University of Vermont office workers file petition to unionize

Associated Press

Office workers at the University of Vermont are again seeking to unionize.

The Vermont State Employees' Association filed a petition with the Vermont Labor Relations Board on Thursday for an election.

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The petition must have authorization cards signed by a third of the proposed bargaining unit.

The proposed bargaining unit has about 760 clerical, technical and specialized workers, the Burlington Free Press reported (http://bfpne.ws/1omvABW).

At a Friday rally, organizers said they were concerned about a 20 percent increase in unrepresented staff's health insurance cost share and a 2 percent salary increase and needed staff representation at the bargaining table.

"Winning a seat at the table would give staff the opportunity to make improvements we wish to see," said organizer Marilyn Eldred, a UVM staff member for 17 years.

Two years ago, officer workers voted for union representation, but did not give majority to one of two competing unions. In a second election, the staff voted against representation by a National Education Association affiliate — the sole union on the ballot.

Since then, United Staff — the other union involved — joined with VSEA, which represents roughly 240 employees at some of the Vermont State Colleges.

Organizers think the effort will be successful this time around.

"We're the only union on the ballot this time," said Kathy Carolin, a 20-year UVM staff member.

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Information from: The Burlington Free Press, http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com