Archive for September, 2013

Vermont Homecare Providers Speak at AFSCME National Women’s Conference

“They came to be inspired, and they inspired each other,” says the Women’s Conference literature.  Three inspiring Vermont homecare providers who are organizing with AFSCME were among the nearly 800 women AFSCME members gathered at the National Women’s Conference this past weekend in Denver to learn from one another, develop new skills, and strategize for the fight to protect workers’ rights.

Vermont homecare provider and AFSCME supporter, Janelle Blake, with AFSCME president Lee Saunders at the National Women’s Conference in Denver.

Vermont homecare provider and AFSCME supporter, Janelle Blake, with AFSCME president Lee Saunders at the National Women’s Conference in Denver. 

Homecare providers Janelle Blake (above), Mary Warren and Amanda Sheppard spoke to the gathering about the efforts they and other homecare workers in Vermont put into organizing with AFSCME. Their efforts have taken them to the point of setting a union vote-by-mail into action.  The results of the vote will be announced next week by the Vermont Labor Relations Board.  Watch this web site for updates as soon as the announcement is made on Thursday, October 3, 2013.

Janelle Shows Us The Voting Process


Homecare on TV: Wed. and Thur. on St. Albans public access

Northwest Access TV (public access Channels 15 and 16 in the St. Albans area) is airing an interview with Middlebury homecare provider Amanda Sheppard this week. The show’s host is Dave McWilliams, a long-time AFSCME member. Sheppard talks about homecare and the issues that sparked her into action and building a new union local in Vermont that can bargain collectively on behalf of all independent providers in the state and fight for full funding of programs that help those she cares for.

The show will air three times on Northwest Access TV in the St. Albans area:
Wed., September 11 at 1:00 PM
Thu., September 12 at 6:00 AM
Thu., September 12 at 4:30 PM

If you want to see this program broadcast in your community, you can contact your local public access station and request it. Click here to find the station in your area. Ask for the episode of “Homecare Workers Unite” which will be available to other Vermont public access stations after Friday, Sept. 13th.

Vermont Labor Relations Board Mails Ballots

Kicking off the largest union election in Vermont state history

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, September 9, 2013
CONTACT: Karen Conner, AFSCME Vermont Homecare United, 802-857-5985,

Today, the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB) will mail about 7,500 ballots to Vermont’s independent homecare providers kicking-off the largest union election in Vermont’s history and giving these providers the chance to vote for union representation. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) began organizing homecare providers over two years ago with enthusiastic support from providers whose hours and pay rates are set by the state but who lacked a voice in the workplace like other public employees.

Earlier this year, homecare providers working with AFSCME and a broad coalition, helped pass a law allowing them to organize with a union and negotiate a contract with the state. This union vote is the next step for homecare providers seeking a seat at the negotiating table with the state. The deadline for ballots to be returned is September 27 and votes will be counted by the VLRB on October 2 and 3.

“We provide a vital service to people in our community,” said homecare worker Janelle Blake of Essex Junction. “But we need a living wage and some benefits, like sick leave, and a voice to advocate for the programs those we care for depend on.”

FACTS about homecare in Vermont

  • About one in every 100 Vermonters is an independent homecare provider.
  • The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Vermont Homecare United has been organizing in Vermont since January 2012 and has built solid relationships with political action groups, advocacy groups, and state and local political leaders.
  • For the past two years, AFSCME Vermont Homecare United supporters have been speaking up across the state and in the Capitol building in support of fair funding for homecare programs.
  • Homecare providers supporting AFSCME led the successful fight for Vermont state legislation allowing homecare providers to organize. AFSCME supporters turned out to committee hearings, legislative debates and advocacy events with disability groups to get the bill across the finish line. Act 48 relating to independent direct support providers was signed into law May 24, 2013.
  • AFSCME represents 125,000 independent homecare providers in three other states (CA, MD and IA).
  • AFSCME’s second highest ranking officer in the national union, Secretary-Treasurer Laura Reyes, is a former homecare provider rose up the ranks.
  • According to Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs, AFSCME is more successful than any other union in the nation when it comes to securing better pay and benefits for workers in the health care sector.

AFSCME Vermont Homecare United Celebrates Labor Day

Labor Day is a time to remember what labor unions have done for us. From the weekend to sick leave, child labor laws and safer working conditions, unions always stand up for the rights of working people.

To celebrate Labor Day this year, Amanda Sheppard, a homecare provider from Middlebury MC’d the Labor Day Picnic at Battery Park put on by The Vermont Workers’ Center and the Vermont IWW along with partners and allies from across the state.

AFSCME is working with Vermont caregivers to ensure that homecare services are adequately funded and that personal care attendants are paid for the hours they work. Follow us Facebook Twiter RSS