The Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee passed a labor bill last week that is so stuffed with pro-organized labor provisions that it made no pretence at being balanced or fair.
Among gifts to the unions, S.137 endorses an agency fee for non-union employees up to and including full union dues paid to the union. The fee amount will be set by (guess who?)... the Union.
Another gift: a provision to make school staff employees eligible for unemployment benefits during the summer months. That will cost school boards, hence Vermont taxpayers, millions of new tax dollars every year.
Another gift: a provision to require school boards to spread wage payments throughout the year. Most school boards pay through the school year, but not over the summer vacation.
And the pro-labor list goes on and on.
These new rip-offs for unions were aided and abetted by none other than Sen. Vince Illuzzi, R. Essex, chairman of the Committee, who ushered them through with little or no testimony taken on any of them. Ordinarily, Sen. Illuzzi is a Republican whose common sense we admire and whose principled stand on many issues is not the politic, but the right thing to do. This time, though, and on labor issues generally, Sen. Illuzzi is a RINO, Republican In Name Only. If the rumors that he intends to run for statewide office are true, he had better mend his fences with the Republican Party. Otherwise, not being able to run for two offices at once, he may find himself not even in the Legislature or the power structure next year.
According to a legislative update newsletter circulated by the law firm of Downs, Rachlin and Martin, the bill was essentially written by labor lobbyists who "essentially worked as staff for the committee in drafting and re-drafting" the bill. There was "little or no testimony."
Of the bill's myriad dangers, it explained "the Vermont School Boards Association strongly objected, saying the provision would further tip the bargaining scales in favor of the large and well-staffed Vermont NEA, which already holds tremendous power in negotiations." Only 12 percent of Vermont workers are represented by unions, it says.
So the bill will do three things. 1) It will raise your taxes. 2) It will further strengthen a union that exists exclusively to dumb down our kids, protect bad teachers and remove all accountability from public education. 3) It attacks the personal liberty of teachers who would otherwise choose not to support the "anti-education" education unions.
Et tu, Vince?