Business & Economy

State union wins boost in pay grade for court workers

After a lengthy negotiation, several classes of employees in Vermont courts will get a pay raise.

The agreement is the result of negotiations between judiciary management and the judiciary unit of the Vermont State Employees’ Association.

The question of payment for court workers stalled contract talks between the union and the judiciary. The union reported that court staff are overburdened and underpaid to an extent that many rely on side jobs and public assistance.

Under the reclassification, wages for docket clerks, court officers and courtroom operators will be increased by two pay grades.

The settlement came after a neutral party reviewed court workers’ wages and recommended an increase for those employees.

Margaret Crowley, chair of the union bargaining unit, hailed the development as “fantastic news.”

“I know the wage increase will help some of these workers finally be able to get off public assistance or possibly let go of that second or third job,” she said in a statement.

Court Administrator Patricia Gabel said the judiciary “believes that it is critical that their pay grades accurately and fairly reflect their work demands.”

“It was unfortunate that the bargaining process took so long to resolve, but ultimately the outcome was one that was acceptable to both sides,” Gabel said.

According to Gabel, under the agreement the reclassification of those employees will move forward only if the Legislature funds it. The judiciary and the union are now both requesting that the Legislature fully fund the increased wages.

The reclassification is expected to cost $584,235 annually, according to Gabel.

Rep. Kitty Toll, D-Danville, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said lawmakers are aware of the annual expense and that it is one of the costs they are attempting to cover as they seek to close an $18 million gap in the fiscal year 2018 budget.

Additionally, the agreement calls for increased wages to be paid retroactively from December, which will cost $323,828. The committee has not determined a way to fund that expense, she said.

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Elizabeth Hewitt

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  • Interesting choice of words in the headline. They “won” an increase in pay and not “earned”.

  • Steve Baker

    What is there to stop the growth of the State Government Payroll?
    Cut the number of employees!

    • Pat McGarry

      The turn over among Court Clerks is high, and they have to deal with a lot of difficult people.

      Paying them more to cut down on turnover will eventually save money throughout the Judiciary, VT DOC, various Sheriff’s offices because things will run more smoothly.

      • Matt Young

        Pat, I’m not sure paying someone more will help them feel better about “dealing with a lot of difficult people”

  • Aula Evans DeWitt

    Fair pay is important. This article points out that many court clerks rely on multiple jobs and public assistance, which is probably Food Stamps, Fuel Assistance and potentially Reach Up, to make ends meet. While it is probably not possible to tickle out the current cost to the State in paying out those benefits, it would be helpful to have some sort of indicator of how much that is so we can really understand how much of an ‘increase’ this is in reality. If the Food Stamps, Reach Up and Fuel Assistance go down, the increase is not as much of an increase as it appears.