Gov. Peter Shumlin and the Vermont State Employees Association announced today that they have reached tentative agreements on labor contracts covering three bargaining units: Corrections, Supervisory and Non-Management Units. These agreements are subject to ratification by the VSEA membership and cover a two-year period, from July 2012 to June 2014.
Under the terms of the contracts, state employees will receive a 2 percent increase in July 2012 and an additional 2 percent increase in July 2013. In accordance with the contract now in place, the 3 percent decrease in compensation taken by state employees for the 2011-2012 fiscal years will be restored at the end of June 2012. In addition, previously "frozen" step movement will resume in July 2012.
"I am pleased to announce this agreement and appreciate our partnership with Vermont's hard-working state employees," Gov. Shumlin said. "While these contracts provide a modest increase for state employees, they also reflect the fiscal constraints facing Vermont taxpayers and our responsibility to maintain fiscal discipline in the coming years.
"These are fair agreements, and VSEA bargaining unit representatives will unanimously be recommending a "yes' vote on these tentative contracts," said VSEA President John Reese. "Certainly, VSEA members belonging to the Units that will soon vote on this tentative contract will welcome a return of the three-percent wage cut they graciously surrendered to help Vermont weather our state's economic storm. I also believe they'll be very receptive to a small wage increase in the next two years, as the cost of living is rising just as fast for state employees as it is for all working Vermonters." Reese added, "The fact that, for the first time in decades, VSEA bargaining units were able to reach a tentative agreement without having to resort to the use of a mediator or fact-finder should speak volumes about the tone of these negotiations versus previous bargaining sessions with the State."
Under the new agreements, the VSEA agreed to the elimination of Columbus Day as a holiday beginning in the second year of the contract. The VSEA also agreed to a $5 increase in co-pays for office visits under the Select Care medical plan available to state employees, beginning in January 2013. These provisions will create sustainable labor savings, not just savings in the next two years.
This marks the first time in over 20 years that any bargaining units have reached full agreement without need for mediation or fact finding.
Summary of Agreement
The State of Vermont and the Vermont State Employees' Association (VSEA) have agreed to two year successor labor contracts for the period July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013. The significant components of the agreement are as follows:
· A 2 percent across the board salary increase in July 2012 and an additional 2 percent increase in July 2013.
· Employees in the Select Care health plan will pay additional $5 co-pay for office visits, from $15 to $20 dollars, effective January 2013.
· Columbus Day will no longer be observed as a state holiday, effective July 1, 2013.
Of note, under the terms of the prior contracts (2010-2012), the 3% decrease in salary taken by employees beginning July 2010 is restored as of June 30, 2012 and step movement is restored.