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Local 221 Members
Beat Concessions,
Win Improvements


Contract Settled ...

When management at Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) sat down to bargain with members of amalgamated UE Local 221 who work at their Community Action and Head Start programs, they came wanting concessions. In addition to proposals to weaken or eliminate work rules won in previous contracts, CVOEO management wanted to place restrictions on UE members’ ability to use personal and bereavement leave. They even wanted to write a restrictive "definition" of past practice into the contract because they were upset that members had filed so many past-practice grievances!

John Payne, Head Start chief steward, had to repeatedly explain to management that UE members were not going to give away important on the job protections and union rights just because management wanted them. By keeping members informed and involved, the CVOEO workers were able to beat back management concessions and win a number of important economic, leave and language improvements including:


Head Start employees will receive a minimum guarantee of a 2 percent COLA increase in each year of the contract. If the agency receives more from the federal government, then employees will receive the full COLA increase. In addition to the COLA increases, the contract now states that 50 percent of additional federal funds (Quality money) will now be added into the base wages of employees unless either management or the union chooses to negotiate over the distribution of this money. Under this COLA and Quality money system, Head Start workers received a raise of 2.7 percent plus an additional 29 cents last year. All Head Start workers at the top of their pay scale will also receive an additional 10 to 20 cents in the first year of the contract.

Community Action employees will receive a 50-cent, across-the-board raise in each of the three years of the contract, bringing the base rate for most employees to $11.85 in the third year of the contract. In addition, several job classifications that were paid below the base rate will be brought up to the base rate in this contract.

Starting in the second year of the contract, employees will be eligible for a new longevity bonus. Community Action employees will receive an increase of 15 cents per hour after 5 years and all employees who have 8 years of service will receive an additional 25 cents per hour longevity bonus.

The agency’s contribution to the retirement plan will increase from 15 cents per hour to 20 cents per hour in the second year of the contract and 25 cents per hour in the third year of the contract.


CVOEO employees gain increased accumulation of sick leave from 1 day per month to 1.25 days per month; the cap rises from 240 to 260 hours.

For all full-year employees the vacation accumulation increases by 1 hour per month (1.5 days more per year) and adds two new accumulation rates for long term employees. Now after 13 years employees will accrue 5 weeks of vacation per year.

These employees also gain five new days of paid family leave when an employee qualifies for leave under the Vermont FMLA. Personal time may now be used to extend vacation or sick time.


The Head Start County administrative assistants are added to the bargaining unit. The contract now contains protections against overwork and provides for fair scheduling of hours of work for Head Start employees.

The agreement secures increased protection for laid off employees, including the right to a third year of recall rights and the right to refuse a position that is not substantially similar to the one the employee was laid off from without forfeiture of recall rights. The contract provides for an expedited grievance procedure.

Local 221 members who participated in negotiations from Head Start included: Chief Steward John Payne, Correspondence and Rec. Sec. Pat Foley, Pres. Annette Vachon, Fin. Sec. Mary Anne Chamberlain, Nancy Savoy, Ellen Domski and Faith Parry-Jones.

Community Action participants included: Chief Steward Jackie Hickerson, Sheila Baker, Toni Auriemma, Carla Barnes, Kate Langworthy. Local 221-CVOEO members were assisted by UE Field Org. Heather Riemer.

UE News - 12/00

Home -> UE News -> 2000 Archives -> Article

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