Weekly News From Your Union: August 18 – August 22

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August 22, 2014

In This Issue:

Vermont State Housing Authority Unit Negotiations Begin

NMU Chair Announces Recent Appointments!

2014 VSEA Annual Meeting WARN Corrections

DCF Employees’ Testimony Wins Praise In Editorial

VSEA President & Retiree Chapter President Serving Food Today At Champlain Valley Fair Booth

August 28 Steward Training For Health Care Facility Workers Cancelled!

VSEA Sending Five-Member Delegation To “People’s Climate March” In NYC.
Interested In Going?

New Study Finds More & More Public Employees Nationwide Questioning Retirement Security

Bolton Valley Announces Discounted Season Passes For VSEA Members

Discount Sugarbush Ski Passes Return For 2014-2015 Season

Celebrate Labor Day with Bernie and Vermont's Labor Unions!
 


175+ Have Already Taken VSEA’s Worksite Survey. Keep Them Coming!

Go!Vermont Group Promoting “Capital Commuters” Program

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


VSEA Calendar:

August 26
Vermont Primary Election Day
Statewide
Please Vote!
 
August 26
Steward Training: AHS (non-DOC)
Dept. of Liquor Control
Conference Room
13 Green Mountain Dr.
Montpelier
9:00 a.m.
 
August 26
Housing Authority Unit Annual Meeting
VSHA Offices
Basement Meeting Room
Montpelier
Noon
 
August 27
Steward Training:
Supervisory Unit
McFarland Office Building
Third Floor Conference Room
5 Perry St.
Barre
9:00 a.m.
 
August 28
Lamoille Valley Chapter Employee Appreciation Day
63 Professional Dr.
Morrisville
11:00 a.m.
 
August 28
Lamoille Valley Chapter Annual Meeting
Hoagie's
65 Northgate Plaza
Morrisville
4:45 p.m.
 


175+ Have Already Taken VSEA’s Worksite Survey. Keep Them Coming!

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.”  
 
To take the new VSEA worksite survey, please click here!
 


 

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.
 
To learn more about the Capital Commuters Program, or to promote it to your co-workers, click here to download a flyer.

 


VSEA Advantage Discount Program Offers Discounted Day Tickets To The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom

 
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

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

 


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Vermont State Housing Authority Unit Negotiations Begin

VSEA members belonging to the Vermont State Housing Authority Unit (VSHA) are currently in bargaining, hoping to achieve successful results like the six VSEA bargaining teams that concluded contract negotiations earlier this year.
 
On Tuesday, August 12, the VSEA VSHA Bargaining Team (Chairperson Carter Zenlea, Jane Paronto and Jodi Parker) met with the State to begin discussing “non-economic” proposals,” and on September 4, the two sides will reconvene to begin discussing specific economic proposals. The VSEA Team reports that the tone of the initial bargaining session was respectful.
 
Following the lead of members of VSEA’s State Colleges and Judiciary Units earlier this year, VSHA members are wearing green clothing and pins on bargaining days, and the Team is providing Unit members with periodic updates on negotiating sessions and announcements of VSHA worker action plans for the coming days and weeks.
 
All VSHA members are being urged to learn more by attending your Unit’s Annual Meeting at noon, August 26, in the basement of VSHA headquarters in Montpelier.
 
“I’m hopeful our Housing Authority members will soon enjoy the same bargaining success as the six VSEA Units who already concluded negotiations this year,” said VSEA President Shelley Martin. “I’m hearing that the Unit’s ‘open bargaining’ approach is being embraced by many of these workers and is going a long way to helping keep everyone well informed and engaged. I look forward to celebrating another VSEA contract victory soon.”

NMU Chair Announces Recent Appointments!

The Chairperson of VSEA Non-Management Unit, Bob Stone, asked WIA to announce these recent appointments:
 

  • Agency of Human Services Systems Developer Tracey Harrington was confirmed as the Unit’s new Vice Chair; and
  • Game Warden Kelly Price and Department of Public Safety employee Patricia Bennett were appointed the Unit’s Bargaining Team.

 
Congratulations!

2014 VSEA Annual Meeting WARN Corrections

VSEA sent the following message this week to all members:

All VSEA members should have recently received a copy of the 2014 VSEA Annual Meeting WARN in the mail. This notice is to inform members that three small typos were identified, post print.
 
On page 2, Top:
 
How It Should Read (change in red):
 
“Official Notice of the Annual Meeting Agenda: All VSEA members are hereby warned that the VSEA Annual Meeting will be held on Saturday, September 13, 2014, at the Killington Grand Hotel in Killington, VT. Unit meetings begin at 7:30 a.m. (unless otherwise specified)…
 
On page 3, Top:
 
How It Should Read (change in red):
 
“Notice is hereby given to all members to meet at your Unit Annual Meetings, Saturday morning, September 13, 2014, at 7:30 a.m. (unless otherwise specified)…
 
Note: Some Bargaining Units have elected to begin their meetings at times other than 7:30 a.m. These times are correctly noted in the VSEA WARN, page 3!

DCF Employees’ Testimony Wins Praise In Editorial

Last week, WIA included a story about a dozen or so DCF frontline workers and their August 12 testimony 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. The group was united and their testimony was compelling, and these facts were not lost on the author of an August 20 editorial in the Times Argus, who wrote the following:
 
“Testimony from state employees is often dismissed as self-interested, as if they are seeking merely to defend their budgets and pad their departments with unnecessary personnel. But what legislators heard from social workers last week had the ring of authenticity. The volume and pace of their work ‘is relentless and unrealistic,’ said one DCF supervisor. ‘We have been struggling behind closed doors for a long time about the challenges that we face as social workers, as an agency and as humans in the field.’ The department’s widely acknowledged problems, already noted by [top State officials], suggest that these are not self-interested bureaucrats but ‘humans in the field’ who have much to offer.”
 
“It was really great to read this editorial’s simple and on-target message about the importance and credibility of these frontline DCF workers and the message they delivered last week to the committee,” praised VSEA President Shelley Martin. “I hope that more and more VSEA frontline workers will follow the example of these courageous DCF workers and consider coming to the State House to educate lawmakers about the job you do, the service you provide and the issues and challenges you face every day when trying to provide the best service possible to Vermonters. It’s a right you have, and I urge you to exercise it.”
VSEA Meetings With DCF Workers Continue!
To date, VSEA has already met with groups of DCF workers in Rutland, Springfield, St. Albans. Here is the remaining meeting, which begins at 5:00 p.m.

August 26
Elks Lodge
118 Western Avenue
St. Johnsbury
 

VSEA President & Retiree Chapter President Serving Food Today At Champlain Valley Fair Booth

 
VSEA President Shelley Martin and Retiree Chapter President Joanie Maclay have accepted an invitation from the Lion’s Club Food Booth to help with food service. Today is opening day at the fair, and Shelley and Joanie will be helping in the booth from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Stop by and say “hi.” The invitation to help was made by Retiree Chapter member Betsy MaGee.

August 28 Steward Training For Health Care Facility Workers Cancelled!

 
VSEA Labor Educator Tim Lenoch asked WIA to let members know the August 28 steward training for health care facility workers has been cancelled. Tim will let folks know as soon as the training is rescheduled.

VSEA Sending Five-Member Delegation To “People’s Climate March” In NYC.

Interested?


 
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 smartin@vsea.org or by U.S. Mail at VSEA, 155 State St., Montpelier 05602.
 
For more information on the People’s Climate March, please click here.

New Study Finds More & More Public Employees Nationwide Questioning Retirement Security

 
From a CSLGE press release:
A new report released today by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence finds that only 18 percent of full-time public-sector workers are very confident about their retirement income prospects, down from 21 percent in 2012. In particular, many public-sector workers also express concern about retiree healthcare costs, future benefits from Social Security and Medicare, and their own saving and investing for retirement.

The report - the 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey of the State and Local Government Workforce - surveyed more than 1,200 state and local government employees across the nation, including public educators, police officers and firefighters. It updates information from the 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey of the State and Local Government Workforce.

"Public servants should be able to devote their full attention to the important work that they do for our communities," said Paul Yakoboski, senior economist with the TIAA-CREF Institute. "But the reality is that while state and local governments address pension reform in the wake of the 2008-2009 recession, public employees can address 'reform' of their personal planning and saving for retirement."

"Fewer local and state governments offer retiree health care and public employers also are shifting more health costs to employees and retirees," said Joshua Franzel, Center for State and Local Government Excellence vice president of research and co-author of the report. "This reality has reduced public workers' confidence in these benefits and raises new questions about how much they need to save for health expenses in retirement. In such an environment, it is important for all state and local workers to take advantage of financial education and planning resources as well as available savings opportunities."

Highlights from the report include the following:

  • Virtually all full-time state and local workers are covered by some form of retirement plan offered by their employer, but only 39 percent are very confident that they will receive all of the benefits that they have earned in retirement.
  • In comparison to 2012, when 72 percent of respondents expected to work for pay after retiring, the figure has dropped to 49 percent in 2014.
  • While 2014 confidence levels in overall retirement income prospects are generally consistent with 2012 (18 percent are very confident and 56 percent somewhat confident), there was a decrease in the proportion of public-sector employees who are either very confident or not at all confident. This year's survey also revealed a 7 percentage-point shift of K-12 teachers from very confident to somewhat confident about their retirement income prospects.
  • Public-sector workers are concerned about federal retirement income security programs. Only 7 percent of state and local government employees are very confident that the Social Security system will continue to provide benefits of at least equal value to the benefits received by retirees today, while 55 percent are not confident. The same goes for Medicare benefits, with 6 percent reporting they are very confident and 52 percent saying they are not confident.
  • In 2012, 51 percent of retirement savers in the public-sector workforce said they received retirement planning advice from a professional financial advisor within the past three years. In 2014, only 38 percent reported receiving advice. But this year's report suggests more individuals are following all the investment advice they receive. For example, 24 percent reported following all the investment advice received in 2014 vs. 18 percent in 2012.

A summary of the research and full survey results can be downloaded here.

Bolton Valley Announces Discounted Season Passes For VSEA Members

For the second year in a row, the VSEA Advantage Discount Program is pleased to offer discounted season passes to the Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Bolton, Vt.
 
VSEA members who order a pass before October 31, 2014, will receive a $70 discount off the regular $569 season pass price, making it just $499. Like last year, this offer is available only to VSEA members who are currently paying full dues to their union.
 
The sign-up process is pretty straightforward, but, like last year, in order for a member to view the special VSEA discount promo code (which can be found by clicking here), you must be a registered user of the VSEA website, which also requires you to be a full dues-paying member.
 
After acquiring the special VSEA promo code, VSEA members can go here to place your season pass order

Follow these instructions to make your purchase:

  • Click on “Buy Online” and select pass products, accepting or declining pass protection and adding each product to your cart.
  • In the Cart view, click on “Add/Change Guest” to set the pass holder's name and information to each pass product, then click “Proceed to Checkout.”
  • Enter your Promo Code in the box where it asks for your promo code then click “Apply Code.” The cart should be refreshed and show the discounted corporate pricing.

A 2014-15 Bolton Valley All Access Season Pass includes¹:

  • Unlimited alpine skiing and riding
  • 100km of Nordic and backcountry skiing
  • A 20% discount on rentals, retail shop purchases, group ski and ride lessons, and lodging (includes condos, suites, or hotel rooms)
  • Sports Center Membership including access to an indoor heated pool, hot tub, and sauna

BV pricing allows you to build your own family pass. Adult passes are just $499 and passes for youth 17 and under are just $159 when purchased with a parent's pass.

If you have any questions, please contact Brad Battin at 802-434-6813 or bbattin@boltonvalley.com

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.

Click Here To Go To VSEA Sign‐Up Page

Deadline to sign up is September 19, 2014
 

Celebrate Labor Day with Bernie and Vermont's Labor Unions!

Click the posters below to view and download a copy!

Burlington's Battery Park

Monday Sept. 1, 2014
12 Noon: Free Barbecue
1:00 pm: Speakers
Click here to view/ download a copy of this flyer!

Middlebury Town Green

Monday Sept. 1, 2014
5:00 pm: Free Barbecue
5:30 pm: Speakers
Click here to view/ download a flyer for this event!

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