Historic New Law Provides Vermont Independent Home Care Workers with the Right to Form a Union 05/24/2013

A six-month legislative campaign spearheaded by AFSCME and aimed at providing Vermont's home care providers with collective bargaining rights ended triumphantly today when Governor Peter Shumlin signed SB59.

The law paves the way for AFSCME to complete a nearly two-year effort to organize these essential public caregivers and help them reap the benefits and respect that comes with being a union member.

"This is a proud day for our union and for the State of Vermont," said AFSCME Council 93 Executive Director Frank Moroney. "We have been partnering with our International Union for more than two years on this campaign, supplementing their efforts with staff and Volunteer Member Organizers from Council 93. Step one was introducing ourselves to these workers and letting them know who we are and how we can help them. Step two was making sure that SB59 moved through the legislature and onto the governor's desk as quickly as possible. We now look forward to completing the final step, which is scheduling an election and welcoming these workers into the AFSCME Family."

Council 93 President Charlie Owen was among several Council 93 leaders and members who volunteered their time to work on the organizing campaign in Vermont. Owen braved sub-zero temperatures last winter, going door-to-door in rural Vermont to talk to these workers about the benefits of forming a union with AFSCME. "It's really inspiring to the see all of our hard work starting to pay off," Owen said after hearing that SB59 had been signed by the governor. "I'm very excited for our union but I am even more excited for these workers who will soon be gaining the respect and dignity they deserve. I was truly impressed by the difficult job they do and how valuable they are to the individuals and families who rely so much on them. As we move into the homestretch of this historic campaign, I would strongly encourage AFSCME members to volunteer some of their time in Vermont."

The more than 6,000 home care workers in Vermont provide critical home-based care for the elderly and disabled persons, supporting family members who are unable to provide the full-range of care needed by these individuals. Until passage of SB59, these workers were considered independent providers employed by service recipients and their families, despite the fact that the state is ultimately responsible for their pay, benefits and other working conditions.

SB59 was filed at the start of the legislative session in January with broad support and 13 co-sponsors including the President of the Vermont State Senate. The bill cleared the Senate on March 15 and was passed by the House of Representatives on May 2. Governor Shumlin signed the bill into law today. While another union recently moved into the organizing campaign in an attempt to capitalize on the extensive ground work done by AFSCME, the Vermont AFL-CIO unanimously passed a resolution recently backing AFSCME as the union that should represent these workers. The resolution sites AFSCME's several years of work the campaign and its more than six decades of representing social services workers in the state. Click here for more information on the Vermont Home Care Organizing Campaign.


Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO Supports AFSCME to Represent Home Care Workers

1) The Vermont State Labor Council has adopted a resolution in support of legislation allowing independent home care providers to organize.
2) Legislation allowing independent home care providers to organize will also allow them to choose their union.
3) AFSCME has been working with Vermont independent home care workers to help them form a union for several years.
4) AFSCME has a long record of representing social service workers and other public service workers in Vermont, going back 60 years.
5) AFSCME represents thousands of members with 46 bargaining units and 42 different employers in Vermont, from Burlington to Bennington and Windsor to Newport and 1.4 million nationally.
6) There are nine AFSCME Local Unions located throughout the state.
7) All Vermont AFSCME Local Unions are longtime active members of the Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.
8) Homecare workers organized with AFSCME, will have a local based in Vermont and will affiliate with the Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

It is therefore resolved,

The Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO supports and endorses AFSCME as the union to represent all independent home care providers in Vermont.