Vermont Service Center Employees Win in Labor Settlement
WASHINGTON, May 3 - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today welcomed a U.S. Labor Department ruling that will result in an additional $2.9 million in back wages for federal contract workers in St. Albans and Essex Junction.
The ruling affects more than 700 contract workers employed by Stanley Inc. and subcontractors at the Vermont Service Center of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from Dec. 1, 2007 to Feb. 18, 2011. The average payment will be about $4,000, although individual checks will range from a small amount to more than $12,700.
Sanders first raised concern about the underpayments in 2007, when he asked the Labor Department to investigate potential violations of the law at the Vermont Service Center. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) also has advocated on behalf of the workers.
Sanders said, "This settlement is another important victory for the Vermont Service Center workers who are finally receiving the back pay and other benefits that they are owed. For years, hundreds of workers at this center were denied the wages that they were legally entitled to receive and I am grateful that justice has at long last prevailed. While the process has taken much longer than it should have, I'm delighted that the workers at this center are receiving the pay and benefits that they have earned."
Leahy said, "At long last, hundreds of contract employees at the Vermont Service Center will be justly compensated for their work. It took years - and a major federal investigation - to ensure that these workers were classified correctly and paid the wages and benefits they deserve. I am glad that these Vermont families very soon finally will have a resolution to all of this. I appreciate the thorough investigation undertaken by the U.S. Department of Labor, and the advocacy of Sen. Sanders, my staff and others, to gain fair treatment for these workers."
The center processes passports and other paperwork for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Citizenship and Immigration Services. Federal contracts for the work were awarded to Stanley, Northrop Grumman and the Federal Working Group on December 3, 2007. After those firms cut workers' pay, the U.S. Labor Department opened an investigation.
The latest ruling is similar to other settlements the Labor Department reached in 2009. Combined, the settlements involving violations of the Service Contract Act at the Vermont Service Center are the largest in the United States in more than a decade.
Under the previous rulings, more than 500 Vermont Service Center workers who had been employed by previous contractors SI International and CSC from November of 2005 to December of 2007 were awarded more than $3 million in back wages as a result of two similar settlements.
Sanders has met several times with Labor Department officials, including Secretary Hilda Solis, to press the case that the Vermont Service Center workers should receive what they are legally entitled to receive. The senator also hosted a town meeting in St. Albans with the Vermont Service Center workers to discuss this and several other issues.
Current and former Vermont Service Center employees may find out more details by calling the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division in Manchester, New Hampshire at (603) 666-7716 or the Burlington, Vermont Wage and Hour field station at (802) 951-6283. Former employees who have moved also should call to give the Department of Labor their current address.