Rights & Democracy Summit
Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center
Workshops & Panels Throughout Day
Meet VSEA Insurance Rep. Joanne Woodcock
Chittenden Correctional Facility
Front Conference Room
Noon to 3:30 p.m.
VT Paid Sick Days Coalition Event
The Public House
10516 VT-116, #6A
Labor Educator’s Monthly Meeting – Brattleboro
State Office Building
Conference Room 148
Training: Representing Co-Workers In Investigations & Disciplinary Meetings
VTrans Training Center
1716 U.S. Rte. 302
NMU Contract Update Meeting
McFarland State Office Building
ESD Conference Room
VSEA Meeting w/DCF Workers
St. Albans State Office Building
Third Floor Conference Room
NMU Bargaining Team Meeting
Best Western Hotel
Retirees’ Chapter Meeting
NMU Contract Update Meeting
State Office Building
December 8,9, & 10
Meet VSEA Insurance Rep. Joanne Woodcock
312 Hurricane Lane
Noon to 3:00 p.m.
Quote of The Week!
“The State was under pressure to get [Vermont Health Connect] up and running.”
DVHA Operations Director Cassandra Gekas, responding to lawmakers about a review by the State Auditor that was critical of the way DVHA had procured certain contracts with vendors, finding the agency did not follow policy or protocol. Gekas “promised” to adhere to policy in the future. Can you imagine what would happen to a classified employee if s/he offered this same defense?
Remaining Fall Steward Trainings
VSEA Labor Educator Tim Lenoch asked WIA to remind members of the remaining trainings left in 2015. Additional trainings for 2016 will be posted soon!
If you are interested in registering to attend one or more trainings, you can do so by clicking here. Please direct your training questions to Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Representing Co-Workers in Investigations and Disciplinary Meetings
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Wednesday, December 9
Steward 3: The Contract and Challenges in the Workplace
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Friday, December 18
NMU Sick Leave Bank Needs Your Help! Please Donate Today!
VSEA member Dawn Carrillo staffs the Non-Management Unit Sick Leave Bank, and she asked WIA to remind NMU members that the deadline to donate a few hours to the sick leave bank is December 31.
“Just donating an hour of your time can mean the world to a fellow employee,” reads a flyer DHR sent out this week. It also informs state employees that they can donate any amount of time to the NMU Sick Leave Bank. “Know that you are performing a wonderful service by helping your friends and fellow employees, who, along with their families, are struggling due to serious health issues,” the flyer concludes.
“I want to thank every member for considering a donation to this important fund,” VSEA NMU Chairperson Michelle Salvador tells WIA. “Even if you only donate one hour to the bank, these one-hour donations add up. It’s so worthwhile because your donation is going to help a fellow state employee who is battling a serious illness.”
Legal Advice For Members Considering Providing Work-Related Testimony, Comment To The Press Or Public Speech In Other Venues
Every year, VSEA is approached by lawmakers, the press, advocates and others, seeking state employee voices on a particular function of state government, the administration of state government, costs related to delivering a specific service and a host of other topics. In advance of the upcoming 2016 legislative session, VSEA General Counsel Tim Belcher offers the following advice to members who want to speak out publicly at the State House, at a press conference, or in any other venue:
Often the most powerful actions a VSEA member can take is to speak publicly about who you are, what you do, and how your work affects Vermonters. When you speak up, however, you need to know whether you are safe. Your employers often advise that any communication with the press or with legislators needs to be cleared by management. That is true, but only if you are communicating on behalf of the employer. If you are speaking as a citizen, your speech is protected, so long as you follow some simple rules:
Make clear that you are speaking on your own as a private citizen, and not on behalf of the employer. It’s okay to tell what your job is, but you should make clear that you are not speaking for anyone but yourself. For example: “my name is Tim, I’m a wildlife biologist for the State, but I’m speaking to you today as a private citizen”;
Dress as a civilian;
Do it on your own time, and from your own computer or own phone;
Don’t disclose confidential information;
Don’t be abusive, rude, or slanderous; and
Do be professional and polite.
Your speech is only protected if it relates to a matter of public concern, and you are speaking as a citizen. You do not have a protected right to tell the world about personal personnel issues, or even low-level mismanagement. In other words, wasting thousands of dollars of taxpayer money is likely a matter of public concern, but a manager’s bullying behavior is not.
Speech by public employees is not protected if it is the work that the employee is hired to do. The key case on this issue is Garcetti v. Ceballos where a district attorney wrote an internal memo criticizing the legitimacy of a warrant, and was subsequently passed up for promotion. The US Supreme Court held that the internal memo was part of his job, and was therefore not protected by the First Amendment. Some states have directed that state-employed scientists are prohibited from speaking about climate change. Similarly, if you are employed as the spokesperson for a state initiative or program, you may not have a protected right to speak publicly against that program, even on your own time.
These rules can be complicated, so please contact VSEA if you have any specific questions.
Subscribe To VSEA Today!
VSEA’s Communications Department is happy to disseminate any and all communications the leadership, Chapters, Units, and others request, however, the lists the Department currently pull from are provided to the union by the State of Vermont. VSEA’s Communications Department has found the lists to be dated, incomplete and sometimes lacking key information that was entered by a VSEA staff person but later overwritten or deleted during a State data dump.
To help VSEA more effectively reach active members—and really all those members who want to know what’s going on in their union—VSEA will be working hard in the coming months to collect members’ emails on its own and begin to build contact lists that cannot be altered by a State download.
You can help us get started by clicking here and signing up for the VSEA communications you are interested in receiving.
Thank you in advance for subscribing. Please urge your colleagues to do the same.
Want Instantaneous Push Notifications From Your Union?
Download The VSEAUnite App Today!
With the 2016 legislative session fast approaching, VSEA is excited to be employing a new push notification tool to message members faster about important hearings, meetings, testimony, events and other union matters. Any member who has already downloaded the VSEAUnite App does not to do anything, but if you haven’t downloaded the free App yet, you can do so very easily.
VSEA’s Communications team is stressing that it will not be overloading members’ phones with push notifications. Members will also have the option to easily turn off the notifications, if the volume of notifications ever becomes an issue.
“We’ll be working in the coming weeks and months to increase the number of VSEA members using the VSEAUnite App, with an emphasis on getting a few users from each work site,” explains Communications Director Doug Gibson. “We’ll be aiming to limit the notifications to just information that is important to the entire VSEA membership, as opposed to Chapter- or Unit-specific messages, which, for the time being, will continue to be sent to members via email message.”
VSEAUnite is available for most mobile devices, including iPhone and Android. Once you download the App, you simply register with your name and your VSEA bargaining unit and location. VSEAUnite then allows 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, Android and other mobile users will download it today!
Delta Dental Supplemental Plan Enrollment Forms Mailing In April 2016
VSEA members wanting to join Delta Dental’s Supplemental Program should keep an eye open for new enrollment forms in mid-April 2016, when the forms will begin arriving in all eligible VSEA members’ home mailboxes. The deadline to return your enrollment form will be in mid-May. Premium deductions from employee paychecks will begin in early June. The Supplemental Program’s new contract year begins July 1, 2016, and ends June 20, 2017.
VSEA members who already belong to the Supplemental Program will not be required to re-enroll. VSEA members who wish to leave the Program will be able to do so, using the enrollment forms that are coming in the mail.
VSEA Applauds State’s $8.4 Million Investment In Child Welfare System
VSEA released the following press statement on December 3, shortly after the State announced it would be requesting funding to bolster Vermont’s child welfare system:
“Just a few short weeks after Department for Children and Families (DCF) Family Services Division Social Worker Trissie Casanova was at the State House to present lawmakers with frontline workers’ three key recommendations to improve worker safety, Casanova and VSEA are applauding today’s announcement by [the State] that [it] is already acting to address one of the workers’ recommendations, which is to fund the hiring of new social workers to help reduce caseloads.
‘[The State’s] desire to add 28 new social workers, one supervisor and six administrative staff to DCF is definitely a welcome and good move, and it is appreciated,’ says Casanova. ‘The additional staff is estimated to help reduce our caseloads from 17.5 to 16, and that is terrific news, but frontline social workers’ goal remains to get our caseloads down to the national best-practice standard, which is 12—and that is 12 individuals, not 12 individuals and their entire family counting as one case. Today’s announcement by [the State] is an amazing first step towards getting to our goal. We hope lawmakers will waste no time ensuring this important request is granted, and possibly consider adding even more social workers. We also hope they will budget the money necessary to put a trained, armed law enforcement or security personnel at every office housing DCF Family Services Division staff, and ensure the State Police is adequately staffed, as well.’
VSEA frontline social workers also want the State and lawmakers to lower the number of cases assigned to DCF Investigators to 100 annually and have each DCF supervisor manage only six social workers.
A small delegation of VSEA DCF social workers will have an opportunity to thank the State’s top official in person on December 14, when they will meet face to face to discuss worker safety in a meeting facilitated by VSEA.”
Casanova & Sobel Fund Featured In NECN Story About San Bernadino Tragedy
One day after the horrible tragedy that unfolded in San Bernadino on December 2, WPTZ and NECN interviewed VSEA member Trissie Casanova to see how Vermont social workers were reacting to the news, given what tragically happened to Lara Sobel in Barre on August 7.
"I just feel this overwhelming sadness," said Casanova tells the reporter. "It kind of just hit me in the pit of my stomach that this happened again."
The story also makes a pitch for people to contribute to the “Fund for the Children of Lara Sobel,” which VSEA helped establish.
VSEA President’s Op-Ed Calls On State And Lawmakers To Ensure Lara Sobel’s Legacy Is Enhanced Employee Safety
This Op-Ed by VSEA President Dave Bellini appeared in the November 29 Times Argus and Rutland Herald:
Glancing through my morning paper the other day, an entry in the “police log” caught my eye, and not in a good way. It read “A woman threatened to ‘go all Jody Herring’ on a Department for Children and Families caseworker.”
It was a harsh reminder of how important VSEA’s current campaign to enhance on-the-job safety for DCF workers is. But this group of workers is not alone. VSEA members working in the Employment Services Division, Office of Child Support, Probation and Parole, Corrections and other agencies and departments throughout state government have also told their union that they would like improved on-the-job safety.
VSEA members recognize that our request for increased worker safety protections will cost money, but another Lara Sobel tragedy is something no one wants, and, judging by the newspaper entry I told you about (and other scary incidents workers have been told me about), time is particularly of the essence here.
To promote DCF workers’ campaign for improved safety, VSEA social workers and caseworkers have been testifying throughout the summer to a special joint legislative committee about the need for worker safety enhancements.
Recently, frontline DCF social worker Trissie Casanova went before the committee to discuss employees’ three top recommendations to make their day-to-day working environment safer. They included reducing a DCF worker’s caseload to 12 (best-practice average) from the 17 to 18 they have now, limiting an investigator to 100 investigations per year and capping supervisors to no more than allowing a supervisor to manage no more than six social workers.
Casanova also said workers would like to ensure that every office housing DCF Family Services Division staff has trained, armed law enforcement or security personnel (just three of the Division’s 12 offices statewide currently have this protection) and ensure the Vermont State Police are adequately staffed, so troopers can be available if needed to support a social worker. Given the reality of what some DCF workers are confronting in the course of their daily duties, these are modest and thoughtful requests, and VSEA will be lobbying lawmakers hard to grant them in the upcoming session.
Another way to enhance frontline employee safety is to hire more workers to keep up with an acknowledged increase in demand for DCF, ESD and other social and economic services. How many workers? VSEA DCF members will be lobbying the State and lawmakers to add 40 to 60 new social worker positions, which they say is the number needed to bring caseloads down to a manageable level. In addition, a report recently delivered to lawmakers found that Corrections workers’ safety would be vastly improved by hiring an additional 50 to 80 workers.
Recently, a group of lawmakers got a look at what Corrections workers are up against daily, and, according to news reports, I have to believe they now better understand why the report and VSEA say the DOC needs more workers. And a report delivered to lawmakers in January 2015 recommended a host of security measures the Judiciary needs to implement in courthouses across Vermont to improve worker and public safety. VSEA recognizes that none of these safety and security improvements will be cheap, but as Trissie Casanova responded when asked by a lawmaker about cost, “You can’t put a price on a social worker’s life, or a child’s life.”
Other worker safety recommendations VSEA members will be making in the upcoming legislative session include the creation of a special police force, charged with protecting AHS employees and worksites, the installation of metal detectors at major state office building entry points, making it a felony to threaten, abuse or engage in abusive or violent conduct towards a state employee, and ongoing safety training for all state employees. Again, these will all require a monetary investment by the State and lawmakers, but the consequences of not implementing all or some of VSEA members’ ideas are just too great.
The Lara Sobel tragedy may have been a wake-up call for some Vermonters, but the need for improved worker safety is something VSEA members have been working with their union to address for years now, especially since the recession hit back in 2008. As we know all too well, the State and lawmakers have repeatedly chosen to address Vermont’s chronic budget deficits by making cuts to essential public services and positions.
Fewer frontline workers means more demand on those employees who are still working, and that, we have all too painfully learned, can sometimes lead to tragedy. The time is now for our elected officials to acknowledge that a need does exist to enhance state employee on-the-job safety, which is why VSEA members are calling on them to generate the new revenue needed to implement some, if not all, of the measures we are proposing.
Whether it’s charging tourists $5 or $6 more a night for lodging or increasing taxes on those who can most afford to pay, the return will be robust public services, a safer worker environment for the thousands of Vermonters providing these quality, essential services, and it will be safer for Vermonters visiting state office buildings to utilize services. This is an investment that all Vermonters can get behind.
Lawmakers Hear About Expected Budget Holes, And State Employees Have Reason To Be Nervous—Once Again
Lawmakers returned to the State House on December 2 to receive an update about the state’s budget situation, heading into a new legislative session. Unfortunately, once again, the news was not good.
Invited economists told lawmakers they expect a $40 million budget deficit for FY2016 and a $59 million deficit in FY2017. Needless to say, this is not good news for Vermont public services and the Vermonters who provide them, as the way the State and lawmakers have chosen to address nearly a decade of similar deficits has been primarily to make deep cuts to essential services and to RIF frontline workers; this during an era where an increasing number of Vermonters are in need of services.
According to the economists, the biggest factor driving Vermont’s budgets into the ground is Medicaid. A news report explains “Vermont has seen a big expansion of the public health care program since the advent of the federal Affordable Care Act. About a third of the state’s population now has health insurance through [Mediciad] and its offshoots.”
Frontline AOT Workers To Be Included In Hiring Process
Earlier this year, VSEA members who sit on the workers’ side of the agency’s Labor/Management committee began voicing their desire for rank-and-file, frontline workers to be included, as standard practice, in the hiring process. “They wanted a seat at the table on ‘Garage Hiring Committees,’” explains VSEA Senior Union Representative David Van Deusen.
In the fall, labor’s AOT team presented management with a formal proposal to implement the idea, and, after waiting a few months, today, they learned via email that an AOT rank-and-file worker belonging to VSEA’s Non-Management Unit will be now be permitted to participate on future hiring committees in the area of AOT Operations. In addition, an AOT foreman belonging to VSEA’s Supervisory Unit will be permitted to participate on future hiring committees for exempt management positions. VSEA AOT members will be expected to complete relevant agency-provided trainings, prior to staffing any hiring committee.
“This is a very good achievement for union workers in the garages,” VSEA Labor/Management Committee Chair Jason Heath tells WIA. “It goes to show that when we are united…when we work together…we can achieve very good things for AOT members as a whole.”
“I visit regularly with workers in garages across Vermont, and what I kept hearing again and again is that workers wanted AOT’s hiring process to be more transparent,” Van Deusen continues. “VSEA’s AOT stewards and labor team members were hearing it as well, so we all worked together to craft this proposal to include frontline AOT workers to make the process more transparent. In the name of fairness, management did the right thing here by adopting this proposal, and I’m sure it will boost morale a little too. We’re very pleased AOT management listened to our concerns—and shared our goal.”
Looking To Fill Open Supervisory Unit Seat On VSEA Board Of Trustees
Longtime VSEA Supervisory Unit leader Lt. Thomas Hango has been promoted to a position outside of the Supervisory Unit, which means he is no longer able to serve as the Unit’s representative to the VSEA Board of Trustees.
All full-fledged VSEA members who belong to the Supervisory Unit are eligible and are encouraged to submit a petition.
Looking To Fill Open Combined Unit Seat On VSEA Board Of Trustees
Longtime VSEA Combined Unit leader Bonnie Kynoch has recently retired, which means she is no longer able to serve as the Combined Unit representative to the VSEA Board of Trustees. VSEA members working in the Defender General’s Office and at the State Housing Authority belong to the Combined Unit.
All full-fledged VSEA members who work for the Defender General’s Office and State Housing Authority are eligible and are encouraged to submit a petition.
Non-Management Unit Seeks Bargaining Team Members!
VSEA’s Non-Management Unit is actively working to fill the following Bargaining Team positions with a member representing each of these fields:
Administrative Professional; and
Administration/Planning and Development
Preference will be given to NMU members working in the fields listed above, but all interested NMU members are eligible to apply. That’s because, in the event a candidate working in either field cannot be found, the Committee is prepared to appoint an at-large applicant.
NMU members interested in the position must send a letter of interest to NMU Chair Michelle Salvador by close of business on Wednesday,December 16, 2015. Michelle’s e-mail address is email@example.com.
VSEA Labor Relations Director Gary Hoadley will meet with members of the NMU Bargaining Team on December 10 to discuss some of the real and potential scenarios in current contract negotiations between the State and VSEA, including what happens when a team goes to fact-finding and how does the last-best-offer process work. The NMU Team is meeting in the Best Western Hotel’s Hearth Room in Waterbury, beginning at 9:00 a.m.
NMU Bargaining Team Meeting
Best Western Hotel
VSEA Meeting w/DCF Workers
St. Albans State Office Building
Third Floor Conference Room
Saturday, December 5: VSEA NMU Chair Invites Members To Important Rights & Democracy Summit In Burlington!
Submitted to WIA by R&D Chair and VSEA NMU Chair Michelle Salvador:
If you are like me, then you believe that it is time for the policies created under the Golden Dome to reflect the values and needs of our communities and working Vermonters!
I’d like to invite VSEA Members to join me at a Rights & Democracy Summit on Saturday, December 5, 2015, at the Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center in Burlington. It’s an outstanding opportunity to connect with a broad range of Vermonters who want to move boldly forward for progressive change in our state, while also advancing labor. Remember: if we are not at the table, we are what’s for dinner! The time is now for unionized workers to stand together because Together We Win!
R&D is thrilled to be joined by some great organizers, advocates, youth leaders and elected officials to discuss a path forward to raise standards for working families.
Rights & Democracy’s mission is to bring people together to make the values and needs of our communities guide the policies of our government. Join in skill-building workshops, policy trainings and guest speakers. The day features a 9:30 a.m. morning plenary discussion titled "Tackling Inequality and Building a Moral Economy.”
From 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., we’ll host a Vermont gubernatorial and lieutenant governor candidate panel, including:
Matt Dunne, Bruce Lisman, Kesha Ram and David Zuckerman
VT Elected Officials: Anthony Pollina, Kesha Ram, David Zuckerman, TJ Donovan, Susan Hatch-Davis, Kiah Morris, Chris Pearson, Joey Donovan, Rachel Fields, Selene Colburn,
Other presenters include: Paul Cillo, Kathy Blume, Robert Appel, Felicia Kornbluh, Shay Totten, Steve Hingtgen, Mark Hughes, Debbie Ingram, Suzi Wizowaty, Karen Lafayette, Michelle Salvador, James Haslam
Online media outlet VTDiggerpublished a story on November 25 that questions the expense and employee-burnout factor associated with the thousands of overtime hours being worked by DOC employees in facilities statewide.
The Digger report obtained DOC overtime records through a public records request and was able to determine that “Over the last six months, correctional officers (at seven facilities) worked a collective average of 5,894 hours of overtime every two-week pay period. That averages out to approximately 11.8 hours of overtime every two weeks for each of the state’s 501 correctional officers — sometimes it’s scheduled ahead of time, sometimes it’s not.”
In the story, newly appointed DOC Commissioner Lisa Menard labels the rates of overtime as having a “significant” impact on the department’s budget, adding that, “there is likely a point (for employees) when there is too much and if they are tired it is possible they could be less vigilant.”
The story also reminds of a report on correctional staffing that was delivered to legislators early in 2015. The report recommends that the DOC add some 60 new employees to its ranks to enhance worker safety. To date, legislators have not acted on the report’s recommendations, primarily for financial reasons. VSEA President, and longtime DOC employee, Dave Bellini confirms to the reporter that the DOC is understaffed and tells her that, in addition to improving safety, hiring enough officers would help address chronic retention and recruitment issues.
Menard tells Digger that she will again try to address the overtime issue by working this session to convince lawmakers to permit the DOC to conduct an overtime management “pilot program” like the ones already established in other agencies and departments across government. “We believe that more full time staff would reduce the overtime hours and improve retention,” she says.
Note: VSEA recently filed its own series of public records requests, seeking to obtain DOC overtime data. WIA will let you know what VSEA finds in its request.
VSEA is very pleased to welcome native Vermonter and longtime union activist and leader Mike O’Day as the union’s new Union Representative, covering, Barre, Franklin/Grand Isle, Lyndon State College, Newport, St. Johnsbury and Vermont Technical College.
“I am excited to be joining the VSEA union rep team,” says O’Day, who sadly lost his union customer service representative job with Verizon in 2015, after the company reacted bitterly to a long and just strike by workers and closed the call center where he worked. During his tenure as a member/leader of the Communications Workers of America, O’Day served as a steward, beginning in 1998, and he was also a CWA Vice President from 2003 until his call center was closed.
Putting that ugliness behind him, O’Day says he’s excited to begin his new work, representing state employees. “VSEA members perform critical functions in Vermonters’ daily lives, and they deserve the respect that comes with that,” he says. “VSEA has a strong tradition of supporting workers rights within its ranks, and I can attest that this union was there to support me and other striking workers last year. It is a privilege for me to now be a part of VSEA. I look forward to meeting the membership and helping them solve workplace issues.”
A veteran of strikes by his CWA local union against New England Telephone (1998), Bell Atlantic (2002) and, most recently, Fairpoint Communications in 2014, O’Day knows the reality confronting workers in both the private and public sectors.
“Union workers have never been under attack like we have been in the last dozen years,” O’Day explains. “Big business has gamed the system to weaken labor laws and pass trade treaties that ship out our jobs and lower our wages. In far too many states, public employees are characterized as being greedy for simply wanting the pension plans THEY fund to be solvent. And the governors of some of these states fail to explain why they have not paid their mandatory contributions but instead have awarded tax breaks to big businesses.”
O’Day graduated from St. Michael’s College in 1990 and earned his MBA from Southern New Hampshire University in 1995. He resides in Vermont with his wife of 14 years, Lisa.
Vermont “Paid Sick Days Coalition” Hosting Events To Garner Support
for H. 187
One of the largest contingencies of Vermonters who stand to benefit from the passage of the “Healthy Workplaces Bill” (H. 187) is working Vermonters. The legislation, if passed in 2016, would guarantee workers could earn up to three paid sick days in their first two years of employment and five days after the initial implementation period. The bill cleared the House in April 2015, and the Senate is expected to consider it early in the new session, which begins in January.
In advance of the session, the Vermont Paid Sick Days Coalition is hosting two events to foster more public discussion about the bill’s importance—and to provide a venue for the public to let their local legislators know that they support the bill.
When: December 7, 2015 – 4:00 p.m.
Where: The Public House, 10516 VT-116 #6A, Hinesburg
Who: (Host) Will Patton, Chittenden County Legislators
When: December 16, 2015 – 5:00 p.m.
Where: The Red Hen Bakery 961 US-2 Middlesex
Who: (Hosts) Randy George and Eliza Cain and Washington County Legislators
VSEA members are strongly urged to attend to add your voices to the growing chorus of Vermonters who support passage of the Healthy Workplaces Bill.
Both events are open to the public, and refreshments will be provided.
The 400 richest Americans now have more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the population, a report released on Wednesday by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) reveals. According to “Billionaire Bonanza: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us,” just the twenty individuals at the top of the pile—a group that could fit into a Gulfstream G650 luxury jet, according to the study’s authors—now control more wealth than the bottom half of the population. That’s 152 million people living in 57 million households.
And there’s a stark racial divide at the top. The 100 richest households own more assets than the entire African-American community (there are just two black people on the Forbes 400 list, one of whom is Oprah Winfrey). And just 182 individuals on the Forbes list have more assets than America’s entire Hispanic population.
But Chuck Collins, director of IPS’s Program on Inequality and the Common Good and a co-author of the report, tells The Nation that their study likely underestimates the scope of the problem. “Our wealth data is a tip of the iceberg,” he says. “So much wealth among the über-rich is hidden, either in offshore tax havens or in these loophole trusts where money is shuffled around into private corporate accounts or between different family members, and it disappears from taxation or any sort of oversight or accountability. So there’s a huge amount of escaped wealth that isn’t even factored into these statistics.”
And Collins says it’s only getting worse. “These inequalities really undermine our quality of life,” he says. “We need to explain to people who say ‘So what, I don’t care how much the Forbes 400 has’ that it really does touch on all of our lives, deeply and profoundly.”
VSEA Insurance Representative In Chittenden Next Week
VSEA Insurance Representative Joanne Woodcock will be in Morrisville two days next week to talk with interested VSEA members about member-only insurance benefits.
December 8,9, & 10
312 Hurricane Lane
Williston Noon to 3:00 p.m.
If you work in another area and cannot make it to one of these Chittenden enrollment sites, please call 802-485-4820 for an appointment on the above dates.
Receive information on disability coverage, family life insurance, family accident and cancer coverage. You must be a member paying full dues to be eligible for this VSEA benefit. If you are an agency-fee payer, Joanne can provide you information about signing up for full membership.