The Vermont State Employees’ Association (VSEA) is today calling on House Speaker Jill Krowinski and the members of the Vermont House of Representatives to immediately schedule a public hearing, when and if any plan is formally introduced in the House to make changes to the state employees’ pension plan.
“State employees are the heroes and the heroines of the COVID Pandemic,” reminds VSEA President Aimee Towne. “They have come through for Vermonters, meeting every challenge they have been asked to—with sacrifice and sometimes at great personal risk–and they deserve to be heard on an issue as important as their pension. Before introducing any change to state employee pensions, VSEA is asking the members of the House of Representatives to look into the eyes of our members and to see and hear from the human beings who are more than just numbers on spreadsheets and included in policy papers.”
Towne adds that, since learning about the Treasurer’s recommendations, VSEA members and retirees have been calling, emailing and talking with their local legislators, voicing strong opposition to the recommendations and asking for the process to be slowed down.
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VSEA is congratuating State Game Warden Sergeant Travis Buttle of Shaftsbury on being named Vermont’s Game Warden of the Year. A game warden since 1996, Buttle was nominated by his peers and received the award in recognition of his excellent service.
“I want to thank Travis for his outstanding performance in protecting Vermont’s fish and wildlife resources and serving the people of Vermont,” said Vermont Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter in a statement. “Sergeant Buttle was chosen for his integrity, professionalism and high motivation in all of his work duties, and because he has earned respect from other wardens and the public.”
VSEA members are cheering news that Governor Scott signed a bill this afternoon that will restore fairness to the collective bargaining process by using an arbitrator mutually selected by VSEA and the State to resolve future Executive Branch contract-negotiation disputes.
VSEA drafted and championed the legislation in response to the State—prior to the last round of bargaining—appointing someone with a strong management background to a “neutral” seat on the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB), or the body that, until today, had been charged with resolving contract disputes. Now, both VSEA and the State will mutually agree on an arbitrator to make a decision.
“The last round of bargaining with the State left a bad taste in the mouths of VSEA members statewide, knowing the deck had been stacked against us with the appointment of Karen O’Neill to the VLRB,” explains VSEA President Dave Bellini. “We are very happy lawmakers heard us, and that the Governor signed the bill. It’s a shame it had to come to this, given the decades of civil and productive bargaining that preceded VSEA needing to take the action we did. With a new round of bargaining with the State coming up soon, hopefully this bill won’t even come into play and we’ll be able to reach a contract agreement without having to use an arbitrator.”