AFT Vermont today joined with thousands of other AFT members across the country to Reclaim the Promise of public higher education, early education, and affordable, accessible health care. The group launched its 2014 legislative agenda and celebrated the support of two key Vermont state senators.
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AFT Vermont President Ben Johnson kicked off the event, saying, "December the 9th is a Day of Action, and so on this occasion, we want to look forward to some of the things we will be doing this year to Reclaim the Promise of public higher education and early education."
Nan Reid of Burlington and Judy Pransky of Burlington called for legislative support for the Right to Organize for Vermont's early educators. "It's time to reclaim the promise for early childhood care and education," explained Nan Reid adding, "Providers in this state have been organizing for four years, and hoping for the right to organize into a collective bargaining unit - a right we are currently barred from exercising."
Judy Pransky presented Senator Philip Baruth (D-Chittenden) and Senator Dick McCormack (D-Windsor - in absentia) with a certificate of thanks for their commitment to this bill. Pransky noted, "These and other senators have stood with us...we thank them from our hearts."
Senator Baruth recognized McCormack as a mentor on labor issues, and further stated, "I am committed this year to trying to see this bill make it through the Senate," referring to the Early Educators' Right to Organize bill.
Chris Smith, Vice President of the Vermont State Colleges Faculty Federation presented AFT Vermont's 2014 Higher Education platform. The platform has three planks, with the first calling for increased Vermont's investment in our state colleges and university. Specifically, the group supports S.40 - a bill that passed in the Senate last year and would recommit the state to funding the state colleges and university at 1980 funding levels (51%) and would form a working group to create a plan to accomplish this goal.
David Shiman, President emeritus of United Academics at UVM, added, "I see it as a pay now or pay later situation, when we think about the cost to the state of not increasing the amount allocated to higher education."
Mari Cordes, President of the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals shared that locals priorities, noting that the group supports the Paid Sick Days legislation and adding, "We remain steadfastly committed to a universal, publicly funded health care system, not the current exchanges that teh federal ACA requires states to implement."
Cordes summed up the power that the union has to support all workers and community members in Vermont, stating, "We have proven with past initiatives that with our united voices and with our communities we can reclaim the promise for all Vermonters."
The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do. http://vt.aft.org/
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