Management Retaliation Against Vermont State Employees & Free Speech

John Howe and Rep. Chris Pearson discuss management retaliation against state employees for testifying to legislative committees. After a two-month-plus fishing investigation, and being put on administrative leave a week after testifying to the legislature, VSEA member and leader John Howe was found to not be in violation of the charges he was being investigated for. See John Howe Cleared! VSEA’s Broader Anti-Retaliation Fight Continues. Thanks to VSEA’s ‘We Are All John Howe’ campaign, more Vermonters understand that something needs to be done at the highest levels of government to address management retaliation. VSEA will be advancing an agenda in the next legislative session to highlight the issue of management retaliation.
Rep. Christopher Pearson (Burlington, Progressive Caucus leader) argues in On Free Speech: Where is the ‘firm action’? that when it comes to how state government is run, our single best resource is state employees and that their feedback is irreplaceable. However, the Shumlin administration's practices have a chilling effect on state employees exercising their rights to basic free speech. There seem to be zero consequences for managers who retaliate against their workers. " That’s bad for workers, bad for tax payers, hinders legislators and violates the foundation of a free and open society." Pearson and Howe also argue that we should protect all working Vermonters' rights to free speech with a law requiring “just cause” before a worker is fired.