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Weekly News From VSEA!
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Week In Action Newsletter
March 17, 2017
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VSEA Judiciary Workers Prevail In Years-Long Fight For Fair Wages!

VSEA issued the following press release on March 14:


Members of the Vermont State Employees’ Association (VSEA) Judiciary Unit are celebrating a binding decision by a neutral consultant to raise the wages of Docket Clerks and Court Officers by two pay grades (PG15 to PG17) and also Courtroom Operators by two pay grades (PG16 to PG18).

The review was prompted by a fact-finder’s report released early in December 2016 that supported the VSEA members’ position to use a mutually selected neutral party to evaluate the Judiciary workers’ wages. The parties adopted that report in a final agreement reached between the Judiciary Unit employees and Court Administrator shortly after the report’s release. Today, the Judiciary workers learned that the years of hard work that led to the review and other contract improvements was worth it.

“This is a really great win for this Unit and for VSEA,” says VSEA President Dave Bellini. “The whole group stuck together and supported each other during what was a tough fight. I admire the way all the Judiciary workers, with the support of the broader legal community—including judges and lawyers—rallied around the Docket Clerks and others in this Unit to make sure something was done about their low wages. To their credit, these employees really embraced the labor concept of ‘a wrong to one is a wrong to all’ and, in the end, they won.”

“This is fantastic news,” exclaims VSEA Judiciary Unit Chairperson Margaret Crowley. “I know the wage increase will help some of these workers finally be able to get off public assistance or possibly let go of that second or third job. I’m very proud of my colleagues and the way they stepped up and all contributed something to this win. A lot of smiles in Vermont’s courthouses this week, I imagine.”

Now that the review is complete, VSEA will be lobbying with the Judiciary at the State House to secure the money needed to fund the Judiciary workers’ wage increase. In a March 13 memo to Judiciary staff, Court Administrator Patricia Gabel writes, “The fiscal impact of these reclassifications is estimated to be $584,235 in total annually as applied prospectively beginning in FY 2018, and an additional $323,828 if applied retroactively to the December 15, 2016 agreement date as provided in the agreement. The Judiciary and the VSEA will be working together to advocate in support of this funding request.”

Additional Coverage:

Thanks To All VSEA Members Who Braved The Storm!

While Tuesday’s snowstorm forced the early closure of most state offices for the first time in recent memory, VSEA knows that hundreds of state employees were still at work, ensuring our roads were cleared, that Vermonters were safe, that our hospitals and prisons were fully functional, and a host of other services.

VSEA thanks every state employee who worked through Tuesday’s snowstorm to ensure Vermonters continued to receive the quality public services they deserve and fund. You continue to be the force that truly does make Vermont work.  

State Sends Memo, Instructing Agency and Department Heads Not To Work With Lawmakers To Identify Budget Cuts

VTDigger reports on March 15 that Department of Finance and Management Commissioner Andy Pallito sent a memo this week to agency and department heads, instructing them not to discuss any ideas for budget cuts with lawmakers. The memo was issued as lawmakers continue to struggle to find approximately $10 to $18 million in additional savings (down from $80 million) to address Vermont’s latest budget deficit.
 
Pallito wrote, “If you are contacted, please remind them that the [State] put forth a balanced budget, and we should continue to support that budget.” Adding fuel to the fire, Pallito also signaled that the State will not be working with lawmakers on a plan until the legislature introduces its own plan, writing “Once we receive a proposal, we will review it and work with [legislators] to reconcile their proposal with the [State]’s goals.”
 
This unfortunate stand off could not come at a worse time in the budgeting process, and, as predicted, the State and lawmakers’ failure to introduce any new revenue-generating measures has left both sides with few options but to once again begin entertaining the idea of more cuts to state employees and the services you provide. Needless to say, VSEA’s lobbying team has been scrambling to steer the discussion away from cuts and back to things like reducing corporate welfare, renegotiating ski leases, reducing overtime and temps, etc.
 
Read March 17 letter to the editor that calls out lawmakers for resorting to cuts again
 
As the budget process continues to advance in the next few weeks, it’s imperative that all VSEA members remain educated about what is happening at the State House and engaged in any and all lobbying “asks” coming from your VSEA Legislative Team at headquarters or officers.  
 
To ensure you are receiving the latest updates from Montpelier, please update or submit your contact information here. Thanks in advance for the help.

And Then There’s The Anticipated Cuts Coming At The Federal Level…

Vermont Senate Pro Tem Tim Ashe didn’t pull any punches when telling VTDigger on March 16 that the state is “royally screwed” if the new President’s federal budget proposal is adopted. He also said he is already making plans for a special session for the last two weeks of October 2017, which is shortly after whatever federal budget is passed is scheduled to take effect. Ashe pointed to the proposed federal budget’s substantial cuts to environmental programs and labor and legal aid, among others. Some programs, he said, would be completely defunded, including the Community Development Block Grant program and the Low Income Heating Emergency Assistance Program.
 
“It would be so off the charts we’d have to come back,” Ashe tells Digger. Officials have said federal money accounts for about 35 percent of the state budget.

Additional coverage:

Central Vermont Chapter Meeting Is Tuesday, March 21

VSEA’s Central Vermont Chapter is hosting a Chapter meeting on Tuesday, March 21, at the National Life Complex in Montpelier.

The meeting begins at 12:00 p.m. in the Main 2 Building’s Winooski Conference Room. The agenda includes discussing upcoming Chapter-building events and a legislative update from the State House.

For more information, please contact Chapter President Cassandra Edson by email at cassandraedson@hotmail.com.

Springfield Chapter Meeting Rescheduled To March 22

Due to this week’s snowstorm, Springfield Chapter President Joey Holmes decided to postpone the March 15 Chapter meeting to March 22.

The VSEA Springfield Chapter meeting is Wednesday, March 22, in the State Office Building’s first-floor conference room. The meeting begins at 4:40 p.m.

Questions? Please contact Chapter President Joey Holmes by email at jholmes2013@comcast.net.

VSEA Seeks Union Organizer

VSEA is seeking an experienced Union Organizer.
 
Areas of Responsibility Include:
  • Leadership Development - Identify existing leaders within VSEA and build relationships with those members through the work of building the union; Identify and recruit members to fill leadership roles within the structure of VSEA; Educate members on ways in which they can talk to their colleagues about the union, develop effective strategies to identify issues, use direct action to make workplace improvements, and staff Labor/Management Committees;
     
  • Support VSEA’s Broader Organizational Goals and Activities - Facilitate turnout to events, trainings and meetings; Support key legislative, political, and community and workplace actions as outlined by the VSEA Strategic Plan;
     
  • Identify Member Issues & Move a Plan of Action: Meet with members to discuss current issues of importance; Work to develop and execute a clear work plan around the issues;
     
  • Increase Union Membership: Demonstrate success in signing up fee payer and new employees as VSEA members while engaging union activists and leaders in the process of signing up new members; and
     
  • Communication with Members: Be a frequent worksite presence in worksites, holding face-to-face conversations with VSEA leaders, activists and rank-and-file members; Provide the VSEA Communications Department with regular updates on internal and external organizing efforts; and
     
  • Update VSEA bulletin boards in worksites by providing activists and leaders with updated materials as often as possible.
VSEA seeks to interview dynamic candidates with a track record of commitment to the labor movement and preferably two (2) years of experience as a union or political organizer. Any applicant must have reliable transportation as daily in-state travel is expected. Interested and qualified candidates are encouraged to submit their resume and a cover letter detailing their labor or political experience to Rstout@VSEA.org. Exceptional candidates will be scheduled for an interview.

VSEA Insurance Representative Will Be In White River Junction, Springfield and Rutland Next Week!

VSEA Benefits Enrollment

 
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.
 

White River District Office

118 Prospect Street
Hartford, Vt.
Suite 401 Economic Services
March 21
12:00 to 4:00
 

Springfield District Office

100 Mineral Street
Health Dept.
Suite 104
March 24
12:00 to 4:00
 

Rutland District Office

88 Merchants Row
Dept. of Labor
March 22 and 23
12:00 to 4:00
 
Receive information on disability coverage, family life insurance, family accident, cancer and hospital 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 need 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!

Not Seeing VSEA In Your Facebook News Feed? Set VSEA’s Page To "See First"

Many VSEA members have reached out to VSEA's Communications Department to ask why they don't see their union's posts in their Facebook newsfeed. Facebook has limited space to show you posts, so if you like a lot of Facebook pages, VSEA's posts may not be appearing in your feed. But fear not, Facebook provides a way to prioritize your favorite pages, so you can ensure you don't miss VSEA's posts. It’s an easy process:
  • ​​Navigate to VSEA’s Facebook page;
  • Towards the left of the page, below the big cover photo, click the “FOLLOWING” button. A drop-down menu should appear; and
  • In the drop down menu, select, “See First”
That’s it! Now Facebook will prioritize VSEA’s posts in your news feed so you won’t miss a thing!

Bolton Valley Already Offering VSEA Members Discounted 2017-2018 Passes

Bolton Valley (BV) Ski Resort has been a VSEA Advantage Program participant for years, offering state employees discounted season passes. It’s a popular item, and while winter 2016 is not even over yet, BV is already offering VSEA members discounted 2017-2018 ski passes. 

Check out the different options and pricing here.

Important! To purchase an online, discounted BV 2017-2018 pass, you must first receive a special promotional code directly from the VSEA Advantage Program. To get a promo code, contact VSEA’s Susan DeVoid by email (sdevoid@vsea.org) or by phone at 802-223-5247. Susan is only available during normal VSEA operating hours.
 
After receiving your VSEA online promotional code, simply log on to www.boltonvalley.com/industry to purchase your pass(es).

 

Know of a business you would like to see in the VSEA Advantage Discount Program?


VSEA members are encouraged to recruit local businesses in their area. Vendor sign-up forms available from VSEA Headquarters. You can also download and print a form here.

Review the guidelines of the Advantage Program here.

Study Questions Value Of Tennessee Taxpayer-Funded Assistance For In-State Corporations

The state of Tennessee recently commissioned a Michigan-based firm to conduct a study of the value taxpayers receive for providing financial assistance to in-state corporations seeking money to expand or relocate. According to a March 16 article about the study posted to The Commercial Appeal, it is very hard to determine what, if any, value there is.
 
If incentives have an effect they are “relatively modest,” says Timony Bartik, a senior economist at the Michigan-based think tanks that produced the analysis. The piece ends, “What seems clear is the public deserves more information. Taxpayers are making a significant investment, and the dividends are not perfectly clear.”
 
Note: Vermont State Auditor Doug Hoffer has been very vocal about the need for State officials and lawmakers to fully assess some of the taxpayer-funded incentives being offered to Vermont corporations and whether or not the investment is worth is paying dividends. To date, no such checks and balances have been applied to programs like VEGI and the Enterprise Fund, which Hoffer insists must begin to have some kind of accountability for the funds provided.

Will Nevada Follow California And Rule That State Business Done On Private Devices Is Public?

The March 15 Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Nevada is about to decide if the phone records of public employees who use their private phones for government business are public record. The decision is on the heels of a California Supreme Court ruling last week that the employee’s phone records are public record.  
 
From the story:
 
“If the communications involve public business, they should be public, said Barry Smith, executive director for the Nevada Press Association. ‘No matter what device they’re on.’ The law in Nevada falls on the side of those records being public, Smith said. But the interpretation of Nevada’s public records laws and how they apply to personal accounts is up for debate.”

The Nevada Supreme Court is expected to hear a case soon and then issue a decision.

VSEA Organizer’s Upcoming Worksite Meetings

VSEA Organizer Tim Lenoch is personally conducting informational meetings in set workplaces on set days in four locations. He 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

AHS Conference Room
DOH
107 Eastern Ave.
  • April 11
  • May 9
 

Brattleboro

Room 148
State Office Building
232 Main Street
  • April 14
  • May 12
  • June 9
 

White River Junction

Room 170
State Office Building
118 Prospect Street
  • March 21
  • April 18
  • May 16
  • June 20
 

Springfield

First Floor Conference Room
State Office Building
100 Mineral Street
  • March 22*
    *Rescheduled due to snowstorm
  • April 19
  • May 17
  • June 21

VSEA Winter/ Spring Training Schedule

VSEA Labor Educator Tim Lenoch asked WIA to make members aware that he has made some changes to his previously announced winter 2016 trainings schedule. Some trainings have been cancelled and the date for others has been changed
(* = date change).  

 
If you are interested in registering to attend one or more of the remaining 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.

 

TARGETED DEPARTMENT/ BARGAINING UNIT TRAININGS

 

Vermont State Colleges’ Stewards

VTC Campus, Randolph Center
Thursday, April 6
 

Judiciary Stewards

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

NEW STEWARD TRAININGS


Steward 3: The Contract and Challenges in the Workplace

VTrans Training Center
1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
*Thursday, March 30
 

Steward 2: Protecting the Contract and Building the Union

VTrans Training Center
1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
*Friday, March 31
 

Steward 2: Protecting the Contract and Building the Union

VTrans Training Center
1716 US Rte. 302, Berlin
Thursday, May 16

Click here to register for a training(s)!
This Week:
VSEA Judiciary Workers Prevail In Years-Long Fight For Fair Wages!

Thanks To All VSEA Members Who Braved The Storm!

State Sends Memo, Instructing Agency and Department Heads Not To Work With Lawmakers To Identify Budget Cuts

And Then There’s The Anticipated Cuts Coming At The Federal Level…

Central Vermont Chapter Meeting Is Tuesday, March 21

Springfield Chapter Meeting Rescheduled To March 22

VSEA Seeks Union Organizer

VSEA Insurance Representative Will Be In White River Junction, Springfield and Rutland Next Week!

Not Seeing VSEA In Your Facebook News Feed? Set VSEA’s Page To "See First"

Bolton Valley Already Offering VSEA Members Discounted 2017-2018 Passes

Study Questions Value Of Tennessee Taxpayer-Funded Assistance For In-State Corporations

Will Nevada Follow California And Rule That State Business Done On Private Devices Is Public?

VSEA Organizer’s Upcoming Worksite Meetings

VSEA Winter/ Spring Training Schedule
Week In Action Reminders:
VSEA Legislative Reports Available Online

April 18 Deadline To Submit Bylaw Changes

VSEA 2017 Scholarship Applications Now Online!

VSEA Strategic Analyst’s “Right-To-Work” Presentation Available Online

What’s VSEA Done For Vermont State Employees? See For Yourself

VSEA Schedules 2017 “Day At Fenway” Event For August 27

Threatened While On The Job? VSEA Wants To Know

Join VSEA's Texting List!

VSEA Advantage Discount Program

Need To Update Your Contact Information With VSEA?
Calendar:
March 21
Central Vermont Chapter Meeting
National Life Complex
Main 2, Winooski Conference Room
Montpelier
12:00 p.m.
 
March 21
White River Junction Worksite Meeting w/Organizer
State Office Building
Room 170
118 Prospect Street
White River Junction
12:00 p.m.
 
March 22
Vermont State Colleges’ Executive Board Meeting
VSEA HQ
Montpelier
9:00 a.m.
 
March 22
Bylaws Committee Meeting
VSEA HQ
Montpelier
2:00 p.m.

March 22
Springfield Chapter Meeting  
State Office Building
100 Mineral Street
First Floor Conference Room
Springfield
4:40 p.m.

March 23
Budget Committee Meeting
VSEA HQ
Montpelier
10:00 a.m.
 
March 23
Chittenden Worksite Meeting w/Organizer
State Office Building
108 Cherry St.
Conference Room 2B
Burlington
12:00 p.m.

March 23
Policy Committee Meeting
VSEA HQ
Montpelier
1:00 p.m.
 
March 24
NMU Bargaining Team Meeting
VSEA HQ
Montpelier
9:00 a.m.
Read Contracts Online At VSEA.org
VSEA members belonging to the Non-Management, Corrections, Judiciary and Supervisory Units can click here to view your contract. All these contracts expire on June 30, 2018.
Quote of The Week!
“We
believe in constitutional action in normal times; we believe in revolutionary action in exceptional times.”
Famous quote from Irish Labour Leader James Connolly (1868-1916), who was executed by firing squad in 1916 for helping lead the “Easter Uprising.”
How To Print Week In Action
Looking for a quick and easy way to print Week In Action to post in your worksite?

Print This Week's Issue of Week In Action Here!
VSEA Legislative Reports Available Online
VSEA’s Legislative Team has begun to post weekly reports to let members know what’s been happening at the State House in Montpelier. To get the latest VSEA updates from under the Golden Dome, you will first need to log into your VSEA.org account (log in here) and then click here.

Need a VSEA.org account?
Sign up for a free account here
April 18 Deadline To Submit Bylaw Changes
The deadline to submit proposals for changes to VSEA’s Master Bylaws is Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Proposals must be mailed to: Cassandra Edson, Bylaws Committee Chair, c/o VSEA Headquarters, P.O. Box 518, Montpelier, VT 05602.
 
Proposals should reference the number, section, sub-section, etc. of the bylaw you would like to change. You should also include the language you want to add, delete or substitute. Also include the reason(s) you are making this proposal.  Example:  “Bylaw 0 A (1) (b) Change: Monday to Sunday. Reason: Makes it easier to work with the calendar.”
 
Please be sure the changes you are recommending include all Articles and/or Bylaws that may be affected by the proposed change.
 
If you have questions, please contact Cassandra by email at cassandraedson@ hotmail.com.
VSEA 2017 Scholarship Applications Now Online!
Every year, the VSEA Scholarship & Awards Committee solicits scholarship applications from VSEA members and their spouses, dependents and domestic partners. The 2017 scholarship applications are now available online, and VSEA students who are seeking financial assistance this year in the pursuit of post-secondary educational goals can download one here.

The deadline for applications is May 8!
VSEA Strategic Analyst’s “Right-To-Work” Presentation 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. Adam is pictured here delivering his presentation last week to the Bennington Chapter.
 
Norton’s “Why Right-to-Work Is Bad For Workers” 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.
 
Learn More about "Right To Work" here
What’s VSEA Done For Vermont State Employees? See For Yourself
A lot has happened since the VSEA was officially recognized in 1944 as the voice for Vermont’s state employee workforce, and VSEA’s Communications Department has now compiled many of your union’s notable victories and achievements in a new online chronological history of the VSEA.
 
“Thankfully, VSEA formed a special committee in the mid-eighties to put together a historical synopsis of what had happened within the union from 1944 to then, and it was a great piece for us to build from,” explains VSEA Communications Director Doug Gibson. “This up-to-date history will hopefully help educate more VSEA members about the fights and campaigns of past state employees, reminding them how long it actually took for workers to get to where they are today, in terms of wages, benefits and working conditions. We hope it will be a good resource and tool for members.”
 
View VSEA’s new online history timeline here.
VSEA Schedules 2017 “Day At Fenway” Event For August 27
Last year, VSEA scheduled its first-ever “VSEA Day at Fenway” event, and it was a huge success. This year, VSEA will again be sponsoring a trip to Fenway, this time to see the Red Sox battle the Baltimore Orioles in a 1:05 p.m. start on Sunday, August 27. The estimated cost is $80 per person, which includes a bus ride to and from the park, as well as a ticket to the game.

If you and your family would be interested in joining your union and fellow members at Fenway on August 27, 2017, you should contact VSEA Union Representative Bob South. You can reach Bob by email at bsouth@vsea.org or by phone at 223-5247.
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
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 Advantage Discount Program

Member only discounts on goods and services such as skiing, clothing, automotive, insurance, lawyer referral program, workers compensation advice and more! The VSEA Advantage Program is proof that there is power in numbers. It keeps working for you when the workday is through.


Just Present Your VSEA Union Card To Receive These Great Discounts! Don't Have A Union Card? Request One Here!
 

Popular Advantage Program Discounts Include:

  • Discount Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom (2016 discount was $23 off day passes)
     
  • Discount Passes for ski resorts like Sugarbush Resort ($899 season passes) and Bolton Valley ($70 off season passes) - 2015/2016 season enrollment period has ended.
     
  • Winter/ Summer tire discounts for various locations across Vermont (5-10% off depending on location)
     
  • Movie theater discounts at select theaters in Vermont.
     
  • Restaurant discounts throughout Vermont (5-20% off depending on location).
     
  • and more!
View a complete list of participating vendors and discounts here!
Need To Update Your Contact Information With VSEA?
Update Your Contact Information Here

Request A VSEA Union Card Here

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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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