AFSCME: Coronavirus Crisis Exposes Urgent Need for Fully Funded Public Services

March 19, 2020

“Phase 3” coronavirus stimulus bill must include economic relief for state and local governments and shore up public services.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement calling on the House and Senate to move quickly on a stimulus package that would include robust general grant assistance to states and municipalities, so that they can maintain services now and into the immediate future, when they are needed most:

“We are in an unprecedented moment. The COVID-19 outbreak is causing a massive disruption to the economy and threatens to destabilize state and local government finances.

“Over the last decade, public services in public health and other areas have been chronically underfunded, with staffing levels never rebounding to where they were before the Great Recession. The shortsightedness of those austerity measures is now being exposed, and it’s up to the federal government to step in.

“The first two bills passed by Congress have been important initial steps. But we need to think bigger and act more boldly. I am calling on the House and the Senate to move quickly on a stimulus package that would include robust general grant assistance to states and municipalities, so they can maintain services now and into the immediate future, when they are needed most.

“In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act assisted states and localities, primarily through Medicaid and education aid. But this approach won’t be adequate to the current challenge, especially since much of it won’t filter down to local governments. The federal government must provide each state with a grant equal to 7% of combined state and local government own source revenue collected last fiscal year. The estimated investment would be $175 billion.

“This is not a time for half measures. We have to be all in. This is the biggest public health emergency in a century. Public service workers are working around the clock on the front lines, facing overwhelming demand for their help, to protect the health and safety of their communities. We can’t ask them yet again to do more with less. We must make sure they have the resources to do the job. Congress must act now.”

Coronavirus: Don’t freak out

Union reps have been in regular contact with agency leadership to address your legitimate financial worries due to CTO and potential time out for childcare in the event of school closures. If you are a union member with additional concerns or specific suggestions, please direct them to us at and we will see that they are communicated appropriately and timely to management.

The main thing is, don’t freak out. For our clients’ and our own sake, we will need to stay calm, cool, and collected to respond effectively to whatever happens in the coming weeks. Now is our time to shine by showing what solidarity really means.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

World Health Organization

Because the CDC is a governmental organization and the federal response does not inspire a great deal of confidence, we suggest prioritizing education and advice-seeking on coronavirus from the World Health Organization first and foremost. To that end, these two links are extremely helpful:

Your questions answered

Protect yourself: Advice for the public

Advice for health workers

Finally, now is an important time to make sure you are opening and reading any mass emails you receive from the union, as we will be including any updates or news related to CTO, workplace safety, and so on. We may also begin to include download links for union-made postings to put up at your work site’s union bulletin board, or leaflets for hand-to-hand distribution. We need to be able to count on your support in getting out accurate information (and dispelling misinformation), as that’s the most important weapon in our arsenal.

Local 2704 Ratifies Contract, Ends Strike

From IAM District 4 on 10/7/19 [Link]:

Members of Local Lodge 2704 in Williston, Vermont, ratified a new contract with employer Velan Valve after a five day strike and returned to duty on Monday, October 7th.
The strike and subsequent negotiations, led by District 4 Business Representatives (BR) Jay Wadleigh and Dan Loudermilk, ended in a new two-year contract with numerous improvements including guaranteed wage increases of two percent each year, pension increases each year, and members successfully held the line to eliminate the contentious new language regarding temporary workers.

Continue reading “Local 2704 Ratifies Contract, Ends Strike”

Burlington: UE Local 203 reaches TA with City Market

From Local 203’s Facebook page [Link]:

Last night around 2:30 am, we reached a tentative agreement for our next contract! The Bargaining Team extends their gratitude for all members who joined our sessions and helped create added accountability to management. Further, we extend as a local our sincere thanks for all members of our co-op, Union, and Burlington communities who stood behind us! Our success is in large part to your continued solidarity. There’s power in a Union 

Williston: IAM Local Lodge 2704 on strike

From the International Association of Machinists, District 4, on Monday (9/30/19):

Seventy-seven members of LL 2704, employed by Velan Valve in Williston, Vermont, went on strike effective September 29th at midnight.
The members are highly skilled machinists, manufacturing high precision valves for customers such as the U.S. Navy and nuclear facilities.
District 4 Business Representatives (BR) Jay Wadleigh and Dan Loudermilk joined the negotiating committee comprised of the Local President David Littlefield, Vice President Gordon Davis, and the Recording Secretary Mark Thompson at the bargaining table.
The members rejected the company’s final offer in a ratification vote on Saturday, September 28th and the company has not returned to the tables since the downvote, despite the involvement of a federal mediator and the readiness of the bargaining unit to continue negotiations.
Members spent Monday on the picket line. According to BR Loudermilk, “Spirits are high and everybody is anxious to get back to the table to negotiate a fair contract.”

Solidarity with the UVMMC Nurses

This weekend Howard Center workers marched in solidarity with the UVMMC nurses, recognizing our shared workplace issues including safe staffing and wages that help to retain a reliable workforce.

This morning the Howard Center Union negotiation team meets with management to discuss ground rules going into negotiations. We will be bringing the proposal to management for Open Bargaining Sessions which, similar to the nurses would allow all Howard coworkers to attend and observe. This is a proposal that Howard Center workers voted 93% in favor of!

Solidarity in our struggle towards healthier communities and workforce.

Survey Results for April 2018 are in.

What do the workers at Howard Center think are most important for the upcoming round of negotiations?

Local 1674’s elected negotiating team have recently sent out a survey asking workers what they see as the most important issues in their workplace.  So far over 130 people have responded.

Here are the results so far

Vermont People’s Convention & Just Transition Assembly // Convención del Pueblo en Vermont y Asamblea de Transición Justa


The Vermont People’s Convention and Just Transition Assembly will bring hundreds of people together to imagine solutions and take action for fundamental, systemic change.

Join us at Montpelier High School on Saturday, April 30th and Sunday, May 1st!

Political Education ~~ Youth Summit ~~ Kids’ Convention ~~ People of Color Caucus ~~ Art & Music ~~ Shared Meals

La educación política ~~ Congreso de los jóvenes ~~ Convención de los niños ~~ Junta de la gente de color ~~ Arte y Música ~~ Comidas compartidas

La crisis económica, climática, la injusticia racial y de género son problemas que tienen raíces comunes. Es por eso que nos estamos reuniendo para imaginar las soluciones que llegan a las raíces— soluciones creadas por nosotros quienes somos los más impactados.


The Vermont People’s Convention is being organized by the Vermont Human Rights Council, an alliance of grassroots community and labor organizations in Vermont, and by Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, a national alliance of grassroots groups organizing to build an agenda for power for working and poor people and communities of color.

Members of the Vermont Human Rights Council include 350 Vermont,Green Mountain Self-Advocates, Migrant Justice, Rising Tide Vermont, UE Local 203, Vermont Center for Independent Living, Vermont Interfaith Action, and the Vermont Workers’ Center

Crisis, Power, and Alternatives to Calling the police: Responders and Recipients of Crisis Care in our Neighborhoods

Please mark your calendars Thursday, April 28 at 7 PM  for an intentional public dialogue exploring the different models available to us for responding to crisis in our neighborhoods.

We will hear from folks with experiences both responding and receiving from different models, look at questions of power, ableism and accessibility, and explore our shared roles in moving towards more safety and trust in our neighborhoods.

Folks with direct experiences are invited to come and share.
For questions or with specific interest in being part of event please contact hosts on this Facebook page.