At the same time we are trying to negotiate successor agreements to our state bargaining unit contracts that expired last June, Gov. Malloy is seeking significant “labor savings” of $700 million in each of the next two years. If state employee unions do not agree to modify the current healthcare and pension agreement that expires in 2022, the administration is prepared to lay off 4,200 state workers. Layoff notices are expected to commence soon.
Council 4 and other members of the state union coalition have long recognized the seriousness of the situation. We have actively engaged with the Malloy administration since November 2016 to find mutually agreeable solutions that will provide real savings to taxpayers over the short and long term.
Leaders of the union coalition have been meeting regularly, often twice a week, with the administration’s representatives, including OPM Director Benjamin Barnes and Undersecretary of Labor Relations Lisa G. Egan. We understand the urgency of the situation, and are making an extraordinarily good faith effort to find a solution. If these discussions lead to a tentative agreement, it would then be brought back to our full state employee membership for approval.
Dealing with the administration has been difficult and often times frustrating. As a union we are working our hardest to avoid layoffs, service cuts and reductions to our pay, pensions and health care. We certainly have not been dragging our feet. Throughout the process, we have been guided by several important principles, including the need to secure protections against layoffs and contracting out, to offset the impact of wage freezes, and to extend the current health care and pension agreement.
Our goal is not simply to protect our members’ jobs and services, but also to prevent an economic disaster that would inevitably result from layoffs, wage and benefit cuts and the loss of bargaining rights. The impact on our communities would be devastating, from dramatically reduced consumer spending that will hurt local businesses to rising property taxes to cuts to vital local services, including public safety and public education.
We all recognize the state budget situation is worsening. Revenue dropped $1.5 billion, on top of the $3.6 billion deficit projected for the next two years. But Connecticut public workers did not cause this economic crisis, and the deficit cannot be closed on the backs of taxpaying public employees. We need a fair and equitable solution that includes vehicles for raising revenue, like restoring taxes on the wealthy and closing tax loopholes that benefit corporations and their CEOs.
WE NEED YOU TO TAKE ACTION:
(1) Contact your State Representative and State Senator. Urge your legislators to pass a fair state budget that taxes wealth before labor, and protects middle class public workers.
(2) Join us for Council 4 Lobby Day on Wednesday, May 24 at the State Capitol. If you can’t be there, it’s all the more important for you to make that call or send that email to your State Representative and State Senator. The stakes are too high for us to be silent.
(3) Stay connected to Council 4. Click here to ensure you receive emails and occasional text updates.
(4) Be a media and social media activist. We need letters to the editor, op-eds and social media postings supporting public service workers. Contact Larry Dorman to follow up.
Thank you, and stay tuned for further updates.