MONTPELIER (AP) -- Home care workers in Vermont have overwhelmingly voted to unionize, according to union election results announced Thursday.
In Thursday’s tally, 1,412 workers voted to organize while 566 were opposed. The 71 percent in favor easily surpassed the simple majority needed. There were 23 voided ballots.
The workers will organize under the umbrella of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
"It makes the hard work worthwhile. I walked through ice and snow to talk with other homecare providers like me because I want AFSCME Vermont Homecare United behind us to improve our jobs so we can give the best to those we care for," said homecare provider Janelle Blake. "Now we can (build) our union and get our contract."
Legislation passed this year allowed independent home care workers to unionize for purposes of negotiating with the state. The workers offer personal care and other services to elderly and disabled Vermonters in their homes.
Two unions -- AFSCME and the Service Employees International Union -- initially were vying to organize the home care workers, but SEIU withdrew.
Gov. Peter Shumlin congratulated AFSCME on its organizing efforts. He said it remains to be seen what their expected push for higher wages and benefits will mean for the state budget and declined to say what he thought a fair wage for the workers might be.
"It’s too early to be able to project and try to think that one out in too much detail," Shumlin said.