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Weekly News From VSEA!
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Week In Action Newsletter
July 31, 2020

VSEA President Dave Bellini Announces Retirement. Resigning From Presidency.

During his presentation at today's first-ever Zoom VSEA Council Meeting, VSEA President Dave Bellini announced that he is officially retiring after 40 years of service. He is also resigning from his position as President. Council members were quick to thank Bellini for his service and wish him all the best in retirement. As expected, Bellini said he'll still be around and available to help in any way he can.

Bellini told the Council that VSEA First VP Aimee Towne will serve as interim President until the union's Elections, Rules, and Nominating Committee can conduct a special election in the near future. An email with a candidate petition will be sent soon, so members interested in running to be VSEA President can acquire the signatures required.

VSEA thanks Dave Bellini for his dedicated and exemplary service to Vermont and to VSEA.

Happy retirement President Bellini!

The Week In Action PDF download is not available this week. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
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State Mask Mandate Begins August 1

A reminder that, as of Saturday, August 1, 2020, the State is mandating Vermonters and visitors wear masks or cloth facial coverings over their nose and mouth any time they are in public spaces, indoors or outdoors, where they come in contact with others from outside their households, especially in congregate settings, and where it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet.

More Information From ACCD

Registration Materials Being Emailed Soon To Attend VSEA's 76th Annual Meeting At Jay Peak

VSEA members will soon be emailed materials to register to attend the union's 76th Annual Meeting, which is being held this year at the Jay Peak Resort on Saturday, September 12.

VSEA leaders are taking the approach that the COVID-19 pandemic will still be occurring, so all federal and state coronavirus guidelines will be observed at Annual Meeting, meaning masks, social distancing, hand washing and sanitizing, etc. Members' tables will also be spread out to the recommended distance. 

Another important Annual Meeting this year, as there's plenty  to get done, including:
  • Vote on operating budget;
     
  • Vote on bylaw change proposals;
     
  • Vet Legislative Committee political endorsements;
     
  • Possible dues discussion;
     
  • Strategize around current campaign to secure year-two contract funding;
     
  • Strategize around campaign to protect state employees during the COVID pandemic; and
     
  • Strategize about ways to continue to grow VSEA's membership into 2021. 

VSEA Zoom Council Meeting

Like most every organization these days, the COVID pandemic forced the VSEA Council to have to meet remotely today by Zoom, rather than in person; a first-ever for the body.

Today's meeting is the Council's most important in any given year, as Council members are approving an operating budget for the new fiscal year and deciding which bylaw-change proposals to forward to members attending VSEA's Annual Meeting at Jay Peak in September for a vote.   

In addition to budget and bylaw debates and discussions, Council members also received an overview of the upcoming legislative session and tended to old and new business. The Council next meets again in September; one day prior to Annual Meeting.

NMU Bargaining Team & Executive Committee Looking To Fill Vacancies

VSEA's Non-Management Unit (NMU) is actively looking 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 14, 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​

*Please note: the previously listed email address, rstone@vsea.org, is incorrect. Please email letters to bob272@hotmail.com
We apologize for the error.

VSEA Announces Primary Election Endorsements

As VSEA members prepare to go to the polls on August 11, or mail in their ballot beforehand, VSEA is announcing its endorsed candidates for the primary election and urging members and retirees to cast your vote for these candidates. 

This list has been vetted and approved by VSEA's Legislative Committee, the VSEA Council, and the VSEA Board.
View VSEA 2020 Primary Election Endorsements

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:

  • Springfield Chapter 
    Thursday, August 13
    4:45 p.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
     
  • 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.

State Colleges Seeking Increased Funding In Upcoming August Legislative Session

Cartoon: Seven Days 

VSEA Vermont State Colleges (VSC) Unit members have been lobbying the State and lawmakers for months now (some, for years) to increase funding to the beleaguered VSC system. In recent months, the COVID crisis has forced members' lobbying emphasis to be for the State and lawmakers to provide adequate "bridge funding" to the VSC system, but, to date, the $35 million they say is needed only totals roughly $12 million. Lawmakers will be revisiting the VSC funding issue at a special upcoming August session. 

FOX 44 reports that "a Labor Task Force made up of various union members from across the state colleges system will be proposing solutions to longstanding staffing and demographic issues next Thursday at a staff town hall meeting. There will be a particular focus on reconfiguring adminstration across the system."

Local news reports this week on the VSC budgeting crisis:

VSEA Woodside Members Are Angry About  Recent Press Report

VSEA members working at the Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center are not happy with a story that appeared this week on VTDigger, titled, "State Seeks More Time to Make ‘Cultural Change’ at Woodside." The workers say the story, which concentrates on reports of alleged violations of a settlement regarding the care of juveniles, is one-sided and is not reality. 

"Another news outlet has given a slanderous and completely biased report about what is going on at Woodside," one irate Woodside worker wrote to VSEA after reading the story. "There clearly is no support for this staff given from DCF Central Office." 

VSEA has responded to the reporter who penned the piece, asking for a sit-down with the workers (or Zoom) and a follow-up story, which she has agreed to provide. 

Quote Of
The Week!

 

"The lack of state support has led to our death by a thousand cuts..."


Castleton University Professor Linda Olson, as quoted in a FOX44 story this week about Vermont State Colleges' leaders meeting with lawmakers to talk about the dire need for adequate funding of the system. When lawmakers reconvene soon, VSC funding, especially "bridge" funding will be a priority issue. 
Talking Points:

California Child Care Providers Win Historic Union Election 

In a union election victory 17 years in the making, child care providers across California have voted overwhelmingly to be represented by their union, Child Care Providers United (CCPU). A joint effort of UDW/AFSCME Local 3930 and SEIU Locals 99 and 521, 97% of voters chose to join CCPU.

“This has been a long time coming,” UDW Assistant Executive Director and AFSCME Vice President Johanna Hester said on Monday. “This win gives 40,000 family child care providers in California the opportunity to bargain for higher pay, better training and increased access to care for every child who needs it."

The child care workforce in California is made up primarily of women of color, making this historic election a step forward in the fight for gender equity and racial justice, not just for the providers but also for the children and families they serve.

“This seat at the table means everything for the economic security and livelihoods of providers, the working families they serve and for the affordable, accessible child care system that California needs to rebuild its economy,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders, who joined CCPU for a virtual press conference to deliver his congratulations.

“This is not just a victory for union rights and economic justice. As a movement led by women of color, today’s win is also an important step in the march toward gender justice and racial justice,” Saunders added. “It is also a reminder, especially at a time when it can be tempting to throw up our hands and give up, that joining a union can help solve America’s deep-seated problems of racial and economic inequality.”

AFL-CIO's Executive Pay Watch Group Predicts A Surge In CEO-To-Worker Pay Gap, As Result Of COVID 

Politico reports this week on the release of the AFL-CIO's annual "Executive Paywtach Report," which determined that CEOs at companies listed on the benchmark S&P 500 index saw their compensation increase by about $300,000 from 2018. While the pay gap with ordinary workers narrowed slightly in 2019 from the previous year, the Report says that gain will be short-lived because of the more than 30 million workers who have lost their jobs this year.

“The disparity is horrific and it represents a fundamental imbalance in our economy,” AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler said during a press conference this morning. "It exposes massive inequality."

The largest pay disparity recorded on the S&P was at auto parts company Aptiv, with a ratio of 2,077 to 1. The next four highest were McDonald's Corp., apparel and footwear company VF Corp., Starbucks and the Coca-Cola Co.

Complete The Census!

This Week:

VSEA President Dave Bellini Announces Retirement. Resigning From Presidency

State Mask Mandate Begins August 1

Registration Materials Being Emailed Soon To Attend VSEA' s 76th Annual Meeting At Jay Peak

VSEA Zoom Council Meeting

NMU Bargaining Team & Executive Committee Looking To Fill Vacancies

VSEA Announces Primary Election Endorsements

Chapter Annual Meeting Schedule To Date

State Colleges Seeking Increased Funding In Upcoming August Legislative Session

VSEA Woodside Members Are Angry About  Recent Press Report

Quote of the Week!
Talking Points:
California Child Care Providers Win Historic Union Election

AFL-CIO's Executive Pay Watch Group Predicts A Surge In CEO-To-Worker Pay Gap, As Result Of COVID

Complete The Census!
Calendar:
August 4
Board of Trustees Meeting
via Zoom
Full VSEA Calendar
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

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!
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
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