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UE Makes Impression
In Vermont’s Capital

UE Local 221


UE Delegation ...

UE members, including Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark and Genl. Vice Pres. Judy Atkins, gather on the steps of the State Capitol. No age minimums were required as the union went to work demanding a better life for working people!

Gathered here from all over Vermont on March 21 for their union’s Vermont Political Action Day, UE members learned about current state issues and lobbied their state legislators for a working-class agenda.

Among the workers’ issues before the legislature are raising the minimum wage, giving workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave which could be subsidized by the overfunded unemployment fund, and controlling the price of prescription drugs.

By coincidence, Chamber of Commerce lobbyists spent the day in the state capitol as well, arguing for a very different agenda. UE members stood out.

"You didn’t see very many working-class people in there, other than us, and we definitely made a good impression," declared UE Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark at day’s end.

The UE delegates set up shop in the cafeteria of the State House and spoke to their representatives as they came in for lunch.

During the day, UE delegates heard from a number of political allies and friends.


At a meeting with Speaker of the House Michael Obuchowski and State Sen. Cheryl Rivers, the UE members filled the Speaker’s office and spilled into the hallway. Obuchowski urged the UE activists to get involved in sending more legislators to Montpelier who support working people. Rivers pledged to fight for paid parental leave, pointing out that it was time for politicians who talk about "family values" to "put their money where their mouths are and support parental leave."

State Representatives Terry Bouricius and Dean Corren, both Progressives, gave UE members their perspective on the issues facing the state, as did Anthony Pollina, the Progressive candidate for governor. Pollina is running on a platform of livable wages and health care for all.

State Auditor Ed Flanagan told the UE delegates that his office is looking into how the Vermont Economic Progress Council, a small committee appointed by the Governor, has given away $65 million in tax credits to some of Vermont’s wealthiest corporations. He contrasted the generosity to the rich with the unwillingness of the Governor and legislature to appropriate small amounts of money for programs that would help workers, like the paid parental leave proposal. Flanagan is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by James Jeffords.

Carol Langlois, an activist from the welfare-rights group Women’s Union, spoke about the punitive and anti-woman nature of welfare "reform." Vermont’s exemption from the federal Personal Responsibility Act has expired; Women’s Union and other groups are urging the State to preserve as much of the safety net for women and children as possible. (UE policy calls for the development of living wage jobs instead of punitive welfare reform, and for repeal of the Personal Responsibility Act.)

Jason Winston, coordinator of the Vermont Livable Wage Campaign, thanked UE locals for their key role in the livable wage effort. He urged delegates to demand their legislators’ support for the Livable Wage Bill, which would raise the minimum wage in Vermont to $6.25 an hour and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit.

UE Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark gave the Labor Party workshop on Just Health Care. UE District Two Pres. Judy Atkins welcomed delegates at the start of the busy day.

UE News - 04/00

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