Douglas asks for report on guardsmen passed over for jobs

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says he’s asked the corrections commissioner to report to him on allegations that members of the Vermont National Guard were denied permanent employment at the state prison in Springfield. 

The guardsmen say they were passed over for the jobs because they’re scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan.

VPR’s Steve Zind has more.

(Zind)  The allegations surfaced earlier this week.  Several guardsmen told VPR that prison personnel had indicated they weren’t being given permanent jobs because they’d be gone for nearly a year as part of the upcoming deployment of 1,500 Vermont guard members to Afghanistan.

One guardsman says he was fired after he told prison officials he was part of the deployment.

Douglas says he’d be very disappointed if the allegations prove true, although he declined to say what should be done if that’s the case. 

In the past Vermont state government has been recognized for the support it’s given to returning troops and Douglas says it’s the first time there’s been a charge of this kind.

(Douglas) "As the largest employer in the state, we had at one point 70 or 80 state employees deployed with the guard and active duty services a couple of years ago.  I never heard any problem at that point with any individuals being treated fairly and in fact being welcomed by their employer back to the agency."

(Zind) Federal law generally requires that the jobs of deployed soldiers be protected.  Douglas says he’s aware of only one previous claim against a Vermont employer by a deployed soldier and that was quickly resolved. 

A lawyer for one of the guardsmen who worked at the Springfield prison says he plans to file a complaint against the state in federal court.

For VPR News, I’m Steve Zind.


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