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



Growth in Vt. state workforce charted

An interesting chart amid the pile of paperwork handed out at Monday's meeting of the Joint Legislative Government Accountability Committee.

The number of state employees in the executive branch grew by 19. 5 percent from 1999 to 2008, with a brief plateau in 2004-05. The number, of course, dropped in 2009, with vacant jobs eliminated and layoffs.

In 1999, there were 7,015 employees. In 2008, the number had reached 8,383. The chart notes that as of July 31, that number was down to 7,962.

This is interesting because Gov. Jim Douglas has spoken out the last couple years against the unsustainable size of government, blaming a big piece of the heft on his predecessor, but it has certainly grown since he took office in 2003. Of course, it should also be noted this requires the Legislature's consent. New programs=new jobs. The jump from 7,866 employees to 8,069 in 2004 can largely be attributed to the opening of a new prison in Springfield.

During the 10-year time span of the chart, the proportion of employees with "exempt" status also grew steadily. Those are employees were aren't unionized and Douglas is not a big fan of the union. The Legislature's Joint Fiscal Office notes this wasn't all Douglas' doing, who is not a big fan of the union. Between 2003 and 2008, legislation converted 21 classified positions to exempt positions.

But between 1999 and 2008, the number of classified employees grew by 19.2 percent while the number of exempt employees grew by 23.5 percent.

Something to noodle on.

- Terri Hallenbeck

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What's the percentage of exempt employees among those laid off? Curious as these tend to be "supervisory" or professional positions. Any numbers?
Finally, some truth is emerging - Jim Douglas has been hiding this information - because it does not suport his mission - to destroy the union!

Interestingly, it's these tactics that make unions even more viable and needed!
And this isn't a front page story in the FP why? And no one (reporters included) thought to ask the committee what the first commenter asked? Blogs are great but this is actual news.
This is a story that needs to be front page and more in depth-

It is time to undress Douglas for what he is-

A manipulator of the media-

Let's have the truth!
"Finally, some truth is emerging - Jim Douglas has been hiding this information - because it does not suport his mission - to destroy the union!"

Good! Destroy the state workers union. Where does it say that state workers should be unionized, and have a better life than those of us who work in the private sector?
Good luck with that!
The union does not appear willing to consider new ideas.
The retirement incentive was the union's idea.

If Douglas had accepted the union's generous offer back in February it could have saved over 120 people from being on the unemployment line. The percentage is that out of 320 people Douglas was targeting for layoffs, only 7 of them were "exempt".

Why don't other workers organized to get themselves better pay and benefits instead of trotting out their jealousy of state workers who apparently are smarter than most - at least smart enough to get organized 65 years ago.
That's right - the union promoted the early retirement idea as well as furloughs by its members - it was the Douglas administration that opposed and would not accept.

Douglas wanted bodies!
State workers are NOT unionized. It is nothing more than an Association. If you are so concerned with your standard of living do what other more civilized countries do and create labour laws; set of rules all businesses must follow (ie. standard probation period with strict guidelines for firing).

Douglas wants to privatize government so his big business buddies can make money. Larger States have tried this and found contractors cost more. Wake up Vermont.
Make it difficult to fire workers? More difficult than it already is in VT? Are you insane? Nobody has a right to a job at someone else's company. It's my company, not yours. If you're not working hard enough, or my revenues can't afford it, sorry -- you're gone. Yeah, we should emulate France and their fantastic economy. NOT. Let's make Vermont even more inhospitable to business than it already is. Good idea!

You want guaranteed employment? START YOUR OWN COMPANY AND WORK THERE.

De-unionize the state employees. Holding a job where you serve the people should be based exclusively on merit and copmetence, and also on the ability of the budget to sustain your job. Not on union rules.
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