May 4th, 2017
Executive Director, Vermont Progressive Party
Montpelier, VT – Last night Progressive House Legislators stood unanimously opposed to a thinly veiled attempt to undermine workers' rights in Vermont.
Governor Phil Scott’s proposal to negotiate a statewide health insurance plan for teachers was rejected on Wednesday by a tie vote in the Vermont House. The plan would have stripped teachers and support staff of their right to negotiate health insurance with their local school boards. Gov. Scott claimed that the plan would save the state 26 million dollars. Progressives argue that the savings in the Governor’s plan are unproven, and that the amount and use of any savings should be negotiated between local employees and their communities. They say that the savings will happen through negotiations with educators and their school boards as school boards transition into less expensive health benefit plans in accordance with Affordable Care Act regulations.
Gov. Scott's plan to attack teachers' health insurance and collective bargaining rights was supported by a coalition of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. House Progressives stood unanimously opposed to the measure. “Our caucus unanimously opposed this measure because it would have upended decades of labor practice with virtually no vetting," said Progressive Caucus Chair Robin Chesnut-Tangerman." We are confident that we can achieve savings without undermining the right of teachers to collectively bargain.” Robin went on to say that “a single payer healthcare system would avoid this issue completely and save money.”
Progressive Party Director, Josh Wronski, stated that "The Beck Amendment should have easily failed in a Democratic-controlled legislature. One must ask how dedicated Democrats are to organized labor with such a close outcome. Progressives respect educators' right to bargain, especially over bread and butter issues like health insurance. Our Progressive caucus unanimously opposed this measure and proved again that we are the party of working people and their unions.”