Navigation Bar

Home -> UE News -> 2001 Archives -> Article

UE Members Bring
Message To State Capitol —
Jobs, Workers’ Rights


Funeral procession ...
Funeral procession includes, from right, Bill Gould and Bob South of Local 234, Anthony Pollina, Progressive candidate for governor in last year’s election, and District 2 Sec.-Treas. Doug Whitcomb

With a mock "funeral march for good jobs in Vermont" on the steps of the state capitol, participants in the UE Vermont Political Action March 20 served notice on elected officials to assist workers in their fight for jobs with decent pay and union conditions.

UE members from five locals around the Green Mountain State also lobbied legislators and heard from several speakers on national and state issues.

In the mock funeral march, mourners carried coffins representing four plants that have closed in Vermont in recent years, including Stanley Tool in Shaftsbury, where workers were members of UE Local 273. Following the coffins came mourners carrying signs in somber black and white denouncing government and employer policies which destroy good jobs, such as "free trade" agreements, subcontracting, privatization, mandatory overtime and Wall Street greed.

At the end of the procession, signs in a multitude of colors pointed the way towards stopping job loss and making every job a good job: union organizing, livable wage campaigns, international solidarity and a shorter work week.

District 2 Pres. Judy Atkins calls attention to recent plant closings
District 2 Pres. Judy Atkins calls attention to recent plant closings, demands that politicians take action to protect jobs and workers’ rights.

At the top of the capitol steps, District Two Pres. Judy Atkins explained that the jobs being lost in Vermont’s machine tool industry and manufacturing plants were good jobs precisely because workers had the benefit of union organization for decades. "Unions turn bad jobs into better jobs and eventually into good jobs," she said. Atkins called on politicians and community leaders to support workers’ efforts to organize unions to improve their wages and working conditions. Michele Dyer of Local 273 and District Sec.-Treas. Doug Whitcomb (Local 258, Cone-Blanchard) also spoke about the impact of plant closings and layoffs on communities and workers’ lives.


In the statehouse, UE members sought out legislators and explained their political action program:

  • Support for workers’ rights. Legislators were asked what steps they would take to protect workers’ rights in their communities.

  • Action against job loss. Legislators were urged to create a commission to study the problem of job loss in Vermont, and to oppose "free trade" agreements.

  • Livable wages for state contractors. Legislators were asked to require that institutions which receive a significant amount of money from the state (the University of Vermont, mental health and social service agencies, for example) pay their employees a livable wage.

  • Paid parental leave.

  • Full and fair funding of public education, through the university level.

In the morning session, UE members heard from Dean Corren of U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders’ office, State Rep. Steve Hingtgen (Progressive, Burling-ton),Vermont State AFL-CIO Pres. Ron Pickering and Jen Matthews from the Vermont Livable Wage Campaign. Hingtgen informed delegates that he has been organizing a Working Vermonter Caucus in the legislature which now has 30 members, including representation from all three parties — Progressive, Democratic and Republican. At present, the caucus’s main goal is enactment of a paid parental leave bill. UE members also watched a video on the Free Trade Area of the Americas produced by Massachusetts Jobs with Justice. The video describes the threat this new trade deal poses to jobs, wages and the public sector.

UE News - 04/01

Home -> UE News -> 2001 Archives -> Article

Home • About UE • Organize! • Independent Unions • Search • Site Guide • What's New • Contact UE
UE News • Political Action • Info for Workers • Resources • Education • Health & Safety • International • Links

Copyright © 2003 UE. All Rights Reserved