I have managed organizations, large and small, public, nonprofit and private. I’ve worked through salary negotiations with teams that have been smooth, but also ones that were hard. What is critical is that there is trust.
When negotiations get to a stalemate, like they did this year in the negotiations for a new state employees contract, they use an independent “fact finder” to determine what would be a fair change in the contract, taking into account all kinds of factors including comparable salary levels in the public and private sector. The fact finder made a recommendation, but unfortunately the administration rejected it.
I stand with our hard working state employees and members of VSEA. I strongly encourage the Vermont Labor Board to stick to the fact finder recommendation, and support the 2% COLA adjustment in 2016 and 2.25% COLA in 2017. As governor I will work with the Legislature to fully fund this contract, and I will treat our state employees as partners, not adversaries.
I’ve been deeply disturbed by the contentious nature of the contract negotiation with our state employees. Morale is already low and teams in critical areas are understaffed. I can’t imagine what people are feeling now that the contract has gone to the Labor Board for the first time since 1996.
We need to rethink how we deliver services as a state, but that needs to happen collaboratively, working with those on the front line fighting the heroin epidemic, plowing our roads, or ensuring our emergency response is fast and effective.