UE Local 208 has achieved an important victory with a wage settlement, announced May 3, between the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Stanley Associates and other contractors at the Vermont Service Center. The settlement means $2.9 million in payments to around 700 workers who have been employed by the contractors at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Center in St. Albans in the past three years. The money is owed because Stanley and the other contractors systematically underpaid workers.
We are very pleased that our members and workers at the Service Center will be receiving some of what is owed them in back wages, said Local 208 President Jeanette Weiland. We are especially grateful to Senator Sanders and our union for pursing this matter.
The settlement was announced in press releases by DOL and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who provided extensive help to UE on the case. DOL reported that the average settlement received by workers will be around $4,000.
While we are grateful to Senator Sanders and the work he did to ensure we received our pay back, Weiland added, it is disheartening that contractor after contractor has underpaid us. The settlement announced May 3 is the second such settlement Vermont Service Center workers have received in recent years. The DOL had also determined that the group of contractors that preceded Stanley Associates also underpaid workers. A complaint against the earlier contractors resulted in a 2009 settlement that brought workers more than $3 million in back pay.
The fight may not be over. In mid-April, a new contractor became our employer, said Weiland. This company, LongView-FedConsulting JV, is paying many of the employees the exact same wage workers received under the last two contractors. This means that we may have to call for yet another investigation to recoup wages as it is likely that we are still being underpaid.
Vermont Service Center workers do clerical work such as data entry, mail room operations and file maintenance for USCIS. UE Local 208 represents almost 100 employees at the center.
Commenting on the settlement, Sen. 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, Im delighted that the workers at this center are receiving the pay and benefits that they have earned.
Vermonts other U.S. Senator, Patrick Leahy (D), also helped pursue the case and issued a statement on the settlement: 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.