A Chittenden County Superior Court judge denied today a Vermont State Employees Association request for a restraining order against the Douglas Administration. The state workers’ union sought the order against the administration to stop it from laying off more than 120 state employees, approximately 100 of whom were scheduled to begin departing state government today.In a written statement, VSEA Director Jes Kraus said: “Our heart goes out to the hundred employees who are being, in our views, unnecessarily forced out the jobs that they work so hard at. VSEA will continue pursuing every option available to us in our efforts to avoid more senseless layoffs.” In any case, the administration maintains that it has the right to layoff workers, as it always has, and will go ahead with its plan to do so. It expects the action to save about $13 million through this job action in the coming fiscal year. VSEA s complaint asserted that the layoffs violate the Appropriations Act, which went into effect June 2 over Governor Douglas’ veto. The Act specifically prohibits the administration from proceeding with layoffs unless they are first submitted as part of a plan that is vetted and approved by the Legislature s Joint Fiscal Committee. However, a companion bill passed Wednesday to the Act (the state budget) somewhat changed the language of that section. Attorney General Sorrell had offered an opinion to legislative leaders suggesting the language might be unconstitutional, which is a point Governor Douglas previously had made. Also at issue is that the state budget technically does not kick in until the start of the new fiscal year July 1, calling into question whether the layoff language, right or wrong, can even be applied during the current fiscal year. Nor has the governor signed nor vetoed the companion bill. In an effort to not have to file this lawsuit, VSEA did send a letter to Secretary Lunderville on Tuesday, asking the administration to rescind the RIFs, but we never heard back, said VSEA Director Kraus. That silence forced VSEA to take the action we will tomorrow (Thursday), as we believe the Legislature s veto override means the governor must now follow the law, whether he approves or not.
By Jessica Mintz THE ASSOCIATED PRESS SEATTLE – Amazon.com Inc. launched its much-anticipated digital music store Tuesday, a move analysts say represents the first hint of real competition for Apple Inc.’s market-leading iTunes. Amazon MP3, as the new section of the Web retailer’s site is called, currently stocks nearly 2.3million songs, all without copy-protection technology. Shoppers can buy and download individual songs or entire albums. The tracks can be copied to multiple computers, burned onto CDs and played on most types of PCs and portable devices, including the iPod and Microsoft Corp.’s Zune. Songs cost 89 cents to 99cents each, and albums sell for $5.99 to $9.99. Major music labels Universal Music Group and EMI Music have signed on to sell their tracks on Amazon, as have thousands of independent labels. The company said several labels are selling their artists’ music without copy protection for the first time on the Amazon store, including Alison Krauss on Rounder Records and Ani Difranco on Righteous Babe Records. Shares of Amazon rose 89 cents to close at $93.48 Tuesday. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!