Weekly News From VSEA!
Please Read on Your Break
Trouble Viewing This Email?
View this email in your browser
Week In Action Newsletter
June 26, 2020
Please Note:
Week In Action will be published Thursday, July 2 next week.
Not A VSEA Member?
Learn More or Sign Up Online!

Roller Coaster Week For Pay Act Ends With Year-One Funding

VSEA is thanking all the members, retirees and supporters who flooded Vermont lawmakers phones and mailboxes this week with messages to oppose a last-minute move by one legislator to defund the Pay Act entirely, and then a message to lawmakers to support another legislator's amendment to fund the negotiated contract's year-one wage and step increases. 

First up was a House vote Wednesday on a harmful Pay Act amendment introduced early in the week by Rep. Cynthia Browning (D-Arlington). If passed, Browning's amendment would have stripped state employees of their negotiated wage increase in both years of the contract. It also would have sent VSEA Bargaining Teams back to the table with the State, but, thanks to your calls and emails to lawmakers, the Browning amendment was soundly crushed by a vote of 129-16.  

Next up for debate by the full House on Wednesday was a Pay Act amendment introduced early this week by House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Mary Hooper (D-Montpelier) to fund year one of the Collective Bargaining Agreements for the Executive Branch, State’s Attorneys and Judicial Units. Thanks again to your calls and emails to lawmakers, Hooper's amendment passed overwhelmingly 133-6, and the House moved the debate to the Senate. 

Yesterday, the full Senate convened to discuss the House's full budget proposal that includes the Hooper amendment to fund year one of the negotiated contracts. After brief debate on the amendment, the Senate voted 28-0 to include year-one funding for the negotiated contract.  

After a little housekeeping, the lawmakers' budget proposal moves to the Governor's desk for final sign off, which is expected before midnight, June 30. 

What About Year Two Of The Contract?

The Legislature’s plan reads that it will take up the issue of funding year two of the Executive Branch, State’s Attorneys, and Judicial Unit contracts at a later date. This could be in the fall, or it could be this coming winter when the new Legislature convenes in January 2021. Either way, VSEA and its members, retirees and supporters will continue to fight for full funding of the negotiated contract.

The 16 House Members Who Voted Against State Employees 

Remember these names come election time. These are the 16 House of Representatives members who voted for the harmful Browning amendment on Tuesday. If passed, the amendment would have prevented state employees from receiving any negotiated wage and step increase in either the first or second year of the contract.

Rep. Bancroft – Westford
Rep. Browning – Arlington
Rep. Burditt – West Rutland
Rep. Dickinson – St. Albans Town
Rep. Donahue – Northfield
Rep. Feltus -Lyndon
Rep. Gamache – Swanton
Rep. Harrison – Chittenden
Rep. Higley – Lowell
Rep. LeClair – Barre Town
Rep. Lefebvre – Newark
Rep. Martel – Waterford
Rep. Quimby – Concord
Rep. Scheuermann – Stowe

Rep. Smith - Derby
Rep. Strong - Albany
See Also:

Important Deadlines Approaching!

A friendly reminder that deadlines are quickly approaching for the following:

1) Contract extension ballots are due
TODAY, June 26 for VSEA members in the:
  • State Colleges' Unit

2) Contract ratification ballots are due Monday, June 29 for VSEA members in the following Units:
  • Defender General; and
  • States Attorneys Office 

3) VSEA members' ballots due Monday, August 3 in election for the following VSEA Board of Trustees' seats:
  • Supervisory;
  • Corrections; 
  • VSHA/DG; and 
  • District 4 – Franklin / Grand Isle / Chittenden / Addison    

Important! If you have a question about any of these deadlines, please contact VSEA Organizing Director Amy Kinsell at, or by phone at (802) 233-5834.  

New Inmates Spark New COVID Concerns For VSEA Members Working In Vermont Prisons

Just a few weeks after declaring the Vermont Corrections system essentially COVID-free, several new cases have been diagnosed just this week at three Vermont prisons, brought into the facility by newly arriving prisoners, according to Secretary of human Services Mike Smith. 

Here are press stories about each of the new diagnosis:

Northern Vermont University Group Announces Proposal For School's Future

The Morrisville News & Citizen reports this week on new suggestions from a 17-person group called the NVU Strong committee to cut costs and to build for the beleaguered Northern Vermont University's (NVU) future. They include eliminating some sports programs on its Johnson and Lyndon campuses, bringing businesses to campus, and having students study issues related to those industries.

From the story:

“We recognize that this is a really difficult time when we will need to make difficult choices,” said Katherine Sims, a member of the NVU Strong committee. “But the alternative to not making those tough choices is no NVU.”

“I believe that this work will lay an important foundation for future generations,” NVU president Elaine Collins said last week, as the committee presented its findings. “We’ve done it for the past 100 years, and we’re not going to give up now.”

There is the question of money, and Collins said — despite those who accuse the Vermont State College System of “crying wolf” in the midst of a pandemic — the system needs $30 million in state funding to stay afloat. Current “bridge funding” proposals to keep the system intact for a year are in the $22 million range.

The NVU Strong Committee delivered its eight-page report last week to its parent Vermont State Colleges System, which will take the suggestions into consideration. Similar work is being done at other state colleges, Castleton University and Vermont Technical College, the latter of which was also on the chopping block this spring.

Collins said the state college system will explore options through August, then make final recommendations.

VSEA Brattleboro Chapter Pickets With Brattleboro Retreat Workers! 

Next Picket Is Monday, June 29

Monday afternoon, VSEA Board of Trustees' member Robin Rieske (pictured here with VSEA sign in hand) joined a picket line with United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) Local 5086 members working at the Brattleboro Retreat. In addition to raising awareness about workers' multiple complaints against Retreat management, the picket was also to highlight the recent, unjust firing of UNAP leader Sy Creamer. 

Statements of solidarity were shared by VSEA, AFT VT, UFCW Local 1459. The VT Workers Center also joined in solidarity.

The next picket is scheduled for Monday, June 29, beginning at 2:00 p.m. If you want to join the picket and need signs, hats or t-shirts, contact Robin by email:


United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) Local 5086 represents workers at the Brattleboro Retreat. There has been a toxic work environment there for several years, with more than 300 staff leaving in the last 17 months; some quitting to take jobs at lower pay so they can work in a healthier environment. They have also fired union leaders, tried to discipline them for exercising legal rights, botched the Retreat's response to COVID and PPE procurement, and engaged in numerous contract violations leading to protracted grievances.

At this point the Retreat using mandated overtime and contract workers (“travelers”) in place of core staff. These practices are unsafe for patients and staff alike.

UNAP is calling for the termination of chief nursing officer Meghan Baston as a first step in turning things around.

President Bellini's Primary Email Account Hacked

President Bellini asked WIA to let members and retirees know that the email account he uses to communicate with members and retirees was recently hacked. He has been made aware that emails are now being generated from this account that he did not author or send. Bellini is working to resolve the issue and apologizes to anyone who has received a cryptic email from him in the past few days. 

Quote Of
The Week!


"[State Employees] deserve our commitment and investment in the coming year. They had our backs. Now we must have theirs."

Vermont Rep. Marybeth Redmond, D-Essex, quoted in VTDigger, following a House vote to reject a harmful amendment that would have prevented wage and step increases for state employees in both years of their recently negotiated contract. 
Talking Points:

U.S. Ranked Worst for Workers’ Rights Among Major Economies

Bloomberg News reports this week on the terrible reality that the United States "has the worst record among major developed countries when it comes to workers’ rights, according to a survey of labor unions."

Europe dominates the top-ranked countries for workers, with the list including Sweden, Italy, Netherlands, Ireland and Germany. Uruguay is the only non-European nation in the group.

Group Gives States Failing Grades For Corrections' Systems' COVID Response 

The Prison Policy Initiative (PPI) issued a bleak assessment this week of how the nation’s corrections systems have coped with COVID-19, saying the overwhelming majority of states have failed to take basic steps that might have saved the lives of hundreds of incarcerated individuals and staff.

“Despite all of the information, voices calling for action, and the obvious need, state responses ranged from disorganized or ineffective, at best, to callously nonexistent at worst,” the PPI said in a report released Thursday.

Using publicly available information from state corrections department websites, the report found no state earned a grade higher than “D” —while the majority were given failing grades of “F” or at most “F+”.

Note: Vermont received a D- grade. 

Hundreds Of Frontline Food Service Workers Dying From COVID

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) held a press conference this week to express the union's great concerns about the thousands of frontline food service workers contracting COVID-19 at work, and, worse, the hundreds dying later as a result.

From a UFCW press release:

Today, the UFCW, which represents 1.3 million workers, is highlighting the impact and growing danger of COVID-19 on our nation’s frontline workers. Over the last 100 days, 238 UFCW frontline workers have died from COVID-19 and nearly 29,000 workers have been infected or exposed to this killer virus.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone also announced three new initiatives in response to the growing increase of COVID-19 cases in states across the country. The initiatives to address the impact on frontline workers include: (1) Reinstating hazard pay and establishing a $15 per hour wage for all frontline workers, (2) Establishing a public mask mandate in all 50 states, and (3) Creating a new national public registry to track COVID-19 infections in frontline workers which would require companies with more than 1,000 employees to submit monthly reports on their worker deaths, infections, and exposure.

This Week:
Roller Coaster Week For Pay Act Ends With Year-One Funding
Important Deadlines Approaching!

New Inmates Spark New COVID Concerns For VSEA Members Working In Vermont Prisons

Northern Vermont University Group Announces Proposal For School's Future

VSEA Brattleboro Chapter Pickets With Brattleboro Retreat Workers!
President Bellini's Primary Email Account Hacked

Quote Of The Week!
Talking Points:
U.S. Ranked Worst for Workers’ Rights Among Major Economies

Group Gives States Failing Grades For Corrections' Systems' COVID Response

Hundreds Of Frontline Food Service Workers Dying From COVID
July 3
July 4 Holiday (Observed)
VSEA HQ Closed
July 7
VSEA Board of Trustees' Meeting
via Zoom
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all other VSEA meetings are canceled until
further notice.
Important Reminders:
Class-Action RFR Requests Due To VSEA By July 1!

BGS Posts New Form To Report Workplace Incidents

Employees Who Fail To Comply With Mask Directive Could Be Disciplined

Employee Child Care Reimbursement Extended Until July 15

New "Purchasing Power" Benefit Offered To VSEA Members

AFLAC Insurance Enrollment: Sign Up Through VSEA!

VSEA Retirement Security Fact Sheet
Thank you for reading Week In Action!
RFR Requests Due To VSEA
By July 1!
If you’re a group of VSEA members considering filing a class-action request for reclassification, remember that you must:
  • Tell VSEA by
    July 1; and
  • Submit paperwork to VSEA by 
    August 1
VSEA’s Executive Branch collective-bargaining agreements require that all class-action RFRs must be filed within a certain window, following July 1 in any given year—and the window differs depending on Unit-specific contract language. The State will not even entertain RFRs that did not receive prior VSEA approval. The VSEA Board of Trustees adopted a new policy to ensure that VSEA has time to properly evaluate class-action RFRs before they are submitted to the State. This deadline was needed because some RFRs are still being submitted right before the deadline, which prevented VSEA from making sure that the RFR protected all members’ rights. 

The Board’s policy requires any member(s) who want to submit a class-action RFR to VSEA for review and approval must provide notice to VSEA of their intention to file a class-action RFR on or before July 1 in any given year. A copy of the proposed class-action RFR must then be submitted to VSEA before August 1 in any given year. All class-action RFR’s received at VSEA after August —or those submitted directly to the State Classification division without notice and consultation with VSEA—will not be “recognized” and/or “signed off” on by the union.​
BGS Posts New Form To 
Workplace Incidents
BGS Office of State Safety and Security Director William McSalis asked VSEA to let members know that there is a new link for state employees to report workplace incidents of all types.

"BGS' new 'Safety and Security Incident Report (SSIR)' was developed in house, and we believe that the new system is easier to use for the employee making the report," explains McSalis. "It also and provides greater functionality for our Threat Investigators and Administrators."   

McSalis adds that employees experiencing difficulty, or who or have questions or concerns, should contact the State Safety and Security Duty Officer for assistance, 24/7, at (802) 828-0777.
New BGS Incident Report Form
Reminder: Employees Who Fail To 
Comply With Mask Directive Could Be Disciplined
During these very uncertain times, VSEA is reminding state employees not to ignore a directive from your supervisor to wear a protective mask while at work. Remember, if you defy your supervisor's mask directive, you may face allegations of insubordination, which could result in management taking disciplinary action against you.    

VSEA is strongly advising all employees to comply with the mask directive, to protect your health and the health of your co-workers.
Child Care Reimbursement Extended Until
July 15 
VSEA's Child & Elder Care Committee asked WIA to remind members that, due to the federal and state income tax deadlines being extended to July 15, the State's employee child care reimbursement program is also extending its enrollment deadline to July 15.

Please note that this is an annual negotiated benefit and not a special benefit resulting from coronavirus outbreak.  

Here's more about the benefit:

This program offers financial assistance to Vermont State employees for their work-related child care expenses. The funds are made available through labor/management agreements with the State of Vermont. This initiative is the result of employee surveys and feedback on child care and child care assistance.

To learn more about the child care benefit and who is eligible, please click here. A form to enroll can also be found here.  
New "Purchasing Power" Benefit Offered To VSEA Members
In times when paying with cash or credit is challenging, Purchasing Power is here for you with a program you can trust. Get what you need now, and pay overtime – right from your paycheck.​

View the Program PDF

Depending on your settings, the link above will open a PDF in your web browser or download the PDF to your computer
or device.
AFLAC Insurance Enrollment:
Sign Up Through VSEA!
WIA was asked by VSEA Benefits Administrator, Joanne Woodcock, to include the following in this week's newsletter:
Dear Friends,

During these uncertain times, it has never been more important than now to protect your income.

Did you know that as a VSEA member, you are eligible for guaranteed issued disability with AFLAC through the convenience of payroll deduction! The State does not offer short term disability insurance other than accrued sick time.

If you would like to discuss this valuable VSEA member benefit in more detail, please call me or make an appointment using this link.

I will call you on the day and time you select. Please be in front of a computer at the time of your appointment.

There are many advantages to VSEA membership. Please check them out at

Thank you and I hope you stay well and safe.

Best regards,
Joanne Woodcock
VSEA Benefits Administrator
VSEA Retirement Security Fact Sheet
Did you know? Defined benefit plans are safer and more reliable for Vermont's retirees & are cheaper for taxpayers than risky, Wall St 401(k)-style plans. Learn more about the differences between defined benefit pension plans and defined contribution pension plans (a.k.a. 401K) here.
Need To Update Your Contact Information
With VSEA? 

Don't Have
Union Card? 

Request A Green VSEA Union Card

Have You Been Threatened
At Work? 

Send A Threat Report To VSEA

Are You A
Council Member?

Join the VSEA Council Facebook group here!

Are You A
Chapter President?

Join the VSEA Chapter Presidents 
group here!

Are You A

Join the VSEA Steward Facebook
group here!
Thank you for reading
Week In Action!
Copyright © 2020 Vermont State Employees Association, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list