By Guy Page
The Vermont AFL-CIO is calling state employees and teacher unions to strike over the Vermont House’s March 26 rejection of a wealth tax to bail out the public pension deficit.
Vermont’s largest and arguably most left-leaning union is making a political issue of the House vote against the unions’ plan to bail out the pension by taxing the wealthy. AFL-CIO president David Van Deusen said April 1: “this wealth tax (which would compel the richest 1.45% of Vermonters making more than half a million dollars a year to pay a modest 3% more in taxes)….. failed on the floor with only 21 in favor and 125 against.”
A House plan would reduce the growing, multi-billion dollar pension shortfall through pension plan requirements and benefits considered painful by the unions. Some House members said the proposed ‘wealth tax’ amendment to H436, a miscellaneous tax bill, was introduced at the proverbial last minute and had not undergone thorough scrutiny. Only Progressives and a handful of progressive Democrats voted in favor.
In response, teachers and state employees unions have called a picket at the State House 11 am Saturday April 3. The legislators aren’t actually at the State House and therefore will not have to “cross the picket line” to get to work.
The AFL-CIO says the Vermont NEA and the Vermont State Employees Association should take two steps further. First, refuse to support Democratic candidates who opposed the wealth tax. Second, go on strike.
Leave the Democratic Party: “Both these Unions have continuously provided them political cover as they [Democrats] again and again failed to adequately advance a pro-worker, pro-Union agenda. And now those same politicians believe there is little to no price to be paid for screwing the very workers who’s Unions have time and again supported them.” AFL-CIO urges backing Progressive Party candidates: “polite Statehouse lobbying and support for the liberal status quo is failing to deliver for workers and for unions.”
Strike: “Second, the VSEA and NEA would be wise to immediately coordinate a plan of mass public action aimed at tipping the scales in favor of workers on the pension issue. And when and if such a plan is implemented, the Vermont AFL-CIO will be prepared to lend our full support and cooperation (as an attack on one is an attack on all)….Strikes and direct action work.”