As many of you may have heard, the State went public today with details of bargaining between your NMU Team and State negotiators. This is unfortunate because the negotiation details that the State divulged to the press do not at all reflect the give and take that had been occurring, prior to the Team deciding last night that "impasse" had been reached. Forced to now bargain in the press, which we wanted to avoid, your Team and VSEA issued the following statement to the press:
VSEA Disputes State’s Version Of Events That Led To NMU Team Declaring Impasse
Members of the VSEA Non-Management Unit (NMU) Bargaining are directly challenging the content of a press statement the Shumlin Administration issued today that accuses the NMU Team and VSEA negotiators of “walking away from the table and declaring impasse” because the State was unwilling to agree to an alleged demand from the Team for wage and benefit increases totaling 13.4 percent.
“It’s very disappointing that the Governor has chosen to bargain in the press through a public relations campaign in response to the VSEA Non-Management Unit Bargaining Team electing to seek the assistance of a Federal Mediator in compliance with Vermont statute,” explained VSEA NMU Bargaining Team Chairperson Robert Stone. “The State failed to inform the press that the NMU Team came to the table with a number of different wage ‘supposals’, but for what VSEA believes are political reasons, the Governor chose to take the Team’s highest proposal to the press and share that one—and only that one.” He continued, “It’s disingenuous for the Governor and his negotiators to try and label the NMU team as unbending, when they know full well that there have been considerable back and forth discussions for weeks between the two parties, outside of the initial proposal cited by the Administration. In fact, if they were being honest, the Administration would inform the press that their initial offer to NMU members was a pay cut each year of a proposed two-year contract plus significant additional givebacks, but that little detail was missing from the State’s press release. VSEA does not want to bargain contracts in the press, but the Governor has now forced our hand with his ill-advised press release. VSEA believes the Governor’s actions are prompted less by his desire to reach a good-faith agreement with thousands of hard-working NMU state employees and more by his desire to score political points. That’s not good for Vermont public services or the people who deliver them or who depend on them. VSEA’s NMU Bargaining Team remains committed to achieving a fair agreement with the State. ”
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