While small in comparison to certain other states, with its tiny population, Vermont’s $100 million budget definict is causing internecine warfare betweem two typically-aligned allies—the Democrat-controlled government and teachers’ unions.
Across the United States, 37 states ban teachers from striking. Vermont is not one of those states.
That, however, may soon change.
In related news, Vermont’s teachers’ union are not happy with Peter Shumlin, the Democrat governor whom they endorsed.
In January, Shumlin declared in his budget address that he was counting on the VSEA to reopen its contract and give up pay increases. The union got 15 minutes’ heads-up that its members would be targeted in the speech. Plus, Shumlin announced, he planned to cut other state jobs by consolidating emergency call centers and closing the Community High School of Vermont, which serves inmates in state prisons.
In that budget address, Shumlin also called for cutting school spending and raising student-teacher ratios, moves that would inevitably cost teachers jobs. Vermonters, he said, “expect better outcomes for our students at lower costs.”
No longer do those unions believe Shumlin is standing by them.
“There are a lot of members who question that endorsement now,” said Steve Howard, the VSEA’s executive director.
“It’s been very disappointing,” said Martha Allen, president of the Vermont-NEA. “I feel as though the line of doing more for less is an insult.”
Apparently, Shumlin also proposed the banning of teacher strikes in Vermont, which, presumably, now makes him even less popular with the teachers.
Although Vermont National Education Association Director of Communications Darren Allen called the bill perhaps “the most anti union, anti labor, disrespectful to teacher bill we’ve seen in Vermont,” the union did like the idea last year, according to WPTZ.com.
Vermont NEA spokesman Darren Allen says it supports all of the collective bargaining rights its members enjoy.
It has proposed moving to a system where both the union and local school boards are subject to binding arbitration in the event contract agreements can’t be reached.
ALthough the union has not yet compared Vermont’s governor, Peter Shumlin, to Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, that may still be coming.