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Week In
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December 16, 2016

In This Issue:


New Administration Wants Defined Contribution Plan For New Hires To State Government  VSEA & Labor Voice Immediate Opposition

VSEA Judiciary Unit Unanimously Ratifies New Contract

NMU Sick Leave Bank Really Needs Your Help!

Brattleboro Chapter Hosting Holiday Lunch

Council Meets In Advance Of What’s Expected To Be Another Tough Legislative Session For State Employees And Public Services

Reminder: VSEA First Vice President Still Looking To Fill Vacant Council Seats

Missing a Pair of Glasses?

Be Informed! Join VSEA's Texting List!

New NMU Bargaining Survey Is LIVE!

VSEA Members Invited To Participate In Special Legislative Training

Wondering How The Vermont Legislature Works?

Wisconsin Corrections Workers Blame Governor’s Anti-Union Experiment For Increased Number Of Assaults On Staff

Most Endangered Jobs Of 2016

Illinois Begins To Educate And Train State Workers About Ransomware

VSEA Labor Educator Announces Winter/ Spring 2017 Training Schedule

VSEA Insurance Representative Will Be At The Department of Health Access Next Week
 

VSEA Calendar

Fall 2016 VSEA Training Schedule

Quote Of The Week!

Subscribe To VSEA!

Print Week In Action

Previously In Week In Action:


New Contracts Now Online At VSEA.org

Coming In 2017…  VSEA Supplemental Vision Care Program

Bus Is Filling For VSEA Sponsored New Year’s Eve Trip To See Disney On Ice In Boston!

Board Approves Sending VSEA Delegation To Washington For The “Women’s March On Washington”

VSEA Membership Recruitment Committee Launching New Recruitment Effort

VSEA Strategic Analyst’s "Right To Work (For Less)" Presentation Now Available Online

Threatened While On The Job? VSEA Wants To Know

VSEA Calendar

December 21
Steward Training 3: The Contract & Challenges In The Workplace
VTrans Training Center
1716 U.S. Route 302
Berlin
9:00 a.m.

> View the full VSEA Calendar here
 

Quote of The Week!


“This idea would cost taxpayers MORE money because the state would have to fund two retirement systems. The pension would have a shrinking pool of employees paying into it. Dumb.”


VSEA President Dave Bellini, commenting on a Facebook post about the new Administration’s desire to offer a defined contribution plan to new hires to state government, instead of a defined benefit plan.

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New Contracts Now Online At VSEA.org



 
VSEA members belonging to the Non-Management, Corrections and Supervisory Units can now click here to view your newly ratified contract. All these contracts expire on June 30, 2018.

Coming In 2017…

VSEA Supplemental Vision Care Program



 
VSEA is always striving to do what it can to improve members’ lives, both professional and personal. To that end, a few years back, VSEA began offering members a supplemental dental plan option that proved to be very popular, so the VSEA Board recently directed staff to begin looking for other similar benefits that might be available to members. VSEA Operations Director Ray Stout did his research, and he discovered a terrific supplemental vision program that VSEA will begin offering to members early in 2017.
 
“VSEA will be rolling out this new member benefit in February 2017, and we’re hoping it will help a lot of members reduce their current eye-care costs,” says Stout. “VSEA members will still have their contractual vision benefit, but they will now have the option to supplement that benefit, just like with the dental program.”
 
Stout adds that there will be a nominal charge to members for the eye-care option, just as there is for the dental option.
 

Bus Is Filling For VSEA Sponsored New Year’s Eve Trip To See Disney On Ice In Boston!



  
On the heels of successful VSEA “NASCAR Day” and “Day at Fenway” events, VSEA’s Membership Recruitment Committee is now scheduling a “VSEA Disney on Ice” event for interested members and your families.

The performance is New Year’s Eve, December 31, at 3:00 p.m. at Boston University’s Agganis Arena.
 
The package price is $60 per member/family member and that includes your ticket and transportation to and from the arena. 
 
A chartered bus will pick members up members at: 

9:00 a.m. – Waterbury
10:00 a.m. – White River Junction
10:30 a.m. – Springfield Park & Ride
 
Here’s a synopsis of the show: Experience Disney's hilarious hair-raising escapade, Tangled; as Rapunzel, her unlikely companion, Flynn, and Maximus, embark on an uproarious journey that takes adventure to new lengths! Boogie to the beat of the bayou with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen in a magical, musical journey that all begins with a fateful kiss. And fanciful dreams become reality as Cinderella meets her Prince Charming, with a glass slipper fit for an unforgettable fantasy come true. All your favorite princesses take to the ice in a spectacular finale at the ultimate Disney Princess event of a lifetime! Experience the beauty, sparkle, and spirit when Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream comes to your hometown!

Questions? Contact VSEA Union Rep Bob South (bsouth@vsea.org) or Administrative Assistant Susan Devoid (sdevoid@vsea.org).

> Register For VSEA’s “Disney On Ice” Offer Here! 
 

Board Approves Sending VSEA Delegation To Washington For The “Women’s March On Washington”



 
The VSEA Board of Trustees voted this week to allocate $5,000 to fund a small delegation of VSEA members traveling to our nation’s capital for the “Women’s March on Washington,” which is being held January 21, 2017.  Organizers are billing the march as a “way to stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”
 
“I was proud to support this allocation to send a few VSEA women to DC to march in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of other women who will be welcoming the new Congress with a vocal reminder that women’s rights are human rights,” explains VSEA Board member Katelyn Chase. “VSEA members who attend will be supporting that message and adding to it that workers’ rights are also human rights. I’m inviting any VSEA member—woman or man—who is interested in going to DC to march to contact me as soon as possible.”
 
If you would be interested in traveling with Katelyn to Washington, D.C. in January for the march, please send an email to kchase@vsea.org. Once Katelyn can gauge the level of interest, she will be better able to allocate the funds awarded, so please respond to her by Monday, December 2, 2016.
 
Learn more about the march by visiting the event’s Facebook page.

Important Note: If you have questions or concerns about this allocation of funds, please send your thoughts directly to your VSEA Board of Trustees representative(s). Posting on VSEA’s Facebook page does not guarantee your concerns and questions will be heard and seen by the appropriate parties.
 

VSEA Membership Recruitment Committee Launching New Recruitment Effort


The VSEA Membership Recruitment Committee is launching a 2016/2017 “Membership Engagement and Recruitment Initiative” to grow the union’s ranks, asking members to talk with current agency-fee payers about the benefits of full-fledged membership and why s/he should make the switch. If they decide to upgrade their membership, the recruiting member will have the satisfaction of knowing they helped their union become stronger, but, in addition, the Membership Recruitment Committee will be awarding different levels of prizes to members, based on the number of new VSEA members recruited.  
 
Here are the guidelines to participate and be eligible for a prize:
 
  • Whether submitting your recruited member(s) name(s)on a physical recruitment card or online, you must include your name as the recruiter;
     
  • Every member who recruits a new member will has his or her name entered into a drawing for the Grand Prize. The winner’s name will be drawn at VSEA’s Annual Meeting in September 2017, and the winner must be present to claim the prize;
     
  • Team entries are being accepted. Please register with Membership Recruitment Committee Chair Katelyn Chase by emailing her at kchase@vsea.org.
     
  • Members who recruit a new member, who then agrees to join your union’s political awareness committee (VTPAC) will receive an additional chance to win the Grand Prize, and
     
  • The cut-off date for this competition is August 30, 2017.

Here are the different prize levels:
  • $10 gift card and a VSEA water bottle
    (75 prizes awarded)
     
  • $25 gift card and a VSEA hat
    (40 prizes awarded)
     
  • $50 gift card and a VSEA tote bag
    (15 prizes awarded)
     
  • $100 and a VSEA fleece vest
    (8 prizes awarded)
     
  • 1 Grand Prize - $1,200
 
Note: WIA will periodically remind members about this effort until its culmination in August 2017.
 

VSEA Strategic Analyst’s "Right To Work (For Less)" Presentation Now Available Online




VSEA Strategic Analyst Adam Norton’s presentation on everything wrong with America’s so-called “Right-to-Work” movement was so well received at VSEA’s Annual Meeting that Norton is now fulfilling requests to give the presentation to Chapters.

Norton’s “Right To Work (For Less)” presentation is a must-view for all state employees who are concerned about the move across America to bust unions and hasten the race to the bottom for workers. Please share this presentation with interested colleagues.  

> View Bullet Points From Norton’s Presentation Here!

 

Threatened While On The Job? VSEA Wants To Know.


VSEA President Dave Bellini is asking all state employees who are threatened while performing your job duties to provide an account of the threat not only to your supervisor or the State, but also to VSEA.

“VSEA wants to begin to compile its own record of threats against frontline state employees, no matter your occupation,” explains Bellini. “I’m asking all employees who are threatened, especially those working in AHS, to take a few minutes to fill out an online form VSEA made to collect your report. The information will help us provide a firsthand account of the number of threats being made and where they are being made, in addition to some other things.”

If you are a state employee who is threatened on the job, please click here to find the online report form, which will remain confidential, unless otherwise approved by you.

 


> VSEA On-The-Job Threat Report Form

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New Administration Wants Defined Contribution Plan For New Hires To State Government
 

VSEA & Labor Voice Immediate Opposition

 
Seven Days posted a story on December 13 that affirms reports during the campaign that Vermont’s Governor-Elect will be seeking to offer a defined contribution pension plan to newly hired state employees, as opposed to a defined benefit pension plan, which current VSEA members have.   
 
“We are steadfastly opposed to the idea and will continue to be,” VSEA Communications Director Doug Gibson tells Digger. “This is one of those fundamental issues that hasn’t changed and won’t change,” says the NEA’s Communications Director Darren Allen, adding, “We think the (defined contribution) approach would be more expensive, less secure and undermine the retirement security of hard-working public employees.” Gibson points out that the switch could hurt the state’s ability to draw in new hires, since many enter public service just to have access to VSEA members’ hard-won benefits.
 
Gibson also reminds the reporter about a 2015 VPR story that highlights how millions of Americans have insurance through their employer, but how Vermonters rank dead last in the nation, in terms of how much money an individual has contributed to supplement their plan. Gibson asks why anyone would want to make what some have called a crisis situation even worse.
 
The story notes that State Treasurer Beth Pearce is another vocal opponent of moving from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan.
 
VSEA members are urged to join with your union to push back hard against any proposal to offer a defined contribution plan to new state employee hires.
 

VSEA Judiciary Unit Unanimously Ratifies New Contract




VSEA’s Elections, Rules and Nominating Committee was at headquarters on December 14 to tally the votes cast for and against a new, two-year agreement with the Court Administrator, and VSEA is pleased to report that Judiciary members have voted to unanimously approve the new agreement. The vote officially ends nearly a year of contentious bargaining that culminated soon after the delivery of a fact-finder’s report that supported a majority of the VSEA members’ proposals.
 
In addition to receiving the same wage increase as all other VSEA Bargaining Unit members, certain Judiciary Unit job classifications (i.e. Docket Clerks) will now be eligible for a fair wage review and major reforms will be made to the Judiciary’s reclassification process.
 
VSEA congratulates the entire Judiciary Unit Bargaining Unit for staying strong and prevailing in the end!  
 

NMU Sick Leave Bank Really Needs Your Help!

 

Important Message from NMU Sick Leave Bank Committee



 
“First, we would like to thank everyone who has donated to the NMU Sick Leave Bank!
 
Unfortunately, the bank is now out of hours. We are hoping that we can get some much-needed time added before this donation period closes on December 31.  The hours donated now will be all that’s available until our next donation period, which begins April 1, 2017.
 
Your donation of “personal” and/or “annual” leave makes a difference in the lives of fellow State employees faced with catastrophic illnesses or injuries.
 
We traditionally get more requests for help during the rugged winter months than at any other time of year.  If you are able to donate anything, even as little as 1 hour of time, it will make a difference.
 
> Click Here To Donate!

If you do not have computer access, you can request a form by calling NMU Sick Leave Bank VSEA Chair, Dawn Carrillo at 802-595-0209.
 
Thank you and Happy Holidays!
NMU Sick Leave Bank Committee
 

Brattleboro Chapter Hosting Holiday Lunch



 
Brattleboro Chapter President Robin Rieske asked WIA to let her members know that the Chapter meeting on Tuesday, December 20, will be a special holiday lunch. Brattleboro Chapter members are invited to stop by Room 148 at the State Office Building to enjoy some pizza and cookies and hear updates from your union. The holiday lunch begins at noon and ends at 12:45 p.m. Rieske is urging members who attend to bring some food to donate to “Feed The Thousands”; a cause the Chapter is supporting this holiday season.
 
Please RSVP/address questions to Robin at robin.rieske@vermont.gov or call 802-275-7232.
 

Council Meets In Advance Of What’s Expected To Be Another Tough Legislative Session For State Employees And Public Services



VSEA Labor Educator Tim Lenoch speaking to the VSEA Council yesterday.
 
The VSEA Council filled the Old Labor Hall in Barre on December 15, where they began a serious discussion about how best for VSEA to address the possible coming threats to members’ services and jobs. The unfortunately ever-growing list includes another Vermont budget deficit ($55 million to $75 million), reduced federal funding for yet-to-identified programs, looming adverse Supreme Court rulings, the new Administration’s pledge not to explore new revenue sources, a severely weakened National Labor Relations Board, and the new Administration’s expressed desire for new hire to state government to be enrolled in a defined contribution plan instead of a defined benefit plan.
 
In addition to this important debate, VSEA Strategic Analyst Adam Norton provided Council members with an overview of the 2017 budget realities that will greet lawmakers when they return the State House in early January. You can review Adam’s presentation for yourself here. Council members also heard about the VSEA candidate endorsement process from member John Mangione, and they received an update on the Membership Recruitment Committee’s current drive to sign up new members from Committee Chair Katelyn Chase. VSEA Legislative Committee Chair Margaret Crowley also presented her Committee’s draft 2017 legislative agenda, which Council members briefly debated and then voted overwhelmingly to approve. A complete listing of VSEA’s legislative agenda is coming soon to all members in a special electronic VSEA VOICE being emailed to members in advance of the session.
 
In the afternoon, the Council received a headquarters’ update from VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard and an overview of the current VSEA budget and pressures from Treasurer Sheila Coniff. VSEA Labor Educator Tim Lenoch also provided Council members with a brief training about headquarters’ staff responsibilities and how the different departments operate day to day. The day closed with new and old business being discussed and debated.
 

Reminder: VSEA First Vice President Still Looking To Fill Vacant Council Seats




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. VSEA First Vice President Aimee Towne is reminding that she is still actively trying to fill several open seats in the body.
 
> Click here to view a complete list of open Council seats (by departmental heading). Interested VSEA members are urged to self nominate
 

Missing a Pair of Glasses?


While cleaning up after VSEA's Council meeting yesterday two pairs of glasses were found. If you are missing a pair (or two) of glasses please contact VSEA by calling 802-223-5247 or email VSEA@VSEA.org
 

Be Informed!
Join VSEA's Texting List!



 
Texting is a great way for VSEA to let members know about important state employee issues or fights in a timely manner, but VSEA can’t text you if we don’t have your correct cell phone number.
 
Sign Up To Receive Texts Here!
Or contact VSEA headquarters (802-223-5247) today to provide, check or update your number. Please urge your colleagues to do the same.
 

New NMU Bargaining Survey Is LIVE!



 
Not wasting any time following the recent ratification of a new, two-year contract with the State of Vermont, a newly reconstituted Non-Management Unit (NMU) Bargaining Team has already prepared a new bargaining proposal survey for NMU members to complete and submit. The goal of this year’s survey is to assess NMU members’ bargaining priorities before entering into the next round of formal negotiations with the State. The NMU’s survey will be comprehensive, covering everything from wages to benefits to working conditions.

NMU members, click here to complete the survey.
 

VSEA Members Invited To Participate In Special Legislative Training



 
VSEA Labor Educator Tim Lenoch has been working with VSEA’s legislative team to create a new training to educate VSEA members about how statutes, policies and Vermont’s legislative process can impact state employees’ working conditions—and sometimes even, their livelihoods.
 
This comprehensive training will be offered at five different locations throughout the state, including:
  • Montpelier: Tuesday January 3 – TBD
  • Bennington: Wednesday March 8 – Hampton Inn Bennington, 51 Hannaford Square
  • Springfield: Wednesday March 8 – Holiday Inn Express, 818 Charlestown Rd.
  • Burlington: Thursday March 9 – Zampieri Building, 108 Cherry St.
  • St. Johnsbury: Thursday March 9 – TBD
 
> Register For Training Here
 
All trainings begin at 9:30 a.m., and they are open to all VSEA members, but only members in the following VSEA leadership roles are eligible for paid leave time to attend training:
  • VSEA Council Members;
  • VSEA Stewards;
  • VSEA Chapter Officers
  • VSEA Board of Trustee Members;
  • VSEA Standing Committees Members;
  • VSEA Unit Executive Committee Members;
  • VSEA Bargaining Team Members; and
  • VSEA Labor/Management Committee Members.
 
Please review your Collective Bargaining Agreement’s “VSEA Rights” section for specific language about paid leave time. Find your contract here.

Important! You must request time off to attend this training at least two weeks prior to your desired date.
 

Wondering How The Vermont Legislature Works?



 
Williston lawmakers Jim McCullough and VSEA’s own past-president Terry Macaig recently penned an informative column for their local paper, The Williston Observer, which explains how the Vermont legislature works. The two legislators cover topics like “How Committees Work” and “How Bills Are Drafted,” as well as explaining salaries and term limits and how to be successful.
 
The pair’s column ends:
 
“We both agree that ‘we are continually amazed how long it takes to get things done while, at the same time, how fast things happen. At any given moment the Legislature is like your best and worst day at university, complete with your best and worst professors. The Legislature works best when you do your civic duty and communicate with your legislator. Good government is a participation sport.’”
 

Wisconsin Corrections Workers Blame Governor’s Anti-Union Experiment For Increased Number Of Assaults On Staff



Photo credit: Nancy Hauck
 
The national labor union AFSCME reports on December 9 that Wisconsin Corrections workers are furious with Governor Scott Walker’s infamous Act 10, which passed in 2011 and has since served to “virtually strip away the rights of public employees to bargain collectively for wages, benefits and working conditions.” The workers say that Act 10 has caused chronic short-staffing at most Wisconsin prisons, which has led to a spike in the number of completed- and attempted-assaults on employees.
 
“Act 10 created this crisis,” explains a Wisconsin AFSCME official. “A Wisconsin corrections officer in 2010 earned a fair wage and fair benefits, had a voice in his workplace and considered it a career to be proud of. There was little turnover, professionalism was respected, and assaults were low. Today, wages are low and benefits are costly. COs have less voice on the job, especially in facilities where the union has little presence and turnover remains high. These institution’s populations continue to grow and overcrowding has become the norm.”

The official adds that conditions have gotten so bad that “new officers hired after Act 10 are beginning to understand why rebuilding a strong union presence is more important than ever.”
 

Most Endangered Jobs Of 2016



 
The website CareerCast.com published a report this week, listing 2016’s “most endangered jobs.” Here is the list:
 
10) Computer Programmer
9) Newspaper Reporter
8) Broadcaster
7) Seamstress/Tailor
6) Insurance Underwriter
5) Jeweler
4) Disc Jockey
3) Meter Reader
2) Typist/Word Processor
1) Mail Carrier
 

Illinois Begins To Educate And Train State Workers About Ransomware



 
In a sign of the times we live in, the State of Illinois has begun training its state workers about how to defend against “ransomware,” or the term used to describe when hackers steal government information electronically and then demand money to “un-encrypt” the stolen files. It’s the latest cyber threat, and IL government leaders believe the best way to prevent it is to “make sure government workers know not to click on suspicious links.”
 
“We don’t pay ransom, so everyone needs to know we don’t pay ransom for ransomware,” explains IL’s DII Director Kirk Lonborn tells the Alton Valley News.
 
The State of Illinois was hit by ransomware attacks 120 times in 2015.
 

VSEA Labor Educator Announces Winter/ Spring 2017 Training Schedule




VSEA Labor Educator Tim Lenoch asked WIA to announce a new round of trainings he has scheduled throughout the winter 2016. If you are interested in registering to attend one or more trainings, you can do so by clicking here. Please direct your training questions to Tim at tlenoch@vsea.org.

All trainings begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 4:00 p.m.

Location may change based on worksite location of registered participants. If this happens, registered participants will be notified at least a week ahead of the training. Mileage and lunch may be reimbursed or provided.



TOPIC TRAININGS

 
Representing Co-Workers in Investigations and Disciplinary Meetings
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Tuesday, January 9

Stewards & The “Hostile Work Enviroment”
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Tuesday January 31
 
Health and Safety Issues In The Workplace
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Tuesday, February 7
 
Stewards & Labor Management Committees
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Tuesday, February 16
 
The Grievance
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Thursday, February 23
 
Diversity For Public Sector Union Members
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Tuesday, April 4
 
Stewards & Contract Review
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Thursday, April 20
 



TARGETED DEPARTMENT/BARGAINING UNIT TRAININGS

 
Nursing/Health Care Facility Stewards
Mendon
Thursday, February 2
 
Department of Corrections Stewards
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Tuesday, February 14
 
Supervisory Bargaining Unit Stewards
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Tuesday, March 14
 
Vermont State Colleges’ Stewards
VTC Campus, Randolph Center
Thursday, April 6

Judiciary Stewards
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Tuesday, April 11

DCF Stewards
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Thursday, April 27
 



NEW STEWARD TRAININGS


Steward 1: Introduction and the Basics
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Thursday, March 2
 
Steward 2: Protecting the Contract and Building the Union
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Thursday, March 16
 
Steward 3: The Contract and Challenges in the Workplace
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Thursday, March 30

Steward 1: Introduction and the Basics
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Thursday, May 4
 
Steward 2: Protecting the Contract and Building the Union
VTrans Training Center, 1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Thursday, May 16



ALL STEWARD TRAINING


All-Steward Training
VTC Campus, Randolph
Friday, May 26

> Click here to register for a training(s)!
 

VSEA Insurance Representative Will Be At The Department of Health Access
Next Week




By Appointment Only:
 
VSEA Insurance Representative Joanne Woodcock will be at the following locations to talk with interested VSEA members about member-only insurance benefits.
 
Dept. of Vermont Health Access
312 Hurricane Lane
Williston, Vt.
December 20 and 21
12:00 to 4:00
 
Receive information on disability coverage, family life insurance, family accident and cancer coverage. You must be a member paying full dues to be eligible for this VSEA benefit. If you are an agency-fee payer, Joanne can provide you information about signing up for full membership.

All applications have to be taken in person.

Email Joanne@vseainsurance.com for an appointment. Please provide your age, hourly wage and job description so I can send a quote BEFORE we meet. See attached brochure here.

 

Subscribe To VSEA!

 
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. 
 

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