Labor Educator’s Monthly Meeting – Springfield
State Office Building
First Floor Conference Room
Board Of Trustees’ Meeting
Legislative Committee Meeting
Quote of The Week!
“It is a huge amount of money. This is the problem for me and for other Vermonters. Where the hell does that money go? I guess we’re paying programmers to sit in rooms and build this neurological system of communication.”
Vermont lawmaker Rep. Cynthia Browning (D-Bennington), in a Nov. 11 VTDigger story, questioning the State’s announcement that it will need to spend an additional $1.3 billion to upgrade or replace the numerous IT systems in operation across state government. This is in addition to the hundreds of millions Vermont has already expended on various IT projects, some of which have failed miserably.
The following was submitted to Week In Action by Capital Commuters:
Capital Commuters News:
Worried About Winter Driving And Icy Roads On Your Commute To Work?
Want To Let Someone Else Do The Driving?
Join us at lunch, to learn how to cut your commute
costs in half!
Most people will save $2,500 on their annual transportation costs
When and Where:
Weds, November 18
VTrans, National Life
3rd Floor, Conf. Room #313
Thurs, November 19 Noon to 1:00 p.m.
Blue Jay Corporate Classroom
Studies show that those who commute by means other than driving alone experience lower levels of stress, higher morale, and lower blood pressure. We also appreciate how you are helping co-workers commute smart.n ahead and choose to commute smart. Are you all set?
To recognize and continue good commuting practices, Go! Vermont, vRide, and Capital Commuter organizers are hosting networking sessions to share smart commute experiences and offer great incentives to those who choose to travel smart.
Join us on Wednesday November 18th or Thursday, November 19th to network with co-workers at National Life Group and speak to the experts. Bring a co-worker and we’ll help you encourage them to shed their drive-alone lifestyle. Those who participate will have a chance to win great raffle prizes (see details below).
Easing the winter driving tensions takes more than being aware, it takes doing. Go! Vermont is here to help you carpool, take transit, vanpool, walk and bike and how to explore your options?
On November 18th at 12:30 p.m., VTrans, 3rd Floor, Room 313, and 19th at Noon in the Blue Jay Corporate Classroom at the National Life Group building, program organizers will host a commuting and networking meeting. Bring your lunch, share and learn. Enjoy cookies from NECI and be entered to win freebies including ski and watermark tickets to Jay Peak Resort. We look forward to seeing you on the 18th and 19th. Please spread the word and bring a friend!!
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.
VSEA members recently cast votes in elections for the Non-Management Unit’s top posts and a couple of VSEA Council seats. Your union’s Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee was at headquarters on November 6 and determined the winners to be:
Non-Management Unit Chair – Michelle Salvador, Department of Health
Non-Management Vice Chair – Rebecca Trower, Tax Department
Non-Management Unit Treasurer – Holly Peake, Economic Services Division
Non-Management Unit Clerk – Kelly Price, Department of Fish and Wildlife
Non-Management Unit Executive Committee (4 seats):
Paul Beebe. Department of Motor Vehicles
Katelyn Chase, Economic Services Division
Marion Fignar, Department of Labor
Matthew Jakubowski, Department of Public Safety
DII Council Seat – Dawn Carrillo
DVHA Council Seat (2) – Jennifer Egelhof and Sawyer Joecks
VSEA First Vice President Looking To Fill Vacant Council Seats
VSEA First Vice President Aimee Towne asked WIA to let members know about several open seats on the VSEA Council. Most Council seats were filled by the required September 30 date, but these seats (by departmental heading) still remain open:
Aging and Independent Living = 1 Seat
Agriculture = 1 Seat
Auditor of Accounts = 1 Seat
Buildings and General Services = 3 Seats
Children and Families = 1 Seat
ACCD/Housing = 1 Seat
ACCD/Economic Development = 1 Seat
ACCD/Marketing and Tourism = 1 Seat
Commission on Women = 1 Seat
Corrections = 1 Seat
Criminal Justice Training Council = 1 Seat
Education = 1 Seat
Finance and Management = 1 Seat
Financial Regulation = 1 Seat
Forests and Parks = 1 Seat
Health = 1 Seat
AHS/IT Unit = 1 Seat
Labor = 1 Seat
Library = 1 Seat
Liquor Control = 1 Seat
Lottery = 1 Seat
Mental Health = 3 Seats
Military = 1 Seat
ANR = 1 Seat
Public Safety – Civilian = 4 Seats
Public Service Board = 1 Seat
Public Service Department = 1 Seat
Secretary of State = 1 Seat
Tax Department = 1 Seat
Transportation Agency/DMV = 2 Seats
Treasurer’s Office = 1 Seat
The deadline to submit a self-nomination form for any of the seats listed above is Friday, December 4, 2015.
You can find a self-nominating form by clicking here. (opens/ downloads as a PDF)
With more than 120 VSEA members, the VSEA Council is one of your union’s primary governing bodies and its largest and most diverse, with departmental representatives from across state government. The Council meets quarterly and retains a right to override decisions made by the VSEA Board of Trustees.
Questions? Please contact VSEA Administrative Assistant Ayla Hudson at 802-223-5247, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
State To Conduct November 23 “Public” Forums To Solicit Budget Ideas
The Times Argus reports on November 10 that the State will conduct two public “webinars” on November 23 to gather input from Vermonters about what the state’s budget priorities should be in the upcoming session, especially given our new—and daunting—budget deficit. For the first time ever, the forums are being held online this year, and that’s due to recent budget cuts that led to the dismantling of Vermont Interactive Television (VIT), which had been the State’s preferred vehicle in the past to reach Vermonters about the budget and other issues.
“It does limit the ‘public’ in public forum when some Vermonters will be most certainly be excluded from this important discussion, simply because they don’t have access to a computer,” says VSEA Communications Director Doug Gibson. “The cut to the VIT is now taking the voices of some Vermonters out of the debate, and it’s likely these are voices we need to hear.”
The first forum begins at 1:00 p.m. and goes to 3:00 p.m. It will focus exclusively on the AHS budget, which is why VSEA is urging its members working in DCF, ESD, Corrections, VVH, GMPCF and other AHS workplaces to take some time on November 23 to participate in this important discussion. Lawmakers and the State need to hear from as many VSEA members as possible about the need to enhance worker safety, staff adequately and reduce caseloads. They also need to hear how past cuts are impacting the AHS population you serve on a daily basis.
The second forum begins at 4:00 p.m. and goes until 6:00 p.m. It will focus on the “rest of the budget,” meaning any areas outside of AHS. This is a good chance for State Colleges, Judiciary, AOT, ANR and other VSEA members to make your voices heard.
Quick Survey (To assist the Finance and Management Department with prioritization and evaluation of spending and revenue initiatives)
This year, the State is accepting written testimony on the public’s priorities. Please address your input to Secretary Justin Johnson, with the subject “Public Budget Development FY 17” on the envelope. Send to 109 State Street, 5th Floor, Montpelier VT 05609-5901.
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.
State Colleges’ Members Urged To Complete Bargaining Survey
Members of the VSEA Vermont State Colleges’ Bargaining Team sent an email this week to members working at campuses across the state, asking them to complete a bargaining survey in advance of formal negotiations beginning in early winter.
If you’re a VSEA State Colleges’ Unit member who did not see this week’s email, you can:
Lyndon State College Labor & Management Working Together To Solve Problems
Lyndon State College worker Jay Bona and other VSEA campus leaders asked WIA to publish this recent photo of some of them, posing with Lyndon State’s Dean of Administration Loren Loomis-Hubbell and President Joe Berlolino (photo, far right).
Here’s the message VSEA’s Lyndon State leaders asked to accompany the photo:
“Union campus leaders meet with the administration on a regular basis to coordinate Federation business on the Lyndon State College campus. We are proud of the relationship that our unit has with management. Both parties want to be a shining example of how great things will be accomplished when they work together. This is not an us versus them environment; we are in it together as a community. When nurturing these union and management relationships, great things can happen for all.”
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.
VSEA is actively seeking to fill the Director of Organizing position at headquarters in Montpelier. Here is a description for any member interested in applying:
Join Vermont’s most dynamic statewide union as its new Director of Organizing.
Scope of Work:
Reporting to the Executive Director, VSEA’s Director or Organizing will be tasked with leading a team of organizers to move union members to take action on key issues that are impacting their lives. The Director of Organizing oversees all aspects of both internal and external organizing campaigns and is responsible for training and day-to-day development of the organizing staff.
Job Duties Include:
Supervising the VSEA organizing staff;
Working to develop VSEA member/leaders though engagement in a variety of union activities;
Coordinating organizing activities with other departments in alignment with the VSEA strategic plan;
Facilitating turnout to union events, trainings and meetings;
Identifying key member issues and moving a plan of action around those issues;
Mobilizing the membership for political action and advocacy campaigns;
Engaging union activists and leaders in the membership recruitment process; and
Traveling to worksites and locations across the state to conduct and participate in meetings on a regular basis.
It is necessary to have demonstrated labor union organizing experience as well as a track record of running successful union organizing drives and campaigns. Demonstrated experience building consensus and working relationships with a wide variety of persons and organizations. Demonstrated skills in verbal and written communication, as well as familiarity with the state and federal laws governing organizers and organizing campaigns. Knowledge and understanding of the State of Vermont’s political landscape.
VSEA is actively seeking to fill a Union Representative position at headquarters in Montpelier. Here is a description for any member interested in applying:
Join Vermont’s most dynamic statewide union as its new Union Representative.
Areas of Responsibility Include:
Administration and enforcement of seven (7) collective bargaining agreements negotiated by VSEA (Non-Management, Corrections, Supervisory, State Colleges, Judiciary, Defender General and Housing Authority);
Responsible for case assessment, complaint and grievance activity, representation for internal employment investigations;
Provides professional representation in Loudermill pre-termination hearings;
Negotiates stipulation settlement agreements on behalf of members under the direction of VSEA General Counsel and Director of Field Services;
May assist in internal or external organizing projects upon request of Director of Field Services or Executive Director and in collaboration with the Organizing Department;
Responsible for timely processing of paperwork and monthly reports, as assigned by Director of Field Services, including, but not limited to monthly case review reports; and
Attends meetings on behalf of VSEA, as directed by the Director of Field Services or Executive Director.
VSEA seeks to interview dynamic candidates with a track record of commitment to the labor movement and preferably two (2) years of experience as a union representative, both administering and enforcing collective bargaining agreements. Interested and qualified candidates are encouraged to submit their resume and a cover letter detailing their labor movement experience to Rstout@VSEA.org. Exceptional candidates will be scheduled for an interview.
Want Instantaneous Push Notifications From Your Union?
Download The VSEAUnite App
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!