Mr. Justin Johnson
Secretary of Administration
Pavilion Office Building
109 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05609-0201
Dear Secretary Johnson,
I would like to express my disappointment in the letter I received this afternoon regarding our discussions related to non-contractual alternative budget savings. The VSEA has been clear and consistent since the Governor’s budget address that our members expect Governor Shumlin to honor the collective bargaining agreements he negotiated with them in good faith. Contractual items have never been part of the conversation we have held to date, and we have been consistent in our position that they should not be an option. State employees are hard-working, middle-class citizens who cannot and should not be targeted to carry the burden of the state’s fiscal challenges.
VSEA has offered in good faith, reasonable and constructive alternatives in an effort to avoid layoffs that would only further negatively impact the state’s economy and the delivery of state services. We have offered a forward-thinking revenue plan that would ask the wealthiest Vermonters who have had all the economic gains to make a small additional investment in their state. Certainly, the wealthiest Vermonters can afford to contribute more than hard-working, frontline state employees. I find this sudden change in approach to be inconsistent with our good-faith discussions.
Additionally, VSEA has provided you with a roadmap to “Labor savings” by simply aligning the significant growth of exempt and temporary employees with the growth of the classified service which has been the slowest area of increase. Further, VSEA has proposed that the Administration reduce the use of personal-service contracts that have exploded by a whopping 49% since 2010.
We are gratified with the progress we have made thus far; identifying $2 million dollars in savings that can reduce the unfair “State Employees Tax” targeting 6,000 state workers who have a collective bargaining agreement. We believe that an agreement can be found on a voluntary retirement incentive that could generate significant budgetary savings. We remain steadfast and united in our position regarding the integrity of our contracts. We hope and encourage you to reconsider this latest proposal. We trusted that your intent was to work with us on finding non-contractual savings in order avoid laying off nearly 350 Vermonters.