MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — At least two major national unions are trying to take advantage of a new Vermont law that lets the state’s 7,000 home care works engage in collective bargaining.
A filing deadline at the state Labor Relations Board has now passed.
Labor specialists are expecting to see the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) wage a spirited summer campaign against the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
The unions are fighting to represent a workforce in which wages of $10 per hour are common and benefits are few.
On Tuesday, about 60 SEIU members and supporters gathered for a rally at the Statehouse before marching down the street to deliver the signed union cards to the Labor Relations Board.
“Voting for SEIU is an easy choice for me,” said Karen Topper, state coordinator of Green Mountain Self Advocates, one of Vermont’s leading disability rights organizations. “As a home care worker myself, I know that when it comes to disability rights, we need to have a partner who understands how important this is for our clients and our communities.”
AFSCME responded with a statement quoting supporter Janelle Blake, a home care provider from Essex Junction. She cited the $10 per hour wage typical in Vermont, adding that she has “no health insurance or sick days. In other states, like Iowa, Maryland and California, where home care workers are represented by AFSCME, workers have received pay increases and access to health benefits, registries and training.”
Each union pointed to the other’s base outside of Vermont as a shortfall.