Balint, Ram Hinsdale join calls by UVM staff union for higher pay

BURLINGTON — Two candidates for Vermont’s sole seat in the US House voiced their support Monday for the University of Vermont staff union, which has been trying to work out a contract with the Burlington institution for more than half a year.

Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, D-Chittenden, and Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint, D-Windham, addressed reporters and a small crowd of students at the Waterman Building on UVM’s campus, flanked by two dozen members of UVM Staff United.

The union represents 1,350 clerical, technical and specialized workers at the school.

“It is far overdue that we give UVM staff the raise and the respect that they deserve,” Ram Hinsdale said over the sound of honking cars on South Prospect Street. “No one should make a wage below what meets their basic needs.”

The union and school administrators have met about a dozen times since negotiations began last fall but have yet to come to terms on what would be union members’ first contract. UVM Staff United says its bargaining priorities include higher salaries, better benefits, diversity and equity in hiring, and greater flexibility at work.

Last month, at a rally on campus, UVM Staff United decried the school’s response to a union wage proposal. UVM, for its part, has said it is bargaining with the union in good faith. Both parties have declined to publicly discuss details of the process. The school’s administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Monday.

Labor and management met on Friday and are scheduled to sit down again Wednesday, members of the union said. Speakers said Monday they’re frustrated with how negotiations are going; one person gave a thumbs down when a reporter asked how Friday’s meeting went.

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