Agency Mission: The Vermont Labor Relations Board administers the Vermont State Employees Labor Relations Act ( 3 V.S.A. Section 901 et seq., enacted in 1969), Vermont Judiciary Employees Labor Relations Act, 3 V.S.A. Section 1010 st seq., the Vermont State Labor Relations Act (21 V.S.A. Section 1501 et seq., enacted in 1967), the Vermont Municipal Employee Relations Act (21 V.S.A. Section 1721 et seq., enacted in 1973), and the Vermont Labor Relations For Teachers Act (16 V.S.A. Section 1981 et seq., enacted in 1969).
The Board, similar to other state labor relations boards, determines appropriate bargaining units, conducts union representation elections, and adjudicates unfair labor practice charges in cases involving relations between employers and employees under the Board’s jurisdiction - i.e., State of Vermont, Vermont State Colleges, University of Vermont, municipalities, school districts, and small private operations. In addition to this traditional work of labor relations boards, the VLRB, unlike other state labor relations boards, also arbitrates grievances of employees under the State Employees Labor Relations Act. The Board makes final determinations on grievances of employees of the State of Vermont, the Vermont State Colleges and the University of Vermont. The Board also provides assistance in resolving negotiations impasses under the State Employees Labor Relations Act, and decides various other types of appeals pursuant to miscellaneous statutory provisions.
Structure: The Board consists of six part-time members. A panel of three Board members generally hears and decides each case which goes to a hearing. The Board has two employees - Executive Director and Clerk.
Unit Determinations and Representation Elections - Upon the filing of a petition for election of collective bargaining representative or a unit clarification petition, Board staff intervene actively with the parties to seek to resolve any unit determination issues in dispute. Unit disputes are informally resolved in many instances; if unit issues are not informally resolved, then a panel of three Board members will decide the matter after a hearing and filing of briefs. In cases where petitions for election or decertification of a collective bargaining representative are filed, once unit issues are resolved, Board staff conduct representation elections, usually at the involved workplace.
Unfair Labor Practices-Upon filing of unfair labor practice charges, the Board will seek an informal response from the employer or union against whom the charge was filed. Board staff then may meet with the parties to investigate the charge and explore the informal resolution of it. In some cases, the Board will not conduct an investigation beyond the pleadings, and will decide whether to issue a complaint based on the pleadings. If a complaint is issued, an evidentiary hearing governed by the Rules of Evidence is conducted by a three member panel of the Board. After providing the parties with an opportunity to file briefs, the Board issues a written decision.
Grievances - Grievances under the State Employees Labor Relations Act comprise a substantial part of the caseload of the Board, approximately half of its cases. Once a grievance is filed and the employer has filed an answer to it, Board staff often meet with the parties in informal status conferences or pre-hearing conferences to explore informal settlement of the grievance, discuss discovery issues, clarify issues, and/or seek to narrow the issues. If a grievance is not informally resolved and is not otherwise dismissed pursuant to a motion, the grievance is heard by a three member panel of the Board. Grievance hearings are more informal than unfair labor practice hearings in that they are not governed by the Rules of Evidence. The parties are provided with an opportunity to file post-hearing briefs. The Board then deliberates, and issues a written decision.
Appeal and Enforcement of Board Decisions: Board decisions generally may be appealed directly to the Vermont Supreme Court on questions of law. The Board decides whether its decisions should be stayed pending appeal, and that stay decision also may be appealed to the Supreme Court. Board decisions are enforceable by a party or the Board in superior court.
Publications and Educational Services: The Board has Rules of Practice specific to each of the labor relations acts which it administers. The Board publishes volumes of decisions every one or two years, and now has published volumes covering the years 1977 through 2011. The Board also publishes a Guide to Vermont Labor Relations Statutes, the purpose of which is to keep practitioners before the Board fully aware of case law precedents. The Guide is updated annually, and contains: 1) copies of Vermont labor relations statutes, 2) a cumulative subject index of all Board decisions since 1977, 3) a cumulative alphabetical index of all Board decisions since 1977, 4) a cumulative subject index of Vermont Supreme Court public sector labor relations decisions, 5) a digest of all Vermont Supreme Court decisions on appeals of Board decisions and 6) the Board Rules of Practice. Further, the Board has issued the second edition of a book on Vermont labor relations law entitled The Evolving Vermont Labor Relations Law.
In addition to these publications, the Board conducts labor relations conferences and training sessions. The Board is an active member of the Association of Labor Relations Agencies and the New England Consortium of State Labor Relations Agencies.
Edward W. Clark, Jr. was appointed to the Labor Relations Board in December 2012 replacing Louis Lacroix. Mr. Clark has had considerable experience in the labor relations arena both as an advocate and as a mediator. He worked for and held elected positions in trade unions in both North America and in Europe for thirty five years. He worked more than two decades with the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) culminating with six years as the Executive Vice President. In this role, he had overall responsibility along with the President for the management of 250,000 members in the United States and Canada. He has also worked as a mediator and arbitrator in the public sector for the Massachusetts Board of Conciliation and Arbitration, and as Assistant Commissioner of Labor and Industries for Massachusetts. He served under two Governors in Massachusetts on the Board of Trustees of the Massachusetts College of Art. As chair of the Board he developed excellent working relations with the unions that represented most of the employees of the college. Mr. Clark attended Southern Illinois University where he studied Economics and is a graduate of Ruskin College (the Labor College) at Oxford University in England.
Gary Karnedy was appointed to the Labor Relations Board in August 2009. A graduate of the University of Vermont and Boston College Law School, Mr. Karnedy is an attorney, director, and senior vice president of Primmer, Piper, Eggleston & Cramer, PC with a practice concentrated on the areas of commercial and administrative litigation. He defends a variety of corporate clients in court, alternative dispute proceedings, as well as regulatory proceedings before agencies of the State of Vermont. He also advises clients on employment matters. Gary is a fourth generation Vermonter, growing up in Barre, Vermont and returned to Vermont in 1995 after serving as Associate Counsel, U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Select Education and Civil Rights in 1994. He resides in South Burlington, Vermont with his wife and three children.
James Kiehle was appointed to the Labor Relations Board in September 2007 to fill out the rest of Joan Wilson’s term. He was reappointed to a full six-year term by Governor Douglas in July 2008. A graduate of Wesleyan University and Antioch Graduate School, Mr. Kiehle is a retired educator with over forty years experience. He taught 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades during his 2-year Peace Corps service in Wozi, Liberia and 7th grade social studies for a year in Washington, DC while completing his M.A.T. degree. In 1968 he began teaching social studies at Brattleboro Union High School, retiring in 2006 after serving as department chair for the last six years. While teaching, Mr. Kiehle was an active member of the National Education Association, Vermont-NEA, and the Windham Southeast Education Association. He was President of Vermont NEA in 1977-78, and served as local president for many years. He is also a member of the National Council of Social Studies and the Vermont Alliance for the Social Studies, serving as treasurer of VASS. Mr. Kiehle continues to work part-time at BUHS as the Community Service Coordinator, and at Brattleboro Country Club as a turf mowing specialist.
Richard Park replaced Edward Zuccaro as Board Chairperson in July 2010. He was appointed to the Labor Relations Board in October, 1995, and has continued to serve on the Board to the present. He is in his third term on the Board, having been reappointed by Governor Douglas in August 2007. This is his second term as Board Chairperson having served from the fall of 2002 to the fall of 2004. Mr. Park’s earlier career was in the field of education as a teacher and program administrator for children with special needs. He served as Acting Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent and Director of Personnel for the Burlington School System. He served as an officer and negotiator for the Burlington Administrators Association. At the time of his appointment to the Labor Relations Board, he had been Human Resources Vice President at Banknorth Group in Burlington for the previous nine years. Prior to that, he was Director of Personnel for McAuliffe Office Products in Burlington. Following his appointment to the Board, he continued to serve in executive human resources positions at Green Mountain Power, Green Mountain Energy, and Distributed Energy Systems. He was the Director of Risk Management Services for the Vermont League of Cities & Towns until he retired in 2010. Mr. Park earned a Master’s Degree in Education Administration in 1974 and a C.A.S. in Human & Organizational Development in 1977 from the University of Vermont. His undergraduate degree is from Middlebury College.
Alan Willard of Woodstock was appointed to the Board by Governor Shumlin in June 2011. He received a B.S. in Social Sciences in 1968, and a M.A. in Counseling and Guidance in 1981, from Castleton State College. Mr. Willard was employed by the State of Vermont Agency of Human Services for 41 years, from 1968 to 2009. He was a Social Worker in Brattleboro from 1968 to 1970 with the Aged, Blind and Disabled Program. He served as a Social Worker from 1970 to 1974 in Springfield with the Department of Social Welfare. Mr. Willard held various positions with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation from 1975 to 2009 – i.e., Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for approximately 10 years, Casework Supervisor for approximately 10 years, and Regional Manager from 1995 until his retirement in 2009. He served on the Reasonable Accommodation Committee of the State Department of Human Resources from its inception until his retirement from state service 8 years later. He has engaged in a variety of community volunteer activities since the 1970’s: Board of Directors, Treasurer and President of Windsor and Windham Counties Consumer Child Care; Windsor County Court Diversion Board of Directors; Town of Chester Planning Commission, including 4 years as Chairperson; Town of Woodstock Planning Commission; and Town of Woodstock Conservation Commission.
Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Submission: The Board annually presents budget materials to the Legislature explaining the Board budget for the following fiscal year. For more information click on the link below.