We Make Connecticut Happen

State employees sacrifice for people of state


By Matthew Quigley

Norwich Bulletin Editorial Page
July 21, 2017

As our elected officials struggle to close a growing state budget deficit that’s produced legislative gridlock, here are some numbers to think about: $1.5 billion and $24 billion.

Those are the projected savings to Connecticut taxpayers, courtesy of Connecticut state employees like me who voted this week in favor of a concession package that includes three years of wage freezes, increased contributions to our pensions and health insurance premium cost shares, and much more.

The $1.5 billion represents the savings that would be realized over the 2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscal years. The $24 billion represents the projected savings over the next 20 years. Those are not pie-in-the-sky numbers. They come from two respected consultants (Segal Consulting and Cavanagh-McDonald) that were asked to analyze the concession agreement for the legislature.

My fellow state employees and I have been willing to sacrifice for the betterment of our state, as indicated by our acceptance of concessions for the third time in the past eight years. We have saved billions for the state in the process.

Yet some – elected officials, editorial writers, the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, the Yankee Institute – treat us like human pinatas. They have falsely blamed us for causing Connecticut’s economic crisis and tried to destroy our fundamental right to bargain for the pay, benefits and working conditions that keep us in the middle class.

I help protect our community by serving as a Correction Officer. It’s a demanding, difficult job under the best of days. We walk the most dangerous beat around. The severe decline in staffing levels has left our prison employees more vulnerable than ever – and caused us to work more overtime to maintain safety and security. We miss plenty of family holidays and youth league games, but we don’t complain.

I am a proud public servant. I work hard to provide for my family. I contribute from every paycheck to my health care and to the pension I’m counting on when I retire. I pay my taxes. I support local businesses by spending money locally.

Having served our country for nine years as an infantryman in Afghanistan, I understand a thing or two about sacrifice, hard work, and collective effort. My fellow correctional employees and I came together through collective bargaining and made a substantial sacrifice to protect important public services, from schools and hospitals to prisons and parks.

The ultra-wealthy didn’t step forward to help. Neither did big corporations, hedge fund managers or CEOs. But we did. I expect state legislators to recognize our sacrifice by supporting the state employee concession agreement and fixing the state budget deficit in a way that is fair to all workers and taxpayers.

Matthew Quigley is a state correctional officer at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Uncasville and chief union steward for AFSCME Local 1565.

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