West, In re, 95-564

Docket NºNo. 95-564
Citation685 A.2d 1099, 165 Vt. 445
Case DateSeptember 13, 1996
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Vermont

Page 1099

685 A.2d 1099
165 Vt. 445
In re Grievance of Ronald WEST and Merill Cray.
No. 95-564.
Supreme Court of Vermont.
Sept. 13, 1996.

Page 1100

[165 Vt. 446] Samuel C. Palmisano, VSEA Legal Counsel, and Mark Heyman, Law Clerk (on the brief), Montpelier, for grievants-appellees.

Jeffrey L. Amestoy, Attorney General, and F. Michael Seibert and David Herlihy, Assistant Attorneys General, Montpelier, for appellant State of Vermont.


GIBSON, Justice.

The State of Vermont appeals an order of the Vermont Labor Relations Board requiring the State to provide information to the Vermont State Employees' Association, Inc. (VSEA) for use in bringing a classification grievance. We affirm.

The facts are not in dispute. The Office of the Secretary of State employs grievants West and Cray as investigators in the Office of Professional Regulation (OPR). Following a 1990 classification review by the Department of Personnel, the position of OPR investigator was renamed "licensing board investigator" (LBI) and separated into three levels, LBI I (Pay Grade 17), LBI II (Pay

Page 1101

Grade 18), and LBI III (Pay Grade 19); grievants are both classified as LBI IIIs.

In December 1993, the Secretary of State filed a request for classification review (RFR) that recommended elevating all licensing board investigators to Pay Grade 22, which is the pay grade assigned to investigators employed by the Office of the Attorney General. At an April 1994 meeting with classification analysts from the Department, grievants argued that their positions were fully comparable to the Attorney General's investigators and should receive the same pay grade. The analysts reached a preliminary conclusion that licensing board investigators, including grievants, should receive Pay Grade 19.

In early 1994, the Department appointed a so-called "benchmark committee" to conduct, for internal purposes only, classification reviews of entire occupational groups or classes. As its first project, the committee was instructed to review all investigator positions in state service. The Department hired Norman Willis, a personnel consultant, to train the benchmark committee to conduct the reviews. An investigator in the Attorney General's Office learned of the committee's work and filed a grievance with the Department, which ordered the internal review suspended until further notice.

[165 Vt. 447] The benchmark committee, however, continued its assignment as a training exercise and completed a classification review of all positions in the investigator class. The committee recommended that the Department upgrade some investigator positions and downgrade others, and further recommended that all licensing board investigators in OPR be consolidated into a single class and assigned Pay Grade 19. On June 13, 1994, the Department's operations director forwarded the committee's recommendations to the Commissioner of Personnel and to Norman Willis. In a June 27, 1994 letter to the operations director, Willis noted that he had reviewed the committee's work and reached similar conclusions.

On August 4, 1994, the Department notified grievants that the classification review, conducted in response to the Secretary of State's RFR, had resulted in the consolidation of all licensing board investigators into a single class at Pay Grade 19; grievants' pay grade therefore remained the same. According to the Employee Notice Forms that grievants received:

The rating assigned to the Secretary of State's investigators fits well into the entire range of investigative classes which were reviewed. These ratings fall into three broad categories:

Positions which deal primarily with paper record reviews received a rating of pay grade 17.

Positions which must proceed beyond paperwork to the interviewing of witnesses and the analysis of other physical evidence were assigned to pay grade 19.

Positions which, in addition to investigations, are required to do more than the investigative nature of their job and have more complex roles in the respective departments.

The Secretary of State's Investigators are most appropriately considered as part of the middle group (pay grade 19).

(Emphasis added.)

Pursuant to Article 16 § 3(d) of its 1994-96 collective bargaining agreement with the State (Agreement), VSEA requested an informal meeting with the Department's operations director to discuss the classification decision. In that meeting, VSEA learned for the first time that the classification review and recommendations had come from the benchmark committee, and that Norman Willis had reviewed the committee's work and made the same recommendation.

On August 21, 1994, VSEA asked the Department to provide it with all materials that Willis had used to review the committee's work. The [165 Vt. 448] Department sent the VSEA copies of materials used by the benchmark committee and by Willis to reach their recommendations. These materials were redacted, however, to eliminate references to state investigator positions in departments other than OPR, because the Department did not wish the benchmark committee's internal recommendations made public until the Department had acted upon...

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25 cases
  • Tarrant v. Department of Taxes, 96-608.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • April 9, 1999
    ...income at issue. When interpreting a statute, our principal goal is to effectuate the intent of the Legislature. See In re West, 165 Vt. 445, 449, 685 A.2d 1099, 1102 (1996). Initially, in our attempts to ascertain legislative intent we look for guidance in the plain meaning of the words us......
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
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    ...We will uphold the Labor Board's order if the findings, taken as a whole, justify its ultimate conclusion, see In re West, 165 Vt. 445, 449, 685 A.2d 1099, 1102 (1996), even if we would not have reached the same decision. See Butler, 166 Vt. at 425, 697 A.2d at 661. Nevertheless, this Court......
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    ...actions or actions to remove the tenant and terminate the tenancy on sufficient grounds during the lease term. In re West, 165 Vt. 445, 450, 685 A.2d 1099, 1103 (1996) ("When an agreement is clear and unambiguous, the plain meaning of the agreement governs its interpretation."). Indeed, the......
  • In re Welch
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
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    ...(quotation omitted)). If these findings, taken as a whole, justify the Board's ultimate conclusion, we will affirm. See In re West, 165 Vt. 445, 448, 685 A.2d 1099, 1102 (1996) ("Interpretations of collective bargaining agreements are within the particular expertise of the Board, and we rev......
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