The Vermont Statutes Online
§ 1721. Purpose
This chapter shall be known as the Vermont Municipal Employee Relations Act. It is the purpose and policy of this chapter to prescribe the legitimate rights of both municipal employees and municipal employers in their relations with each other; to provide orderly and peaceful procedures for preventing the interference by either with the legitimate rights of the other; to protect the rights of individual employees to self-organization; to allow individuals to form, join, or assist employee organizations and to bargain collectively; to define and proscribe practices on the part of employee organizations and municipal employers which are harmful to the general welfare; and to protect the rights of the public in connection with labor disputes. (Added 1973, No. 111, § 1.)
§ 1722. Definitions
As used in this chapter:
(1) "Agency service fee" means a fee deducted by an employer from the salary or wages of an employee who is not a member of an employee organization, which is paid to the employee organization that is the exclusive bargaining agent for the bargaining unit of the employee. An agency service fee shall not exceed 85 percent of the amount payable as dues by members of the employee organization and shall be deducted in the same manner as dues are deducted from the salary or wages of members of the employee organization and shall be used to defray the costs of chargeable activities.
(2) "Board" means the State Labor Relations Board established under 3 V.S.A. § 921.
(3) "Bargaining unit" means a group of employees recognized by the municipal employer or certified by the Board as appropriate for exclusive representation by an employee organization for purposes of collective bargaining.
(4) "Collective bargaining" or "bargaining collectively" means the process of negotiating in good faith the wages, hours, or conditions of employment between a municipal employer and the exclusive bargaining agent of employees with the intent to arrive at an agreement that, when reached, shall be reduced to writing.
(5) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Labor.
(6) "Confidential employee" means an employee whose responsibility or knowledge or access to information relating to collective bargaining, personnel administration, or budgetary matters would make membership in or representation by an employee organization incompatible with his or her official duties.
(7) "Employee" means a municipal employee as defined in this section.
(8) "Exclusive bargaining agent" means the employee organization certified by the Board or recognized by the employer as the only organization to bargain collectively for all employees in the bargaining unit, including persons who are not members of the employee organization.
(9) "Impasse" means a controversy concerning wages, hours, and conditions of employment arising from the inability of a municipal employer and an exclusive bargaining agent to reach agreement after both parties have bargained collectively in good faith for not less than 60 days.
(10) "Legislative body" means the mayor (or other chief executive officer) and board of aldermen of a city, the selectboard of a town, the trustees of a village, the trustees or prudential committee of a district, the school board of a school district, or the designated governing body of any other political subdivision of the State.
(11) "Managerial prerogative" means any nonbargainable matters of inherent managerial policy.
(12) "Municipal employee" means any employee of a municipal employer, including a municipal school employee or a professional employee as defined in subdivision 1502(11) of this title, except:
(A) elected officials, board and commission members, and executive officers;
(B) individuals employed as supervisors as defined by section 1502 of this title;
(C) individuals who have been employed on a probationary status;
(D) confidential employees as defined in this section;
(E) certified employees of school districts, except as otherwise provided in section 1735 of this title.
(13) "Municipal employer" means a city, town, village, fire district, lighting district, consolidated water district, housing authority, union municipal district, or any of the political subdivisions of the State of Vermont that employs five or more employees as defined in this section.
(14) "Person" means one or more individuals, a city, town, village, or any other political subdivision of the State of Vermont, employee organizations, partnerships, corporations, legal representatives, trustees, or any other natural or legal entity whatsoever.
(15) "Voluntary recognition" means formal acknowledgment by a municipal employer designating a particular employee organization as the exclusive bargaining agent for municipal employees in an appropriate bargaining unit.
(16) "Strike" means conduct by an employee or employee organization or its agents that produces, induces, or encourages a work stoppage, slowdown, or withholding of services; such conduct includes recognizing a picket line or other conduct that interferes with or impedes the orderly functions and services of a municipal employer.
(17) "Wages, hours, and other conditions of employment" means any condition of employment directly affecting the economic circumstances, health, safety, or convenience of employees but excluding matters of managerial prerogative as defined in this section. For collective bargaining related to municipal school employees, "wages, hours, and other conditions of employment" shall not include health care benefits or coverage other than stand-alone vision and dental benefits.
(18) "School board negotiations council" means, for a supervisory district, its school board, and, for school districts within a supervisory union, the body comprising representatives designated by each school board within the supervisory union and by the supervisory union board to engage in collective bargaining with their school employees' negotiations council.
(19) "School employees' negotiations council" means the body comprising representatives designated by each exclusive bargaining agent within a supervisory district or supervisory union to engage in collective bargaining with its school board negotiations council.
(20) "Supervisory district" and "supervisory union" shall have the same meaning as in 16 V.S.A. § 11.
(21) "Municipal school employee" means an employee of a supervisory union or school district who is not otherwise subject to 16 V.S.A. chapter 57 (labor relations for teachers and administrators) and who is not otherwise excluded pursuant to subdivision (12) of this section.
(22) "Municipal public safety employee" means a municipal employee who is:
(A) a firefighter as defined in 20 V.S.A. § 3151(3);
(B) an ambulance service, emergency medical personnel, or first responder service as defined in 24 V.S.A. § 2651; or
(C) a law enforcement officer who has been certified by the Vermont Criminal Justice Council pursuant to 20 V.S.A. § 2358. (Added 1973, No. 111, § 1; amended 1975, No. 113, § 1; 1975, No. 152 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 1989, No. 215 (Adj. Sess.); 2003, No. 122 (Adj. Sess.), § 85b; 2005, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 5, 2006; 2007, No. 82, § 39; 2009, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 14; 2013, No. 37, § 16, eff. June 30, 2013; 2013, No. 56, § 25, eff. May 30, 2013; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 305, eff. Feb. 14, 2014; 2013, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 72; 2018, No. 11 (Sp. Sess.), § H.21, eff. Jan. 1, 2020; 2019, No. 61, § 23.)
§ 1723. Determination of the bargaining unit
Nothing in this chapter shall prevent a municipal employer from voluntarily recognizing an employee organization as the exclusive bargaining agent. Voluntary recognition may be granted at the request of an employee organization if:
(1) The employee organization demonstrates the support of a majority of the employees and the bargaining unit it seeks to represent; and
(2) No rival employee organization seeks to represent the same individual employee or the same jobs or positions for which recognition is being sought; and
(3) The bargaining unit is appropriate under the standards set forth in subsection 1724(c) of this title. This section shall not require voluntary recognition of an employee organization by a municipal employer. (Added 1973, No. 111, § 1.)
§ 1724. Certification procedure
(a)(1) A petition may be filed with the Board, in accordance with rules adopted by the Board:
(A) By an employee or group of employees, or any individual or employee organization purporting to act on their behalf, alleging that not less than 30 percent of the employees wish to form a bargaining unit and be represented for collective bargaining, or assert that the individual or employee organization currently certified as bargaining agent is no longer supported by at least 51 percent of the employees in the bargaining unit, or that not less than 51 percent of the employees now included in an approved bargaining unit wish to form a separate bargaining unit under Board criteria for purposes of collective bargaining. The employee, group of employees, individual, or employee organization that files the petition shall, at the same time that the petition is filed with the Board, provide a copy of the petition to the employer and, if appropriate, the current bargaining agent.
(B) By the employer alleging that the presently certified bargaining unit is no longer appropriate under Board criteria. The employer shall provide a copy of the petition to the current bargaining agent at the same time that the petition is filed with the Board.
(2)(A)(i) An employer shall, not more than seven business days after receiving a copy of the petition, file any objections to the appropriateness of the proposed bargaining unit and raise any other unit determination issues with the Board and provide a copy of the filing to the employee, group of employees, individual, or employee organization that filed the petition.
(ii) A hearing shall be held before the Board pursuant to subdivision (d)(1)(B) of this section in the event the employer challenges the appropriateness of the proposed bargaining unit, provided that a hearing shall not be held if the parties stipulate to the composition of the appropriate bargaining unit and resolve any other unit determination issues before the hearing.
(iii) The Board may endeavor to informally mediate any dispute regarding the appropriateness of the proposed bargaining unit prior to the hearing.
(B)(i) Within five business days after receiving a copy of the petition, the employer shall file with the Board and the employee or group of employees, or the individual or employee organization purporting to act on their behalf, a list of the names and job titles of the employees in the proposed bargaining unit. To the extent possible, the list of employees shall be in alphabetical order by last name and provided in electronic format.
(ii) An employee or group of employees, or any person purporting to act on their behalf, that is seeking to demonstrate that the current bargaining agent is no longer supported by at least 51 percent of the employees in the bargaining unit shall not be entitled to obtain a list of the employees in the bargaining unit from the employer pursuant to this subdivision (a)(2)(B), but may obtain a list pursuant to subdivision (e)(3) of this section after the Board has investigated its petition and determined that a secret ballot election shall be conducted.
(iii) The list shall be kept confidential and shall be exempt from copying and inspection under the Public Records Act.
(b) The Board, a Board member, or a person or persons designated by the Board shall investigate the petition and do one of the following:
(1) Determine that the petition has made a sufficient showing of interest pursuant to subdivision (a)(1)(A) of this section.
(2)(A) If it finds reasonable cause to believe that a question of unit determination or representation exists, the Board shall schedule a hearing to be held before the Board not more than ten business days after the petition was filed with the Board.
(B) Once scheduled, the date of the hearing shall not be subject to change except as provided pursuant to subdivision (e)(4) of this section.
(C) Hearing procedure and notification of the results of the hearing shall be in accordance with rules adopted by the Board, except that the parties shall only be permitted to submit posthearing briefs within not more than five business days after the hearing if the parties mutually agree to do so or if the Board requests that the parties submit posthearing briefs.
(D) The Board shall issue its decision as soon as practicable and, in any event, not more than five business days after the hearing or the submission of any posthearing briefs.
(3) If the Board finds an absence of substantive evidence, it shall dismiss the petition.
(c) In determining whether a question of representation exists, the Board shall take into consideration the following criteria:
(1) The similarity or divergence of the interests, needs, and general conditions of employment of all employees within the proposed bargaining unit. The Board may, in its discretion, require that a separate vote be taken among any particular class or type of employee within a proposed unit to determine specifically if the class or type wishes to be included. No bargaining unit shall include both professional employees and other municipal employees unless a majority of such professional employees vote for inclusion in such unit.
(2) Whether overfragmentation of units will result from certification to a degree that is likely to produce an adverse effect on the effective representation of other employees of the municipal employer or upon the effective operation of the municipal employer.
(3) In determining whether a unit is appropriate the extent to which the employees have organized is not controlling.
(d) Nothing in this chapter prohibits the waiving of hearings by stipulation for a consent election in conformity with regulations and rules of decision of the Board.
(e)(1) In determining the representation of municipal employees in a collective bargaining unit, the Board shall conduct an election by secret ballot of the employees and certify the results to the interested parties and to the employer. The election shall be held not more than 23 business days after the petition is filed with the Board except as otherwise provided pursuant to subdivision (4) of this subsection.
(2) The original ballot shall permit a vote against representation by anyone named on the ballot. No representative will be certified with less than a 51 percent affirmative vote of all votes cast. If it is asserted that the certified bargaining agent is no longer supported by at least 51 percent of the employees in the bargaining unit and there is no attempt to seek the election of another employee organization or individual as bargaining representative, there shall be at least 51 percent negative vote of all votes cast to decertify the existing bargaining agent.
(3)(A) The employer shall file with the Board and the other parties a list of the employees in the bargaining unit within two business days after the Board determines that a secret ballot election shall be conducted.
(B) The list shall include, as appropriate, each employee's name, work location, shift, job classification, and contact information. As used in this subdivision (3), "contact information" includes an employee's home address, personal e-mail address, and home and personal cellular telephone numbers to the extent that the employer is in possession of such information.
(C) To the extent possible, the list of employees shall be in alphabetical order by last name and provided in electronic format.
(D) The list shall be:
(i) kept confidential by the Board and all of the parties; and
(ii) shall be exempt from copying and inspection under the Public Records Act.
(E) Failure to file the list within the time required pursuant to subdivision (A) of this subdivision (3) may be grounds for the Board to set aside the results of the election if an objection is filed within the time required pursuant to the Board's rules.
(4) The Board may, upon the request of any party or on its own motion, extend any time period set forth in this subsection or in subsections (a) and (b) of this section for good cause, provided that the election shall be conducted, or, in the event of a mail ballot election, that ballots are mailed to the employees, within not more than 60 calendar days after the date the petition is filed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section. The Board may further extend the date to conduct the election by not more than 30 additional calendar days upon the mutual agreement of the parties or if it determines that extraordinary circumstances have made such an extension necessary.
(f) If in such election none of the choices receive at least a 51 percent affirmative vote of all votes cast, a runoff election shall be conducted, the ballot providing for a selection between the two choices receiving the largest and second largest number of valid votes cast in the original election.
(g) The Board's certification of the results of any election shall be conclusive as to findings unless reviewed under proceedings instituted for the prevention of unfair labor practices.
(h) No election may be conducted under this section in a bargaining unit or a subdivision within which in the preceding 12 months a valid election has been held. (Added 1973, No. 111, § 1; amended 1989, No. 135 (Adj. Sess.); 2019, No. 180 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. Jan. 1, 2021.)
§ 1725. Collective bargaining procedure
(a)(1) For the purpose of collective bargaining, the representatives of the municipal employer and the bargaining unit shall meet at any reasonable time and shall bargain in good faith with respect to wages, hours, and conditions of employment and shall execute a written contract incorporating any agreement reached; provided, however, that neither party shall be compelled to agree to a proposal nor to make a concession, nor to bargain over any issue of managerial prerogative.
(2)(A) For the purpose of collective bargaining related to municipal school employees, "wages, hours, and conditions of employment" shall not include health care benefits or coverage other than stand-alone vision and dental benefits. Health care benefits and coverage, excluding stand-alone vision and dental benefits but including health reimbursement arrangements and health savings accounts, shall not be subject to collective bargaining by municipal school employees pursuant to this chapter, but shall be determined pursuant to 16 V.S.A. chapter 61.
(B) All written contracts executed in relation to municipal school employees shall incorporate by reference the terms of the agreement entered into pursuant to 16 V.S.A. chapter 61.
(b) The municipal employer shall be represented in the bargaining by its legislative body or its designated representative or representatives. If the municipal employer is a supervisory district or supervisory union, it shall be represented by the school board negotiations council, and the bargaining unit shall be represented by the school employees' negotiations council.
(c) In the event that any part or provision of a collective bargaining agreement is in conflict with any State law, charter, or special act, such law shall prevail so long as the conflict remains except as provided to the contrary in subsection 1734(b) of this title. In the event any part or provision of a collective bargaining agreement is in conflict with any ordinance, bylaw, rule, or regulation adopted by the municipal employer or its agents, the lawful vote of the legislative body approving the written agreement shall validate the collective bargaining agreement and shall supersede such ordinance, bylaw, rule, or regulation. (Added 1973, No. 111, § 1; amended 2007, No. 82, § 40; 2018, No. 11 (Sp. Sess.), § H.22, eff. Jan. 1, 2020.)
§ 1726. Unfair labor practices
(a) It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer:
(1) To interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights guaranteed by this chapter or by any other law, rule, or regulation.
(2) To dominate or interfere with the formation or administration of any employee organization or contribute financial or other support to it; provided that an employer shall not be prohibited from permitting employees to confer with the employer during working hours without loss of time or pay.
(3) By discrimination in regard to hiring or tenure of employment or by any term or condition of employment to encourage or discourage membership in any employee organization.
(4) To discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee because the employee has filed charges or complaints or given testimony under this chapter.
(5) To refuse to bargain collectively in good faith with the exclusive bargaining agent.
(6) To refuse to appropriate sufficient funds to implement a written collective bargaining agreement.
(7) To discriminate against an employee on account of race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, or political affiliation.
(8) A municipal employer and the exclusive bargaining agent may agree to require the agency service fee to be paid as a condition of employment, or require as a condition of employment membership in such employee organization on or after the 30th day following the beginning of such employment or the effective date of such agreement, whichever is the later. Nothing in this section shall require an employer to discharge an employee in the absence of such an agreement. A municipal employer shall not discharge or discriminate against any employee for nonpayment of the agency service fee or for nonmembership in an employee organization:
(A) if the employer has reasonable grounds for believing that membership was not available to the employee on the same terms and conditions generally applicable to other members; or
(B) if the employer has reasonable grounds for believing that membership was denied or terminated for reasons other than the failure of the employee to tender the periodic dues and the initiation fees uniformly required as a condition of acquiring or retaining membership.
(b) It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employee organization or its agents:
(1) To restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of the right guaranteed to them by law, rule, or regulation. However, this subdivision shall not impair the right of an employee organization to prescribe its own rules with respect to the acquisition or retention of membership therein, provided such rules are not discriminatory.
(2) To restrain or coerce an employer in the selection of representatives for the purposes of collective bargaining or adjustments of grievances.
(3) To cause or attempt to cause an employer to discriminate against an employee in violation of this title or to fail or refuse to represent all employees in the bargaining unit without regard to membership in such organization.
(4) To refuse to bargain collectively in good faith with a municipal employer.
(5) To engage in, or to induce or encourage any person to engage in a strike or a refusal in the course of employment to use, transport, or otherwise handle or work on any goods, articles, materials, or commodities or to perform any services; or to threaten, coerce, or restrain any person with the aim of forcing or requiring any employee to join any employee organization or forcing or requiring any person to cease doing business with any other person, in the course of regular municipal business.
(6) To require employees covered by the agency service fee requirement or other union security agreement authorized under subsection (a) of this section to pay an initiation fee which the Board finds excessive or discriminatory under all the circumstances, including the practices and customs of employee organizations representing municipal employees and the wages paid to the employees affected.
(7) To cause or attempt to cause a municipal employer to pay or deliver or agree to pay or deliver any money or other thing of value in the nature of an exaction, for services which are not performed or not to be performed or which are not needed or required by the municipal employer.
(8) To picket or cause to be picketed, or threaten to picket or cause to be picketed, the municipal employer where an object thereof is forcing or requiring the municipal employer to recognize or bargain with an employee organization as the employees' representative, or forcing or requiring the employees of an employer to accept or select the employee organization as their collective bargaining representative.
(9) To discriminate against a person seeking or holding membership therein on account of race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, or political affiliation.
(10) To penalize a person for exercising a right guaranteed by the constitution or laws of the United States or the State of Vermont.
(11) To cause or attempt to cause the discharge from employment of employees who, because of religious beliefs, refuse membership therein.
(12) To charge the agency service fee unless the employee organization has established and maintained a procedure to provide nonmembers with all the following:
(A) An audited financial statement that identifies the major categories of expenses and divides them into chargeable and nonchargeable expenses.
(B) An opportunity to object to the amount of the fee requested and to place in escrow any amount reasonably in dispute.
(C) Prompt arbitration by an arbitrator selected jointly by the objecting fee payer and the employee organization or pursuant to the rules of the American Arbitration Association to resolve any objection over the amount of the agency service fee. The costs of arbitration shall be paid by the employee organization. (Added 1973, No. 111, § 1; amended 1991, No. 135 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 16, 17; 1999, No. 19, § 7; 2007, No. 41, § 20; 2013, No. 37, § 17, eff. June 30, 2013.)
§ 1727. Prevention of unfair labor practices
(a) The Board may prevent any person from engaging in any unfair labor practice. Whenever a charge is made that any person has engaged in or is engaging in any unfair labor practice, the Board may issue and cause to be served upon that person a complaint stating the charges and containing a notice of hearing before the Board at a place and time noted therein which shall be at least 14 days after the complaint is served. The Board may amend the complaint at any time before it issues an order based thereon. No complaint shall issue based on any unfair labor practice occurring more than six months prior to the filing of the charge with the Board unless the person aggrieved thereby was prevented from filing the charge by reason of service in the U.S. Armed Forces, in which event the six-month period shall be computed from the day of his or her discharge. The Board may waive the six-month period if it finds that:
(1) the aggrieved person did not understand that an unfair labor practice had been perpetrated against him or her; or
(2) the offending person had actively concealed his, her, or its perpetration of that unfair labor practice.
(b) The person complained of shall have the right to file an answer to the original or amended complaint and appear in person or through his or her representative and present evidence in connection therewith at the time and place fixed in the complaint. In the discretion of the Board, any other person may be permitted to intervene and present evidence in the matter. Any proceeding under this section shall so far as practicable, be conducted in accordance with rules of evidence used in the courts of law or equity. The Board shall provide for the making of a transcript of the testimony presented at the hearing.
(c) The Board shall have power to administer oaths and take testimony under oath relative to the matter of inquiry. At any hearing ordered by the Board, the Board shall have the power to subpoena witnesses and to demand the production of books, papers, records, and documents for its examination. Officers who serve subpoenas issued by the Board and witnesses attending hearings conducted by the Board shall receive fees and compensation at the same rates as officers and witnesses in cases before the Criminal Division of the Superior Court, to be paid on vouchers of the Board.
(d) If upon the preponderance of the evidence, the Board finds that any person named in the complaint has engaged in or is engaging in any unfair labor practice, it shall state its finding of fact in writing and shall issue and cause to be served on that person an order requiring him or her to cease and desist from the unfair labor practice, and to take such affirmative action as the Board shall order. If upon the preponderance of the evidence the Board does not find that the person named in the complaint has engaged in or is engaging in any unfair labor practice, it shall state its findings of fact in writing and dismiss the complaint.
(e) In determining whether a complaint shall issue alleging that an unfair labor practice has been committed, and in deciding those cases, the same regulations and rules of decision shall apply irrespective of whether the employee organization affected is affiliated with an employee organization national or international in scope.
(f) No order of the Board shall require the reinstatement of any individual as an employee who has been suspended or discharged or the payment to him or her of any back pay, if such individual has recourse to binding arbitration under a labor contract grievance procedure for such suspension or discharge. (Added 1973, No. 111, § 1; amended 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 238.)
§ 1728. Freedom of expression
The expression of any views, argument, or opinion, or the dissemination thereof, whether in written, printed, graphic, oral, or visual form, shall not constitute or be evidence of an unfair labor practice under this chapter, if such expression contains no threat of reprisal or promise of benefit. (Added 1973, No. 111, § 1.)
§ 1729. Enforcement and review
(a) Orders of the Board issued under this chapter may be enforced by any party or by the Board by filing a petition with the Washington Superior Court or the Superior Court in the county in which the action before the Board originated. The petition shall be served on the adverse party as provided for service of process under the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure. If, after hearing, the court determines that the Board had jurisdiction over the matter and that a timely appeal was not filed, or that an appeal was timely filed and a stay of the Board order or any part of it was not granted, or that a Board order was affirmed on appeal in pertinent part by the Supreme Court, the court shall incorporate the order of the Board as a judgment of the court. There is no appeal from that judgment except that a judgment reversing a Board decision on jurisdiction may be appealed to the Supreme Court.
(b) Upon filing of a petition by a party or the Board, the court may grant such temporary relief, including a restraining order, as it deems proper pending formal hearing.
(c) Any person aggrieved by an order or decision of the Labor Relations Board issued under the authority of this chapter may appeal on questions of law to the Supreme Court under 12 V.S.A. chapter 102 and the Vermont Rules of Appellate Procedure.
(d) An order of the Board shall not automatically be stayed pending appeal. A stay must first be requested from the Board. The Board may stay the order or any part of it. If the Board denies a stay, then a stay may be requested from the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court or a single justice may stay the order or any part of it and may order additional interim relief. (Added 1973, No. 111, § 1; amended 1987, No. 196 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. May 13, 1988; 1989, No. 25, § 2; 2017, No. 74, § 58.)
§ 1730. Restrictions on strikes
(a) A strike shall not be prohibited unless
(1) it occurs sooner than 30 days after the delivery of a factfinder's report to the parties pursuant to subsection 1732(e) of this title;
(2) it occurs after both parties have voluntarily submitted a dispute to final and binding arbitration, or after a decision or award has been issued by the arbitrator; or
(3) it will endanger the health, safety, or welfare of the public. A municipal employer may petition for an injunction or other appropriate relief from the Superior Court within the county wherein such strike in violation of this section is occurring or is about to occur.
(b) A municipality in which a strike is permitted under this section shall not permanently replace employees who participate in a strike. (Added 1973, No. 111, § 1; amended 1999, No. 44, § 1.)
§ 1731. Mediation
(a) If the parties are at an impasse in negotiations, either party may petition the Commissioner of Labor to appoint a mediator. The Commissioner shall within 30 days serve as a mediator, or shall appoint a mediator, who shall communicate with the employer and the employees or their representatives and endeavor by mediation to obtain an amicable settlement. Any mediator so appointed shall be a person of high standing in no way actively connected with labor or management.
(b) Nothing in this section shall prevent the Commissioner from serving as a mediator or from appointing a mediator in the absence of a petition if the Commissioner determines that an impasse exists and that the public interest so requires. (Added 1973, No. 111, § 1; amended 1983, No. 125 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2005, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 5, 2006.)
§ 1732. Fact-finding
(a) If after a reasonable period of time not less than 15 days after the appointment of a mediator the impasse is not resolved, the mediator shall certify to the Commissioner of Labor that the impasse continues. The Commissioner shall appoint a qualified fact finder within 30 days of a request by either party. The Commissioner may maintain a list of qualified fact finders drawn up after consultation with representatives of State and local government, employee organizations, boards of conciliation and arbitration in other New England states, and the American Arbitration Association.
(b) The fact finder shall convene the parties as soon as practicable after his or her appointment, hold informal hearings, and provide adequate opportunity to all parties to testify and present evidence regarding their respective positions. Upon the request of the fact finder, all parties to the dispute shall furnish him or her with any records, paper, and information in their possession relevant to resolution of the dispute.
(c) Nothing shall prevent a fact finder from attempting to mediate the dispute. The provisions of 3 V.S.A. § 810 shall not apply to a hearing conducted by a fact finder. At the request of any party, such hearing shall be opened to the public.
(d) In reaching his or her conclusions and recommendations, the fact finder shall give weight to the following factors:
(1) the lawful authority of the municipal employer;
(2) stipulations of the parties;
(3) the interest and welfare of the public and the financial ability of the municipal employer to pay for increased costs of public services including the cost of labor;
(4) comparisons of the wages, hours, and conditions of employment of the employees involved in the dispute with the wages, hours, and conditions of employment of other employees performing similar services in public employment in comparable communities or in private employment in comparable communities;
(5) the average consumer prices for goods and services commonly known as the cost of living;
(6) the overall compensation presently received by the employees including direct wages, fringe benefits, and continuity conditions and stability of employment, and all other benefits received.
(e) The fact finder shall make a written report with recommendations to both parties within 30 days after the close of hearings. The report shall be made public by the fact finder if the dispute has not been resolved within 10 days after delivery of the report to the parties. The report and recommendations of the fact finder shall be advisory only and shall not be binding on either party.
(f) All expenses of mediation and fact-finding shall be shared equally by the parties. (Added 1973, No. 111, § 1; amended 1983, No. 125 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2005, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 5, 2006.)
§ 1733. Arbitration
(a)(1) Nothing in this chapter shall prevent the legislative body of a municipal employer and the exclusive bargaining agent from voluntarily submitting a contract impasse to final and binding arbitration or for the municipality by a referendum vote from adopting binding arbitration procedures, in the following form:
The arbitrator shall have the power to determine all issues in dispute involving wages, hours, and conditions of employment as defined by this chapter.
(2)(A) Notwithstanding any provision of subdivision (1) of this subsection (a), if an impasse continues between the legislative body of a municipal employer and the exclusive bargaining agent for municipal public safety employees for 20 days after a fact finder has made its report public under subsection 1732(e) of this title, the legislative body of the municipal employer and the exclusive bargaining agent for the municipal public safety employees shall submit the contract impasse to final and binding arbitration pursuant to the provisions of this section.
(B) Notwithstanding any provision of section 1732 of this chapter to the contrary, after the mediator has certified to the Commissioner of Labor that the impasse continues, the legislative body of a municipal employer and the exclusive bargaining agent for municipal public safety employees may agree to proceed directly to final and binding arbitration pursuant to the provisions of this section without first submitting the dispute to fact finding pursuant to section 1732 of this chapter.
(C) The provisions of this subdivision (2) shall not apply to negotiations between the legislative body of a municipal employer and the exclusive bargaining agent for a bargaining unit that includes both municipal public safety employees and other municipal employees.
(b) Where an impasse continues for 20 days after a fact finder has made a report public under subsection 1732(e) of this title, a three-member arbitration panel shall be formed as follows:
(1) Each party to the impasse shall select one member of the panel and state its final offer on all disputed issues on the 20th day following publication of the fact finder's report.
(2) The two members so selected shall within five business days select the third member of the panel to serve as Chair. If the two members fail to select a third member of the panel within five business days, the third member shall be appointed by the Superior Court for the county in which the municipality is situated, upon petition of either party, and notice to the other party.
(3) Within 30 days of the appointment of the Chair, the panel shall decide by majority vote all disputed issues involving wages, hours, and conditions of employment as defined by this chapter, and this award shall become an agreement of the parties.
(c) In reaching a decision the arbitrator shall give weight to the factors listed in subsection 1732(d) of this title.
(d) Upon application of a party, a Superior Court shall vacate an award if:
(1) the award was procured by corruption, fraud, or other undue means;
(2) there was evident partiality or prejudicial misconduct by the arbitrator;
(3) the arbitrator exceeded his or her power or rendered an award requiring a person to commit an act or engage in conduct prohibited by law;
(4) the award was made on the basis of subsection (a) of this section, and there was no arbitration agreement; or
(5) there is an absence of substantial evidence on the record as a whole to support the award.
(e) An application under this section shall be made within 30 days after delivery of a copy of the award to the applicant, except that in case of a claim of corruption, fraud, or other undue means, it shall be made within 30 days after such grounds are known or should have been known.
(f) If a municipality has voted to adopt binding arbitration procedures, the legislative body of the municipal employer and the exclusive bargaining agent may agree to proceed directly from mediation to binding arbitration without submitting the dispute to fact-finding. The decision to proceed directly to binding arbitration may be made at any reasonable time during the mediation process but no less than 30 days after appointment of the mediator under section 1731 of this title. The arbitration panel shall be selected as provided in subsection (b) of this section, with each party to the impasse selecting one member of the panel and stating its final offer on the 20th day after the agreement to proceed directly to arbitration is reached, and the two members so selected selecting the third member within five days.
(g) Nothing shall prevent a municipal employee from participating in a debate or campaign conducted with regard to a referendum held pursuant to subsection (a) of this section. (Added 1973, No. 111, § 1; amended 1977, No. 201 (Adj. Sess.); 1983, No. 126 (Adj. Sess.); 2017, No. 11, § 52; 2017, No. 74, § 59; 2017, No. 113 (Adj. Sess.), § 150; 2019, No. 61, § 22; 2019, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 128.)
§ 1734. Miscellaneous
(a) Municipal employees and exclusive bargaining agents are authorized to negotiate provisions in a collective bargaining agreement calling for:
(1) Payroll deduction of employee organization dues and initiation fees.
(2) Binding arbitration of grievances involving the interpretation or application of a written collective bargaining agreement. The cost of arbitration shall be shared equally by the parties.
(b) In the event of a voluntary submission to binding arbitration by a municipal employer and an employee organization of a grievance or controversy concerning the tenure of employment of any employee, whether or not pursuant to the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement, binding arbitration shall be the exclusive procedure for determining such grievance or controversy, notwithstanding any contrary provision of any general statute, charter, special act, court decision, or ordinance.
(c) Any individual employee or group of employees shall have the right at any time to present grievances to their employer and to have such grievances adjusted, without the intervention of the exclusive bargaining agent, as long as the adjustment is not inconsistent with the terms of a collective bargaining agreement and provided that the exclusive bargaining agent has been given an opportunity to be present at such adjustment.
(d) In the absence of an agreement requiring an employee to be a member of the employee organization, an employee choosing not to be a member of the employee organization shall pay the agency service fee in the same manner as employees who choose to join the employee organization pay dues. The employee organization shall indemnify and hold the employer harmless from any and all claims stemming from the implementation or administration of the agency service fee. (Added 1973, No. 111, § 1; amended 2013, No. 37, § 18, eff. June 30, 2013.)
§ 1735. School districts; certified employees; teachers
For the purposes of representation in, and prevention of, unfair labor practices under sections 1726-1729 of this title, a teacher who is a certified employee of a school district shall be considered a municipal employee; and any school district, which includes any public school district or any quasi-public or private elementary or secondary school within the State which directly or indirectly receives support from public funds shall be considered a municipal employer. Nothing in this section shall be taken to alter or repeal the provisions of 16 V.S.A. chapter 57, relating to labor relations for teachers, except that enforcement and review under section 1729 of this title shall not be subject to the provisions of 16 V.S.A. § 2010. (Added 1975, No. 113, § 2.)
§ 1736. Contract ratification; annual vote
Annually, the employees of the bargaining unit shall meet and discuss whether employees who have chosen not to join the employee organization shall be allowed to vote on the ratification of any collective bargaining agreement entered into pursuant to this chapter. After discussion, employees that are members of the employee organization shall vote on whether to allow employees who have chosen not to join the employee organization to vote on the ratification of any collective bargaining agreement. (Added 2013, No. 37, § 18a, eff. June 30, 2013.)
§ 1737. Automatic membership dues deduction
Employees who are members of the employee organization shall have the right to automatic membership dues deductions. Upon receipt of a signed authorization to commence automatic membership dues deductions from an employee, the employer shall, as soon as practicable and in any event, not later than 30 calendar days after receiving the authorization, commence withholding from the employee's wages the amount of membership dues certified by the employee organization. The employer shall transmit the amount withheld to the employee organization on the same day as the employee is paid. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require a member of an employee organization to participate in automatic dues deduction. (Added 2019, No. 180 (Adj. Sess.), § 8, eff. Jan. 1, 2021.)
§ 1738. Access to new employees in bargaining unit
(a) An employer shall provide the employee organization that is the exclusive representative of the employees in a bargaining unit with an opportunity to meet with each newly hired employee in the bargaining unit to present information about the employee organization.
(b)(1) The meeting shall occur during the new employee's orientation or, if the employer does not conduct an orientation for newly hired employees, within 30 calendar days from the date on which the employee was hired.
(2) If the meeting is not held during the new employee's orientation, it shall be held during the new employee's regular work hours and at his or her regular worksite or a location mutually agreed to by the employer and the employee organization.
(3) The employee organization shall be permitted to meet with the employee for not less than 60 minutes.
(4) The employee shall be paid for attending the meeting at his or her regular rate of pay.
(c)(1) Within 10 calendar days after hiring a new employee in a bargaining unit, the employer shall provide the employee organization with his or her name, job title, worksite location, work telephone number and e-mail address, home address, personal e-mail address, home and personal cellular telephone numbers, and date of hire to the extent that the employer is in possession of such information.
(2) The employee's home address, personal e-mail address, and home and personal cellular telephone numbers shall be kept confidential by the employer and the employee organization and shall be exempt from copying and inspection under the Public Records Act.
(d) The employer shall provide the employee organization with not less than 10 calendar days' notice of an orientation for newly hired employees in a bargaining unit. (Added 2019, No. 180 (Adj. Sess.), § 13, eff. Jan. 1, 2021.)
§ 1739. Annual list of employees in bargaining unit
(a) Annually, or on a more frequent basis if mutually agreed to by the employer and the employee organization, the employer shall provide the employee organization that is the exclusive representative of a bargaining unit with a list of all employees in that bargaining unit.
(b) The list shall include, as appropriate, each employee's name, work location, job classification, and contact information. As used in this section, "contact information" includes an employee's home address, personal e-mail address, and home and personal cellular telephone numbers to the extent that the employer is in possession of such information.
(c) To the extent possible, the list shall be in alphabetical order by last name and provided in electronic format.
(d) The list shall be kept confidential by the employer and the employee organization and shall be exempt from copying and inspection under the Public Records Act. (Added 2019, No. 180 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. Jan. 1, 2021.)