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Employees Association: Vt. Prison Boss Coerced Workers

Montpelier — The superintendent of the state prison in Springfield, Vt., coerced employees and interfered with their rights, according to an unfair labor practice charge Thursday by the Vermont State Employees Association.

The VSEA said Southern State Correctional Facility Superintendent Mark Potanas interfered with employees completing a union survey about working conditions.

It filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Vermont Labor Relations Board, the VSEA said in a news release.

The allegations come in response to an employee survey issued in February after Southern State Correctional Facility workers complained about working conditions.

Potanas criticized the VSEA survey and the union when several employees attended an April 29 meeting between VSEA and management to discuss the results, according to the release.

“In addition to his questions being highly inappropriate, Mr. Potanas openly admitted to our labor team members that he had questioned employees about whether or not they had completed the VSEA survey. We believe the VLRB will find a violation of these state employees’ statutory rights to engage in protected, concerted activity,” VSEA Associate General Counsel Rebecca McBroom said in the release.

Potanas on Thursday said he had heard from some employees who were unhappy with working conditions but said that is not uncommon.

“There’s always some employees who are unhappy,” he said.

Potanas said he and the union will “agree to disagree.”

He said the survey was “poorly worded” which lead to the survey’s acusatory findings.