Weekly News From Your Union: June 30 – July 3

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July 3, 2014

In This Issue:


Judiciary Unit Ratifies New Contract!

Whistleblowers Now Able To Protect Identity When Filing Reports

VSEA Says Goodbye To NMU Sick Leave Bank Chair

New Vermont State Hospital Opens In Berlin

VSH Members Procure Seat On Facility’s Training Oversight Committee

Chittenden Chapter Pleased To Sponsor Fifth Annual “Night at the Vermont Lake Monsters”

VSEA Council Schedules Special July 17 Meeting

CLARIFICATION: Last Week’s DCF Post In WIA

State Sends Reminder About July 1 Mileage Rate Changes

VSEA Applauds NLRB Decision To Allow Bennington Bus Drivers’ Vote To Unionize Stand!

Did You Receive Your VSEA 70th Annual Meeting Registration Form?

VSEA Defends Frontline DCF Employees

Judicial Unit Votes Are Being Tallied!

Newport Chapter Invites Members To March On July 4!


Retired Members’ Chapter Annual Meeting Is August 13

Annual Meeting Award Application and Nomination Forms Now Available!

NEK/St. Johnsbury Chapter Seeks Volunteers To Help With July 17 (CORRECTION) Employee Appreciation Day Event

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


VSEA Calendar:

July 9
Franklin/Grand Isle Employee Appreciation Day (x2)
Northwest State Correctional Facility
St. Albans
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

July 11
Chapter Presidents Committee Meeting   
VSEA HQ
Montpelier
9:00 a.m.

July 11
Board of Trustees’ Meeting
VSEA HQ
Montpelier
10:00 a.m.
 


 

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 yesterday to VSEA Lifetime Members, so keep an eye on your mailbox. If you don’t receive the VSEA Retirees’ Chapter’s paper announcement in the U.S. by the middle of next week, please call.

 


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Happy Fourth of July From all of us at the Vermont State Employees' Association!

Judiciary Unit Ratifies New Contract!

Shortly after WIA was sent last week, VSEA issued the following press release:
 
Members of the VSEA’s Election, Rules and Nominating (ERN) Committee counted ballots at union headquarters today and announced the overwhelming ratification of a new two-year contract by VSEA members belonging to the union’s Judiciary Units.

The new agreement awards Judiciary employees a 2.5 percent wage increase in each contract year, and it improves dental benefits, tuition reimbursement rates and contributions to the workers’ Employee Development Fund. Judiciary workers were also successful in fending off cuts to the amount of “union leave” time currently allocated to Unit leaders and in preventing cuts to the workers’ established progressive discipline process.

“I am so proud of our Judiciary Unit members statewide for the solidarity they provided our bargaining team throughout the negotiating process,” said VSEA Judiciary Bargaining Team member Beth Aiken; a Family Court Case Manager in Barre. “This round of negotiations with the Courts was different because, for the first time ever, the Judiciary team stayed in constant communication with all Judiciary workers about what was happening at the table and what kind of help they could provide to the Team. That made a huge difference because workers were not learning details second-hand, but rather straight from the source.”

VSEA President Shelley Martin also praised [the] vote, saying, “VSEA is extremely pleased that our members belonging to the union’s Judiciary Unit have voted in large numbers to ratify a new contract with the State. This new agreement is the State’s recognition of our Judiciary members’ dedication and the valuable contributions they make to Vermont each and every day.”

VSEA’s Judiciary Unit represents approximately 200 state employees. The Units’ ratification vote comes just a few months after VSEA members belonging to the union’s NMU, Corrections, Supervisory, Defender General and State Colleges’ Units also voted to ratify new contracts with the State.

Whistleblowers Now Able To Protect Identity When Filing Reports

Thanks to statutory language passed this session, state employees can now report waste, fraud and corruption anonymously to the State Auditor’s office. The Auditor’s language was fully supported and welcomed by VSEA.
 
To file a report, either anonymously or by name, go to the Auditor’s website page by clicking here.
 
To read a copy of H.863, the whistleblower identity protection bill, please click here.

VSEA Says Goodbye To NMU Sick Leave Bank Chair

VSEA NMU Chair Bob Stone asked WIA to include a special goodbye this week to departing NMU Sick Leave Bank Chairperson Kyle Mooney, who is leaving for Pennsylvania to care for an aging parent. VSEA sponsored a going-away party for Mooney on June 30 at DVHA’s Williston office, where she was awarded a certificate of appreciation for years of dedicated service as chair of the NMU Sick Leave Bank. “We will always remember Kyle’s sense of humor,” said NMU Chairperson Bob Stone. “She said she would be back to visit soon, and we’re holding her to it.”     

New Vermont State Hospital Opens In Berlin

 

VSEA President Shelley Martin, Executive Director Steve Howard and Union Representative David Van Deusen were guests on July1 at the grand opening ceremony of the new Vermont State Hospital in Berlin. Governor Shumlin, AHS Secretary Racine and other invited dignitaries provided remarks and then officially cut a ribbon outside the hospital’s main entrance.

Longtime VSEA member and VSH employee John O’Brien spoke on behalf of the new facility’s employees, telling the crowd that the employees are excited to finally be in the new, state-of-art building and that “Vermonters will be well served by the dedicated employees here.”

VSEA President Shelley Martin did not offer remarks at the opening ceremony, but she did ask WIA to send VSEA thanks to each and every VSH employee for the courage and commitment they showed to their patients after Tropical Storm Irene devastated Vermont in 2011. She reminded that employees have labored for three years now—in sometimes less-than-ideal conditions—to keep Vermont’s critically important mental health system operating for some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens. And she congratulated the employees on finally being able to go to work in an environment that is safe and healthy for the patients and for workers.

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, people were invited to tour the new facility, and Martin broke off from the tour to talk with frontline workers. She’s pictured here with some of the employees who were helping to conduct tours at the new hospital.
 

VSH Members Procure Seat On Facility’s Training Oversight Committee

VSEA members on the labor/management committee at the Vermont State Hospital (the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital Labor/Management Committee) are excited that they will soon be able to appoint a delegate to serve on the facility’s Training Oversight Committee.
 
“Because the training needs of these workers are so specialized and so often subject to change, the employees really wanted a seat on this committee in order to bring a rank-and-file perspective to training discussions. Thanks to the healthy dialogue and debate this labor/management process creates, agreement was reached and people on both sides of the table are happy,” explained VSEA Senior Union Representative David Van Deusen, who staffs the committee meetings. “We’re told that a VSEA member will be appointed to the training committee within six months, or once the new hospital’s operations are normalized.”
 
Van Deusen reminds that VSEA members sitting on the labor side of the AOT labor/management committee were also recently successful in procuring a similar commitment to provide a labor seat on that agency’s training committee, thanks in large part to the constructive discussions facilitated by these meetings.
 
“The labor/management process can—and does—work well,” added Van Deusen. “It’s a great means to build rank-and-file participation in the discussions and decisions that shape our members lives.”

Chittenden Chapter Pleased To Sponsor Fifth Annual “Night at the Vermont Lake Monsters

Chapter Invites Local Youth Being Served By The Howard Center To Attend
 
VSEA’s Chittenden Chapter will host its annual “Night at the Vermont Lake Monsters” event on Friday, August 1, versus the Batavia Muckdogs. This is the Chapter’s fifth annual night at the ballgame, and this year an invitation has also been extended to 100 children and their families being served by the Howard Center to join Chapter members on August 1.
 
VSEA members belonging to any Chapter statewide can reserve two tickets per member up until Friday, July 25. After that, tickets will be made available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Chittenden President Kara Haynes will keep a list of members wanting more than two tickets initially, and she will follow-up with these requests after the July 25 deadline to reserve has passed and she is able to determine how many tickets remain.  
 
If you are a VSEA member wanting to reserve your two tickets, please contact Chittenden Chapter President Kara Haynes by phone at 735-3739 or email her at kara.haynes@state.vt.us
 
In years past, the Chapter has sponsored a barbeque at 195 Colchester Ave. (the VDH Lab) prior to the game, but this piece has not been nailed down yet this year. WIA will update members in upcoming issues about the barbeque status for this year’s game.  

VSEA Council Schedules Special July 17 Meeting

VSEA First Vice President Michelle Salvador has called a special Council meeting for Thursday, July 17, from 9:00 a.m. until noon. At the special meeting, Council members will discuss the 2015 VSEA operating budget and whether or not to recommend it to VSEA members attending the union’s Annual Meeting in September at the Killington Grand Hotel. 

CLARIFICATION: Last Week’s DCF Post In WIA

Last week’s WIA included a reprint of a Free Press editorial titled “State Cuts Could Affect Children’s Lives,” where authors Kim Coe (Vermont Foster and Adoptive Families Association) and Mark Redmond (Vermont Coalition of Residential Providers) implore the State not to cut positions from DCF. WIA failed to mention that the editorial is from 2008! The point being to highlight how advocates, VSEA and plenty of others were warning six years ago about some of the dangers from willy-nilly budget, service and position cutting that Vermont is now experiencing. 

Here again are the editorial excerpts (with context!):
 
“While the official word is that no targets have yet been established for specific state departments, if you do the math, it is reasonable to assume that DCF could lose 60 positions.
 
Our position is that this is unacceptable and would put the lives of our state's most vulnerable children at risk…”
 
“Staff cuts at DCF, now or next January; take us in the wrong direction. If one of the main themes of the federal [review] is that DCF workers are not spending enough time in contact with children and families, how does reducing their work force by 36, much less a potential 60, rectify that problem? The answer: it does not.
 
Contrast this with Vermont's response five years ago when the federal government issued a similarly critical report about our state hospital. Was our response to cut the number of staff at the hospital? Hardly. To the contrary, millions of state general fund dollars were poured into the hospital to improve services. Why is the opposite happening with DCF?”
 
“There are departments, such as the State Police and Corrections, which the Douglas administration is declaring exempt from the 400 cuts, and rightly so. DCF should be added to that list. DCF protects those citizens that have no voice and can not vote, our children. DCF responds to those that are suffering in the cycle of poverty. DCF helps families which are trying to be productive citizens. Its mission is to protect and assist children in our state who suffer from abuse and neglect.
 
What could be more important?

Reducing the DCF work force will strip the agency of its very ability to perform its core functions of investigating allegations of abuse and neglect, protecting children, and helping families in need. We ask that legislators not allow this to happen.”

State Sends Reminder About July 1 Mileage Rate Changes

 
VSEA received this communique this week from the Dept. of Finance and Management:
 
Expense types are changing July 1, 2014, for mileage reimbursement. These changes apply when requesting reimbursement for a privately owned vehicle for official business.


Click here for a larger chart...

Guidance for when to use either the full or reduced rate is available in Bulletin 3.4: Employee Travel & Expense and Fleet Management Services (FMS).  The FMS Forms and Publications page includes the Trip Calculator, CARS decision matrix, and the Secretary of Administration’s memo regarding the new mileage reimbursement rates.
Generally, the full rate, currently $0.56/mile, is for use when

  • a privately owned vehicle is the most cost-effective option or when a State vehicle (department, FMS, or rental) is the most cost effective but is not reasonably available. Use of the full rate requires justification.

The reduced rate, currently $0.235/mile, is for use when

  • a privately owned vehicle is not the most cost-effective option and a State vehicle is reasonably available.

The documents referenced above have a complete explanation of the requirements.

VSEA Applauds NLRB Decision To Allow Bennington Bus Drivers’ Vote To Unionize Stand!

 
VSEA is applauding news this week that the National Labor Relations Board has agreed with the Teamsters to throw out one ballot cast in a recent vote by a group of Bennington bus drivers to join the union. The decision effectively breaks the drivers’ May 28 11-11 tie vote to unionize, and since the Teamsters only require a simple majority vote for approval, the drivers can now move forward with first-ever contract negotiations. The company that owns the buses, Green Mountain Express, has until July 11 to appeal the NLRB decision.
 
“VSEA congratulates the Bennington bus drivers and the Teamsters on this important victory,” said VSEA President Shelley Martin. “It’s especially good news on the heels of the recent strike and contract campaign victory by bus drivers in Burlington. Vermont labor is on the move!”

Did You Receive Your VSEA 70th Annual Meeting Registration Form?

 

According to VSEA’s Special Events Committee, every VSEA member should have received a 2014 VSEA Annual Meeting registration form by now in the U.S. Mail. If you have not received a registration form, please contact VSEA headquarters at 223-5247 to check that your mailing address is correct.   
 
To find an official VSEA Annual Meeting 2014 registration form online, please click here.
 
Another reminder to VSEA members trying to dial the Killington Grand’s toll-free reservation line number that was listed in the recently mailed 2014 VSEA Annual Meeting registration information. The published number with the 888 area code is incorrect. The correct number to call is 800-282-9955.

Annual Meeting Award Application and Nomination Forms Now Available!

 


Every year at Annual meeting, VSEA gives out five awards: the Frank A. Mazza Award, the Terence D. Macaig Award, the Linda Coan Memorial Award, the VSEA Chapter of the Year Award and the VSEA Steward of the Year Award. Click here to view, download and print application and nomination forms for the 2014 Annual Meeting Awards.

NEK/St. Johnsbury Chapter Seeks Volunteers To Help With July 17 Employee Appreciation Day Event

WIA apologizes for running the wrong date in last week’s edition!

Please note the NEK/ St. Johnsbury Employee Appreciation Day is Thursday July 17!

VSEA’s NEK/St. Johnsbury Chapter is hosting an Employee Appreciation Day event on Thursday, July 17, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Vermont Department of Corrections, 1266 U.S. Rte. 5. Free ice cream will be served to VSEA members in a complimentary VSEA pint glass, while supplies last.
 
If you would like to volunteer to help with this Employee Appreciation Day event, please contact NEK/St. Johnsbury President Dianne Rivers at 626-6497 or dianne.rivers@lyndonstate.edu

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
 
New this year is the Extreme Supernova thrill ride!

*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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