2 unions vie for Vt. home care workers - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

2 unions vie for Vt. home care workers

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A battle is brewing between two big unions. Both hope to represent home care workers in Vermont.

Home care workers in Montpelier celebrated the home care provider bill, allowing workers to form a union. Now AFSCME and SEIU are vying for 7,000 new members.

"There is only one home care worker union and that union is SEIU," said Danielle Warner, a home care worker.

Tuesday, the Service Employees International Union marched to the Labor Relations Board to submit 2,000 signatures to get on the ballot. SEIU's main concern is now the mail-in ballot voting process-- a process they say could be inaccurate due to incorrect addresses.

"There are some concerns with a union this big spread out all across the state that a mail-ballot election may fail to reach a significant amount of voters, and that's the only issue that I can't see anybody would disagree with," said Matthew McDonald, the director of SEIU.

The SEIU wants to hire a third party mailing service to contact voters to make sure they received ballots. But the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees is the other union already on the ballot, and they say the current system works just fine.

"These are the same rules that have covered every public employee election in the state of Vermont for 60 years. And our position and our position was, these rules work," said Carolyn Klinglesmith, the organizing director of ASFCME.

If changes to the voting system are made, an election that was scheduled to take place in mid-July may then be postponed until September.

Senator John Campbell introduced the bill making a home care union in Vermont possible, and says he would like to see the two unions work together and focus on the people they hope to represent.

"The most important thing is not to lose sight of what the real target is here and that is the individuals who are either disabled or unable to take care of themselves and give them the opportunity to be independent in their living," said Campbell, D-Vt. President Pro Tem.

Both organizations will continue to campaign, in hopes of becoming Vermont's first home care union.

SEIU has not officially proposed their suggestions to track voters to the Labor Relations Board. Home care workers will also have the option of voting for no representation.

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