Vermont Labor Relations Board – In Opposition to Confirmation

An open letter to Senators White & Balint,

It is my understanding that the appointment of Karen O’Neill as a “neutral” on the Vermont Labor Relations Board is pending confirmation by Senate. I am writing in opposition to that appointment.

The applicable law states that “‘Nominees with neutral backgrounds’ means individuals in high standing not connected with any labor organization or management position, and who can be reasonably considered to be able to serve as an impartial individual.” 3 V.S.A. § 921 (B)

​Karen O’Neill’s resume includes ​includes having served as General Counsel to Green Mountain Power and Vermont Electric Power Company, and as in-house counsel to other utility companies in Vermont and Texas, with responsibilities for oversight of human resources issues. It is also reported that she has been a shareholder in Gravel & Shea, a law firm that advertises in the Practice Area tab of it’s website:

“Union Organizing and Collective Bargaining – In both the public and private sectors, we have successfully defeated union organizing drives. We also have extensive experience in negotiating union contracts and resolving unfair labor practice charges before both the VLRB and NLRB.”

Employment & Labor Relations

​As someone who has served in the public sector both as a union council secretary and also as part of the management team dealing with employee relations issues, I am acutely aware that the state labor relations board needs to be impartial to have the respect and acceptance of all parties. It is because of this overarching goal that I urge you to oppose O’Neill’s confirmation.

Comments | 7

  • Union busting

    She doesn’t sound very neutral to me, either.

  • Impressive fact checking, Bob. I forwarded this to Po

    Impressive fact checking, Bob. I forwarded this to Pollina and Pearson in the Senate, asking for some additional information.

  • Follow up

    Thanks. I have also been advised that we might contact Senators Philip Baruth, Alison Clarkson, Michael Sirotkin, and David Soucy. I plan on revising this letter slightly and sending it to them as well.

  • Union Busting is Disgusting

    I didn’t hear about this. Thank you, Bob.

  • Thank You for this information:

    Thank You for this information and solid verification: Will phone Senator White by leaving a message with the Sargent- of -Arms at 802-828-2228

  • Union issue? Or a bigger issue?

    There’ s been some feedback from Senators having received a deluge of calls from union supporters, which is great. On the other hand, there is the bigger issue that appointing an individual clearly biased to one party as a “neutral” member undercuts the very purpose of having a Labor Board. Hearing this message from non-union folks would carry weight.

    The way I phrased this in a follow letter to Senators Sirotkin, Clarkson, Balint, Baruth & Soucy:

    While the Governor’s nominations are ordinarily given due deference, the controlling statute makes it clear that there ought to be “a continuing balance on the Board of labor, management, and neutral backgrounds.” 3 V.S.A. § 921 (B) It is because of this overarching goal that I urge you to oppose O’Neill’s confirmation in the capacity of a “neutral” Member.

  • Perhaps

    Perhaps it is both a union issue and a bigger issue too . Perhaps it is an an issue which is good to weigh in on, for both reasons.

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