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Looking Ahead to 2012

Dear United Professions AFT Vermont Member:

    As we close out 2011, I wanted to let you know about three events coming up in the new year, as well as reflect on our accomplishments this year and look forward to 2012.

    UP Political Action Dates
    First Day of the Legislature: Tuesday, January 3, 11:30 am at the Statehouse in Montpelier
    Early Childhood Educators Lobby Day: Tuesday, February 7 at the Statehouse in Montpelier
    Healthcare Lobby Day:
Tuesday, February 21 at the Statehouse in Montpelier
    Higher Ed Lobby Day: Tuesday, March 20 at the Statehouse in Montpelier

    Join with us, community members and the Vermont Workers Center, as we organize for healthcare for all, fair funding for higher education and the right to organize for early education providers.  For more information on transportation or to RSVP please reply to this email.

    Looking back on 2011
    Our Union, United Professions AFT Vermont, was incredibly busy in the last year.  In a challenging budgetary climate, our members were able to secure improvements in wages and working conditions, some of our victories:

    * Stopping the Privatization of Vermont’s Renal Dialysis Clinics: In a campaign that lasted over 16 months, members of UP at Fletcher Allen organized their colleagues and patients to speak out against selling Fletcher Allen’s five outpatient renal dialysis clinics to a for-profit clinic.  The state agency that oversees healthcare (BISHCA) denied the sale this month, citing the same concerns that union members shared: decreased staffing, increased rates and a lower quality of care.

    * Students and UP members at Vermont State Colleges and UVM Stand Up for Higher Ed Funding: Faculty, professional and supervisory staff at the Vermont State Colleges organized rallies and events that turned out over 500 members and students in one day across the four campuses.  UVM Faculty and students spoke out at several rallies protesting UVM's priorities.  Students spoke eloquently about their increased debt burden and UP members made sure our message went out to state legislators and the media.

    * Ratified Agreements for UVM Full-time Faculty and Fletcher Allen Nurses and Techs:
Our negotiation teams, with the solid backing of the membership, were able to achieve agreements that were better than average in this year’s negotiations.  The United Academic full-time faculty were able to achieve increased protections and solid increases over the three year contract.  Nurses and Techs at Fletcher Allen were successful in negotiating a wage reopener that preserved the step system and guaranteed a minimum increase of two percent for all members.  Students and community members stood up with our members to let the administration know that the budget should not be balanced on the backs of our members.

    * A Strong UP Presence in the Vermont Statehouse:
UP members called their legislators, signed petitions, testified before legislative committees and met with their legislators to make remarkable progress in a time when many labor unions are facing defensive battles at the state level.   In the last session, our union was instrumental in the passage of Act 48 the law that sets out the guidelines for healthcare for all Vermonters.  We led the legislative fight to expand the right to organize to thousands of early childhood educators and we were successful in highlighting the issue of funding for higher education. 

    Looking forward to 2012

    Organizing for Solid Agreements: Our Union is preparing to continue to organize and fight for the best agreements possible for the professional and supervisory staff at the Vermont State Colleges, the part-time faculty at the University of Vermont and the nurses at Fletcher Allen.  We will continue to engage our members, students and community supporters in our efforts to put quality education and healthcare first.

    Continuing to Build Our Strength in the Statehouse and in Vermont:  While we have made remarkable progress, there are those who are marshaling their resources to oppose expanding bargaining rights and to oppose extending healthcare to all Vermonters.  We also know that real increases in funding for higher education is going to be difficult this year because of the clean up costs of Irene. Because of this we cannot afford to be complacent.  We have three events coming up:

    First Day of the Legislature:
 Tuesday, January 3, 11:30 am at the Statehouse in Montpelier
    Early Childhood Educators Lobby Day: Tuesday, February 7 at the Statehouse in Montpelier
    Healthcare and Higher Ed Lobby Day: Tuesday, February 21 at the Statehouse in Montpelier
    For more information on transportation or to RSVP please reply to this email.

    And we will be working with the leadership of our local unions to sign petitions, make phone calls and build community alliances on our campuses, in our hospitals and in our workplaces.

    An Agenda to Move Vermont Forward: We have set an aggressive agenda to move our issues forward for higher education, patient care and workers’ rights.  I look forward to working with you at the negotiations table, in the statehouse and in our communities in the coming year.

    In Solidarity,
    Ben Johnson, President

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