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Vermont UE Locals
Meet with State Officials,
Urge Pro-Worker Legislation


Union members brought their concerns about health insurance, tax reform and the continuing crisis in manufacturing to the state capitol on March 13 during the annual UE Vermont Political Action Day. UE local members argued for a working-class agenda in discussions with legislators, Lt. Gov. Doug Racine and Progressive Party candidate Anthony Pollina.

The impending budget crisis loomed large in morning workshops and discussions with the Progressive Party legislative delegation. UE members and Progressive legislators agreed the budget should not be balanced on the backs of working and poor people. District Two Sec.-Treas. Jonathan Kissam proposed legislation to tax capital gains at the same rate as regular earned income. Presently Vermont is among those states with a lower tax rate on capital gains than on earned income, a system that benefits the rich and increases the burden on the poor and working class.


Local 225 Vice Pres. Sue Fuller, a classroom teacher at Vermont Achievement Center (VAC), outlined the crisis in day care. VAC is the largest day care center in Vermont. She pointed out both the increased need for day care workers with credentials and the lack of decent wages to match those credentials. "We need state help with daycare," Fuller declared. "Parents can only afford so much and day care workers need a livable wage."

The UE members discussed the need to get single-payer health insurance on the Vermont political agenda in a more visible way. Andrew Tripp of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group reviewed the case for improved campaign finance reform.

Progressive Party lieutenant-gubernatorial candidate Pollina talked about his campaign and his deep commitment to fight for the interests of the poor, workers, and the environment. When Local 234 Pres. Bob South spoke about plant closings and the deskilling of workers in plants that stay open, Pollina stated that, "no one in government is talking about these issues. If I were elected Lt. Governor I would make these issues a priority."

A strong supporter of universal health care, Pollina is actively organizing health care providers to push for single-payer.


In face-to-face meetings with legislators, many (including Representatives Hingtgen, Driscoll, Zuckerman and Sen. Munt) agreed with UE about the need for single payer, others thought that the government shouldn’t help working people at all. Rep. Quaid from Williston, baldly proposed outright elimination of Medicaid. UE members objected that without Medicaid, many older people could not afford the $50,000 per year that nursing care costs and would end up out on the streets. And they pointed out that as a society we decided to fund nursing care, because before Medicaid many elderly died due to lack of food, shelter and medication. Quaid responded: "We all have to die sometime."

Union members also spoke with present Lt. Governor Doug Racine, Democratic candidate for governor, about the need for single-payer universal health care system for Vermont and the continuing crisis in Vermont’s manufacturing sector. In particular, UE raised the recent bankruptcy and shutdown of Fellows Gear Shaper and Bryant Grinder in Springfield, with its devastating impact on UE Local 218 members and their families. Racine’s current position on health care is for "universal access," which means maintaining the wasteful bureaucracy of paperwork producing private health insurance companies. Local 234 Pres. South observed, "I could spend eight hours a day doing nothing but help members in my shop deal with their medical paperwork." He and other union members explained they wanted to get rid of the paperwork and set up a one-payer system that covers all Vermont residents regardless of employment status.

UE News - 4/02

Home -> UE News -> 2002 Archives -> Article

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