing efforts of the members, working with their union, this policy change would not have happened. Great work everyone!”

                Jan. 25 Memorial Service For Chet Briggs

            VSEA President Shelley Martin wrote to members and retirees this week, inviting them to a January 25 memorial service for longtime VSEA member and activist Chet Briggs. “Please join with me, Chet’s union brothers and sisters and his friends and family to celebrate what was a very full and inspiring life,” wrote Martin.
            The service begins at 3:30 p.m. (doors open at 3:00 p.m.) and is being held at the Old Labor Hall at 46 Granite Street in Barre.  

VSEA Chittenden Members Urged To Attend UVM Employees’ January 27 Contract Campaign Kick-Off Rally

VSEA members and retirees who are able are urged to attend a rally on Monday, January 27, to help kick off a contract campaign by University of Vermont faculty union members belonging to United Academics (UA). The rally begins at 1:15 p.m. on the steps of the Bailey-Howe Library on UVM’s central campus in Burlington. A wide-range of UVM employees will speak at the rally, including professors and classroom lecturers. Additional speakers include supporters of the United Staff union; a group trying to organize with the VSEA that includes UVM lab technicians, library staff, and administrative assistants. Also speaking in support of a fair contract for the faculty, will be members of the UE union, which represents UVM’s service and maintenance staff, as well as the food service workers.
            UA members enter bargaining against a backdrop of open threats from UVM officials about cuts to the school’s course offerings and staffing levels if the UA members are able to negotiate any salary increase or are able to maintain their current benefit levels. According to a UA press release about the Monday rally, another fallacy being perpetrated by UVM officials is that in order for the school to treat the UA members fairly at the bargaining table, other “key” groups of UVM workers will have to pay a price. 
            “Past experience has shown otherwise,” explains history professor and UA President Denise Youngblood in the release. “Going back to UA’s first contract in 2003, the benefits and protections negotiated by faculty have become the model for other workers across campus…faculty and staff, union and non-union. What we achieve in bargaining will benefit all workers at UVM—and also help to raise academic quality by attracting and retaining the best faculty, at a time when UVM seeks to enhance its reputation. We are in this together.”
            UA also points out that despite pleading poverty in advance of negotiations; compensation being awarded to top-level UVM officials is skyrocketing. From 2001-2007, pay to UVM executives rose 152%, and since then, UVM has hired a new President, Provost, and several Deans at salaries topping off at 30% to 43% higher than their immediate predecessors’ salaries. UA explains that addressing the administrative salary increases alone—which far outpace any growth in UVM’s student population or overall budget—would provide the funding needed to prevent the UVM officials’ threatened instruction and staffing cuts.
            “I hope VSEA members in the Burlington area will take a break at 1:15 p.m. on Monday to participate in the UA members’ rally for a fair contract,” says VSEA President Shelley Martin. “To support the faculty’s campaign and return a favor to the UVM workers who came to Montpelier in September 2013 to rally for a fair contract with VSEA’s Vermont State Colleges’ members.” 

Old Labor Hall Screening “10,000 Black Men Named George” On January 26 

            The Vermont Old Labor Hall is screening the movie “10,000 Black Men Named George” on Sunday, January 26 (a date, reminds the Labor Hall’s Ed Stanak, when there is no football scheduled). Admission to the movie is free. It begins at 4:00 p.m. at the Old Labor Hall at 46 Granite Street in Barre.
            Here’s a synopsis of the film from the New York Times:
          In the 1920s, the rights of American workers to join a labor union was still considered an open question, and African-Americans were routinely denied their civil and economic rights. So in 1925, when journalist and political activist Asa Philip Randolph and railway car porter Ashley Totten formed the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, it was a bold gesture which proved to have a major impact in both labor and race relations in America. 10,000 Black Men Named George is a made-for-cable feature which dramatizes the struggle of Randolph (played by Andre Braugher) and Totten (Mario Van Peebles) to organize railway porters — a demanding and sometimes dangerous job which was held almost exclusively by black men, who were paid low wages for demanding hours — against the staunch opposition of Barton Davis (Kenneth McGreggor), head of the Pullman railway company and a fierce opponent of both unionization and civil rights initiatives. 10,000 Black Men Named George (the title refers to the fact Pullman porters were often called "George" by white passengers, which was considered a racial slur) also features Charles S. Dutton as Milton Webster, a veteran porter who joined the fight to organize; Carla Brothers as Lucille Randolph, Asa’s wife who would play a major role in the early years of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; and Brock Peters as Leon Frey, an early member of the who would in time betray their cause. Directed by Robert Townsend, the film was produced for the Showtime premium cable network, where it first aired on February 24, 2002. 


Upcoming Meetings/Events/Holidays:
January 25
Chet Briggs’ Memorial Service
Old Labor Hall
46 Granite St.
3:30 p.m.

January 26
Screening: 10,000 Black Men Named George  
Old Labor Hall
46 Granite St.
4:00 p.m.
January 27
Barre Chapter Coffee w/Rep. Tess Taylor
Good Shepard Episcopal Church
7:15 a.m.
January 28
OCS Labor/Management Committee
9:00 a.m.

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Vermont State Employees’ Association
155 State Street 
Montpelier, VT 05401

P: 802. 223. 5247
F: 802. 223. 4035

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