Retirees’ Chapter Annual Meeting
Montpelier 9:30 a.m.
DCF Employee Meeting
49 Park Street
Springfield, VT 05156
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.
Week In Action is not publishing next week to allow staff to perform list maintenance work. Events for the week of August 11 are listed in this edition.
VSEA Schedules Series Of Meetings With DCF Workers Statewide
This week, VSEA announced an upcoming series of meetings around the state to meet face-to-face with frontline DCF workers. VSEA’s email to all DCF workers began:
VSEA recognizes that the past few months have not been easy for frontline DCF employees, especially those working in the Family Services Division. Recent tragic events have caused some in the public and press to rush to judgment and unjustifiably point fingers at workers, without full knowledge of the policies, caseloads and protocols that govern your work. That’s not right, which is why VSEA wants to listen to your concerns and then work with you to craft a message and make sure it is effectively delivered to the State, lawmakers and the public. To begin the process, VSEA has scheduled a series of meetings around Vermont to talk face-to-face with frontline DCF employees in the Family Services Division about the issues that impact your ability to do your job. Let’s face it, you are the experts on what works and what doesn’t in Vermont’s efforts to protect our children. You know better than anyone where improvements are needed in DCF’s Division of Family Services. We want to learn from you about your caseloads, your management and any other issues that are keeping you from being able to do your work as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Here is the meeting schedule to date
(all meetings begin at 5:00 p.m. unless otherwise noted)
Brick Box (ground floor)
30 Center Street
Rutland, VT 05701
VFW Post 758
353 Lake Street
Saint Albans, VT 05478
49 Park Street
Springfield, VT 05156
118 Western Avenue
St. Johnsbury, VT 05819
Pre-Meetings Conference Call!
VSEA is conducting a conference call on August 5 with any and all DCF employees interested in helping your union spread the word about these meetings and assisting with turnout. To participate on the call, please contact VSEA Organizer Tim Boyle by phone at 223-5247 or by email at email@example.com. Tim will provide you with the call-in number and the pass code.
VSEA President Reminds To Stay Alert In AOT Work Zones!
VSEA President Shelley Martin is reminding Vermonters and others using our state’s highways and byways to always be alert for Agency of Transportation crews, who are out in force right now, maintaining our roads and keeping Vermont moving.
“VSEA was saddened to learn that a road crew worker not affiliated with the AOT was struck and killed on July 30 while working on Interstate 89,” said Martin. “VSEA and our AOT members remind all members to always slow down and be extra alert when entering any road maintenance area. Your patience and attention can and will save lives. Thank you!
VSEA Solidarity With Fairpoint Workers! Join Vigil On Saturday Night!
As you may have read or seen in the press, Fairpoint Communications is at the bargaining table demanding “draconian changes” and “deep concessions” from its employees across Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Employee negotiators report that bargaining to date has been extremely difficult due to management’s repeated cancelling of sessions, consistent rejection of union proposals and an ongoing refusal to bargain in good faith. The workers, who are represented by the Communication Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, voted overwhelmingly earlier this month to authorize union leaders to call a strike if negotiations break down.
“The deep concessions Fairpoint is seeking from these workers are harmful and ill-advised,” said VSEA President Shelley Martin. “I hope lots of VSEA members will come and stand in solidarity with our Fairpoint brothers and sisters on Saturday night. Only by standing together can we stop this race to the bottom.”
On Saturday night, August 2, VSEA members are invited to join with Fairpoint workers to mark the midnight expiration of their contracts with the company. A vigil at 226 Main Street in Burlington begins at 10 p.m.
Vigil organizers are urging supporters to please wear a black "Fair Deal at FairPoint" t-shirt or just a black shirt to show your solidarity. Candles and signs will be provided.
Vigil To Support
Fairpoint Workers Saturday, August 2, 2014
226 Main St., Burlington
Note: If the Fairpoint workers do strike on Saturday night, there will be opportunities for VSEA members to walk picket lines with the workers or help in other ways. To update yourself on the latest Fairpoint developments, please click here.
VSEA DOC Women Allege Pay Discrimination In Lawsuit
Multiple media outlets reported this week on a lawsuit brought against the DOC by three VSEA members who are alleging pay discrimination. In their lawsuit, DOC employees Lynne Silloway, Mary Bertrand and Lisa DeBlois allege that the State violated its own equal pay statutes in 2003 when the DOC hired a male employee “in-range” and paid him more than his female counterparts performing the same job.
In a July 30 summary judgment hearing in Washington County Superior Court, the women, who are being represented by the Vermont Human Rights Commission, and the DOC, which is represented by the AG’s Office, presented their cases and now await a ruling. If the judge issues summary judgment favoring the plaintiffs, a trial would be avoided and damages could then be awarded. If the judge rules for the State, the case could end, unless the employees appeal. “You will get something in writing from me, but it won’t be tomorrow,” she warned both sides.
The DOC women’s lawsuit represents the first time the State has been accused of violating its own equal pay statutes.
VSEA Looks To Fill Seats On Vermont State Retirement Board
At this year’s Annual Meeting, there will be elections for one seat and one alternate seat (two-year terms) elected from the VSEA membership. If you are interested in serving on the Vermont State Retirement Board—and wish to have your name on the printed ballot for Annual Meeting—you must submit a letter of intent to the VSEA Elections Committee no later than September 1, 2014. You should send an email to Mary Poulos at VSEA (firstname.lastname@example.org), or mail your letter to:
VSEA Elections Committee
c/o Mary Poulos
155 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05602
Special Note: VSEA asks that interested candidates consider if they really have the ability to dedicate the time needed to fulfill the role of this position. For more information about the position, please contact Ray Stout at VSEA HQ, 223-5247. If you cannot ensure your attendance at the Retirement Board meetings, and fulfill the other requirements (including outside reading, conference calls, workshops, etc.), you may want to reconsider applying for this role.
VSEA President Shelley Martin announced this week that the union will pay hotel costs for 20 members to stay at the Killington Grand Hotel during VSEA’s 2014 Annual Meeting on Saturday, September 13. To be entered into a drawing for one of the 20 spots, simply register to attend VSEA’s Annual Meeting and then fill out the online, free-lodging entry form that can be found by clicking here. If you have already registered for VSEA Annual Meeting, thanks and please make sure you enter your name to be eligible for a free night’s stay at one of Vermont’s premier hotels.
All that’s required on the entry form is for members to provide your name, email/phone, worksite, Chapter you belong to, and an answer to the question “Have you ever attended VSEA Annual Meeting?”
The 20 winners will be drawn at random by President Martin, following the official close of Annual Meeting registration, which is 4:30 p.m. on August 11. Winners will be promptly notified ahead of the actual Annual Meeting.
Prizes awarded will cover only room cost. Hotel amenities, services and gratuities are the member’s responsibility.
Deadline For Annual Meeting Awards Is Quickly Approaching!
All nominees and applications are due Monday August 18, 2014
115+ Have Already Taken VSEA’s Worksite Survey. Keep Them Coming!
All Members Urged To Participate
Do you work in an office or a cubicle? Do you carpool to work, drive yourself, bicycle, walk? Are there temporary employees working where you do? What about employees working for a private contractor? How are workers communicating best with each other? Has your workplace moved in the past five years? Do you have trouble finding daily parking?
These are just some of the questions VSEA is asking members to answer in a new survey that is designed to help union staff and leaders become more familiar with specific worksites across Vermont and better determine how certain issues are impacting employees at specific worksites, if at all.
“We really hope that a lot of VSEA members will take a few minutes on a break, or at home, to complete this important survey,” VSEA President Shelley Martin told WIA. “The information we can glean from members’ answers will help VSEA determine which worksites require more work than others, and things like where the larger pockets of temporary and contract employees are located. The more members who participate, the better for everyone.”
VSEA Invited To Join Coalition Attempting To Return Vermont Offenders Back Home
VSEA was invited to participate in a July 29 meeting sponsored by Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform; a group working to build a coalition to mandate that the State and DOC bring home Vermont inmates who are currently housed out of state in private, for-profit prisons. Chairing the meeting was Rep. Suzi Wizowaty, and she was joined by State's Attorney T.J. Donovan, representatives from other advocacy groups, inmate family members and past inmates themselves. The national advocacy group Grassroots Leadership Organization is assisting Rep. Wizowaty with the effort. Representing VSEA at the meeting was Brattleboro P&P member Michael Arace, First Vice President Michelle Salvador and Communications Director Doug Gibson. VSEA is acting in an advisory and support role.
This was VSEA's first meeting, so there was a lot of listening. VSEA was able to offer a frontline worker's perspective on DOC current practice as it relates to detaining Vermont offenders in out-of-state prisons, and what frontline workers know about the conditions in the for-profit, private prisons. There was a lot of discussion about housing (or the lack thereof) and how to alleviate the shortage, which VSEA DOC members agree is a huge issue. Right now, the DOC is housing 220 inmates who are eligible for release in Vermont prisons. There are roughly 450 Vermonters out of state right now, so half that population could return if the housing issue can be fixed. That keeps more money in state and it prevents the need to look for position and service cuts when faced with a budget hole, like Vermont is now.
Retired Members’ Chapter Annual Meeting Is August 13
The VSEA Retirees’ Chapter is hosting its 2014 Annual Meeting and luncheon, Wednesday, August 13, 9:30 a.m., at the Montpelier Elks Club. A delicious buffet luncheon will be provided for $10 for VSEA-RC members whose dues are current through FY14, and $15 for their guests. The Retirees’ Chapter will hold elections for Chapter officers and trustees. Retirees’ Chapter members must be current in their dues in order to vote. To find out if you are current in your dues, please call the VSEA staff liaison to the Retirees’ Chapter, Nikolas Stein, at VSEA H.Q.: 802-223-5247 or TOLL-FREE 1-800-427-5247.
The Chapter mailed this announcement to VSEA Lifetime Members. If you have not received the VSEA Retirees’ Chapter’s paper announcement in the U.S. by the middle of next week, please call.
VSEA Advantage Discount Program Pleased To Once Again Offer Discounted Day Tickets To:
The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom
Lake George, New York
“Two parks of fun for the price of one!"
Park Opens Today, May 23, 2014, & Splashwater
Opens May 24, 2014
Discount Tickets Now Available Through
VSEA HQ & Online*
2014 Regular Day Tickets —
$31 each ($24 Savings)
To Get Tickets:
Send or drop off check (made out to VSEA), noting how many tickets you need. VSEA can mail your tickets or you can pick them up at VSEA HQ in Montpelier. VSEA members can also order tickets online by going to GE’s homepage, looking in the upper right-hand corner for the “Promo Code” box and entering VSEA’s promo code, which can be found here*. GE Phone Number: 1-888-792-3500