July 22 Corrections Bargaining Overview Meeting
Northwest State Correctional Facility
1:00 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.
July 23 Corrections Bargaining Overview Meeting
Northeast Regional Correctional Facility
July 24 NMU Bargaining Team Meeting
July 24 Corrections Bargaining Overview Meeting
Springfield State Office Building
July 24 Corrections Bargaining Overview Meeting
Southeast State Correctional Facility
July 24 Chittenden Chapter’s “Night With The Lake Monsters”
Quote Of The Week!
“The [State’s] retirement incentive is clearly better than someone getting a (reduction in force notice). I think the concern we have is that the caseloads, the workload in state government, doesn’t go away. We’re in a position now where we have fewer and fewer workers carrying out the work. We have to be realistic about that.”
VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard commenting in a July 17 Times Argus story on the State sending letters out to 952 state employees who are eligible for a retirement incentive program.
Register Today To Attend VSEA 71st Annual Meeting
VSEA’s Special Events Committee is reminding members to complete and send in your 2015 Annual Meeting registration form today. The union’s 2015 Annual Meeting is on September 12 at the Jay Peak Resort in Jay, and the forms went out in the mail recently. You can also download a registration form by clicking here. This year, the Committee is sponsoring a special wild west-themed event on Friday night, September 11.
Your registration form must be mailed to VSEA HQ by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, August 7. Members who do not complete the registration form will not be provided meals at the Annual Meeting, as members must indicate their meal selections on the form in advance.
Who Will Win VSEA’s 2015 Outstanding Performance Awards?
To get nomination forms, either click the links above to submit your nominations online or print the forms out here. All nominations must be received before 4:30 p.m. on Friday, August 7, 2015. Winners announced at Annual Meeting banquet on September 12.
Small Changes To VSEA Union Representatives’ Territories!
With Josh Massey’s departure and Rae Fields’ hiring, VSEA Field Services Director Gretchen Naylor is announcing some small changes to existing Union Representatives territories and also which territories Fields will serve.
Here are the Reps with their territories:
John Brabant – Franklin/Grand Isle, St. Johnsbury, White River Junction, Newport, Waterbury, Green Mountain Psychiatric Care Facility (primary), Lyndon State College, Vermont Technical College (Randolph campus)
Kelly Burns Everhart – Chittenden, Lamoille, Johnson State College, Vermont Technical College (Williston campus)
Rachael Fields – Bennington, Brattleboro, Addison, Barre, Green Mountain Psychiatric Care Facility (secondary)
Brian Morse – Supervisory Unit, Judiciary Unit
Bob South – Central Vermont, Springfield
David Van Deusen – Statewide Agency of Transportation, Rutland, Castleton State College
Discounted 2015 Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom Tickets Now Available!
2015 Regular Day Tickets are $33 each! (That’s $25 in savings!)
Discount tickets are available to purchase online by clicking here,
In order to access VSEA’s Great Escape discount code, you must be a registered “member-only” VSEA website user (you can sign up here). Please note that there is a service charge for purchasing online.
You can also purchase tickets for pick-up at VSEA HQ by contacting Doug Gibson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you have questions or comments about VSEA’s Week In Action Newsletter?
VSEA’s Barre Chapter held its annual "Employee Appreciation Day" event at the McFarland State Office Building yesterday. VSEA members in Barre were treated to free ice cream in a complimentary VSEA pint glass.
Pictured above helping with the event are:
(front row, l to r): Cassandra Edson, Sue LeFleche (Barre Chapter President) and Shelley Martin
(back row, l to r): Aimee Towne, Suzanne Arrand, Matt Jukabowski, Cheryl Reed, Michael Gordon and Rachael Fields
Deadline Extended To Monday For VSEA Officer Candidates To Submit Photos & Statements!
VSEA Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee Chair Mary Poulos is extending the deadline for declared officer candidates to submit a photo and candidate statement for inclusion in the Annual Meeting WARN, which publishes and mails a few weeks in advance of the event.
Members who filed a petition for office now have until 4:30 p.m., Monday, July 20, to send your photo and statement to VSEA Communications Director Doug Gibson (email@example.com).
VSEA Elected Officer Candidates Given Online Page To Post Statements
This VSEA election season, your union has created an online webpage, where candidates to be an elected VSEA officer (read: President, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Treasurer and Clerk) can post statements about why they are running for office and why they deserve your vote.
The new online page is a supplement to other vehicles your union provides to members to learn more about their state employee brothers and sisters running for elected VSEA office, including a mailing to be sent soon via U.S. Mail to all VSEA members and the 2015 VSEA VOICE Annual Meeting Warning, which is also mailing to all members and retirees soon.
The new online page can be found here. Please note that the page just went live, so members are urged to check often throughout the election season, as more candidates will be adding statements and some will be amending and supplementing their existing one in the coming days and weeks.
If you would like to run for the State Employees Retirement Board—and have your name on the ballot—you must submit a letter of intent to the Chair of the Election, Rules and Nominating Committee (ERNC) no later than Friday, September 4, 2015. This year there will be an election for one (1) VSEA seat and one (1) VSEA alternate seat on the Board.
The Retirement Board is an eight-member Board that is responsible for the proper operation of the retirement system. VSEA has three members and an alternate who serve to represent the interests of state employees and their beneficiaries. The board invests the funds of the system to ensure an adequate return and funding of the system. The Board also appoints an actuary, hires money managers and makes yearly recommendations to the Governor on the amount of money the State should appropriate in the next fiscal year to achieve and preserve the financial integrity of the funds.
Questions?? Contact ERN Chair Mary Poulos by phone at 479-7544, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VSEA Retired Members’ Chapter President Joanie Maclay asked WIA to share the following:
You should have already received your 2015 VSEA-RC Annual Meeting warning in the mail. Annual Meeting is a yearly opportunity to meet with fellow retirees and discuss issues that affect your everyday life. As you may know, there are possible changes on the horizon regarding health care and pension investments. This is your chance to get more information about those possible changes and learn how they might affect you. Please note the deadline to register for our Chapter’s Annual Meeting is July 29 at 4:00 p.m. If you have lost or misplaced your registration form, you can find one here. Please fill your form out and return it by July 29 to VSEA HQ, 155 State Street, Montpelier, Vt. 05602. We are looking forward to seeing you on August 13, 2015.
VSEA Judiciary and Corrections Unit Bargaining Team members and staff have scheduled a series of meetings across the state to give frontline workers an overview of upcoming bargaining with the State, talk with you about where to go for information and let you know how you can assist your Team throughout negotiations.
Here are the scheduled meetings to date by Bargaining Unit:
Rachael Fields has resigned her position on the NMU Executive Committee. This resignation created a vacancy on the Executive Committee. Any member of the NMU Bargaining Unit is eligible to serve on this committee.
The primary duty of the Executive Committee is to manage the internal affairs of the Bargaining Unit and assure adherence to the Unit’s policies.
If you are an NMU member who is interested in serving on the Executive Committee, please send a letter indicating why you want to be appointed. Please include where you work, how long you have been a state employee and a VSEA member and why you feel you are qualified to be appointed. Only letters received by the close of business on Friday, July 23, 2015 will be considered. Your letter can be emailed to NMU Chair Bob Stone (email@example.com) or you can mail it to:
Bob Stone, Chair
155 State St.
Montpelier, VT 05602
VSEA, along with other unions, is helping conduct the Vermont Labor Candidate School for union members who are committed to helping create positive political change. VLCS is not affiliated with, nor supported by, any Vermont political party.
Elected leaders, from the state legislature to local boards, make important decisions that impact labor union members every day. VLCS teaches union activists the important skills necessary to successfully run for office in Vermont at the local and state level. VLCS will continue to support participants after they graduate by offering mentoring programs and trainings.
VLCS trainings will be held on Saturdays in the Fall and Winter 2015/2016.
Soon-To-Be Displaced DEC Workers Fighting To Stay In Barre
The July 12 Times Argus featured a story about Sen. Anthony Pollina’s letter to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner, inquiring about the savings from moving eight DEC workers from State-owned office space in Barre to leased office space at National Life in Montpelier. The story talks about a written response Pollina received from the Commissioner, which he tells the paper was “rather meager, considering the questions that we asked.” Pollina is correct, as the Commissioner’s letter offered few details about how exactly the DEC was realizing a $56,000 savings as a result of the move.
VSEA President Shelley Martin also comments in the story, telling the reporter, “Like Sen. Pollina, the impacted DEC employees and VSEA continue to question management’s decision to move these workers from space in a state-owned building to leased space at National Life. How exactly is this $56,000 savings being achieved?” She continues, “The impacted workers and VSEA are committed to continuing to make their case to stay in Barre. They are actively gathering signatures on a petition to support staying, they are writing letters to their legislators and they are reaching out to Barre’s mayor. They also requested a face-to-face meeting with Secretary Markowitz, but she declined to meet with them on site in Barre, which was not helpful. I would add that employees are hearing from contractors that they are disappointed with this decision because they believe it will lead to delays in permitting.”
State Auditor Announces Audits & Investigations That Could Help VSEA Shine A Light On The State’s Contracting Practices
Some VSEA members have been urging lawmakers and elected officials for years to put a magnifying glass to the way the State contracts with private vendors, believing that Vermont taxpayers could be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, primarily due to improper contracting practices. Members have increased their pressure in recent years, as Vermont has continued to struggle to balance its budget. To date, lawmakers have not entered into a examination of the State’s contracting practices but this week the State Auditor announced that he would be.
According to a July 13 VTDigger story, State Auditor Doug Hoffer will be investigating whether or not the State is following the rules when “awarding sole-source” contracts from BGS, DCF, DVHA, AHS and AOE. These are contracts that the Agency of the Administration approves, but they do not go through a competitive bid process. Hoffer tells Digger that his staff found “sufficient reason” to look at how the State is awarding the single-source contracts, which are supposed to be limited to “extraordinary circumstances.”
“VSEA looks forward to seeing what the Auditor finds in his investigation,” VSEA President Shelley Martin tells WIA. “At a time when every dollar matters so much, it’s prudent to find out if the State is doing things correctly. Taxpayers deserve to know.”
One of the audits Hoffer’s office will conduct is of how the Tax Department currently collects taxes. He said his audit could help the Department recover an estimated $175 million owed by Vermont taxpayers. Hoffer called the Department’s current collection efforts “reasonable” but added that the amount owed “keeps going up.”
Other announced audits include a look at how the Judiciary collects payments for court-appointed lawyers and how the State is awarding federal education grants.
The audits will be released throughout the fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2016.
Labor & Industry Joining To Fight “Cadillac Tax” At Federal Level
Last week, WIA included a story about VSEA Bargaining Team members meeting with each other and representatives of the State and Vermont’s congressional delegation to discuss the ramifications of the Affordable Care Act’s (a.k.a. Obamacare) proposed "cadillac tax" on “high-cost” health care plans. VSEA members, teachers and other Vermont union members, as well as a large number of Vermonters working in the private sector unfortunately have plans that will qualify for the tax.
This week, the publication The Hillposted a story about the national Laborers Union entering into a coalition with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Pfizer and others to fight the Cadillac tax at the federal level.
The coalition is calling itself the “Alliance to Fight the Forty,” a reference to the 40% tax hit these “too rich” benefit plans will experience as a result of the tax being implemented.
The Hill reports that more and more Republicans and Democrats are beginning to argue now that the tax will “hit middle-class families in areas where health care costs are higher, such as New England and the West Coast.”
“VSEA certainly hopes this powerful lobbying coalition will be able to convince federal lawmakers to abandon this ill-advised excise tax that will hurt so many Vermont working families,” VSEA President Shelley Martin tells WIA. “These are groups that normally don’t come together on issues, but it makes sense because this tax hits middle-class workers’ plans just as hard as it hits the wealthiest Americans’ plans.”
On July 31, the Joe Hill 100 Roadshow will make its only stop in Vermont, performing at the Old Labor Hall in Barre. The show is a musical tribute to the legendary labor activist and songwriter with the Industrial Workers of the World. There’s little doubt today that Hill was framed for two murders that he was executed for in Utah. Many say Hill was targeted because he was a foreigner and a well-known advocate for workers. The Roadshow commemorates the 100th anniversary of Hill’s execution by firing squad in 1915.
The “Joe Hill 100 Roadshow” is sponsored by the Barre Historical Society, with support from the Vermont Labor History Society, the Vermont Workers’ Center, Pie-in-the-Sky Farm B&B, the Three Penny Taproom, and the Vermont State Labor Council-AFL-CIO.
The concert begins at 7:30 p.m.. Tickets are $15 and $12 for students and seniors. For more information and reservations go to http://oldlaborhall.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (802) 479-5600.