State labor board needs to be impartial

BRATTLEBORO — An open letter to Senators Jeanette White and Becca 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 the 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.”

Karen O'Neill's resume 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 Employment and Labor Relations subsection of the Practice Areas section on its 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.”

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 for it to have the respect and acceptance of all parties.

Because of this overarching goal, I urge you to oppose O'Neill's confirmation.

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