The Vermont State Employees’ Association is an alliance of more than 5,500 workers providing quality services across Vermont who are united behind having an even stronger voice in our worksites and at the bargaining table. As a member of the Non-Management Unit (NMU), you are a part of our Union’s largest bargaining Unit.
VSEA members work in a sector that is greatly defined by constantly changing political tides, and our union offers us a strong voice at the State House, much as it does as at the workplace. Because of our union, we are able to advocate at the State House for needed improvements to the services we provide, and we can protect the parts of our services that are working and serving Vermonters well. But the work we are able to do with lawmakers is a supplement to our union’s core work, which is for members in the different Units to periodically team with VSEA staff to bargain a contract with management to ensure our rights and privileges are being upheld in each and every worksite.
Sometimes bargaining is harmonious and sometimes it’s contentious, but the one constant is that Vermont state employees will always be stronger when we work together as a group, as opposed to standing alone.
A Strong Contract Is Our Best Tool To Job Improvement
Historically, every two years, VSEA members enter into a new bargaining session with management to try and negotiate a successor agreement to the existing NMU contract. In the bargaining process, your NMU Team is attempting to clarify, amend and enhance the current contract, and they are working hard to defend our wages and benefits, job security, safety and health, retirement security and workplace dignity and respect. The contract also ensures that NMU workers are receiving fair treatment when it comes to issues of discipline, promotion, professional development, overtime, compensation for time off and maintaining an open process to address workplace concerns.
Your NMU Bargaining Team is committed to working hard during upcoming negotiations to enhance our existing contract, and we welcome the help and support of VSEA NMU members throughout the bargaining process.
Contract Bargaining Provides Us Real Voice About Decisions Impacting
As VSEA NMU members, we belong to a union, and because of that important distinction, we have a legal right to a seat at the table and a voice in many of the decisions being made that affect our day-to-day jobs. We are not simply at the mercy of the State; a hard lesson many public employees across America are unfortunately now learning the hard way.
But it takes constant vigilance and work to defend our rights and be active participants in the decision-making process, and we’re fortunate that VSEA enables us to do this work. Because more VSEA members are protected by the NMU contract than in any other VSEA Unit, the collective voice of the NMU Bargaining Team must be strong. Thousands of state employees are looking to the Team to be their voice at the table when it comes to protecting NMU wages, benefits, working conditions and other rights and privileges. A strong collective voice at the table is not only good for NMU members, it’s also good for many other working Vermonters, who are looking to VSEA members to raise the bar higher.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q: What is the bargaining process?
There are several different phases of the bargaining process. The first phase is where we have the most influence and the where we strive to reach a tentative agreement with the State.
Step 1: Direct bargaining with the State of Vermont: NMU Bargaining Team meets with the Administration’s team. Proposals are exchanged across the table and the bargaining process begins.
* (a) Whenever the representatives of a collective bargaining unit and the representative of the employer, after a reasonable period of negotiation reach an impasse during the course of collective bargaining on subjects defined in section 904 of this title, the board, upon petition of either or both parties, may authorize the parties to submit their differences to mediation. The board shall within five days appoint a mediator who shall communicate with the employer and the employees or their representatives and endeavour by mediation to obtain an amicable settlement. Any mediator so appointed shall be a person of high standing in no way actively connected with labor or management.
(b) If after a reasonable period of time not less than 15 days after the appointment of a mediator the impasse is not resolved, the mediator shall certify to the board that the impasse continues. The board shall appoint a fact finder mutually agreed upon by the parties. If the parties do not agree, the board may appoint a neutral third party to act as fact finder pursuant to rules adopted by the board.
Step 2: Mediation:
Step 3: Fact Finder: If an agreement is not reached with the assistance of a mediator, the process then goes to a fact finder. A fact finder is responsible to conduct hearings and collect testimonies as a means to making an official recommendation on a tentative agreement.
(f) The fact finder shall consider if applicable to the issues the following factors, among others, in making a recommendation:
- wage and salary schedules and employee benefits to the extent they are inconsistent with prevailing rates both internally and in commerce and industry for comparable work within the state;
- work schedules relating to assigned hours and days of the week as they relate to the employee’s needs and the general public’s requirement for continual service;
- general working conditions as they compare with generally accepted safety standards and conditions prevailing in commerce and industry within the state.
- (g) Upon completion of the hearings, the fact finder shall make and file with both parties written findings and recommendations.
Step 4: Last Best Offer: If the dispute remains unresolved 20 days after transmittal of findings and recommendations to the parties or within a time frame mutually agreed upon by the parties that may be no more than an additional 30 days, each party shall submit as a single package its last best offer on all disputed issues to the board. Each party’s last best offer shall be filed with the board under seal and shall be unsealed and placed in the public record only when both parties’ last best offers are filed with the board. The board shall hold one or more hearings. Within 30 days of the certifications, the board shall select between the last best offers of the parties, considered in its entirety without amendment.
(j) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (i) of this section, should the board find the last best offers of both parties unreasonable and likely to produce undesirable results, or likely to result in a long-lasting negative impact upon the parties’ collective bargaining relationship, then the board may select the recommendation of the fact finder under subsection (g) of this section as to those disputed issues submitted to the board in the last best offers.
Q: Do I have a say in whether or not the final contract is accepted?
Not only do you have a say, VSEA members are actually the final say in whether or not the contract meets the goals of the collective membership and makes the changes needed and enhancements desired. Each full dues-paying NMU member does get to cast one ballot to accept or reject the proposed contract negotiated by your Team.
Q: How is our NMU Bargaining Team elected?
Members of the NMU bargaining team are elected by NMU members. Bylaw Fifteen. Section 2, of our VSEA Master Bylaws instructs our Unit on the process:
(c) Bargaining Team shall serve until successor team/Executive Committee members are elected at the first Unit annual meeting following contract ratification by VSEA members and approval by the Legislature, or imposition of a contract by the Legislature, or until the contract is otherwise completed; provided, however, that elections shall be held at least once every two (2) years. The Unit Trustee to the VSEA Board shall serve a term consistent with VSEA Bylaw 1, section 7. Executive Committee Officers shall serve a term consistent with their Unit Articles and Bylaws.
(d) A Bargaining Unit may make such nominations and/or hold such elections as are set forth in this section at its annual meeting, or by any alternative means provided for by validly-adopted bylaws of the Unit.