Almost 600 hospital technicians at Fletcher Allen Health Care (FAHC) are organizing to form a union, as the nurses did back in 2002. The techs and nurses are now calling on FAHC Administration to recognize their right to organize and not waste thousands of healthcare dollars on an expensive anti-union campaign. Since they formed a union in 2002 they have improved their working conditions to such a degree that what was a critical nursing shortage virtually disappeared. The union simply made the hospital a better place to work.
No one doubts that we are living through difficult economic times. For many working-class Vermonters, the current economic crisis is simply an intensification of the long crisis that we have been experiencing long before the recent financial meltdown. For the last several decades, there has been a shift in government and public policy towards helping the rich get richer at the expense of working people.
Report from Ordinance Committee:
Burlington - Five hundred people participated in the day-long Ella Baker Human Rights Conference held on Dec 13, 2008. The conference was organized by the Vermont Workers' Center and sponsored by forty-three other organizations. [ Video of the main speakers, and more photos ]
Excerpts of Closing Remarks - James Haslam, Vermont Workers' Center
First off, I just have to say thank you to all the people who worked with us to make this event happen. We are very excited about the incredible broad-range of groups who came together for this event, many of these groups and individuals we have worked with for years, and many new groups and new faces, who we are just now getting to know and build relationships with.
From October 25 - November 2nd the Vermont Workers' Center held seven workshops around the state on Anti-racism & Building A Social Justice Movement with trainers from the Catalyst Project. Participants included high school and college students, teachers, union leaders, state employees, retirees, Americorp volunteers and Vermont non-profit staff. Here's what one participant sent us:
From our allies at the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI):
Last night's presidential debate addressed the key issue for health care reform in the United States: do candidates see health care as a right or as a commodity? [ NY Times Coverage ]
"I think it should be a right for every American." This was Senator Obama's answer.
The following was submitted by a individual we surveyed this summer in Brattleboro. It was read in its entirety at the Human Rights Hearing in Brattleboro.
Brattleboro, VT — On the evening of September 25th more than fifty Brattleboro residents came to St. Michaels Episcopal Church to participate in the first Human Rights Hearing on Healhcare. This was the first of a series of hearings to be held throughout the state as part of the Vermont Workers' Center's new Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign.
Burlington, VT – After a three and a half year campaign, Burlington school food service and custodial worker of AFSCME Local 1343 won an agreement that will bring its all of its members up to a livable wage by the end of the contract. This agreement is being celebrated as a ground-breaking victory. This is the second livable wage victory in less then a year, last fall the Burlington para-educators had the first livable wage victory in the Burlington Schools.
Speech by Erika Simard at the Vermont Workers' Center dinner
April 27, 2008
Old Labor Hall, Barre, VT
Hello, thanks for joining us here tonight. Even though I feel I’ve told my story a thousand times, I will continue to tell it until I make a difference. I started at Specialty Filaments in 1983 at the age of 18. As a union member, I had good pay and excellent benefits. Even though to an 18 year old, the only benefit that was worthy was my vacation time, the rest made up the benefit package. I made a lot of friends and I became pretty vocal on policies and procedures, but it wasn’t until the mid 90’s that I decided I wanted to become an active member and I joined the executive board. Over the years we became a really strong, active union, I worked my way up and I floated between Vice President and President a few times. In 2001, after fighting and winning a good contract, and feeling like I was on top of the world, I had a heart attack, I was 36 years old. At that point I was thankful for my health insurance; it’s funny how our views change as we age.