Leadership of the Vermont State Employees Association (VSEA) learned today that Vermont’s Corrections employees have voted to retain the VSEA as the workers’ bargaining representative. The vote was prompted by a recent attempted raid on the Unit by the New England Police Benevolent Association (NEPBA), a Massachusetts-based union. The count was conducted at and by the Vermont Labor Relations Board.
“This is terrific news, and VSEA applauds and thanks everyone who cast a vote for VSEA,” says VSEA President Aimee Towne. “Now that this chapter has concluded, VSEA looks forward to working with our Corrections members—both “yes” and “no” voters—to address the many issues they identified to us both pre- and post-election. This means short staffing, forced overtime, COVID, and low morale to start. We are looking forward to meeting with the new commissioner in the very near future.”
Towne explains that prior to the vote, VSEA leaders and staff spent months talking with Corrections members, in person (when able), electronically, and by phone.
“This was very much an organizing drive that, due to the number of workers, required an all-hands-on-deck approach,” she adds. “I want to stress that today’s vote would not have happened without the help and knowledge of our rank-and-file leaders in each correctional facility. Now, it’s time to get to work.”
VSEA has represented Vermont Corrections employees for more than four decades.
A story posted this week to VTDigger appears to validate workers’ and union’s concerns that it will be difficult for the State to find a new home in a timely manner for the now-shuttered Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center youth facility.
Last year, VSEA frontline workers at Woodside joined VSEA leaders in warning lawmakers about the ramifications of a decision to close Vermont’s sole care facility for at-risk youth. While the level of care and services were the workers’ and union’s primary reason to fight the closure, they also warned that siting a new facility would be a challenge in itself.