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Vermont's Largest City
Council Endorses
Organizing Rights,
Card Check Recognition

BURLINGTON, Vt.

The City Council last month endorsed the right of workers to organize and called on employers to recognize unions where a majority of their employees have signed union cards.

Residents of the city’s Old North End got the good news delivered to their doorsteps when a team of rank-and-file UE members, staff and national leaders canvassed the neighborhood.

Introduced by Councilor Bill Stahl of the Progressive Coalition and backed by UE and other unions, the resolution does not legally bind employers but sends a strong message in support of genuine labor law reform.

At the heart of the resolution is support for "card-check" elections, in which employers agree to recognize the union when a majority of workers have signed authorization cards. In a typical union campaign today, signed union cards are filed with the National Labor Relations Board, which conducts an election many weeks later. During this period employers frequently engage in lies and intimidation to undermine the union’s majority support.

The resolution also calls on employers to remain neutral in union campaigns and refrain from anti-union activities, to allow workers their right free from intimidation and coercion.

Councilor Stahl had the support of the mayor and the three other Progressives on the council, but the Democrats were a hard sell. The Democrats would not support a legally binding resolution. In the end, five Democrats voted with the Progressives in favor of the resolution while one went over to the Republicans voting against.

Some 50 trade unionists attended the council meeting to show support for the resolution; many of them, including UE members, took advantage of the open forum to express their frustration with the organizing climate.

MAKING IT REAL

Tom Stout, UE Local 267 steward, and Brad Bluto, UE chief steward, each spoke of the union victory at the University of Vermont and the administration’s anti-union tactics. If the union had been recognized once a majority signed cards, the university would not have had the chance to engage in its harassment of union supporters, they said.

Local 221 Fin. Sec. Jonathan Kissam testified that unions are good for Burlington because they bring higher wages and therefore more money into local businesses, and generally foster more worker involvement in the social and political life of the community.

Earlier this month, UE took its message to the streets. Following a local leadership meeting, UE Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley, UE District Two Pres. Judy Atkins, staff and members of Locals 221 and 267 knocked on doors in the Old North End to let people know that the City Council supports their right to organize. The UE canvassers educated people about the union and the advantages to organizing in the workplace. And they got an earful about working conditions and workplace problems in Burlington.

UE News - 02/99


Home -> UE News -> 1999 Archives -> Article

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