Who is Ed Olsen, you ask?
Ed is a five-year employee for the Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT). In the winter, Ed can be found behind the wheel of a Vermont snowplow, keeping our roadways clear and laboring diligently to fulfill the AOT mission to "work to get us there."
Ed’s not happy about Governor Shumlin’s call for VSEA members to somehow produce upwards of $20 million in savings to help reduce Vermont’s budget deficit, so he wrote a letter to the Governor and then copied the editor of the Rutland Herald, voicing his "displeasure" with the Governor’s proposal. Ed’s words really resonated with a lot of state employees, and they showed their strong support for his words on VSEA’s Facebook post of the letter.
So here is what Ed wrote:
To Gov. Peter Shumlin:
I am a hard-working Vermont state employee for the Agency of Transportation (District 3). I plow the roads. Us plow drivers get up, as needed, at 3 a.m. (sometimes working seven days a week) to make sure our roads are safe so Vermonters (including yourself) can go to work and so everyone’s kids can get to school.
That said, I see and read the things you and the Legislature are proposing, and I very much disapprove. You ask for pay cuts and threaten to lay off 450 working-class people if we do not open the contract which we negotiated with you in good faith. You refuse to balance the budget by raising taxes on the wealthy and instead want to take money out of my pocket to cover your failures. You want me and other plow drivers to open our contracts and give back the 2.5 percent pay raise we all agreed to.
I make just over $17 an hour, while the average wage of a plow driver is $38,000 a year. Yet you have made it clear that you will not tax the wealthy who can afford it to cover the budget gap that you created. But I do not expect you to necessarily understand the hardships you are asking us to suffer, as I am told you are personally worth $10 million. Maybe you don’t understand that taking $36 a paycheck out of my wages (which on average you are proposing for all plow drivers) is the difference between making or missing a mortgage payment, a utility bill or buying a pair of shoes for the kids. Maybe you also don’t understand how hard we work for the modest pay we receive.
Therefore, I invite you, Mr. Governor, to shadow my job as an AOT snowplow truck driver through just one storm. Otherwise, I look forward to remembering who stood with and against working-class Vermonters when I enter the booth during our next General Election.
Ed’s letter speaks for thousands of Vermont state employees, who, like him, want Governor Shumlin and lawmakers to stop balancing the budget on the backs of state employees and stop imposing what amount to specific taxes on state employees. Instead state employees are asking our Governor and lawmakers to implement the VSEA’s plan to generate new revenue to avoid more cuts to Vermont’s quality public services and the men and women who provide them.
Click here to learn more about VSEA’s revenue-generating plan, and, if you agree, please contact the Governor’s office and your lawmakers to urge their support and advocacy.
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