Montpelier, VT--Open Letter To Mayor Chuck Karparis


We are workers in Montpelier and are writing to express our disappointment with your recent comments about our new citywide union for downtown workers. Your cavalier dismissal of the rights and needs of the more than 500 people who work in downtown Montpelier is insensitive at best.

Some of us work for excellent employers who do their best by their employees. However, even a good job is made better when the terms and conditions of that job are covered by a union contract. Many downtown workers earn minimum wages; few - if any of us - have health insurance, and none of us have job security. We often work two or three jobs just to get by, and we have little say in our working conditions. While we enjoy working downtown and in this community, we'd also like to be able to a have say in the terms of our employment, a just cause standard, and a process by which we can resolve problems or grievances.

You are quoted in The Times Argus as saying you are "dead set" against the union. You are also quoted as saying a citywide union would threaten the town's economy, have a negative effect on businesses downtown, and is "totally unnecessary." We'd like to say that it is this kind of attitude - not our union - that is negative and unnecessary.

The town's economy will benefit from a stable workforce which feels supported and respected by the community and business owners. We are hard workers who make a real contribution to this city and deserve a real voice in our wages and working conditions. Every study ever done shows that unionized workplaces experience less turnover and that union workers are more productive and better compensated. A town populated by people who can afford to shop at the business at which they work is a town with a healthy economy.

Finally, the decision to form our citywide organization is our decision - it's not up to you, the mayor, or anyone else to decide whether or not we have our own organization. We have the federally protected right to unionize, and we ought to be able to do so without interference. The decision to form this union is our decision, not yours. Since you find it "totally unnecessary" we'll not ask you to join our organization. We insist, however, that you show us the respect we deserve and stop patronizing us.

Amanda Lowe, State Street Market, Marshfield

Ellen Thompson, J. Morgan's Steakhouse, Barre

Nick Low, Main Street Grill and Bar, Montpelier

Amanda Lyon, La Pizzeria Montpelier

Hannah Pelchar, La Brioche and Yankee Spirits, West Berlin

Carlos Haase, Savoy, Montpelier, Jesse Rosado, J. Morgan's Steakhouse, Montpelier

Blake Bachelor, Rivendell Books, Montpelier

Rob DeFranco, Capitol Grounds, Northfield

Jennifer Haas, Body Art, Montpelier

Val Tofani, J. Morgan's Steakhouse, Barre

Thea Pettitt, Rivendell Books, Montpelier

Josh Irish, La Brioche and Sarducci's, Montpelier

Todd Henes, Julio's, Berlin

Matt Stohlberg, Savoy, Middlesex

Todd MacKay, J. Morgan's, Montpelier