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From a Plow Driver: An Open Letter To Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin

category north america / mexico | workplace struggles | non-anarchist press author Saturday March 07, 2015 00:21author by Ed Olsen - Union Member Report this post to the editors

I personally make just over $17 an hour, while the average wage of a plow driver is $38,000 a year. And yet you have made it clear that you will not tax the wealthy (like yourself) who can afford it to cover the budget gap which you created. But I do not expect you to necessarily understand the hardships you are asking us to suffer, as I am told you are personally worth ten million dollars. Maybe you don’t understand that taking $36 a paycheck out of my wages (which on average you are proposing for all plow drivers) is the difference between making or missing a mortgage payment, a utility bill, or buying a pair of shoes for the kids. Maybe you cannot understand.

An Open Letter To Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin-Democrat;

To Mr. Governor Shumlin,

I am a hard working Vermont State employee for the Agency of Transportation, District 3 [and a Union member]. I plow the roads. As you may recall, we in AOT have endured many challenges in the recent past ....Including Tropical Storm Irene (2011), Pay Cuts and Pay Freezes (2008-9), Changes to our Health Insurance with Higher deductibles and less coverage (2014). And despite all these hardships and challenges, we still get up, as needed, at 3am (sometimes working 7 days a week) to make sure our roads are safe so Vermonters (including yourself) can go to work, so tourists can come here and spend their money, and so everyone’s kids can get to school.

Even so, I see and read the things you and the Legislature are proposing and I very much disapprove. You ask for pay cuts and threaten to lay-off 450 working class people if we do not suffer further by opening a Contract which we negotiated with you in good faith. You refuse to balance the budget by raising taxes on the wealthy (who are your campaign donors?) and instead want to take money out of my pocket to cover your failures. In a word, you want me and other plow drivers to open our contracts give back the 2.5% pay raise we all agreed to. On the other hand, have you demanded that the ski resorts open their leases with the State so they can share a small portion of their massive profits in order to maintain the services that they enjoy (like plowed roads for starters)? Have you considered a smarter use of our gas tax revenues, or an excessive wealth tax? I would venture to guess that you have not.

I personally make just over $17 an hour, while the average wage of a plow driver is $38,000 a year. And yet you have made it clear that you will not tax the wealthy (like yourself) who can afford it to cover the budget gap which you created. But I do not expect you to necessarily understand the hardships you are asking us to suffer, as I am told you are personally worth ten million dollars. Maybe you don’t understand that taking $36 a paycheck out of my wages (which on average you are proposing for all plow drivers) is the difference between making or missing a mortgage payment, a utility bill, or buying a pair of shoes for the kids. Maybe you cannot understand. Maybe you also don’t understand how hard we work for the modest pay we receive. Or maybe you don’t understand how dangerous our job actually is.

So with that said I invite you Mr. Peter Shumlin (and all State Legislators for that matter) to shadow my job as an AOT snow plow truck driver through just one storm. (I further invite you to live on $17 and change an hour.) Now you may have to get up early (many hours before the sun comes up), and you may have to work longer than you are accustomed to, and by the end I expect that your hands may hurt (as I assume you do not have any calluses), but I think when you consider taking food off a families plate, you should know what went into putting that food on the table to begin with.

The truth is, if me and my fellow AOT drivers did not do our job for even one day (during a storm) the entire State would shut down. And all those high paid CEOs, bankers, and lawyers that you refuse to raise taxes on would not be able to make it to their boardrooms and corner offices. In fact you (or rather your State employed driver) would not be able to get to your 5th floor office in Montpelier in order to attend to your $150,000 a year job. Point being, Vermont works because we work. And we do this because we are proud to serve the public and because we also need to support of families. I suggest you stop seeking to put more burdens on the backs of Vermont’s working men and women.

In conclusion I will say this… My job is no-less important than your job. The difference is I have done and will continue to do mine. But from where I sit, your job was to balance the budget, raise adequate revenue from those that can afford it, and you failed (and continue to fail) at this. But before you try and put your hand in my pocket to fix your mistakes, at least be man enough to know what it is like to sit in the driver’s seat at 4am when it is 20 below, it’s snowing, visibility is 20 feet, and you are making a quarter of the wage that is paid to the office of Governor. On that note, I look forward to hearing from you, and I look forward to having you along next snow storm. Otherwise, I look forward to remembering who stood with and against working class Vermonters when I enter the booth during our next General Election.

Sincerely

Ed Olsen,
Vermont AOT Employee in the Mendon Garage,
& Member of the Vermont State Employees’ Association
Proctor, Vermont

author by seajay christopherpublication date Mon Mar 16, 2015 22:51Report this post to the editors

The plow driver is RIGHT ON

author by Terral Croteau - Vermont Residentpublication date Wed Mar 18, 2015 06:44author address 124 Spruce Haven Rd Waterbury Ctr,Vt 05677author phone 802 244 4980Report this post to the editors

I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree with the Plow Driver and let it be known Governor Shumlin I did not vote for you this time around nor will i do so again and this is just one of the reasons that being said maybe now you will understand why the vote for Governor was so close this time around.And if you need further insight about it let's just say the people of Vermont are tired of being Overtaxed and pushed out of our State while the rich get richer and the middle class and poor get poorer because of you and the 1 percenters.You Politicians need to wake up and listen or we are going to start voting your asses out of office.

author by mylacey - nonepublication date Wed Mar 18, 2015 22:03Report this post to the editors

I agree 100% with what this man said. If for one week you had to live off what the middle class people live on then maybe you would think different about your choices. Tax the wealthy more and maybe everyone could live as well. Us that really work for our money and keep you and the likes of you going do our jobs for pennies and I for one love my job but without us you wouldn't be where you are today. The next time you go into a store and see a man or woman running the register ask them if they are making enough money to feed their family or have enough to pay ALL their bills every month. I bet you 9 out of 10 will tell you they are struggling to make ends meet while you off on one of your many vacations that we as the working class has paid for yet we are lucky to be able to take just one vacation a year. Get your head out of your back side and do what you promised to do.

author by PHILL HATCHpublication date Thu Mar 19, 2015 04:12Report this post to the editors

it's time for a Republican again !

author by Pen Pal Farmpublication date Thu Mar 19, 2015 05:32author address VermontReport this post to the editors

Petition, Petition, Petition, This has to stop. Tax the Wealthy is the only way to go. This is how the rich stay rich, they sponge off the working class to send them into the poor house while they keep filling their own pockets. When all the hard working class are gone and only the wealthy ones are left in VT than who will they have to sponge off of and who will do the manual work? I can not see any pencil pushers doing manual work. It might give them a back ache. The wealthy ones need to start appreciating the fact that if it was not for the manual workers they would not be as wealthy as they are today. I love Vermont for it's beauty but the governor has made it a real ugly place to live right now.

author by Raymond Follmerpublication date Thu Mar 19, 2015 06:51Report this post to the editors

I am an X Vermonter and intend to stay that way . The governor of your state only makes 150,000
a year . That seems pretty cheap too me . Why is it that when a person makes it and becomes weathy
In this country that allot of people think that they deserve the money that they earned . Mr Plow Driver
You are a plow driver ,because that is what you chose to do . The Govenor had more ambition then you
And that is why he is Governor. But you still think you deserve his money . I am not rich and don't believe that just because someone is rich , that I deserve there hard earned money . You vote Bernie Sanders in to office even year . I don't agree with hiim , But I don't deserve his money . He earned it because people like yourself, Mr Snowplow Driver , Voted for him . Do you think you deserve 60,000 year to drive a snow plow or 150,000 to drive a snowplow. People become successful because they want too . You Mr Snowplow Driver , As you say , If it ,were not for you . Mr Govenor ,would not make it ,to his 150,000 job . I commend you for doing your job, but don't agree you deserve someone else's money that you did not earn . You see Mr Snow Plow Driver , Your at the wrong part of the Pyramid . You need to be at the top , Then your going to have to stop being a snow plow driver . You see ,the world collapses when there are no wealthy people.
Unfortunately ,Not everyone is going to be weathy . So Mr Snow Plow Driver , You want more money ,work your way up . You live in a state that has the worst Herione traffic in the US . Help fix it and you live a state that has the laziest city in the US , Burlington Vermont . Do you understand what ,they mean by laziest city in the US . It is very easy to figure out , Welfare is the number one job in your state and people like you, Mr Snow Plow driver ,think you deserve rich people's money' that you did not earn . What can I say ,typical Vermont liberalism / Socialism . When I lived and grew up in Vermont , People worked and did not complain about how much someone else made . You want ,150,000 a year go earn it.

author by W C Hpublication date Fri Mar 20, 2015 19:30Report this post to the editors

I agree with the last writer. I think we working class here in Vermont need not be expected to be supporting the non-workers of this state, the large part being the welfare system. I am in agreement that many people can use some assistance with groceries and fuel assistance but to be supporting a large population who do not work, or who flock here from other states because Vermont has the easiest welfare system is not why I go to work every day. Many of these welfare people have one child after another that they have no means of supporting but depend on the welfare system to support them. No one should get something for nothing. The old saying is"You get what you reap" What are we teaching this generation, that you can sit at home , smoke expensive cigarettes, have cell phones so you can text your buddies all day long, get all the free medical care without spending a dime, afford all the tattoos you want while we work. What is wrong with this picture. How many businesses in this state depend on foreign workers, agriculture, the hotels services, to get their work done while we have a large population on welfare who are perfectly capable of working. I recently heard from someone who came from out of state, that they moved up here because we had the most services available for their special needs kids. This is great if we were a wealthy state but we aren't and these expenses are reflected in our school budgets which are currently making our property taxes among the highest in the country. In Moneywatch 2014 Vermont ranked 7th in the ten highest states in the country.

Lets get the welfare system tightened up and keep out of staters from flocking up to take advantage up all our financial resourses whic in turn drive up our taxes which certainly rise up far more than our wages.

author by W C Hpublication date Fri Mar 20, 2015 19:30Report this post to the editors

I agree with the last writer. I think we working class here in Vermont need not be expected to be supporting the non-workers of this state, the large part being the welfare system. I am in agreement that many people can use some assistance with groceries and fuel assistance but to be supporting a large population who do not work, or who flock here from other states because Vermont has the easiest welfare system is not why I go to work every day. Many of these welfare people have one child after another that they have no means of supporting but depend on the welfare system to support them. No one should get something for nothing. The old saying is"You get what you reap" What are we teaching this generation, that you can sit at home , smoke expensive cigarettes, have cell phones so you can text your buddies all day long, get all the free medical care without spending a dime, afford all the tattoos you want while we work. What is wrong with this picture. How many businesses in this state depend on foreign workers, agriculture, the hotels services, to get their work done while we have a large population on welfare who are perfectly capable of working. I recently heard from someone who came from out of state, that they moved up here because we had the most services available for their special needs kids. This is great if we were a wealthy state but we aren't and these expenses are reflected in our school budgets which are currently making our property taxes among the highest in the country. In Moneywatch 2014 Vermont ranked 7th in the ten highest states in the country.

Lets get the welfare system tightened up and keep out of staters from flocking up to take advantage up all our financial resourses whic in turn drive up our taxes which certainly rise up far more than our wages.

author by another working vermonterpublication date Sat Mar 21, 2015 05:13Report this post to the editors

While I agree you work very hard, appreciate all of your hard work and don't believe that your contract should be opened and renegotiated I don't believe the answer is only to tax the wealthiest either. I think the welfare program as it works now should be completely overhauled. I also believe that when sacrifices need to be made it should be shared with some cuts in benefits to our politicians that are under performing and not representing the constituents best interests. They seem to keep getting gold benefits while giving tin results. Attack their benefits package and their pay then let's see if they can spend less time fighting amongst themselves and more time solving problems. That's just my opinion.

author by WantsToStayInVTpublication date Wed Mar 25, 2015 01:27Report this post to the editors

I agree with the plow driver that wrote this letter. The taxes in Vermont keep going up and it's the people that work hard that end up in the poor house because of it. I'm hearing from many young families that they are looking to move south because they can't afford to buy a home here. I make less than the plow driver and have worked for the same company for 25 years. I'm thankful for my job and am proud to work for my money but when so much comes out of my check it becomes quite depressing. I have a family and do not want to take on another job. It's time for money to come from other places instead of out of the pockets of hard working Vermonters.

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