‘Outside raid’ threatened state employee union

Bernie wants big bucks for health centers / Saving the bat / New faces atop state government

by Guy Page

With scant notice to membership, the leadership board of the state employees’ union [when] joined the powerful AFL-CIO earlier this month to avoid a hostile takeover of from a national union.

At the Vermont State Employees Association annual meeting September 9, President Aimee Towne explained that prompt action was needed.

The September 15 VSEA newsletter said: “President Towne acknowledged that the urgency and sensitivity of the threat to the independence of the VSEA from an outside raid did not provide the Board of Trustees the ability to do the level of communication with the VSEA members that they would have liked to do, saying she is committed to a robust outreach effort to share information about the VSEA’s membership in the AFL-CIO. The President said the Board had to act quickly on behalf of VSEA members to prevent an outside raid.”

Joining the big umbrella union protects VSEA from takeovers by other member unions.

What union was threatening VSEA? A VT Digger media report cited in the newsletter mentioned the National Police Benevolent Association and the New England Police Benevolent Association. The latter group had sought to gain support of Corrections staff, as reported by Vermont Daily Chronicle.  

In earlier statements, the VSEA made no mention of the takeover threat, instead emphasizing enhanced discounts, training and legal help – and increased likelihood of passing the Card Check bill stalled in the Vermont Legislature.

Unfilled prison staff positions are down from 30% to less than 16%, the media report quoted in the newsletter said.

Chief IT, environmental officers named – Denise Reilly-Hughes has been named secretary of the Agency of Digital Services (ADS). Former Chief Vermont Game Warden Jason Batchelder has been named commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Reilly-Hughes was appointed deputy commissioner of ADS in January of 2023. She has served as interim secretary since July, following the retirement of Secretary Shawn Nailor.

Commissioner Batchelder previously served as the Colonel of the Vermont Fish and Game Warden Service from 2014 until he retired in 2022.

Batchelder will now lead DEC’s 300 employees working to promote clean air, clean water, and healthy communities.

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department has been awarded U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funding to conserve habitat for the federally listed Indiana and Northern long-eared bats. With the acquisition of approximately 200 acres in Addison County supported by this grant, the department is seeking to conserve summer roosting, foraging, and commuting habitat for these federally endangered bat species.

Bernie wants $26 billion for community health centers – Legislation to be introduced September 21 by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) would provide over $26 billion in funding to expand primary care, including:

  • $5.8 billion a year over the next three years in mandatory funding for community health centers providing primary health care to more than 30 million Americans, including $245 million per year set aside to expand hours of operation at community health centers and $55 million per year for school-based health services.
  • $3 billion in capital funding primarily to enable community health centers to expand dental care and mental health care in their facilities.
  • Increased funding from $310 million to $950 million per year over the next three years to provide 2,100 scholarships and debt forgiveness for 20,000 doctors, nurses, dentists, mental health providers, and others working in underserved areas.

Sanders’ office said that over the next decade the United States faces a shortage of over 120,000 doctors — including a huge shortage of primary care doctors. Over the next two years alone, it is estimated the U.S. will need between 200,000 and 450,000 more nurses.

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Categories: SHORTS

2 replies »

  1. Wow, the VSEA did a major switcheroonie on their membership with no warning, no notice, no vote? Being it’s selection season, the PAC coffers just got a boost, some got their palms greased, the dues will likely go up, and whatever the Master demands, the Master will get – the financial sunami coming has many “organizations” scrambing for scraps and votes (aka ballot harvesters) simultaneously.

  2. Keep the government out of healthcare. That is unless you really like the government telling you which shots to get and how many!!!!!

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