Monday night December 15th, Progressive City Councilors brought the below Resolution to the table; supporting a livable wage, good working conditions, adequate state funding, and retention of employees as a priority for the Howard Center Agency in its important work in the city.
The Resolution was met with both support and criticism from Democratic Councilors who worry that the wording may somehow interfere with the bargaining process. Progressive Councilors maintain their broad support towards encouraging all agencies within this city to provide a livable wage to their employees, including and especially those within the Mental Health, Family, and Developmental Service areas, providing crucial services to the most vulnerable among us.
The Resolution has been tabled to a later meeting date in January.
Please circulate to all at local work-sites and beyond as this important discussion continues.
12/15 SUPPORT FOR STATE BUDGET ALLOCATIONS TO ALLOW FOR LIVABLE WAGES AND BENEFITS TO HOWARDCENTER EMPLOYEES:
WHEREAS, the Burlington-based HowardCenter “offer[s] life-saving professional crisis and counseling services to children and adults; supportive services to individuals with autism and developmental disabilities who need help with education, employment, and life maintenance skills; counseling and medical services for those struggling with substance abuse, and intensive interventions for adults with serious and persistent mental health challenges;” and
WHEREAS, HowardCenter’s workers provide essential services to Burlington residents and their families, and contribute substantively to public health and safety in our community; and
WHEREAS, HowardCenter employment often requires skills gained through significant experience and/or educational accomplishments, such as masters’ level degrees; and
WHEREAS, state and federal funding for direct service providers and designated agencies is frequently imperiled; and
WHEREAS local non-profit organizations face many significant cost pressures and difficulty in balancing budgets; and
WHEREAS, HowardCenter workers have come forward to express concerns about low wages, with many of them indicating the need for supplemental employment, benefit assistance or use of local services such as the Chittenden County Emergency Food Shelf; and
WHEREAS, HowardCenter workers and managers report high turnover rates for frontline workers, with over 120 positions currently open for clinicians and other service providers; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Burlington City Council calls for allocations in the State of Vermont’s budget that allow for livable wages and benefits for workers at the HowardCenter and comparable designated agencies; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Burlington City Council urges HowardCenter management to make livable wages, working conditions and retention of workers a priority.