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Scott Administration, State Employees Union At Odds Over Two-Year Labor Contract

Steve Howard and Peter Shumlin
Peter Hirschfeld
/
VPR File
Steve Howard, executive director of the state employees union, seen here with then Gov. Peter Shumlin. Howard's union has now clashed with the Scott Administration over its attempt to reopen the second year of a two-year contract.

The Scott Administration wants to renegotiate the second year of a two-year contract with state employees. But the employee union says state officials made a deal, and can't renege on it now.

The negotiations on the two year contract wrapped up in October. It covers about 6,000 workers and includes a lump sum, $1,400-per-employee boost to pay in the first year, and a 2.25% cost of living increase the second year.

The contract also includes “step” increases for those whose length of service qualifies them for salary upgrades over time.

Human Resources Commissioner Beth Fastiggi said that since the Legislature only funded the first year of the contract before it adjourned in June, the contract can and should be redone for the second year.

"We know that there's going to be some serious revenue issues, so we have to look and to see what those are." - Beth Fastiggi, Human Resources commissioner

“We requested that once we have an idea of what our fiscal [year] ’22 revenues look to sit down with the union and negotiate then,” she said.

“We know that there's going to be some serious revenue issues, so we have to look and to see what those are,” Fastiggi added.

Steve Howard is executive director of the Vermont State Employees Association. He said the administration must hold up its side of the bargain.

“This is a governor who has said, 'A deal is a deal, my word is my bond',” he said. “And that has been the case with governors throughout the entire history of collective bargaining here in Vermont.”

"This is a governor who has said a deal is a deal, my word is my bond. And that has been the case with governors throughout the entire history of collective bargaining here in Vermont." - Steve Howard, VSEA executive director

The Legislature is back in session for a month to finish work on the 2021 budget. Howard said the union wants the Legislature to reaffirm the state's commitment to the two-year contract.

“While we’re under some obligation to sit down with them [the administration], we’re under no obligation to change the terms of the agreement which they testified on the record, in the Statehouse, they support, and that they bargained in good faith with us to come to.”

Howard said the contract could be reopened if the Legislature fails to fully fund the second year. But he said that deadline is not until May of 2021.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter John Dillon @VPRDillon.

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