President Towne’s Open Letter To Membership, Following Speaker’s Pension Announcement

When this discussion about the future of our pensions began in December, we could hardly imagine the scale of the fight we were in for. But when this union faces adversity, we don’t sit  back— we stand up.

We organized dozens of educational Zoom meetings reaching over a thousand members. We surveyed you to make sure we heard your voice. We created an pension Facebook page where we took our grassroots organizing online. We opened up our Board’s meetings to every member, so that you could see your elected member leaders as they fought for you. Dozens of members provided testimony to the Legislature after working all day. Crucially, we made phone calls in the thousands, letting legislators know that we would not stand silently by as our retirement was attacked— and we did it all while fighting a global pandemic and keeping this state running through a crisis.

We didn’t do this alone.

I want to commend my Board of Trustees for their hard work and dedication, often staying on Zoom late into the night discussing this complex issue..

VSEA’s representatives to VPIC and VSERS, my brain trust, showed incredible commitment, both in their roles as fiduciaries protecting our pensions and in their work to help us craft a solution.

Our tireless, expert staff have fought tooth and nail to support and empower us. They spent long hours lobbying, organizing, researching, communicating, and standing by our side throughout the darkest moments of this fight— the biggest fight in VSEA’s 75-year history. We couldn’t have done this without them.

I’d like to thank the members of the Working Vermonters’ and Progressive Caucuses who brought forward a worker-focused proposed solution, and the members of the Democratic and Republican Caucuses who spoke out in support of our efforts.

Together, many hands make lite work.

This has been a wild ride, and has required us to tap an inner strength that some might not have realized that we had. I think it has proven something, though:

When we stand together, shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with each other, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. I’ll be drawing upon that thought as this fight continues this summer and fall.

Let’s take a moment to celebrate this intermediate victory with our families. We get back to work on Monday; there is still much to do.

In Solidarity,

Aimee Towne

President, Vermont State Employees’ Association