Weekly News From VSEA!
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Week In Action Newsletter
August 28, 2020
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WIA is publishing a day early due to scheduled staff leave.

Shameful! State Officials Say Year Two Of Recently Negotiated Contract Not A Done Deal

VPR aired a disturbing story last night about representatives of the Administration now publicly waffling on whether or not the State will honor the year two terms and conditions of contracts it agreed to with VSEA"s Executive, Judicial and Supervisory Branches. The contract's year-one negotiated terms and conditions kicked in on July 1, 2020. 

From the story:

The...Administration wants to renegotiate the second year of a two-year contract with state employees. But the employee union says state officials made a deal, and can't renege on it now.

The negotiations on the two year contract wrapped up in October. It covers about 6,000 workers and includes a lump sum, $1,400-per-employee boost to pay in the first year, and a 2.25% cost of living increase the second year.

The contract also includes “step” increases for those whose length of service qualifies them for salary upgrades over time.

Human Resources Commissioner Beth Fastiggi said that since the Legislature only funded the first year of the contract before it adjourned in June, the contract can and should be redone for the second year.

Ballots Emailed To Vote For VSEA's Next President 

Read VSEA President Candidate Statements
Ballots to determine who will be VSEA's next President were emailed today to all members eligible to vote. 

Please look for an email from vote@, which contains your ballot(s). If you do not receive an email from this address by August 28, please look in your “Other” or “Spam” folders before contacting headquarters to request that your ballot be reissued.

Important Reminder: VSEA sent ballots to members’ primary email address, provided the union has your correct home or work primary email address. This is a big reason why VSEA is constantly soliciting members to contact the union with your updated email address. You can update your contact information here anytime.

VSEA's Election, Rules and Nominating Committee will be announcing the winner shortly after voting officially ends on September 7.

Lawmakers Committed To Providing State Colleges With Bridge Funding, Even If State Isn't

VTDigger reports last night on lawmakers voicing their support on Tuesday to provide much-needed "bridge" funding to Vermont's historically (and woefully) underfunded state colleges' system. 

From the story:

Both Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, D/P Chittenden, and House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, expressed concern that [the State] didn’t put the money in his state budget.

Rep. Kitty Toll, D-Danville, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, told reporters Tuesday that  it’s “very clear that there’s a commitment” to provide bridge funding to the state colleges. However, lawmakers still haven’t figured out where to get the millions the state colleges say they need to get through the end of the fiscal year next June.

Toll said that money will be “very difficult to come by,” but legislators will look across Vermont’s funds, consider how some of the federal money could be used to cover the expense, and determine “how we make up the difference.”

“But there is a commitment there, and there’s a keen eye on that topic. It won’t slide; we’re paying full attention,” Toll said. 

Note: A bit of good news. Remember, it was not the colleges, nor the staff, nor the students, that willingly chose to underfund the system for years.

VSEA Members Working At Woodside Pushing Back Hard On Proposal To Privatize Their Facility 

VSEA and its members working at Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Facility are pushing back hard against an active campaign by Department for Children and Families (DCF) officials to privatize the critical services being provided to young at-risk Vermonters. 

This week, VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard sent a formal letter to Vermont lawmakers, explaining why DCF's move to privatize is ill-advised.

Here's an excerpt:

How many times must we repeat the same mistake? Should we really be gambling with the welfare of Vermont’s children?

A few short months ago, the Administration didn’t think so. Under Al Gobeille’s leadership, DCF said that the current Woodside building should be replaced with a state-owned “multi-wing building that could accommodate varying levels of security.” When Secretary Gobeille was replaced by Secretary Mike Smith, suddenly the Administration said it had no confidence in Woodside.

Perhaps that was why the Administration moved Woodside’s program to three different locations in three months, installing a rotating cast of three different directors in the same timeframe. Rather than consult with the nationally recognized experts on Woodside’s staff, the Administration threatened closure, causing many members of this excellent team to resign in fear for their livelihoods.

It’s time to end this artificially created chaos.

Read Entire Letter

Note: As the general election season heats up, VSEA members and retirees are being asked to educate candidates about the need to keep the critical service being provided at Woodside public, and about the dangers of privatization.  

Time To Register For VSEA's 76th Annual Meeting! 

VSEA sent an email to members and retirees this week that included a link to register to participate in VSEA's 76th Annual Meeting, which is being conducted via Zoom this year due to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic concerns. 

Annual Meeting is VSEA's most important event of the year because it's where an operating budget for the new fiscal year is adopted, proposed changes to bylaws governing union business are debated and voted up or down, and members from across state government, as well as retirees, meet as one body to discuss current union-wide fights, educate each other about or worksite-specific or Unit issues and determine next steps, if any.   

VSEA 76th Annual Meeting
Saturday, September 12, 2020
12:00 p.m. 

Register Here
Have Your WARN Close At Hand!

If participating in this year's unique Annual Meeting, VSEA is asking all members and retirees to make note of where your 2020 meeting WARN (which was emailed last week) is saved, so you can easily access it and reference it on September 12. 
View or Download the 2020 Annual Meeting Warn Here (Log-in Required. Need a account? Register Here.)

VSEA Vets' Home Members Again Asking For Your Help. Sign The Petition!!

VSEA members working at the Vermont Veterans' Home in Bennington are again asking all members and retirees to sign an online petition that calls on the Administration and the VVH Board of Trustees to remove VVH CEO Melissa Jackson, after she recently failed to self-quarantine after a two-day work trip to D.C.

Sign The VSEA Petition Online

2020 General Election Candidate Questionnaires Emailed

In advance of November's general election, VSEA's Legislative Committee emailed a comprehensive questionnaire this week to all candidates running to be either state officials or lawmakers. The Committee is using candidate's responses to aid in their general-election, candidate endorsement process.  

Reminder Quote Of The Week!


"[I am] very appreciative of the bargaining teams and their good-faith bargaining efforts."

Vermont DHR Commissioner Beth Fastiggi quoted in an October 24, 2019, VTDigger story, shortly after the VSEA and the State agreed to a new, two-year tentative contract.

> Back To Top
Talking Points:

Many Vermont Teachers & Staff Choosing To Retire, Rather Than Return To Classroom

VTDigger reports this week that many Vermont teachers and staff are opting to retire, rather than return to the classroom on September 8, during a pandemic. 

From the story:

"...the treasurer’s office, which administers the state pension plan for teachers, did record a spike in retirements this summer. Last year, it processed 275 retirements in July, usually its busiest month. This year, there were 379 in the same period. (An official with the treasurer’s office noted this could be due partially to one block of teachers hitting the 10-year mark to qualify for a spousal health insurance subsidy.)

One national union has called for “safety strikes” if schools reopen without adequate safeguards, and in Detroit, the teachers union this week authorized a strike over safety concerns. 

The Vermont chapter of the National Education Association, which represents the vast majority of the state’s teachers and support staff, has not threatened a work stoppage, although it has grown increasingly critical of the Scott administration’s local-control approach to reopening in recent weeks.


Union spokesperson Darren Allen was appalled the state was willing to set rules for the opening of places for consumers, but not kids and teachers.

“If we have a statewide standard for opening restaurants and a statewide standard for opening retail and a statewide standard for grocery stores, we sure as heck need a statewide set of safety requirements for our children and our school employees,” Allen said.

The Vermont-NEA has recommended its own phased-in approach to reopening schools. The proposal envisions individual check-ins between students and teachers, and would require new health and safety measures, including HVAC updates, adequate custodial staff and a nurse in every school, before buildings reopen. 

At the state level, the NEA’s proposals have barely registered.

Locally, Allen said some school boards have refused to engage while others have worked collaboratively to hash out memorandums on how to reopen.

“It’s a mixed bag. All of which points to the overarching theme that there needs to be a set of statewide requirements to reopen schools safely, effectively, and fairly,” he said.

> Back To Top
This Week:

Shameful! State Officials Say Year Two Of Recently Negotiated Contract Not A Done Deal

Ballots Emailed To Vote For VSEA's Next President

Lawmakers Committed To Providing State Colleges With Bridge Funding, Even If State Isn't

VSEA Members Working At Woodside Pushing Back Hard On Proposal To Privatize Their Facility

Time To Register For VSEA's 76th Annual Meeting!

VSEA Vets' Home Members Again Asking For Your Help. Sign The Petition!!

2020 General Election Candidate Questionnaires Emailed

Reminder Quote Of The Week!

Talking Points:
Many Vermont Teachers & Staff Choosing To Retire, Rather Than Return To Classroom
Important Reminders:
National AFL-CIO Creates Website For "Workers Impacted by COVID-19"

Employees Who Fail To Comply With Mask Directive Could Be Disciplined

VSEA Has Partnered With Travelers: See How Much You Can Save On Auto and Home Insurance

New "Purchasing Power" Benefit Offered To VSEA Members

VSEA Advantage Discount Program

Told You're Being Investigated?
Watch This Video!

VSEA Retirement Security Fact Sheet

Getting Ready To Retire? Retired Already? Join The VSEA Retired Members’ Chapter!
Thank you for reading Week In Action!
National AFL-CIO Creates Website For "Workers Impacted by COVID-19"

A reminder that the national AFL-CIO has created a website to help workers impacted by COVID-19 find the resources they might need, such as:

  • Resources and benefits to help replace lost wages;
  • Eligibility requirements for emergency paid leave;
  • Housing and food assistance programs; and 
  • Health insurance and public health services and guidance.
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.
VSEA Has Partnered With Travelers: See How Much You Can Save On Auto and Home Insurance
As a member of the Vermont State Employees Association (VSEA), you could save on auto, home, and renters insurance with Travelers. Here are just a few advantages.
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.
VSEA Advantage Discount Program
Did you know the average VSEA member can save hundreds of dollars a year by taking advantage of some of the Member-Only benefits offered through your union?

Learn more about the VSEA Advantage Discount Program
Told You're Being Investigated? Watch This Video!
Please take a few minutes on a break to watch the video, and know that the information being relayed could very well save your job someday. Remember, as a VSEA member, you are entitled to no-cost representation in investigatory meetings that may lead to discipline. Non-members, however, must now pay a rate of $250 to $350 per-hour for the same level of representation!

More: Know Your Union Rights
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.
Getting Ready To Retire? Retired Already? Join The VSEA Retired Members’ Chapter!

Long-time VSEA activist and leader Terry Lefebvre is asking VSEA members getting ready to retire to join the VSEA Retirees’ Chapter to continue to be an active and engaged union member, even in retirement. Lefebvre also appeals to VSEA members to talk up the co-workers they know who might be preparing to retire. If you already belong to the Retired Members’ Chapter, a big thanks to you.

Learn More Here About The VSEA Retired Members’ Chapter
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