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Week In Action will not publish next week.
VSEA’s Communications Department wishes you and yours a happy and safe holiday season. The next WIA will publish on January 6, and will be preceded by a special electronic edition of the VSEA Voice, which you can learn more about below…
Week In
Action!


December 23, 2016

In This Issue:


Pre-Legislative Session VSEA VOICE Being Emailed To Members On
January 3


Excellent VSEA Bulletin Board!

VSEA Brattleboro Chapter Spreads Holiday Cheer!

State Treasurer Reiterates Opposition To New Administration’s Desire For A Defined Contribution Plan For New Hires To State Government

Bennington Members Invited To Meet With Union Representative On December 28

VSEA Labor Educator Announces Dates For New Set Of Monthly Worksite Meetings

Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Offers Ice Safety Tips

NMU Sick Leave Bank Really Needs Your Help!

New NMU Bargaining Survey Is LIVE!

Be Informed! Join VSEA's Texting List!

VSEA Members Invited To Participate In Special Legislative Training

Did You Use Your Vacation Days This Year?

Study Finds U.S. Workers Still Favor Conventional Employment

Workplace Deaths Reach Six-Year High In 2015

Wondering How The Vermont Legislature Works?

VSEA Labor Educator Announces Winter/ Spring 2017 Training Schedule
 

VSEA Calendar

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 26
VSEA Headquarters Closed


December 28
Meet w/VSEA Field Representative Rachael Fields
Bennington State Office Building/Vets’ Home
Third Floor Conference Room (SOB) & VVH
Various Times.
See WIA Story


December 31
VSEA Bus Trip To
Disney On Ice
Buses Departing From Three Locations
See WIA Story

 
January 3
Leadership Training: The Vermont Legislature
Location TBD
Montpelier
9:30 a.m.


> View the full VSEA Calendar here
 

Quote of The Week!


“I did some numbers a couple of years ago, and 75 percent of teachers and 79 percent of state employees stay in Vermont and pay taxes in Vermont. Having reliable income [via a defined benefit pension plan] is important.”


State Treasurer Beth Pearce, commenting in Seven Days about how the new Administration’s desire to switch new hires to a defined contribution pension plan will only exacerbate the problem of too many working Vermonters retiring without enough savings.

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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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Pre-Legislative Session VSEA VOICE Being Emailed To Members On January 3

 
In advance of the 2017 legislative session, VSEA is again publishing a special electronic version of the VSEA VOICE, which will be emailed to all members on Tuesday, January 3. The special edition includes a pre-session message from the VSEA President, a list of all the issues that made the 2017 VSEA legislative agenda, a profile of VSEA Legislative Committee Chair Margaret Crowley, a rundown of all the new faces at the State House and other items for VSEA members to reference throughout the upcoming session.
 

Excellent VSEA Bulletin Board!



 
VSEA Springfield Chapter President and Council member Joey Holmes is pictured here with the worksite VSEA bulletin board he keeps fresh and looking good. Great job Joey!
 
If you have a worksite VSEA bulletin board that you are proud of and want to share a photo with your union, please send your picture (J-peg format please) to vsea@vsea.org and write “VSEA Bulletin Board” in the subject line. If there are multiple people in your photo, please identify the individuals.
 

VSEA Brattleboro Chapter Spreads Holiday Cheer!




VSEA Brattleboro Chapter President Robin Rieske is thanking members for participating in a recent Chapter food drive. Members collected four boxes of food to donate to a local shelter, and Rieske is sending a special thanks to area AOT members for their contributions.

Pictured here (L to R) are Chapter volunteers Kathleen White, Robin Rieske, Marie Carosella and Allyson Howe. All work, or retired from, the Department of Health.
 
Rieske noted that this is Marie Carosella's last week as a state employee, which is why she is wearing a celebratory crown. Marie is retiring after 34 years of service to Vermonters, and VSEA thanks her for her service.
 
VSEA thanks Brattleboro VSEA Chapter members for your generosity.
 

State Treasurer Reiterates Opposition To New Administration’s Desire For A Defined Contribution Plan For New Hires To State Government



 
In a Seven Days posted on December 19, State Treasurer Beth Pearce continues to take issue (rightfully so, in VSEA’s opinion) with the new Administration’s stated desire to explore shifting new state hires to a defined contribution plan instead of a defined benefit plan. She argues against the idea for a couple of reasons. Number one, the savings would be minimal at best and, number two, it would reduce pension security for these Vermonters.
 
In the piece, Pearce reminds, “75 percent of teachers and 79 percent of state employees stay in Vermont and pay taxes in Vermont. Having reliable income is important.” She also reminds, “[Public] employees have stepped up to the plate” to ensure the annual retirement contribution, or ARC, is funded. The story notes too that VSEA members and teachers have both made “significant concessions” to help the fund. 
 

Bennington Members Invited To Meet With Union Representative On December 28


VSEA Union Representative Rachael Fields is hosting member meetings all day on Wednesday, December 28. Here is the day’s schedule:

6:30 a.m. – Shift change meeting at the Vermont Veterans’ Home'

8:00 a.m. – Meet with Veterans’ Home Administrator Melissa Jackson
 
11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. - Third-floor, shared conference room at the Bennington State Office Building
 
1:00 p.m. – Shift change meeting at the Vermont Veterans’ Home

2:30 p.m. – Shift change meeting at the Vermont Veterans’ Home

4:30 p.m. – Shift change meeting at the Vermont Veterans’ Home

 
Bring you questions, concerns and comments about any current contract or workplace issue.
 
If you have any questions in advance, call Rachael at (802) 595-0150.
 

VSEA Labor Educator Announces Dates For New Set Of Monthly Worksite Meetings

 
VSEA Labor Educator Tim Lenoch is announcing a new set of dates when he will personally be conducting informational meetings in set workplaces on set days in four locations. Lenoch says the purpose of the meetings is to provide members with an opportunity to “join with their colleagues and VSEA staff for updates and discussion on the issues and challenges facing state employees and the impact on your working conditions and the services they provide.” He adds that members are welcome to “come share their ideas and hear from co-workers on how to build a stronger union and improve public services.”
 
Snacks and refreshments are provided.
 
St. Johnsbury
ESD Conference Room
State Office Building
67 Eastern Ave.
 
January 12
February 9
March 9
April 13
May 11
June 8
 
Brattleboro
Room 148
State Office Building
232 Main Street
 
January 13
February 10
March 10
April 14
May 12
June 9
 
White River Junction
Room 170
State Office Building
118 Prospect Street

January 17
February 21
March 21
April 18
May 16
June 20
 
Springfield
First Floor Conference Room
State Office Building
100 Mineral Street

January 18
February 15
March 15
April 19
May 17
June 21
 

Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Offers Ice
Safety Tips



 
In Vermont Business Magazine this week, Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter shared the following safety tips for Vermonters who are inclined to venture out on any ice this winter.
 
  • Leave your car or truck on shore. Every year several motor vehicles go through the ice on Vermont lakes, and some people have drowned as a result.
     
  • Leave information about your plans with someone -- where you intend to fish and when you expect to return.
     
  • Wear a personal flotation device and don't fish alone.
     
  • Fish with a friend. Ice fishing is a great sport to share with family members and friends, and having a partner with you increases both the fun and the safety.
     
  • Ice varies in thickness and condition. Always carry an ice spud or chisel to check ice as you proceed.
     
  • Be extremely cautious crossing ice near river mouths, points of land, bridges, islands, and over reefs and springs. Current almost always causes ice to be thinner over these areas.
     
  • Avoid going onto the ice if it has melted away from the shore. This indicates melting is underway, and ice can shift position as wind direction changes.
     
  • Waves from open water can quickly break up large areas of ice. If you can see open water in the lake and the wind picks up, get off!
     
  • Bring your fully charged cell phone with you.
     
  • Carry a set of hand-spikes to help you work your way out onto the surface of the ice if you go through. Holding one in each hand, you can alternately punch them into the ice and pull yourself up and out. You can make these at home, using large nails, or you can purchase them at stores that sell fishing supplies.
     
  • Carry a safety line that can be thrown to someone who has gone through the ice.
     
  • Heated fishing shanties must have good ventilation to prevent deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Open a window or the door part way to allow in fresh air.

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
 

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.
 

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.
 

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.
 

Did You Use Your Vacation Days This Year?



 
A new report out this week from Bankrate.com finds that more than half of America’s workers who receive paid vacation time “do not use all the time they are entitled to.” According to the report, 64% of American workers receive paid vacation benefits but only 47% actually use all their time. The workers most likely to use all their time are in the southern and southeastern states.
 

Study Finds U.S. Workers Still Favor Conventional Employment

 
DeVry University’s Career Board recently conducted a “Most Desirable Jobs” study, and the findings were “a bit of a surprise,” explains study co-author Alexandra Levit in Forbes.

“Alternative forms of work have taken off, but they aren't resonating with the average American worker as strongly as we initially believed,” writes Levit. “Rather, it seems that many U.S. professionals might have post-recession memory — gravitating toward more stable, conventional employment after a long-term period of tumult in the job market. Although the world of work is evolving quickly, a majority of respondents appreciate more traditional job scenarios. Much has been made of the desire to be entrepreneurial, but our results didn't reflect this.”
 

Workplace Deaths Reach Six-Year High In 2015



 
The New York Times reports on December 20 that the number of workers who died while on the job in 2015 reached a six-year high, after falling in the past few years. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics began charting workplace deaths back in 1992, and the report “provides a detailed view of workplace safety in America and shows the demographic groups and professions most at risk of fatal workplace injury.”
 
In 2015, 4,836 American workers dies on the job, which is the highest since 2008, when there were 5,214 deaths. The primary cause for worker deaths in 2015 was “transportation incidents,” followed by “falls, slips and trips.”
 

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.’”
 

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)!
 

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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