The following is a message to all AOT workers from Art Aulis, AOT delegate to the NMU Bargaining Team:
AOT-VSEA Leader Art Aulis Speaks Out:
“No Pay Cuts, No Capitulation. We Must Fight!”
By Art Aulis, AOT Delegate to the NMU Bargaining Team
ur union is presently in a historic struggle against all those who oppose us. The Governor and many Democrats and Republicans in the Statehouse want to take our money [eliminate the 2.5% raise slated for July 1, 2015], eliminate our jobs [up to 450 RIFs], and shutter or privatize significant aspects of our public services [close or privatize the VT Vet’s Home, close the Windsor Prison, close two Emergency Dispatch Centers, close the Community High School of VT, eliminate VOSHA, eliminate the VT Commission on Women, etc.]. What these politicians refuse to do is raise taxes on the rich in order for us to get paid, for our jobs to be funded, and for us to continue to provide essential services to the public. There are even those in the Statehouse (such as the House Committee on Government Operations) who have proposed placing further limits on what we have the right to bargain for during contract negotiations. Like we have seen in Wisconsin, the politicians and moneyed interests are seeking to erode the power of labor. But unlike in Wisconsin this effort in Vermont is being led by the Democratic Party (and strongly supported by the Republican Party). As the AOT delegate to the Non-Management Unit Bargaining Team [AOT comprises 20% of NMU] I am here to say that this is bullshit, and I will never place a vote in favor of opening our contract in order to take hard-earned-money out of our pockets; not now, not tomorrow, not ever!
As the fight against the Governor and Legislature intensifies, we still must face with sober senses the fact that those politicians that stand with us, such as State Senator Anthony Pollina [Progressive Party], are too few. Our ability to Fight Back rests upon our collective will as a union and the solidarity we receive from our friends in allied labor organizations such as the Vermont AFL-CIO & the Vermont Workers Center. And as we and our families make up thousands of Vermonters, we do have the ability to vote anti-labor politicians out of office, and they need to be reminded of this fact each and every day. Furthermore, it is also fact that Vermont works because we work. If plow drivers, for example, failed to do their job for just one storm, all of Vermont would shut down. These are facts that demand respect, and which those who would oppose us in Montpelier should never forget.
As a part of this ‘reminder’ (as part of the VSEA Fight Back campaign) I am asking each and every one of you, my fellow union members and co-workers, to call the Governor, your local State Representatives & Senators and tell them: “I work for AOT, I live in your district, and you cannot balance the budget on the backs of state employees and working people. Raise taxes on the rich! Otherwise I will remember on Election Day.”
[You can call and leave a message for the Governor at 802.828.3333]
[You can call and leave a message for your Legislators at the Statehouse
(through the Sargent-At-Arms office) at 1-800-322-5616 or 828-2228]
But making calls alone will not result in victory. Anyone who tells you that is wrong. Our true power is in our unity and in our numbers and by virtue of the necessity of our collective labor. So yes, to have a real chance at victory we will need to do more than make calls. Recognizing this basic truth, a VSEA Fight Back rally will be announced in the coming days. [a VSEA Fight Back rally will be held in Montpelier on Saturday, April 11th –details will be provided by VSEA ASAP.] I support this rally and you need to be there. Together we need to do whatever it takes to protect our pay, our jobs, and public services. We must make the politicians and the rich who stand behind them feel our collective strength. That is the path by which victory will be attained. Therefore, as leaders in the VSEA reach out to you with action requests, you need to be ready and willing to do your part.
During these difficult times it should also be expected that you will hear rumors. Rumors often have the intended or unintended effect of dividing our natural unity. Therefore I ask that you pay no attention to rumors. For my part, as the AOT delegate to the NMU Bargaining Team, and as Vice Chair of the AOT Labor Management Committee, I give you my promise that if you have any questions and if you ask me (in person, by phone, or email – email@example.com), I will provide you with answers. If I do not know the answer, I will seek to get you one.
In conclusion, recognize that we need to stand 100% united at this historic moment. All members should be as engaged as they can with our union. If you are not a member, send a message to the Governor by becoming a member today. [An online VSEA membership card can be filled out by going to the following web address: https://www.vsea.org/membership-application.] And know this… To balance the budget through a targeted tax on state workers is as immoral as balancing the budget by gutting public services. The only true answer is to fund our state by taxing the rich. We must stand united in our continuing efforts to make the Governor and Legislators understand this basic fact. We will do this through escalating efforts via our VSEA Fight Back campaign. Any who do not stand with us and agree with all I have stated in this communication, must be removed from office and positions of influence (Democrat & Republican). Those that stood with us will be remembered too, and we will stand by them going forward and rightly recognize them as friends of Labor. But for now, we fight on and must fight for ourselves, our family, and our union power. We will not accept pay cuts, we will not support job losses, or the erosion of our power. We know the work we do is important to Vermont’s working families and we know it is only the rich who should be asked to give more. In brief, no pay cuts; no capitulation; we must fight!
VSEA Steward, Council Member, Vice Chairman of the AOT Labor Management Committee, AOT Delegate to the NMU Bargaining Team, & AOT Worker out of the Derby Garage.
*If you have not already taken the AOT-VSEA Bargaining Survey, do so now by going to the below link:
**Art Aulis represents AOT on the Non-Management Unit Bargaining Team, is Vice Chairman of the AOT Labor Management Committee, is on Council, and is a Steward in the Derby Garage (Northeast Kingdom). Art, who drives a plow truck, is a Master Maintenance Technician, is a 25 year State employee and proud member of the Vermont State Employees’ Association. Art can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or at 802.673.8014.