Governor Shumlin statement on VSEA negotiations breaking off

first_img“Members of the VSEA Non-Management Unit (NMU) Bargaining are directly challenging the content of a press statement the Shumlin Administration issued today that accuses the NMU Team and VSEA negotiators of “walking away from the table and declaring impasse” because the State was unwilling to agree to an alleged demand from the Team for wage and benefit increases totaling 13.4 percent.“It’s very disappointing that the Governor has chosen to bargain in the press through a public relations campaign in response to the VSEA Non-Management Unit Bargaining Team electing to seek the assistance of a Federal Mediator in compliance with Vermont statute,” explained VSEA NMU Bargaining Team Chairperson Robert Stone. “The State failed to inform the press that the NMU Team came to the table with a number of different wage ‘supposals’, but for what VSEA believes are political reasons, the Governor chose to take the Team’s highest proposal to the press and share that one—and only that one.” He continued, “It’s disingenuous for the Governor and his negotiators to try and label the NMU team as unbending, when they know full well that there have been considerable back and forth discussions for weeks between the two parties, outside of the initial proposal cited by the Administration. In fact, if they were being honest, the Administration would inform the press that their initial offer to NMU members was a pay cut each year of a proposed two-year contract plus significant additional givebacks, but that little detail was missing from the State’s press release. VSEA does not want to bargain contracts in the press, but the Governor has now forced our hand with his ill-advised press release. VSEA believes the Governor’s actions are prompted less by his desire to reach a good-faith agreement with thousands of hard-working NMU state employees and more by his desire to score political points. That’s not good for Vermont public services or the people who deliver them or who depend on them. VSEA’s NMU Bargaining Team remains committed to achieving a fair agreement with the State.” VSEA’s NMU Team Says It’s Forced To Bargain In The Press After Shumlin Administration Goes Public Because The Team Dared To Exercise Its Legal Right To Request A MediatorVermont Business Magazine Governor Peter Shumlin released the following statement following the decision of the Non-Management Bargaining Unit (NMU) of the Vermont State Employees Association (VSEA) to walk away from the bargaining table during contract negotiations. The Corrections and Supervisory Bargaining Units remain engaged in talks with the State. A letter dated October 14 from the State’s Chief Negotiator requesting that the NMU return to the table is below. For its part, the union said later Wednesday that the state is forcing it to “bargain in the press.”“I am disappointed in the VSEA’s decision. Negotiation requires both sides to compromise. Unfortunately the NMU has refused to budge from their initial bargaining position regarding pay. That position asks for a 13.4 percent pay increase over two years, which would cost Vermont taxpayers $70.6 million. It’s beyond me how anyone could find that position reasonable. At a time when many Vermonters are not seeing their wages rise, it would be unconscionable to agree to pay increases that are more than quadruple the rate of inflation and would add substantial pressure to an already tight budget. I will not ask Vermonters to pay higher taxes to fund a 13.4 percent raise for state employees.”The VSEA angrily responded Wednesday night to the governor’s public statement: “VSEA members belonging to the Non-Management Unit (NMU)–or the union’s largest Unit–were extremely disappointed to read details about their Team’s contract bargaining in the press yesterday. In what can only be viewed as a spiteful and amateurish move, the Shumlin Administration responded to the Team’s request on Tuesday night for a mediator by going to the press and highlighting the Team’s most costly ‘supposal’ and wrongly accusing the Team of being unbending. The State’s press release drew a harsh rebuke from NMU Bargaining Team Chair Bob Stone, who sent a message last night to NMU members’ homes.”NMU Chair’s Message To Members”As many of you may have heard, the State went public today with details of bargaining between your NMU Team and State negotiators. This is unfortunate because the negotiation details that the State divulged to the press do not at all reflect the give and take that had been occurring, prior to the Team deciding last night that “impasse” had been reached. Forced to now bargain in the press, which we wanted to avoid, your Team and VSEA issued the following statement to the press:””VSEA Disputes State’s Version Of Events That Led To NMU Team Declaring Impasse”last_img read more