The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Night follows day. What goes up must come down. Deciduous leaves fall in the fall. Snow falls in the winter. All of these things are predictable, but not as predictable as the Vermont State Employees Association (VSEA) demanding more salary and benefits no matter the economic health or lack thereof of Vermont's economy.

So, it came as no surprise to learn that the state and the VSEA are at an impasse on next year's contract. It makes no difference that Vermont is facing a perfect storm when the current fiscal year's huge deficit (estimates range from $200 million to $250 million), put off by the Democrats this year with stimulus money, comes due next year.

And, it's not hard to understand the pig-headedness of the VSEA when we realize that their attitude is exactly the same as their pals, the power structure of the Democrats who control Montpelier (It's hard to figure out who are the leaders and who are the followers because they are constantly saying, "Me, too!" to each other.)Ira Lobel, a federal mediator, has failed to convince either side to accept his fact-finder report. If they don't finally agree, each side must present its last, best offer to the state labor board. That board can choose either offer or the fact-finder's report as its choice to end the dispute. What they choose will then go to the Legislature for resolution.

The VSEA has already lost several hundred jobs as a result of its intransigence. If it continues its adamant refusal to give up anything meaningful, it is likely to lose several hundred more before this fiscal crisis even eases a bit. Given that Vermont has 5,000+ public employees in the VSEA, while there may be better ways to do it than through a negotiations impasse, the reduction of that labor force by 20 percent, or 1,000 jobs, is reasonable and desirable.

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