Maintenance Workers Help Fogel Clean Up

On Thursday, September 25 a group of approximately 40 UE 267 workers from the University of Vermont gathered outside of the Waterman building to protest their wages and contract negotiations. They presented University of Vermont president Dan Fogel in person with a petition that had 1300 signatures in support of increasing their pay rate to a livable income. The group, followed by television and print media from Burlington, walked through the Waterman Building and were met by Fogel as they entered the corridor leading to his office. There were no negative words or harsh actions as Fogel received the petition with smiles and handshakes. When inside Fogel’s office, UE 267 field organizer Heather Riemer and a few workers summarized the petition and shared some of their personal stories about working under the livable wage and working without a contract for the last two and a half months. Some of the demands at the top of the UE’s list were the same wages as the faculty is now making and many of the similar settlements that were made with the faculty. The UE, however, wants their workers to be recognized for their tenor at the university and feels that those who have spent the most time employed by the university should be paid more than someone who has worked less should. “We want the same contract negotiations are not new to us as we just went through the same thing with the faculty not too long ago,” said Fogel. “We are going to try and resolve this issue as swiftly and efficiently as possible. We have a federal negotiator just as we had with the faculty so the outcome will be positive to the best of our ability. “We are very supportive of both our faculty and out staff as they are an essential part to making this university run. We are very appreciative of our staff and are concerned for their well being and their need to make a livable wage. We need to make sure they feel they are working in a nurturing environment,” added Fogel. Many protestors picketed with signs expressing the need for the livable wage and the necessity to be able to fully recover from an injury incurred on the job without fear of losing that job, “When we are injured on the job we need ample time to recover from that injury. UVM cannot treat us like garbage and throw us away if we are not back within six months,” announced one worker speaking to the group while still outside Waterman. When asked about the concept of being fired after not coming back to work before a certain time after an injury Fogel said it was the first he had ever heard of such a thing. The negotiations are now in the hands of a federal negotiator and the university’s financial officers. Fogel made no comment when asked about a timetable for settling a potential contract.