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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



Blame all the way around

Let’s take these state job cuts from the top.

In January, the governor announced the state would have to lay off 600 workers unless it could find long-term savings elsewhere.

Legislators said no way would they let that happen, though they conceded that some $13 million in labor savings was needed.

Various departments compiled lists of jobs that would be eliminated to meet their targeted figures. Though cuts are always hard and one can always argue that certain jobs are essential, some of these the cuts just didn't made sense. Some were entirely or heavily federally funded. Others were made with virtually no planning for what the state would do instead.

Negotiations began between the administration and the union on contract concessions that would prevent layoffs.

Some of the union’s bargaining units wanted the concessions, but enough of those who were unaffected by the layoffs didn’t to defeat agreement.

Legislators inserted wording in the budget that would require their approval before layoffs could be made. They also built a budget that relied on the savings. They didn’t, however, make that action effective until July 1. Too late to save the jobs that must be eliminated before the fiscal year starts July 1. A Superior Court judge said so.

A lump of 80 or so workers went out the door Friday.

The wording of the Legislature’s budget language was also likely unconstitutional. The Attorney General’s Office said so.

Legislators passed a revised version of the wording, which went into law yesterday. The governor says it’s still unconstitutional. Legislature disagrees.

The administration’s labor lawyer sent the union a letter saying that the administration’s preference is to avoid additional layoffs through concessions. The union is wary.

It is as though the script writer to this story was determined to make sure things went wrong on every front and that blame would rest in every corner.

- Terri Hallenbeck

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How would the union proceed with negotiations as Marks has requested? Isn't most of the damage already done since the Governor ignored the Legislature and laid off workers already?
I thought the union offered a bunch of ideas and the state shot them down because it wasnt enuff for them. Just wack all of Doogie's appointees and be done with it.
Terry, I'm sorry but you made a mistake - "Some of the union’s bargaining units wanted the concessions, but enough of those who were unaffected by the layoffs didn’t to defeat agreement." You apparently forgot that in February the VSEA units agreed to offer concessions of $20 million, or about $2,600 per employee. The offer was rejected out of hand by the administration. What the union would not agree to was later, when Douglas wanted to cut pay by 5% across the board, increase health insurance by 50%, and still layoff a hundred or so state workers. His proposal amounted to a 15% pay cut for state employees.
The union has played tug a war in the process. The legislature said they would not let the layoffs happen and then did nothing - the union should be upset with them not the Governor.
Several state depts had asked the administration if they could find the money in their budgets without layoffs and the answer from Jiom Douglas - NO! I want bodies.

This was more about trying to destroy the union than about saving money!

Shame on Jim Douglas!

You are missing the conspiracy by the Governor and his team to demoralize and destroy the union. Please remember that GOPers always try to destroy unions.

Nov/Dec - Douglas says revenues are off - need serious belt tightening.

Jan - Douglas budget address announces 660 layoffs.

Jan - Douglas announces that Corrections and Public Safety will be unaffected. (2 of the 5 bargaining units)

Feb - Douglas annnounces which positions will be eliminated (creating unhealthy attitude between workers because they now know who will be gone)

Mar/Apr - Demands significant concessions from the union. Union responds with offer totaling $2600 per state employee - Douglas says no, he wants more.

Apr/May - RIF notices go out

June - Cuts begin!

Union members are disheartened and disappointed with a Governor who wants bodies.

However, the union will become stronger as Douglas continues to attack them.
the union tried in good faith,not jim..get over it jim face the truth..
Douglas wants bodies - it doesn't matter what the union does here.
I was in the State House on the (first) last day when they passed the budget (the one that was vetoed). The fact that there the provisions re. legislative approval of layoffs would not take effect until July 1 was WELL KNOWN. It was an open secret that many were discussing, esp. lobbyists. For legislative leadership to say this was a surprise is not "sloppiness", it is a straight out, bald faced lie. They knew darn well what they had done.
The next thing veto dooglione does in good faith will be the first.

He's an incompetent hack and this mess is all his fault.

Both same-sex marriage and the budget passed the legislature by wide margins.

Doogie didn't have to veto them. He could have respected the will of Vermonters and the legislature for a change.

After all, it's not like the Vermont of today is in better shape than the one he inherited from Howard Dean.

Quite the contrary.

Doogie forced the legislature's hand and left them no choice but to override his vetoes.

This is doogie's fault all the way.
douglas and lundy are stupid they are a poor excuse for management..so unwilling to work with the union.dougy wants to create jobs but hes doing rifs,are you dumb??
The union does not negotiate.
Actually the union offered compromise - it was Douglas and Lunderville who want more than an arm and a leg - they want bodies!

Douglas' idea for compromise is for the other side to give in to his demands!
Union members should rethink the leadership they have.
I think every single comment on here is to promote a democratic agenda to get Douglas out of office. Stop making false accusations and be honest about the issues.
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