I would like to share the testimony that I gave before the legislature.
I am a volunteer with the Vermont Workers Center. What I am going to speak to is not about me. I work for a nonprofit, the Vermont Center for Independent Living. VCIL cares for and respects their employees by offering us paid sick days as one of our benefits.
I am going to talk about my mother and a friend of hers. My mom worked retail the last 30 years of her work life. She did this from the age of 40 to 70 years of age. She worked in the Bennington area for two nationally known department stores that were here. They barely kept her ahead of the minimum wage by 30, 40, or 50 cents an hour. However back when she was working there, a widow with two children, and the dollar being able to buy more then what it does now, we got by.
A saving grace that the stores offered her was paid sick days. If she was sick with the flu or her acid reflux acted up, she lived on Tums, she could stay home to mend and recuperate. She did not have to go in and lift boxes, stock shelves, or stand in front of a door in weather like this, with the cold draft blowing on her as she ran her cash register.
I was talking with a friend of hers after her death a year and a half ago. We reminisced about them working together. Her friend moved on and worked at Wal-Mart where they did not offer any paid sick days. She had health issues, it was a hardship to work while she struggled with her health.
In these economically hard times a person should not live in fear of losing their job, not being able to pay their rent, mortgage, electric bill, fuel bill, or to keep a car on the road, if they are too sick to work. We need to figure this out, treat people with respect and dignity, and do the right thing by passing a paid sick day bill.
Vote no on Article 2
Bennington water/sewer rates are too high and something has to change: Vote NO to Article 2 which, if passed, would authorize the town to borrow $3.3 million to be paid back by the water/sewer rate payers. It's another increase. Apparently the more than 37 percent increase in our rates that we have experienced over the past three years is not enough.
Southern Vermont College is being told by the state to upgrade their water system. The town wants to share this project with the college. SVC will pay $50,000 annually, the water/sewer users of Bennington will pay $180,000 annually for this bond. The town claims that primarily, in addition to SVC, two neighborhoods and the hospital will receive benefit from town involvement in this project.
Why are the rate payers stuck paying more than half? Why are the increases over the past three years "to cover improvements and upgrades to an aging infrastructure" not enough for this project which is being described as an improvement to an aging infrastructure? To soothe us we are told that the costs for this bond will not appear in our water bills until 2017. How many more water/sewer increases will we be expected to pay in the next three years besides the money for this bond? In addition there continue to be other increases to school and property taxes.
These rate increases affect everyone who owns property, rents, buys groceries, goes to the doctor, visits local restaurants, etc. When the costs of owning property rise, the increases are passed along, and property values decrease as it becomes more and more expensive to live in Bennington.
This is not good for anyone in the community. If you live here, buy or sell goods and services in Bennington, visit a doctor, go to a restaurant, this affects you.
Need to know more? The town is holding an informational meeting on Monday, Feb. 24, at 6:15 p.m. at the Bennington Fire Facility. This is informational only, voting will take place on March 4.
Talk to your friends and neighbors. This is not popular but I have found that most people are unaware that it is happening. We need to vote it down. To make a changes, VOTE NO to Article 2 on March 4 so that the town and the select board understand that water/sewer rates are too high and that something has to change.
In support of the early educators' bill, S.316
To whom it may concern, I write in support of the early educators' bill, S.316. I ask our legislators to support the bill as well.
Early educators play an increasingly important role in helping families balance work and personal responsibilities. They provide quality learning experiences for children at the very youngest ages and they can be found in every community in the state. Vermont early educators help prepare children for success in school. These workers deserve a collective voice and a collective seat at the table. The early educators' bill would allow them a choice about whether to form a union or not.
The early educator workforce is primarily women, and they have historically been isolated. Allowing them to form a union would provide opportunities to work together. Vermont early educators deserve a voice! Vermont Early Educators United is working on the bill. More information may be found at http://www.kidscountonme.org/.