The Vermont State Labor Council AFL CIO unequivocally supports the Vermont National Education Association (NEA) in their struggle to protect collective bargaining rights. While Governor Scott’s administration has put forward a radical “plan” to save taxpayers a projected $26 million, this plan appears to be a cousin to Trump’s skinny budget proposal, half-baked and filled with sound bites and little else. Not unlike the TrumpCare which passed the House of Representatives without even a trip to the Congressional Budget Office, this proposal lacks legislative oversight. The Vermont General Assembly vets legislation before it becomes law. Scott’s proposal came too late in the session to partake of the committee process. The Vermont Senate passed the Ashe Amendment to shave the property tax rate by three cents and maintain the integrity of collective bargaining. It turns out reducing property taxes is rhetoric for the campaign trail but didn’t pass muster with Scott Walker-style union-busting in the wings.
The Vermont Labor Community will not go silently into the night.
As Benjamin Franklin so aptly stated, “We must indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we will all hang separately.” Providing adequate healthcare coverage to educators is not breaking the public bank; corporate welfare is crushing the working people of America. The wealthy have never had it so good and making educators scapegoats will not raise the standard of living for Vermonters. Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and offering paid family medical leave will have a positive impact on life of Vermonters. I am hopeful that the thousands who came together for the Women’s March on Jan. 21 will stand up for the working women and men of the Vermont NEA. Let’s see how powerful workers, the resident “Feelin’ the Berners,” are in Vermont.
Jill Charbonneau, President Vermont State Labor Council AFL CIO