With about 8,000 state employees — nearly 6,000 represented by the Vermont State Employees Association — Vermont ranks middle-of-the-pack among New England states in the number of public sector workers it employs as a percentage of the total state workforce.
But is 8,000 taxpayer-funded employees too many? Not enough? And how does the VSEA think its members are doing on matters of pay, benefits and pensions?
In this episode of Vote for Vermont, host Pat McDonald and co-host Ben Kinsley interview VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard to get the union’s perspective on state employees and their interests.
According to Howard, Vermont needs more mental health workers, corrections officers and law enforcement employees. In addition, the VSEA has an aggressive campaign to convert the state’s temporary positions into permanent “classified” positions — ones represented by the union and under bargaining contracts. He also sees a growth opportunity in organizing a new statewide bargaining unit for 120 staff members working in state’s attorneys’ offices.
But challenges lie ahead. Howard anticipates major cuts to federal funding, another big state deficit and a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could strip the VSEA of its ability to collect “fair share fees” from non-unionized employees who don’t want to pay dues that fund collective bargaining activities.
Watch full episode: