VSEA Chief to Leave State Workers Union for Florida | Off Message

VSEA Chief to Leave State Workers Union for Florida

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The on-again, off-again leader of the Vermont State Employees Association is off, again.

Mark Mitchell, executive director of the 5,500-member state workers union, is leaving for Orlando to be closer to his recently widowed mother, the VSEA informed its members Friday. Mitchell is "in discussions with several unions in Florida and hopes to finalize a contract with one of them in the coming weeks," spokesman Doug Gibson said in a statement. 
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Since he came to Vermont in December 2011, Mitchell has ruffled more than a few feathers in Montpelier and beyond.

In the fall of 2012, six of 19 staff members left the union abruptly, several citing Mitchell's hard-charging leadership style as the reason. Last June, he was briefly fired after two top staffers brought complaints to the VSEA's board of directors. After an internal investigation, Mitchell was reinstated weeks later, and the two staffers resigned.

According to Gibson, Mitchell's departure is entirely voluntary.

"When announcing his decision to leave to VSEA staff last week, Mark was emphatic that were it not for the need to care for an aging parent, he would not be leaving VSEA," Gibson said. "He told us he loved the VSEA membership, and he is very proud of the direction the union is heading under his and President [Shelley] Martin’s direction. It was pretty clear that he really didn’t want to just walk away from all the positive momentum that currently exists throughout VSEA."

Gibson said Mitchell will work with the board's personnel committee to recruit a new executive director. Potential internal candidates, according to those familiar with the situation, include legislative director Steve Howard and union representative Bob South, a state representative from St. Johnsbury.


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