Local 597 Leads Charge to Pass Vt. Misclassification Law

After years of standing up for the rights of misclassified workers, Vermont Teamsters were rewarded when Gov. Phil Scott signed into law earlier this month legislation that would crack down on the practice in the Green Mountain State.

Local 597 Secretary-Treasurer Tony St. Hilaire said the change will help the state’s construction workers in particular, who are often treated as contract workers even though they show up to work for the same company day after day.

“All companies misclassify their workers up here,” he said. “When we go to organize them, companies say they’re not our employees. We are always reporting there is misclassification going on.”

For the last decade, the Teamsters joined with the state’s building trades unions to try and have the law changed. They had noted that it is workers like those contracted to pave roads during the spring and summer for the state that have been hurt by Vermont’s previous rules.

Dave Mickenberg, a lobbyist for the Teamsters in the state, said efforts to fight misclassification elsewhere helped shaped the legislation that ultimately passed.

“We learned a lot of lessons from Massachusetts, where the attorney general enforces their misclassification laws,” he said. “That’s the model the bill follows.”

Under the new law, Vermont’s attorney general will now have the ability to bring charges against companies in the most egregious cases. It will also empower an existing taskforce to crack down on violators.