The Douglas administration and the Vermont State Employees Association spent seven hours in talks Monday in a last ditch effort to avert layoffs, but failed.
As a result, the administration will start the layoff process Tuesday. Two hundred or more workers may lose their jobs.
The irony is that the two sides agreed on how to find $7.4 million in labor savings this year and that was supposed to be the subject of the talks. They had compromised on four furlough days and three fewer paid holidays and tapping savings from a medical plan.
The dispute was over some other strings each wanted to attach to this deal. The administration wanted the union to agreed to permanent future savings -- because the state's financial problems are long-term. First the administration asked for about $38 million in savings over two years -- with details of how to be negotiated later. Monday night, the administration was willing to settle for $20 million over two years.
The union wanted to talk about that stuff out later, but made an offer Monday of $10 million over two years. In return, the union wanted a guarantee of no more layoffs this year, next year or the year after.
The gap was too big and no deal could be reached. The two sides walked away from the table with little hope of returning.
Lawmakers will be miffed. The Joint Fiscal Committee urged the two sides to find the $7.4 million in savings without resorting to layoffs. Lawmakers even told the administration they thought it was making a mistake to push for future concessions as part of these talks.
Lawmakers couldn't, however, get in the midst of contract talks that didn't involve them -- much as they would have liked to.
Anyone see any chance this can have a different ending?
-- Nancy Remsen
Labels: Douglas administration, layoffs, VSEA