November 22, 2016
VSEA Issued The Following Press Release This Afternoon:
For Immediate Release
VSEA Judiciary Unit Members Very Pleased With Fact-Finder’s Report
Validates Employees’ Concerns About Low Docket Clerk Pay & One-Sided Reclassification System
Members of the Vermont State Employees’ Association’s (VSEA) Judiciary Unit are cheering the overall recommendations contained in a long-awaited, fact-finder’s report that was delivered this morning to the union. VSEA’s Judiciary Unit members have been in a tough contract battle with the Court Administrator since December 2015.
“On the bargaining issues most important to our Unit, we were very pleased to read that the fact finder agreed with us that docket clerks deserve more pay and we all deserve to have a fair reclassification process,” explains VSEA Judiciary Unit Chair Margaret Crowley.
Some of the highlights from the fact-finder’s report include:
- Recommendation that Docket Clerks and Court Officers receive an immediate wage review by a mutually selected neutral party, who will hear evidence from both parties and make a final and binding decision;
- Recommendation to adopt VSEA’s proposed employee reclassification process in large part, including an open fact-finding process and an easier path to appeal, ending in final review by the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB);
- Rejection of the Court Administrator’s request to commence bargaining after the legislative session has already started, and the Judiciary’s budget has been submitted;
- Rejection of the Court Administrator’s request not to make employees cost-of-living-increases retroactive to July 2016; and
- Positive movement on the issue of higher assignment pay and “on-call” pay for Judiciary workers.
“VSEA’s Judiciary Unit is excited to be able to return now to the bargaining table with this very supportive report in our hands,” adds Crowley.
Notable Quotes from the Fact Finder’s Report:
Page 32: “Docket Clerks keep the judicial system running and are a significant public face of the Judiciary. It is in the interests of not only the clerks themselves, but of the Judiciary as a whole, the public and the state of Vermont that they receive appropriate compensation. It should not be necessary for [Docket Clerks] to have a second job to pay their bills, yet many do.
Page 34: “The [Judiciary’s] current reclassification procedure is inefficient, unduly complicated, and lacks many of the basic attributes of due process.”
Page 79: “I admit to some difficulty in understanding how the Chief Justice can establish budgetary priorities without knowing the Union’s proposals concerning some of the biggest items in the budget. Apparently the ‘placeholder’ is intended to save some space for the outcome of negotiations, but experience apparently teaches that once ‘placeholder’ becomes part of the Governor’s budget, it tends to harden into a ‘foregone conclusion.’ This handicaps the Union right from the outset of negotiations.”
VSEA’s Judiciary Unit and the Court Administrator now have 15 days to see if a deal can be reached. If not, the contract dispute will move to the Vermont Labor Relations Board, much as it did earlier this year with VSEA’s Non-Management, Supervisory and Corrections Units.
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