Weekly News From Your Union: August 25 – August 29

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August 29, 2014

In This Issue:

Top Ten 2014 VSEA Achievements (So Far) To Celebrate This
Labor Day

A Brief History of Labor Day

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

VSEA Seeking Members’ Input On Website Redesign!

VSEA Applauds Primary Election Victories, Especially Frontline Worker’s Win!

VSEA Welcomes New Legislative Director Ben Palkoski

VSEA Urging Every DCF Member To Lend Your Voice To This Effort!

Website Updates Progress On New Waterbury Office Complex!

State Colleges’ Launches “Whistleblower Hotline”

VSEA Drive To Represent DSAs & Others Gets Hearing At Labor Board

Closure Of Carr Lot In Montpelier Prompts Proposal To Add More Parking Spaces To DOL Lot

Deadline Is Today To Apply To Go To “People’s Climate March” In NYC. Members Excited About Event

VSEA Member Locks In Sports & Fitness Edge Discount For Members

Vermont Laser Vision Updates Advantage Discount Offer To Members

Smugglers’ Notch Offering Discounts To VSEA Members!

 


Previously In Week In Action:


Bolton Valley Announces Discounted Season Passes For VSEA Members

Discount Sugarbush Ski Passes Return For 2014-2015 Season

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:

September 1
Labor Day Holiday
Statewide
Most State Offices & VSEA Closed

 


VSEA Member Locks In Sports & Fitness Edge Discount For Members

 

VSEA member Sarah Copen asked WIA to let members living and working in Essex, Williston and South Burlington know that, from now until September 23, you can receive a 40% discount on an “Edge” fitness program and pay no registration fee. To view a copy of the “Edge” fitness programs offered, please click here.  
 
To contact Sports & Edge Fitness, please call 860-3343 or send an email to info@edgevt.com
 


Vermont Laser Vision Updates Advantage Discount Offer To Members

Vermont Laser Vision asked WIA to announce the following offer to VSEA members:

Vermont Laser Vision
55 Timber Lane
South Burlington, VT 05403
Contact: Samantha Wagar
Phone: 802-864-2010
Website: www.vermontlaservision.com
E-mail: samantha@vermontlaservision.com

Dr. McCormick is offering 20 percent off Bladeless LASIK surgery, and Dr. Lane is offering 20% off Dysport (a product similar to Botox) and facial chemical peels. Good thru January 1, 2015.
Call for a free consultation with the surgeon!
 


Smugglers’ Notch Offering Discounts To VSEA Members!

 

Smugglers’ Notch is pleased to offer the following special discounted rates to VSEA members. Employees and their immediate families can purchase SN passes and badges at the following rates until October 31, 2014.  Simply complete the form (click here for form) and submit to the address or fax number listed. To order online go to www.smuggs.com/corporate. 
 
Bash Badge
Adult $99       
Youth (6-18) $79
$30 full day ticket, $20 afternoon pm ticket, no blackout dates.

Bash Badge Plus
Adult $169     
Youth (6-18) $149
$30 full day ticket, $20 afternoon pm ticket, no blackout dates- FREE tickets from open to 12/12/14 and 3/9/15 to close.

The Hybrid
Adult $379
M-F, non-holiday, $30 weekend/holiday full-day lift ticket or $20 afternoon p.m. ticket.

Season Pass
Adult $529     
Youth (6-18) $299  
Child (5& under) $20   
Senior (70+) $20

Family Season Pass
Adult $479     
Youth (6-18) $269 
(minimum:1 Adult/1 Youth)

Morse Only Pass
$289

College Pass    
$229

Nordic Pass
Adult $89       
Youth $69      
Family $200   
 


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

 

Deadline to sign up is September 19, 2014

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 sigan‐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 The VSEA Sign‐Up Page
 


 

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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Top Ten 2014 VSEA Achievements (So Far) To Celebrate This Labor Day
 

As chosen by WIA:

10.) Overhaul of the VSEA steward program;

9.) Transition of Vermont State Hospital members to new facility;

8.) Establishment of an office move policy;

7.) Justice achieved for John Howe;

6.) Legislature passes language to protect a whistleblower’s identity;

5.) Launch of campaigns to draw more attention to State’s use of temps and private contractors;

4.) Implementation of “Fair Share” provision;

3.) First-ever VSEA external organizing drive being conducted at UVM;

2.) First-ever living wages for all Vermont State Colleges’ members; and

1.) Successful contract negotiations (most utilizing an “open bargaining” concept) for the Corrections, Defender General, Judiciary, Non-Management, State Colleges and Supervisory Units.

Honorable Mention: Fully funded Pay Act

A Brief History of Labor Day

Brought to you by the United States Department of Labor

Labor Day Parade, Union Square, New York, 1882
Labor Day Parade, Union Square, New York, 1882. Image credit: Wikipedia

"More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold."

But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement."

Learn more about the history of Labor Day here

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!

VSEA Seeking Members’ Input On Website Redesign!

 

In the coming months, VSEA’s Communications team will be devoting time to redesigning the VSEA website, making it cleaner and more user friendly. In advance of sitting down to begin the redesign process, VSEA’s Communications team is asking members to please take a few minutes to complete an online survey about VSEA’s current site and about what members want in a new site. VSEA is also interested in learning what websites appeal to you and why, and what websites aren’t so appealing and why.
 
To take the VSEA website survey, please click here. Thanks in advance for your participation. 

VSEA Applauds Primary Election Victories, Especially Frontline Worker’s Win!

 
VSEA sent huge congratulations on August 27 to Vets’ Home employee Rachael Fields, VSEA Field Representative Bob South and former Franklin/Grand Isle Chapter President Doug DiSabito for winning their respective primary races for elected office. Fields and South were running for House seats and DiSabito faced an entrenched incumbent in the race to be State’s Attorney. Here is the press release that VSEA issued, following the primary:

The Vermont State Employees’ Association (VSEA) is applauding yesterday’s primary election victories by Veterans’ Home employee Rachael Fields in the Bennington House District 2-1 race and VSEA Field Representative Bob South in the Caledonia-3 House race. VSEA is also pleased that former VSEA Franklin/Grand Isle Chapter President Doug DiSabito was victorious over an incumbent in the race to be Grand Isle State’s Attorney.

“VSEA is especially excited about Rachael Fields’ win last night because it demonstrates the good that can happen when working people and our supporters unite to promote and elect candidates committed to our issues and to us,” said VSEA Shelley Martin. “Everyone in Bennington who voted for Rachael can rest assured that after she wins in the general election, she will work as hard for her constituents as she does right now providing first-rate representation to VSEA members at the Vets’ Home.”

Martin added that, in the coming months and years, VSEA will be preparing more and more frontline state employees to run for elected office at every level.

“We believe the more workers’ voices at the State House or in our local legislative bodies, the better for Vermont,” she said. “Rachael’s victory and the successful grassroots effort behind it will be a great example for VSEA to use to hopefully inspire other state employees to think about running for office.”

VSEA Welcomes New Legislative Director
Ben Palkoski


 
VSEA issued the following press release on August 25:
 
Today, the Vermont State Employees’ Association (VSEA) welcomed Ben Palkowski as its new Legislative Director. Palkowski is taking over for Steve Howard, who was recently promoted to VSEA Executive Director.

Currently a Massachusetts attorney, Palkowski is no stranger to the Vermont General Assembly and its workings, having served as the Vermont Democratic House Campaign’s Executive Director from 2007 to 2011. Palkowski also worked in 2006 as a Field Coordinator for the Welch for Congress campaign.

“Ben knows Vermont politics and our state election and legislative processes very well, which is why VSEA is pleased to be adding his expertise to our legislative team,” said VSEA President Shelley Martin. “I have no doubt VSEA members are going to be well served at the State House by both Ben and our Legislative Specialist Anne Accettella.”

“I am thrilled to be back in Vermont, and I am really looking forward to working alongside and advocating on behalf VSEA members,” said Palkowski.

Prior to joining the VSEA team, Palkowski practiced student loan and consumer protection law in Boston and he operated a consulting firm.
 

VSEA Urging Every DCF Member To Lend Your Voice To This Effort!

The Governor’s Council on Pathways from Poverty*, in collaboration with AHS and DCF, is seeking public comments on ways the Agency of Human Services can improve the delivery of services to families with children served by the Department for Children and Families.

Three Ways To Provide Your Comments:

1. Attend a Public Hearing:
Hearings will be held on two dates: August 28, 2014, at 6:00 p.m. and September 5, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. You can attend at any of the 13 Vermont Interactive Television sites located around the state. For a complete list of VIT sites go to http://www.vitlink.org/location or call (802) 728-1455.

2. Mail your comments:
You can mail your comments to the following address through September 30, 2014: Agency of Human Services, Secretary, 208 Hurricane Lane, Suite 103, Williston, VT 05495.

3. Complete an online survey:
Complete an online survey (anonymously if you wish) by clicking here.
 
Key Questions to Consider:
 
These questions are only intended to stimulate discussion. Feel free to raise your own questions and provide any suggestions.

  • How can DCF better serve Vermont families with children?
  • How can AHS and DCF avoid duplication of administrative functions and fragmentation of services for individuals and families?
  • Do AHS and DCF have the resources needed to be most effective? Are existing resources allocated properly? How could resources be better employed?
  • What is the most efficient use of state resources in serving families? For example, should divisions and/or functions be separate or integrated? How can communication within DCF be improved to better serve families?
  • How can DCF build stronger relationships between the families it serves and staff working with those families? For example, should enforcement capability be separated from day-to-day case management (that is, should sanction or removal powers be exercised by different people within the department)? Would that help or hinder the department?
  • Are there particular laws, rules, or policies that should be changed to improve outcomes for families? If so, what are they?
  • What is the agency or department doing well; are there existing areas of success the agency can and should build on?

 
* The Governor’s Council on Pathways from Poverty is a 30-member advisory body. It is made up exclusively of volunteers, including advocates, direct service providers, housing and development experts and low-income Vermonters.

Website Updates Progress On New Waterbury Office Complex!

 
At the Waterbury Chapter’s Annual Meeting on August 20, one of the invited guest speakers was a project manager working on building the new Waterbury Office Complex. Dudek told members about a website that was recently created to update state employees and others about the building progress, the transition of workers back to the complex and a host of other topics. In addition, workers can ask questions and provide comment.
 
“Everyone’s questions and feedback will play an important role in creating the transition and open office workshops to assist staff returning to the Waterbury State Office Complex,” Dudek told those in attendance. He added that the website is currently a work in progress with a number of layout and format changes soon to come.

“We’re encouraging everyone to visit the site on a regular basis as new newsletters, articles and FAQs are posted,” Dudek said. “We would also like visitors to post their questions, thoughts and ideas in the ‘Idea Box.’ Questions of common interest and answers will be added to the FAQ section.”
 
To link to the Waterbury site, please click here.

State Colleges’ Launches “Whistleblower Hotline” For Workers

 

This week, VSEA members working at State College campuses across Vermont got news that they can now blow the whistle on worksite waste, fraud and corruption. In an email to VSEA members, VSC officials wrote:
 
“As part of the comprehensive review of all VSC policies, and specifically VSC Policy 210 Employee Conflict of Interest Policy, the Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees asked the VSC Council of Presidents to develop an anonymous “whistleblower” process. All VSC employees have the obligation to act in a manner consistent with their public responsibilities and to avoid any activity or behavior that is ethically, legally, financially, or otherwise questionable. Anyone who experiences or discovers a situation or behavior that has the potential to cause serious ethical, legal, or financial harm to the VSC or one of the colleges should immediately notify their supervisor.  In rare instances, it may be necessary to report a situation or behavior anonymously.  For those cases only, a VSC Whistleblower Hotline has been launched, which is a phone and web-based reporting system that is managed by EthicsPoint (an independent corporation).
 
To access the VSC Whistleblower Hotline call:

 

1-866-215-4016

or go to the “VSC Whistleblower Hotline” link under the Employee Services tab on the portal (Click Here).  You will be taken outside the portal to EthicsPoint, where you can choose “File A New Report.”  EthicsPoint will receive and catalog reports, and will forward them anonymously and confidentially to the Chancellor’s Office for review.      
 
The purpose of the VSC Whistleblower Hotline is to provide an anonymous and confidential method to report suspected serious misconduct and/or breach of VSC policies.  All VSC employees are strongly encouraged to report any issues to their supervisor first. 

VSEA Drive To Represent DSAs & Others Gets Hearing At Labor Board

 
On August 21, the Vermont Labor Relations Board held its long awaited hearing to determine the legal status of Deputy State’s Attorneys and other workers to collectively bargain their conditions of employment. As WIA readers will remember, VSEA filed petitions earlier this year to represent workers in a majority of State’s Attorney offices under the Municipal Labor Relations Act (MERA). At last week’s hearing, the VSEA legal team, represented by Al Gordon-O’Connell and Justin St. James, argued that DSAs and their colleagues deserve to have the ability to unionize and have a voice in determining their working conditions.
 
It will take time for a ruling to be issued, but whatever the Board determines, it will clarify the current employment status of DSAs and others working in these offices.
 
VSEA wants to especially thank some of the frontline DSAs and other employees who stepped up to testify at the hearing. These include: David Cahill (Chief Deputy State’s Attorney) and Meghan Place (Victim’s Advocate) from the Windsor County office, John Lavoie (Deputy State’s Attorney) from the Franklin County office and Mary Howard (Administrative Secretary) from the Rutland County office. All provided excellent testimony concerning the nature of the work, which helped the Board to better understand what these employees do, and, hopefully, how important it is to create consistency with respect to their status. 
 
DSAa and others in these offices are being urged to keep an eye open for VSEA messages in the coming weeks about the VLRB ruling. If you have any questions or thoughts, please share them with VSEA Organizer Tim Boyle by email (TBoyle@VSEA.org) or by phone (802-595-9106).

Closure Of Carr Lot In Montpelier Prompts Proposal To Add More Parking Spaces To DOL Lot


 
It’s no secret that VSEA and its members working in Montpelier have been asking the State and lawmakers for more than a year to address a lack of parking for employees in the Capitol City. Now comes news this week in the Times Argus that the State is formally proposing to add 105 new parking spaces to the employee parking lot at the VDOL main office at 5 Green Mountain Drive. There is a real urgency to add the spaces because the State is about to lose valued parking spaces located in the Carr Lot behind the Cap Plaza Hotel. This lot is currently being developed, so its spaces will be permanently lost. The Montpelier Development Review Board will vote to approve or decline the Green Mountain Drive proposal at its September 8 meeting.  
 
“The development of the Carr Lot will exacerbate an ongoing shortage of parking for state employees,” a recent traffic-impact study noted. “While the State is pursuing a variety of programs to reduce single-occupant vehicle commuting, which would in turn reduce parking demand, additional parking to compensate for the lost Carr Lot spaces will still be needed. In addition, there is a chronic need for overflow parking in downtown Montpelier during the legislative session, and opportunities to address this need should also be considered.”
 
Interested VSEA members working in central Vermont are urged to attend the September 8 meeting.

Deadline Is Today To Apply To Go To “People’s Climate March” In NYC. Members Excited About Event


 
VSEA President Shelley Martin announced that the union is sending 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.
 
Martin asked WIA to share a couple of the letters she’s received from members wanting to attend the march 
 
“I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued by the announcement in the August 14 edition of the VSEA newsletter that the union had decided to sponsor 5 members attendance at this September’s People’s Climate March on New York City. Climate change is widely regarded as the defining issue of our age. There is no question, as societies focus more of their attention on both reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases and reconfiguring our communities and infrastructure to be more resilient to extremes, that workers, and particularly government workers, are key stakeholders. Transportation, housing, agriculture, public safety, health, environment – if you work in one of these sectors then you are likely already engaged in addressing the issue or have been affected by it. Organized labor has always been about giving workers a collective voice on important societal matters. As an Agency of Natural Resources employee who has worked on some of the state’s climate initiatives over the past few years, I’m pleased that VSEA is proactively engaging in the conversation, and trust that engagement will continue. Please consider me as a candidate for the trip to NY.”

“I applaud the insight and initiative of VSEA leadership to ensure representation of VSEA members at the September 21st march by highlighting the event and offering financial assistance. I will attend this action with other Americans because it is critical that federal and state legislators be motivated now to take concrete steps to mitigate the effects of greenhouse emissions which are the primary causes of climate change. Although a shrinking minority of Americans continue to assert that climate change is either not real or not caused primarily by human activities, this is a settled issue here in Vermont: Vermont state government, through its executive and legislative branches, has made it clear in studies, reports and statutory provisions that climate change must be addressed through state policies and programs. The State has defined the two primary contributors to Vermont’s "carbon footprint" as the lack of a mass transportation system and the inadequate thermal efficiency of our housing stock and other buildings. The fight to reduce our carbon footprint presents both opportunities and threats for VSEA members beyond the obvious impacts of worsening storm events and the enormous costs of recovery. Opportunities consist of significant growth in jobs as we build the new infrastructure to provide mass transportation systems; these jobs will also create secondary economic benefits. The same is true about additional jobs to address the thermal inefficiency issues. While these will not be a substantial number of new jobs within state government, they will be jobs for the families of VSEA members – particularly youth. The threats to VSEA members from climate change are profound: increased costs to recover from storm events will drain state revenues away from the usual functions of state government and thus adversely affect contract negotiations and likely result in RIFs. I recall much that was about the significant potential for a "blue/green alliance" of union members and environmentalists to address the impacts of climate change and more. I continue to believe that that potential is real and serious consideration should be given to building such an alliance here in Vermont. History shows us that actions such as marches and rallies do have significant effects on moving government to do the right thing. This was true for the labor movement during the 20th century as well as for the movements by women suffragists and civil rights advocates. The people speak for change and Congress and state legislators then confirm the 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. TODAY 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.

 

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