UE Members Bring
Message To State Capitol —
Jobs, Workers’ Rights
|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
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, demands that politicians take action to protect jobs and
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.
FOR WORKERS' RIGHTS ...
In the statehouse, UE members sought out legislators and
explained their political action program:
Legislators were asked
what steps they would take to protect workers’ rights in their
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
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