Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO


The following resolution passed and submitted by the Green Mountain Labor Council in support of: Making a Living on a Living Planet will be debated at the Vermont AFL-CIO's upcoming convention. Please send your comments to .

WHEREAS, in September 2014 the Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO joined seventy-five local and national unions participating in the 400,000-strong Peoples Climate March under the banner “Climate Crisis + Economic Crisis” Two Crises…One Solution! – far more than for any other climate protection action in history; and

WHEREAS, now it is time for all those in the labor movement who are concerned about climate change to follow up by linking up; and

WHEREAS, climate change represents a serious threat to working people, the labor movement, and society at large. According to AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, “Scientists tell us we are headed ever more swiftly toward irreversible climate change—with catastrophic consequences for human civilization.  We must have a stable climate to feed the planet, to ensure there is drinking water for our cities but not floodwaters at our doors.  A stable climate is the foundation of our global civilization, of our global economy”; and

WHEREAS, we know what must be done. We have to shift to a lower carbon economy and fast. Nearly three decades of climate denial have us at the precipice. The time for slow, careful, cautious approaches is long past. The window for taking action grows smaller with each passing year; and

WHEREAS, we recognize that working people will suffer disproportionately from the current patterns of investment and neglect that do not prioritize good jobs, clean air, and healthy communities; and

WHEREAS, guaranteeing a Just Transition for workers and communities is a matter of elementary justice. It is unfair that workers who through no fault of their own happen to work in jobs that need to be eliminated to achieve a social good should bear the burden of that change by losing their jobs. Climate protection measures must also protect the current and future livelihoods of workers they affect. A labor plan for climate protection should insist from the outset that part of any transition away from fossil fuels includes protection for the wellbeing of workers whose jobs may be threatened, including guaranteeing full wages and benefits for those displaced, either for the retooling period, or if no longer needed, until retrained and/or able to find comparable work; and

WHEREAS, deepening our conversations about health and safety, on and off the job by providing space for working people to discuss our problems and develop a vision for alternatives is crucial in developing a worker-led environmental justice movement; and

WHEREAS, we must help the environmental movement emphasize a jobs program of its own, so as not to leave the jobs piece up to labor. Our labor movement should become a part of the solution to climate crisis, playing a leading role in building the movement to fight for a just transition to an ecologically sustainable society rather than leaving climate protection up to the environmental movement; and

WHEREAS, despite the energy of the environmental and environmental justice movements, without the collective power of workers institutions, it will not be enough to to mitigate the effects of climate change and other ecological calamities leading to economic collapse that could well become irreversible; ; and

WHEREAS, in the words of AFL-CIO Executive Vice-President Tefere Gebre, "You don't get justice by waiting for someone to give it to you - you have to go get it!"

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO will join in organizing a Labor Convergence on Climate to help build a labor path to a sustainable future for the planet and its people, while providing for a Just Transition for all workers and communities impacted.

Submitted by Green Mountain Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO


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Vermont AFL-CIO statement: Tax Fairness: An Answer to State Budget Problems

The Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO asks Vermont lawmakers to respect the collective bargaining process. The current state employees’ contract is a compromise agreed between the Administration and VSEA. To seek a reopener is to challenge the fundamental principle of collective bargaining. If wealthy private contractors and ski resorts aren’t expected to open their contracts, why should state employees? The Administration’s threats of furloughs and mass layoffs must stop.

If Vermont’s legislators are serious about addressing income inequality, the solution cannot be extracting millions in concessions from working families while Vermont’s overall regressive tax code further exacerbates inequality.

Our economy is growing, thanks in part to increased worker productivity, but working people are not seeing the fruits of our labor in higher wages. The gains are going to those at the top, who are receiving more of the state’s total income. On average the top 1% of Vermont taxpayers receive 18.1 times as much income as the bottom 99%.

Yet the wealthy pay far lower tax rates than middle-income Vermonters, unnecessarily squeezing our state budget, and putting more tax pressure on the rest of us. Revenue lost because of rising inequality and regressive taxes have led to underfunding investments in public employment and higher education, skimping on public services, especially for those at the bottom of the income ladder like people with disabilities and LIHEAP recipients. But it hits all of us as services deteriorate and needs go unmet.

Taxing the top 1% at the same overall rate as middle-income Vermonters would generate an estimated $52 million in additional revenue, while taxing the top 20% at the same rate would generate $144 million from tax fairness. The capital gains tax exclusion alone costs Vermont $17.3 million. Vermont should generate sufficient revenue by fixing inequities in our tax code.

Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO Statement:
Preserving Working Vermonters’ Ability to Engage in Concerted Activity, Job Actions and Strikes to Win Work with Dignity

Whereas private sector unions have faced a coordinated political and judicial attack for decades;

Whereas with private sector unionism at a historic low, wealthy industrialists such as the Koch brothers have expanded their political and judicial attacks to erode public sector union jobs;

Whereas historically when these reconfigurations of workplace rights have occurred, working people’s ability to win work with dignity has depended on their ability to engage in concerted activity, job actions and strikes;

Whereas both nationally and here in Vermont too many power holders refuse to raise revenue in an equitable manner by closing tax loopholes for top income earners;

And whereas simultaneously the same power holders use the resultant revenue crisis to defund public goods such as infrastructure and institutions and attack public sector unions;

And whereas the Administration’s revenue and investment policies represent a similar refusal to make the wealthiest in Vermont pay their fair share;

And whereas Governor Shumlin has targeted essential services provided by VSEA 911 dispatchers, caregivers at the Vermont Veterans Home, Educators at the Community High School of Vermont and job coaches and NEA teachers for cuts;
And whereas the Administration is holding state employees hostage by proposing that they open their  contracts and give back their own wages to balance the state’s budget deficit upon threat of laying off of 325 state employees and slashing vital state services. All this while continuing to pressure communities to shutter their public schools;

And whereas some legislators are attempting to take away what little used tools working Vermonters have left to win work with dignity, to preserve good jobs, and resist austerity, namely job actions and strikes;

And whereas the rights to collective bargaining and to strike have been internationally recognized as inextricably intertwined as the right to collective bargaining is without practical effect in the absence of a right to strike, and would amount to no more than “collective begging;”. Thus the right to strike is explicitly recognized as a human right in the UN’s International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights (Article 8., 1966), and implicitly in numerous ILO interpretations of the human right to organize;

And whereas the right to strike is best understood as a collective right, the right of workers to band together to win justice, it is also grounded in the Constitution. “The constitutional right to strike rests on a number of bedrock principles: (1) the basic personal liberty to pursue happiness and economic security through productive labor… (2) the absolute prohibition against involuntary servitude and (3) the fundamental freedoms of association and expression.” (former Chief Justice Rose Bird of the California Supreme Court);

Therefore, the Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO opposes any effort by the Vermont Legislature to further undermine the human and constitutional rights of workers to utilize all means of collective representation available to them by law, which include:?

  • the right to organize a union
  • the right to take direct action on issues impacting their lives
  • the right to recognition of their union
  • the right to elect their own representatives
  • the right to meet as equals with the employer on employment related matters
  • the right to bargain collectively
  • the right to strike



While much of the Internet this week was focused on escaped llamas, figuring out what color a dress is or mourning the loss of SAG-AFTRA member and Star Trek icon Leonard Nimoy, we can forget that legislation is still being pushed that would make the lives of working families worse. Whether it is the "right to work" policies pushed by the allies of Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.), who likes to compare workers to terrorists, and in other states like New Mexico and West Virginia, or the ongoing negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) using the Fast Track process, we need to stay alert. Read more >>>

Now is the Time for Green Mountain Care

An Open Letter to Governor Shumlin and the Vermont Legislature from the Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
In 2011, the Vermont Legislature passed and Governor Shumlin signed into law Act 48, which provided the roadmap for the creation and implementation of a universal, publicly financed healthcare system, Green Mountain Care. Vermonters were justifiably proud and hopeful. Nationally the healthcare justice movement was inspired and energized by this action and vowed to support and promote the country’s first healthcare system designed to provide healthcare as a public good through a single-payer financing reform.  The victory in Vermont served as a model for organizers in dozens of states and a rallying point to rebuild national momentum for healthcare for all. We were therefore quite concerned to hear that, due to recent political developments in Vermont, Green Mountain Care’s continued progress may be interrupted or altered in such a way that it will no longer serve its intended purpose to provide healthcare for all Vermonters as a public good and a matter of right, without financial barriers.

The struggle to win Act 48 was hard fought by the people of Vermont through public outreach, events and actions, direct interactions with elected officials, and a powerful grassroots Healthcare Is a Human Right campaign that engaged many thousands of Vermonters in speaking out about their need for healthcare and their readiness to struggle for their rights. This grassroots organizing was allied with and built on the work done by over twenty years of advocacy and education by the Vermont State Labor Council, Senator Sanders, Vermont Health Care for All, and too many other single payer organizations and individuals to mention.
Nurses, doctors, teachers, laborers, students, people of various faiths, the undocumented, and so many others joined together to make certain that Vermont’s healthcare system would reflect its values of universality and equity. They were supported by a broad coalition united around a vision to advance Green Mountain Care (click here for more information). Of particular note are the working class Vermonters who told their stories at a series of public hearings hosted by the Vermont Workers’ Center, and those same working Vermonters who gave elected officials the political space and courage to advance single-payer public financing.  It was an impressive effort that provided an example of real democracy in action not only in Vermont but for the country.

We urge the governor and the legislature to redouble their efforts to develop and agree on a public financing plan that advances equity and realizes Vermonters’ right to healthcare,  respecting the will of the people as expressed in Act 48. We vow to redouble our efforts to  win healthcare justice in Vermont and throughout the United States.

Share of Households Earning Middle-Class Income

Income inequality became a hot topic of economic conversation in 2014, and publications like The Atlantic have taken notice. In 17 Things We Learned About the Economy in 2014, the authors explore the growth of low-income jobs, stagnant wages for families and shrinking wages for younger workers, the racial and gender wage gap, taxes and the dwindling middle class.

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It's pretty frustrating seeing all the headlines that claim the economy is alive and kicking. Sure, there is economic growth and a steady increase in jobs, but what kind of jobs are we talking about exactly? Well, they aren't the kind of jobs we think of first when it comes to steady, middle-class jobs. No big surprise here, low-wage service sector jobs like those in the fast-food industry are seeing the biggest gains. Bryce Covert at The New Republic has a nice summary of what America's workers are up against when it comes to wages. Read more >>>

When President Barack Obama first announced his candidacy for president, he said: “I am running in this race because of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called ‘the fierce urgency of now.’ Because I believe that there’s such a thing as being too late. And that hour is almost upon us.” Like Dr. King, our president was calling on America to make real the promises of our democracy. That fierce urgency of now is here for thousands of refugee children from Central America. I know many of these kids’ stories because it is my story, too. Read more >>>

Below is a link that will take you to the "We The People" web site where you can sign a petition to save the Postal Service supported by the NALC, APWU and NPMHU. This is in support of Congressman Peter DeFazio's bill (HR 630), known as the "Postal Service Protection Act" (and the companion Senate bill, S-316, sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders), which would:

prevent post offices from shutting down
support a comprehensive postal reform package that would end the unnecessary pre-funding of retiree health benefits
mandate six-day mail delivery
preserve overnight delivery standards
allow for creation of new streams of revenue through non-postal services
return pension overpayments to the Postal Service, and
save decent middle-class jobs.
Please take a couple of minutes to support this important effort.

Please ask your friends, family members, neighbors, Facebook "friends", etc. to show their support for the USPS by signing it.

Here's how:
Click this link.

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View the documentary by clicking HERE

100 Women, 100 Miles, One Voice

One hundred immigrant women walked 100 miles to welcome Pope Francis and remind the whole world of the importance of immigrant work, and working people in the labor movement joined them. Read the full article>>>

Vermont's leading voices for working families and the environment are united and speak with one voice when it comes to renewable in-state energy production. We, the Vermont AFL-CIO, the Vermont Building and Construction Trades Council, the Iron Workers Local 7, 350Vermont, and the Vermont Sierra Club, agree that renewable energy production is necessary if we are to become energy independent, environmentally responsible and carbon neutral.

The Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is the state federation of labor representing over 10,000 members in numrous unions throughout Vermont. The mission of the Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is to improve the lives of working families—to bring economic justice to the workplace and social justice to our state and the nation.


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