For Immediate Release
October 23, 2017
Contact: Doug Gibson
VLRB Issues Unfair Labor Practice To Judiciary, After VSEA Members Contest Management’s Unilateral Implementation Of Cell-Phone Policy
Vermont State Employees’ Association (VSEA) members belonging to the union’s Judiciary Unit applauded news late Friday that the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB) had issued an unfair labor practice (ULP) against Judiciary management for recently circumventing the bargaining process to unilaterally implement a cell-phone policy in the Washington County Courts office.
“Management tried to implement new restrictions on Judiciary employees’ personal cell-phone use at the workplace, but they did it without using the legal process in place to make such a change, which is to sit down and bargain the policy with the workers,” explains VSEA Judiciary Unit Chair Margaret Crowley. “We tried to point this out to management before taking any formal action—in hopes they would understand—but they didn’t and went ahead and did it anyway. This left us with few options but to file a ULP, and it was wonderful news to learn on Friday that the VLRB agreed with us and was ordering management to rescind the policy.”
In its decision, the VLRB found and ruled, in part that:
- The State of Vermont Judiciary Department refused to bargain in good faith and interfered with employees’ exercise of rights, in violation of 3 V.S.A. Section 1026(1) and (5), through unilaterally implementing a cell phone policy in the Washington Unit; and
- The employer shall rescind this policy and give it no further force or effect.
“We were very disappointed that the Vermont Judiciary itself couldn’t follow the law, and that we had to resort to filing a ULP against this particular branch of government," adds VSEA President Dave Bellini. "That said, the VLRB’s decision was great news, and we hope it sends a strong message to other divisions of state government that your managers cannot simply implement policies or rules without sitting down first with VSEA members to talk about the policy being suggested and any potential conflicts it might have with our negotiated contract language."