Shumlin criticizes state workers union over double-pay demand

MONTPELIER – Gov. Peter Shumlin wasted little time at a Wednesday press conference before leveling harsh criticism at the state workers who are seeking double pay for work performed after Tropical Storm Irene caused massive flooding on Aug. 28.

Just after asking people to continue donating to Irene relief funds, Shumlin said he was appalled that the Vermont State Emloyees Association filed a grievance with his administration last week, arguing that workers were entitled to twice their regular wages because they hadn't received official relocation notices after the flooding displaced them from their normal work space.

“And I just can't express enough my dismay at the 90 state employees who are doing an extraordinary disservice to the rest of our hard working employees by asking for double time when they don't deserve it,” said Shumlin, at his first press conference since the union made the demand. “The notion that we would have hardworking transportation workers rebuilding our roads and bridges and then someone who is displaced from their office space in Waterbury would be getting paid double time while the transportation worker would be getting paid as they normally would – a lower wage – just seems extraordinarily unfair.”

Shumlin said he met with the president of the Vermont State Employees Association on Wednesday morning and urged the union to withdraw the grievance.

The union says the administration is violating its collective bargaining agreement by not awarding the double pay.

A union official could not immediately be reached for comment.

– Thatcher Moats