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Weekly News From VSEA!
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Week In Action Newsletter
August 14, 2020

Happy Bennington Battle Day!

Bennington Battle Day is being celebrated August 16. This year marks the 243rd anniversary of the battle.

This state holiday marks the American victory over a British force at the battlefield site on August 16, 1777, near the hamlet of Walloomsac, New York. The battle was part of the Saratoga campaign in 1777, which is considered to be the turning point in the American Revolution.

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2020 VSEA Annual Meeting WARN Being Emailed To Members Early Next Week! 

If it's nearing September, then it's time for VSEA members and retirees to be receiving the VSEA 76th Annual Meeting WARN, which is being emailed early next week.

Your WARN contains all the documents VSEA members will need to participate in the September 12 Annual Meeting, which is being held via Zoom this year. The meeting was originally scheduled to be held at Jay Peak Resort, but the Board of Trustees voted last week to go with Zoom, given the continued uncertainty around COVID-19 and where Vermont will be in early September.  

Here are some of the things on the agenda for VSEA Annual Meeting participants:
  • Vote the proposed VSEA 2021 operating budget up or down;
     
  • Vote proposed bylaw changes up or down;
     
  • Receive an update from VSEA's Dues Study Committee; and
     
  • Hear reports from VSEA's Interim President and Executive Director, as well as remarks from retiring VSEA President Dave Bellini. 

Registration Email To Follow:

Shortly after the WARN emails, another email is being sent, explicitly for members and retirees to register for access to the September 12 Zoom Annual Meeting. Once verified and registered, you will be provided with instructions for how to participate in the meeting. 
So You Want To Be VSEA's Next President? 

Dave Bellini's recent retirement means VSEA is now in the process of conducting a special election to determine his replacement as VSEA president. 
 
The are two ways to place your name into nomination
  • ​Submit a paper petition (attached) with 25 signatures to VSEA HQ. Download the paper petition here: VSEA Candidate Petition: President 2020 PDF; or
     
  • Submit electronically. It's a two-step process that begins by emailing vsea@vsea.org with your interest in being on the ballot, followed by you soliciting 25 members to email vsea@vsea.org, providing your name, their name, their EE numbers and a short statement of support for your name on the ballot. 
The deadline for either the paper or electronic option is Monday, August 24, at 4:30 p.m.

VSEA Vets' Home Members Take Case Against Management To Home's Board

Fresh on the heels of last week's news that the CEO at the Vermont Veterans Home had failed to quarantine after a two-day work trip to Washington, D.C., VSEA members working at the VVH made their strong case Wednesday against the CEO and the Nursing Director to the VVH Board, urging that each be dismissed.

From an 8/13 Bennington Banner story:

The issues cited by employees were detailed in a presentation made during a meeting Wednesday afternoon of the facility's board of trustees.

Those included allegations of management favoritism, a double standard concerning following rules or regulations, disparaging comments about workers, a lack of transparency, and a refusal to seriously discuss employee complaints.

Employees say they are calling for Jackson and Crossman to be replaced, citing what they said was long-term low morale at the facility and excessive nursing staff turnover in recent years. 


Note: Nicely done VVH members! Let's hope the VVH Board hears you and quickly addresses the void in leadership at the facility. Vermont's veterans and the workers who care for them at the VVH deserve the best and management's failure to deliver the best warrants the Board's immediate attention.

VSEA Endorsed Candidates Fare Very Well On Primary Day!

VSEA's political division is reporting that nearly 85% of VSEA-endorsed candidates won their primary race on Tuesday. 

VSEA thanks every member and retiree who cast their votes on Tuesday, or voted early, for helping VSEA-endorsed candidates prevail.

On to the general election!
Reminder: VSEA 2020 Primary Election Endorsements

VSEA Thanks Secretary Of State Office Workers For Conducting Successful Primary Day 2020 

VSEA sent a big thanks on Wednesday to all its members working in the Secretary of State's (SOS) Office for all their prep work and education to ensure a smooth and successful primary day 2020 across Vermont.

Like most everything in life these days, VSEA knows that this year's primary day was made especially difficult by the COVID-19 pandemic, but that didn't stop SOS employees (or hundreds of other state employees across state government) from continuing to report to work day in and day out.

Huge thanks again to SOS VSEA members for your dedicated service, which helps to ensure Vermont continues to serve as a model for how to conduct fair and transparent elections.

Note: VSEA is also thanking Vermont's U.S. Postal workers for their role to ensure a record number of mail-in ballots were processed in a timely fashion. Solidarity.

Judicial Branch Extends COVID Agreement Thru September 12

VSEA and the Judicial Branch signed a side letter this week to extend the COVID-19 agreement in place through September 12, 2020. The agreement continues the $1.50 hazard pay for job categories requiring face-to-face contact with the public and provides easier access to added COVID-specific, sick-leave-bank time to ensure there’s leave there for Judicial Branch employees, in the event they get sick.

Chapter Annual Meeting Schedule To Date

In advance of VSEA's Annual Meeting in September, VSEA Chapters are mandated to hold their own annual meetings. WIA will be posting these meetings and dates as they are received.

Here are the meetings scheduled to date:
 

  • VPCH Chapter 
    Wednesday, August 19
    10:00 a.m. 
    Via Zoom
     
  • NEK / St. Johnsbury Chapter 
    Wednesday, August 19
    5:00 p.m. 
    Via Zoom
     
  • Newport / Island Pond Chapter
    Thursday, August 20
    4:30 p.m.
    Kingdom Brewery|
    353 Coburn Hill Road
    Newport
     
  • Franklin / Grand Isle Chapter 
    Friday, August 21
    Bay Park
    596 Lake Street
    St. Albans
    Must RSVP For Food & Beverage!
    5:00 p.m.
     
  • Barre Chapter 
    Wednesday, August 26
    5:30 p.m. 
    Via Zoom

Zoom log-in information and additional meeting details will be emailed, prior to each meeting.

2011 Press Story Reminds How Long VT's Suspect Prison Health Care Has Been An Issue 

With all the press swirling around about the state of Vermont's prison health care and mental health care, VSEA's Facebook page shared a link this week to a story that first published in the Times Argus on April 14, 2011, titled "Lawmakers Eye Prison Health Reform"

Excerpt:

MONTPELIER — Roughly 12 years ago Vermont began hiring private companies to provide health care to inmates housed in the state’s prisons. 

Some lawmakers in Montpelier think now is a good time to take a close look at whether that’s the best way to deliver quality health care and mental health services to inmates.

The House Committee on Corrections and Institutions has been taking testimony on a bill that would have the state’s Department of Corrections analyze the cost and feasibility of finding a way to provide care without hiring contractors. 

&

Now is a good time to begin studying prison health care, [Rep. Jason] Lorber said, because the state is already studying broader health care reform. In addition, the state is one year into a three-year contract with another prison health care company, Correct Care Services, so the state is not facing a tight contract renewal deadline.

If the state does want to make a change, launching a study soon would position the state to make changes when the $17-million-a-year contract with CCS expires in 2013, Lorber said.


Full Article

Quote Of
The Week!

 

"This seems like something that can't wait."


An unnamed Vermont Veterans' Home nurse, commenting in a Bennington Banner story this week about VSEA members at the facility openly calling on the Home's Board to dismiss the Nursing Director.

> Back To Top
 

VT NEA Continues To Push Back Against School's Reopening 

In the wake of the State's recent announcement that Vermont schools would reopen on September 8, the Vermont National Education Association (VTNEA) continues to ask the Governor to provide a "uniform and consistent" plan to safely reopen, but that hasn't happened to date.

“We are increasingly frustrated with the inconsistent and seemingly changing ‘guidance’ from the administration,” Vermont-NEA President Don Tinney said in a VTNEA press release this week.   

8 / 12 Times Argus Story excerpt:

"...the Vermont-NEA has continued to push back. In late July, it released a phased-in plan for reopening that outlined a number of factors that it asserts must be addressed to ensure a safe, consistent and orderly reopening.

The plan calls for a period of “intensive planning” for educators, school administrators and other relevant personnel; time for teachers to connect with students and families; and a return to instruction after specific health, safety and staffing requirements have been met.

The plan also calls for the establishment of a statewide commission composed of experts that would provide guidance throughout the year.

Speaking Wednesday, Tinney said teachers are not making “unrealistic demands.”

“We wouldn’t expect an employer to insist upon employees coming into an unsafe work environment,” he said. “We need to be flexible and make sure health and safety comes first. The calendar should be secondary.”

Six-Week Strike By Maine Shipbuilders Ends With Tentative Agreement!

America's longest-running strike by workers could soon be coming to an end, according to a story this week in the Martinsville Bulletin. After six-plus weeks on strike, a tentative agreement has been reached between shipbuilders and Bath Iron Works.

From the story:

The tentative agreement, reached late Friday, retains the company’s proposal for annual wage increases of 3% over three years, along with some health care improvements, [District Union Official Jay Wadleigh] said.

“It preserves our subcontracting process, protects seniority provisions and calls for a collaborative effort to get back on schedule,” he said.

The tentative agreement positions the shipyard and workers “to partner together to improve schedule performance, restore the yard’s competitiveness and ensure ‘Bath Built’ remains ‘Best Built’ for generations to come,” said Dirk Lesko, the shipyard's president, referencing the shipyard slogan “Bath built is best built.”


Voting on the proposal will take place online and via telephone from August 21-23.

This Week:

2020 VSEA Annual Meeting WARN Being Emailed To Members Early Next Week!


So You Want To Be VSEA's Next President?

VSEA Vets' Home Members Take Case Against Management To Home's Board

VSEA Endorsed Candidates Fare Very Well On Primary Day!

VSEA Thanks Secretary Of State Office Workers For Conducting Successful Primary Day 2020

Judicial Branch Extends COVID Agreement Thru September 12

Chapter Annual Meeting Schedule To Date

2011 Press Story Reminds How Long VT's Suspect Prison Health Care Has Been An Issue

Quote Of The Week!

VT NEA Continues To Push Back Against School's Reopening

Six-Week Strike By Maine Shipbuilders Ends With Tentative Agreement!

Calendar:
August 17
Bennington Battle Day (Observed) – VSEA HQ and Most State Offices Closed

August 19
VPCH Chapter Annual Meeting
via Zoom

August 19
NEK/St. Johnsbury Chapter Annual Meeting
via Zoom

August 20
Newport / Island Pond Chapter Annual Meeting
Kingdom Brewery, Newport

August 21
Franklin/ Grand Isle Chapter Annual Meeting
Bay Park, St. Albans
Full VSEA Calendar
Important Reminders:
NMU Bargaining Team & Executive Committee Renewing CallTo Fill Vacancies

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

AFLAC Insurance Enrollment: Sign Up Through VSEA!

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!
NMU Bargaining Team & Executive Committee Renewing Call To Fill Vacancies

VSEA's Non-Management Unit (NMU) continues to actively search for Unit 
members to fill three current 
vacancies on the NMU Bargaining Team and a current vacancy on the NMU Executive Committee. 

Here are the current vacancies, the NMU is looking to fill right now:

  • ​​Bargaining Team (Dept./Agency) - Transportation;
     
  • Bargaining Team (Dept./Agency) - Health Services & Labs;
     
  • Bargaining Team Clerk; and
     
  • Executive Committee Member.

NMU Chair Bob Stone is urging Unit members interested in being appointed to one of these vacancies to send an email/letter of interest.

The NMU Executive Committee will review emails / letters of interest and make appointments to the vacancies.

If you are an NMU member who is interested in serving on the Bargaining Team or the Executive Committee, please send an email/ letter indicating why you want to be considered for appointment. 
Please include where you work, how long you have been a state employee and a VSEA member and why you feel you are qualified to be appointed. Only emails / letters received by the close of business on Friday, August 21, 2020 will be considered.  Your letter can be emailed to NMU Chair Bob Stone (bob272@hotmail.com) or you can mail it to:


Bob Stone, Chair
Non-Management Unit
VSEA
155 State St.
Montpelier, VT 05602​

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.
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 www.vsea.org.

Thank you and I hope you stay well and safe.

Best regards,
Joanne
Joanne Woodcock
VSEA Benefits Administrator
888-510-4467
Joanne@vseainsurance.com
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
Need To Update Your Contact Information
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Join the VSEA Chapter Presidents 
Facebook
group here!



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Steward?

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group here!
Thank you for reading
Week In Action!
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