August 7, 2019
Today marks the fourth anniversary of the tragic murder of social worker and VSEA member Lara Sobel, who was shot by a client just outside the office building in Barre where she worked.
Since Sobel’s death, VSEA leaders and members have continued to hammer State officials and lawmakers to seriously address state employees’ workplace safety concerns, but, according to VSEA President Dave Bellini, while some small, incremental steps to improve safety have been taken in certain departments and agencies, much more remains to be done.
Here’s a statement from President Bellini:
"After Lara Sobel was tragically killed leaving her work, VSEA members honestly expected a robust response from the State, but a lot of VSEA members tell me that the pace of improvements they see is very slow, both by this administration and the last one.
Much more work remains to be done. VSEA Judiciary workers continue to ask for improved safety in Vermont’s courts, and then there’s the communication breakdown after a recent bomb threat in St. Albans. Several employees where it happened told me management’s communication to them about the threat was pretty much non-existent. I’ve also heard about a known, serious threat recently coming to a state office building in Springfield and banging on a thankfully locked door, demanding entry. Employees say they were pretty much on their own when deciding how to confront the situation. This isn’t right.
These are just a few examples of all the safety issues that remain out there to be addressed, and I promise you VSEA and its members will not stop lobbying for increased funding and resources to create a work environment that guarantees another Lara Sobel tragedy never happens. We owe it to Lara, her colleagues and all state workers to never stop fighting on this issue–and we won’t."