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Steve Howard Named New Director At Vermont State Employees Association


  Steve Howard, a union lobbyist and former Democratic legislator from Rutland, will take over as executive director of the Vermont State Employees Association, according to a release from the organization.

Howard had served as legislative director for the state workers union since January 2013, and was voted to replace outgoing executive director Mark Mitchell at a special meeting of the VSEA’s board of trustees Monday.

“I am very excited to assume this new role with the VSEA, and I look forward now to using my years of campaign, advocacy and union work to help advance the goals and mission of this great organization and its members,” Howard said in a written statement.

  Howard replaces a departing director whose management style and activist approach initially bred tension in the VSEA ranks. Mitchell was at one point last year fired by the board of trustees after VSEA lawyers presented evidence of what they said was managerial wrongdoing.

But the move drew vocal criticism from union rank and file. And following an internal investigation, the board voted to reinstate Mitchell. The VSEA staffers that had attempted to orchestrate his ouster left the organization soon after.

Howard said he plans to take over where Mitchell left off.

“Mark Mitchell did a great job helping VSEA leaders lay the groundwork to grow our membership and mobilize members at the worksite, and I want to continue to build on what Mark … worked so hard to establish,” Howard said. “Board members made it clear during the interview process that they really like the direction VSEA is going and they did not want it to change. I assured them that I don’t either.”

Howard, who served a representative in Vermont House from 1993 to 1999 and again from 2005 to 2010, previously worked as a victims’ advocate in the Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s office, according to the release.

He ran for lieutenant governor in 2010, when he lost to Republican Phil Scott.

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