AFSCME Workers Support Fairpoint Workers on the Picket Line!

fpointJoin us Thusdays as we bring solidarity to Fairpoint workers picketting in snow and cold! Next up: December 16th 3:30pm at 266 Main Str.

The workers of AFSCME stand in solidarity with the workers on strike at Fairpoint in their prolonged struggle for just working conditions going into these winter months!
More on the Fairpoint strike here.

~AFCSME Together: We are VT Homecare workers, Howard Center Employees, St. Mike’s Janitor’s, Public Works Employees, Burlington School Food Project, Fletcher Free Library and the people and families who support us!~

RSVP and get updates here.

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November 18th Statement to the Board

“I Love My Job At Howard: I Wish I Could Afford To Stay”
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Howard Board and Management:
We are here today to bring you stories of ourselves and our co-workers, finding ourselves six months without a fair contract at the table with the Howard Center.
Comments and stories have been pouring in from fellow employees trying to come to terms with the fact that the agency is showing no actual respect and concern towards just compensation for its frontline workers, who are the ones keeping the agency afloat day after day.
City Councilors and State representatives alike are asking- Since this is the infrastructure the city has in place for dealing with some of its most pressing issues- homelessness, mental health, drug abuse, family services- Why is it not employeeing its workers under a livable wage and with conditions that allow them to remain more than a year and develop as professionals? They have taken note and are prepared to take new steps in support.
We are coming to you as the Advisory Body for this agency, urging you to not be on the wrong side of decision-making in this process. Urging you to do what is in your power to see that the agency –As it’s number one priority before taking on new projects!–  Compensate its employees with a wage comensurate to the cost of living in Vermont. Towards the development of an actual working relationship with its employees based on dignity, equity and justice, for the tremendous services they daily live out and embody for this community.
Employees are frustrated, feeling unrecognized and unheard. As you listen to these stories from co-workers I urge you to ask yourselves:
Who is it that you believe makes up the Howard Center?  What does it mean to have a true standard of excellence that begins with the working conditions for employees on the ground?
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Where’s MY 3%?! Update and Lawsuit Summary:

SUMMARY OF AFSCME LAWSUIT AGAINST THE HOWARDCENTER

•    In May of 2013, the Vermont Legislature passed a law giving a 3% funding increase to Medicaid providers, including the HowardCenter.  The law required providers “to provide a commensurate increase in compensation for direct care workers.”  In other words, direct care workers were supposed to get a 3% wage increase as of November 2013, when the state funds became available.

•    While virtually all other providers gave that 3% wage increase to direct care staff, the HowardCenter refused. Instead HowardCenter management argued that it could cut the increase to 1.4% by crediting a previously negotiated pay increase of 1.6%.  In the end, HowardCenter has simply kept the entire 3% increase for itself.

•    HowardCenter’s argument fails because the law had nothing to do with the collective bargaining agreement (CBA).  The CBA was negotiated at the bargaining table over a year prior to passage of the law.  The legislature mandated and paid for the increase for all direct care workers, whether or not they had a CBA.

•    As a result, AFSCME filed suit on March 7, 2014 in Chittenden Superior Court seeking to enforce the law and force the Howard Center to pay the 3% wage increase.

•    On April 7, Howard Center “removed” the case to federal court, claiming the case was preempted and barred by federal law because, HowardCenter argued, the case called for the interpretation of the CBA.  “Removed,” is a legal term, which means moving the case to another court.  The Howard Center also asked the federal court to dismiss the case.

•    However, on August 27, 2104 United States District Court Judge William K. Sessions III issued a 27-page decision that was strongly in AFSCME’s favor.  Judge Sessions denied the Howard Center’s motion to dismiss AFSCME’s lawsuit and sent the case back to state court.

•    The HowardCenter is trying to appeal this decision to the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City.  As of October 8, 2014, we are awaiting a decision from Judge Sessions on the request to appeal.  We are hoping soon to make our case in state court, where the case started and still belongs.

A Growing Movement

Sunday September 14th: Be Part of a New Movement with Local 1674

With changes in AFSCME staff we at Local 1674 are experiencing new
opportunities to create and be part of a more member-run Union.
Come join a discussion and brainstorming session with longtime Labor Activist
Ellen David Friedman, to help create a dynamic strategy going forward.

Ellen will help facilitate a member-run discussion including such topics as:

  • Union Dignity
  • Organizing Efforts
  • Community Awareness
  • Forward Momentum for Activists

. . . and, other topics from attendees.

Everyone is welcome to attend!  Bring a buddy!
Snacks Included!

Where: Vermont Worker’s Center (294 N. Winooski Avenue; Burlington)
When:  Sunday, September 14th, beginning at 9 am through 1 pm.
Contact: howard.union@gmail.com

Community Day of Action: Soteria House Fence Building

On Sunday August 24th AFSCME Local 1674 teamed up with the new Pathways’ project Soteria House opening in the Old North End, to tear down an existing fence and get a new one started.
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 It was a great day of team-work, fun, and camaraderie.
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We were glad to be able to partner and with a fellow Mental Health Agency,
and to be able to join as a Union to welcome Soteria House to our community.  
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Stand Stronger Together

Attend AFSCME Local 1674’s meeting
 on September 2nd!

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Though we have yet to be offered a fair contract, AFSCME Local 1674
is standing strong in solidarity. 
Come put your heads together with us, and be part of the new energy 
and ideas happening with your local Union.

When: Tuesday, September 2nd, at 5:30 pm
Where: CYFS Building, 1138 Pine St., Burlington, VT  05401