Go!Vermont Group Promoting “Capital Commuters” Program
In an effort to help address a parking shortage for state employees working in Montpelier, the group Go!Vermont began to provide discounted bus tickets in June 2013 to employees who commute into central Vermont. To date, Go!Vermont’s offer has been well received and dozens of state employees are taking advantage of the discounts.
Now Go!Vermont is asking WIA to promote another of its programs to VSEA members; the Capital Commuters Program. By enrolling in the program, VSEA members become eligible for a 50% discount on bus passes for certain routes, VIP parking for vanpoolers and carpoolers, a “guaranteed ride home” benefit and an official benefit card. Capital Commuter participants who take transit, carpool, or bike ten round trips per month are eligible to receive great giveaways to area businesses along with other perks.
VSEA Responds Quickly To Off-Base Assertion That State Employees Are Not Helping At All To Repair Budget Deficit
VSEA leaders were stunned this week by media reports that a top government official had testified to lawmakers that state employees had come to the table on August 11 with no savings to offer to help Vermont address a recently announced budget deficit of $31 million. Unfortunately, a few lawmakers bought the line, forcing VSEA President Shelley Martin to attend an August 13 public hearing, where the legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committee was taking public comment on the State’s proposed budget cuts to reduce the deficit.
“I’m here today to address reports in the media that certain officials are saying state employees aren’t helping at all to bring down Vermont’s deficit,” Martin began. “This is absolutely untrue and I would point to the EGWP changes VSEA members just agreed to this year to help save money.” She added that VSEA members also recently agreed to other retirement and health care changes that are already saving the state millions, and she noted that many agencies and departments are still trying to rebound from the RIFs suffered in 2008 and 2009.
Martin ended by reminding lawmakers that it was the General Assembly that allowed a 2010 VSEA-created initiative to invite state employee cost-savings proposals to sunset in 2012, ending the flow of ideas.
“Frontline state employees are the experts and they know where the savings can be found,” explained Martin. “It’s really too bad this program was allowed to sunset.” She added that VSEA is helping to spur more suggestions by actively soliciting cost-savings ideas from members. If you have a cost-savings idea you would like VSEA to consider sharing with the State, please send a brief summary of your idea to VSEA Communications Director Doug Gibson at email@example.com. In the subject line, please write “Cost-Savings Idea.”
VSEA members are urged to keep an eye on your home mailbox for your copy of the 2014 VSEA Annual Meeting WARN. The WARN contains all the proposed bylaw changes and the union’s proposed FY2015 budget; all of which will be voted on at the Annual Meeting on Saturday, September 13, at the Killington Grand Hotel. Members attending Annual Meeting are being asked to bring their copy of the WARN to Killington.
Who Will Win VSEA’s 2014 Outstanding Performance Awards?
Make Your Nomination Today!
VSEA Chapter of the Year;
VSEA Steward of the Year;
The Mazza Award — For Outstanding Service to VSEA;
The Macaig Award — For Outstanding Public Service; and
The Linda Coan Memorial Award — Outstanding VSEA Staff Member
To get nomination forms, either call Communications Specialist Kris Lizzari at VSEA HQ (802-223-5247) or print the forms out here.
All nominations must be received before 4:30 p.m. on Monday, August 18, 2014. Winners will be announced at Annual Meeting banquet on September 13.
VSEA Seeks Experienced, Progressive Union Organizer
ERN Committee Announces Results Of Recent
VSEA’s Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee was at headquarters on August 6 to tally the votes in several contested races for VSEA Board of Trustees’ seats. Here are the winners:
Department of Corrections Trustee Seat Dave Bellini
Defender General Trustee Seat Bonnie Kynoch
Supervisory Trustee Seat Tom Hango
District 4 Trustee Seat (Franklin/Grand Isle, Chittenden, Addison) John Gauthier
VSEA congratulates all the winners!
President Martin Announces 21 Annual Meeting Room & Board Winners!
VSEA President Shelley Martin announced the winners this week of a free night’s lodging at the Killington Grand Hotel during VSEA’s 2014 Annual Meeting on Saturday, September 13. The 20 winners drawn at random by Martin were:
Dawn Carrillo – Central Vermont Chapter
Pamela Cullen – Franklin/Grand Isle Chapter
Aimee Towne – Lamoille Valley Chapter
Brad Dunsmore – Franklin/Grand Isle Chapter
Sheila LaPoint – Lamoille Valley Chapter
Rebecca Trower – Central Vermont Chapter
Tara Thomas – Springfield Chapter
Joyce Larro – Lamoille Valley Chapter
Kelly Hurd-Burnell – Lamoille Valley Chapter
Margaret Burbank – Lamoille Valley Chapter
Monique Prive – NEK/St. Johnsbury Chapter
Cheryl Prevost – Central Vermont Chapter
Marion Fignar – Central Vermont Chapter
Robin Rieske – Brattleboro Chapter
Matt Jakubowski – Rutland Chapter
Billie Langlois – Rutland Chapter
Deb Franks – Central Vermont Chapter
James Hale – Central Vermont Chapter
John DosSantos – Central Vermont Chapter
Paul Flint – Central Vermont Chapter
Lori Brady – Rutland Chapter
*Prizes awarded cover only room cost. Hotel amenities, services and gratuities are the member’s responsibility.
VSEA Retirees’ Chapter
At its August 13 Annual Meeting at the Elks Club in Montpelier, members of the union’s Retirees’ Chapter elected the following officers and trustees:
President Joan Maclay
First Vice President Nancy Robinson
Treasurer Susan Martin
Clerk Terry Lefebvre
Essex/Orleans Trustee Bernie Peters
Grand Isle, Chittenden, Addison Trustee Bob Hooper
At-Large Trustee Ed Stanak
DCF Workers Get Their Day In Front Of Lawmakers
After enduring months of finger-pointing, accusations and even death threats, VSEA frontline DCF members were at the State House on August 12 to testify in front of a special legislative committee created to investigate everything and everyone related the recent untimely and tragic death of a two-year-old child. It was the first time lawmakers had heard from frontline workers, and VSEA members Tracey Brown, Patricia Casanova, Alyssa Dawson, Andrew Frowine, Kerrie Johnson, Nancy Miller, Shannon Morton and Neysha Stewart did a terrific job educating lawmakers about the issues that are currently impeding DCF workers’ ability to provide adequate service to some very vulnerable Vermonters.
The group focused their remarks on several key areas of concern, including non-manageable caseloads, what constitutes an actual “client”, high employee turnover, the depletion of the workforce through past RIFs, communication breakdowns, policies and protocols in need of immediate revision and how the current legal system impacts their work.
DCF is “woefully understaffed,” said Nancy Miller, a social services supervisor at the Burlington DCF office. Her colleagues echoed her concerns during more than two hours of testimony in the Statehouse.
“We just do not have enough people,” said Alyssa Dawson, another Burlington DCF social worker.
“I’m triaging my cases,” said Tracey Brown, who also works in Burlington.
“Things will fall through the cracks,” said Patricia Casanova, a St. Albans worker.
“VSEA thanks all these DCF members for having the courage to come to the State House and talk honestly with legislators about the reality for frontline DCF workers,” VSEA President Shelley Martin told WIA. “Many DCF workers we are hearing from are very concerned they are being scapegoated for these tragic deaths, and that is extremely upsetting, which is why this testimony was so important and so needed. This group did an outstanding job stating the case for all Vermont DCF workers.”
VSEA Meetings With DCF Workers Continue!
To date, VSEA has already met with groups of DCF workers in Rutland, Springfield, St. Albans. Here are the remaining meetings:
Williston 9:45 a.m.
118 Western Avenue
St. Johnsbury 5:00 p.m.
Percey Jr. Sworn In As New VVH Board Member
On August 13, 25-year BGS employee Harry “Jaime” Percey Jr. (pictured here, left) was officially sworn in to a newly created “classified employee” seat on the facility’s Board of Trustees. It’s the first time ever a classified VVH employee has held a seat on the Board. Pictured here swearing Percey in is VVH Board President Joseph Krawczyk.
VSEA Sending Five-Member Delegation To “People’s Climate March” In NYC.
VSEA President Shelley Martin announced that the union will send five interested members to the “People’s Climate March” in New York City on September 21, 2014. Labor activists from around the country are participating in the march, which culminates two days of action, beginning on September 20.
Here’s a description from the event’s website, describing why labor is participating in the march and other events throughout the weekend:
“Super storm Sandy showed us that climate change is here and that if we do nothing, working families and the most vulnerable will be hardest hit. Workers and union members play an essential role in responding to climate change and extreme weather events – many workers risked their lives to repair infrastructure and keep essential services running in the aftermath of Sandy. By joining this march we challenge the 1% and corporate CEO’s who are responsible for both attacking workers and unions and polluting our environment and causing climate change.”
If you are a VSEA member interested in traveling to New York City September 19-21 to participate in the People’s Climate March, please send a letter of interest by 4:00 p.m., Friday, August 29, to VSEA President Shelley Martin, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by U.S. Mail at VSEA, 155 State St., Montpelier 05602.
State Aware Of Express Scripts’ 2x Deductible Error. Members Impacted Will Be Reimbursed.
VSEA was contacted this week by the State’s Employee Benefits Unit and informed of a “glitch” in Express Scripts’ software that is causing state employees who have already paid their yearly deductible to again be charged a deductible. Some employees caught the error, but others did not, so VSEA wants members to know that Express Scripts has identified the problem and is promising any employee who was charged for two deductibles will be fully reimbursed when picking up their next prescription.
Celebrate Labor Day with Bernie and Vermont’s Labor Unions!
Click the posters below to view and download a copy!
Discount Sugarbush Ski Passes Return For 2014-2015 Season. LINK IS LIVE!
For the eighth straight year, VSEA is pleased to inform you that the VSEA Advantage Discount Program will once again be offering discounted Sugarbush all‐mountain (& other) ski passes for the 2014‐2015 season. This year, Sugarbush is once again using an online sign‐up feature, which went live on August 12. This year’s rate will be (15+ VSEA sign‐ups) $749 + 6% tax or (1‐14 VSEA sign‐ups) $799 + 6% tax. VSEA has always been able to meet the 15‐person limit, but there is no guarantee. Offer is available only to full-fledged VSEA members, meaning those who pay full dues. VSEA will be confirming names and status with Sugarbush representative.
Please share this notice with any VSEA members you know who might be interested in the Sugarbush deal.
A few notes:
The program is open to full time employees, their spouse, partner in a same sex marriage. It is not meant for a "roommate" situation.
Youth and child passes maybe purchased only in conjunction with an adult pass and do not count towards the 10/15 minimum.
175+ Have Already Taken VSEA’s Worksite Survey. Keep Them Coming!
All Members Urged To Participate
Do you work in an office or a cubicle? Do you carpool to work, drive yourself, bicycle, walk? Are there temporary employees working where you do? What about employees working for a private contractor? How are workers communicating best with each other? Has your workplace moved in the past five years? Do you have trouble finding daily parking?
These are just some of the questions VSEA is asking members to answer in a new survey that is designed to help union staff and leaders become more familiar with specific worksites across Vermont and better determine how certain issues are impacting employees at specific worksites, if at all.
“We’re excited that 175 members have already taken a few minutes on a break, or at home to complete this important survey,” VSEA President Shelley Martin told WIA. “Thanks to your answers, we’re already learning a lot about where VSEA members work and some of the unique problems and issues that exist at some of these worksites.”
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