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Herskowitz Asks Labor Board To Nullify Agreement

by Hugh McQuaid | Sep 2, 2011 3:32pm
(15) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Labor

Hugh McQuaid File Photo

Lisa Herskowitz

Lisa Herskowitz, the prosecutor who filed a labor complaint to halt the union re-vote on a $1.6 billion labor concessions agreement, amended her complaint last week, calling on the Labor Relations Board to invalidate the contract.

“Now that the agreement has been passed the Labor Board must declare it null and void and take [State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition] and the governor and the unions and employers to task,” she wrote.

In July, Herskowitz filed the complaint with the state Board of Labor Relations, claiming that SEBAC overstepped its negotiating authority.  A member of the board met with all parties to the complaint at a closed-door conference in August at the Department of Labor headquarters in Wethersfield. 

The Labor Board has so far held off on making a decision on the case. Soon after the meeting, the unions voted overwhelmingly to adopt concession agreements containing a two-year wage freeze and changes to their healthcare and pension benefits.

The changes have already gone into effect, but in her recent Aug. 22 complaint, Herskowitz called on the board to reverse them.

The basis of her complaint rests on the claim that SEBAC negotiated union employee wage concessions with representatives of the Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office when it is only statutorily authorized to negotiate changes to healthcare and pension benefits. Changes to wages are up to the individual bargaining units to negotiate.

That didn’t happen, she said and after the more than five hour meeting, that emerged as an indisputable fact.

“They have effectively but illegally and intentionally sucked 45,000 state employees into one monster bargaining unit by usurping our bargaining agents and subjecting all state employees to their illegal rule,” she wrote.

In her amendment, Herskowitz said the unions characterize the talks that led to the wage agreement as “discussions” rather than “negotiations.” But she contends it does not matter what word they use if in the end they arrived at a wage agreement.

In the wage concessions package, state employees were offered four years of job security in exchange for a two-year wage freeze followed by a 3 percent raise in each of the three subsequent years.

After the August meeting, SEBAC lawyer Dan Livingston said that job security can only feasibly be negotiated on a coalition basis. SEBAC forced the administration to make an offer protecting workers from layoffs for four years but individual unions were still free to stick with their original contracts, he said.

But Herskowitz contends that mass layoffs ordered by Malloy after unions initially rejected the agreement in June, made it difficult for state employees to stick with their original contracts.

“I’ve heard from people saying they didn’t know how they could vote ‘no’ again when the person sitting at the next desk over was crying about how she was going to feed her kids,” she wrote.

Throughout the amendment Herskowitz paints Malloy as a coercive bully and SEBAC and the unions as all too eager to give up their lunch money. She pointed to union leaders’ decision in July to change SEBAC’s bylaws to make ratification standards for the second vote easier.

“[Malloy] also said that he TOLD the unions to change their voting rules. Isn’t that a prohibited practice for management to tell the unions to change their voting rules? Clearly coercive. Clearly an interference with union activity. And the unions did it,” she wrote. “Big surprise.”

Herskowitz’s own union, the Connecticut Association of Prosecutors, is not even a valid union, she wrote in her amendment. She said that is because organization is operating under articles of incorporation rather than bylaws.

Given that fact, she asked the Labor Relations Board to not only nullify the labor agreement, but also decertify CAP and reimburse her any dues she previously paid the group.

“Since we have not had bylaws for 11 years, and bylaws are what require dues, I request the board order that the dues that were deducted from my paycheck for the last 11 years be refunded,” she wrote.

The Labor Board received Herskowitz’s amendment on Aug. 24 and now must provide a copy to all the parties and give them a chance to respond, DOL spokeswoman Nancy Steffens said Friday. It’s unclear when the board will make a decision to pursue or dismiss the case.

CAP President Jack Doyle said he could not comment on the specifics of the complaint because it was ongoing. But he is looking for it to be dismissed.

“Anyone is entitled and has a right to file a complaint. But we feel the complaint should be dismissed because there is no merit to it,” he said.

SEBAC’s spokesman Matt O’Connor said union leaders aren’t sweating the complaint, which he called factually inaccurate. Unions are now focused on moving forward with efforts to get the economy working for working families, he said.

“Members of our unions are moving on to the next challenges. And that includes restoring critical services cut as part of the governor’s alternative budget that have not yet been reinstated,” he said. “We’re also pushing to get the agreement’s joint labor-management committees working in order to flatten wasteful layers of management and implement front-line workers’ recommendations for further cost savings.”

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(15) Comments

posted by: Sadie | September 2, 2011  4:21pm

Don’t let up Lisa, the next thing you need to do is file a grievance against Attorney Doyle for casting a “yes” vote the first time, when it actually should have been a “no” vote.  He is an attorney and as you know subject to ethics.

posted by: state_employee | September 2, 2011  5:42pm

yay lisa, getem.

posted by: soldoutbytheunion | September 2, 2011  5:56pm

Matt O’Connor calling Ms. Herskowitz’s complain unfactual?  That’s almost too laughable to mention….everything that’s come out of that guy’s mouth in this whole process has been unfactual….I guess that’s what he’s good at. 

The SEBAC leadership should be “sweating” Mr. O’Connor…you’ve acted illegally and are being called on the carpet for it.  I think a State prosecutor would know the law better than you, sir. 

IF the Labor Board has any integrity they’ll render this concession package null and void…but I’m not holding my breath.  That would take guts on their part and there haven’t been many of thiose shown in this process.  It’s unfortunate that the truth gets a back seat to political threats and coersion.

posted by: Careful | September 2, 2011  8:49pm

Lisa Hershkowitz for Governor!

posted by: newview | September 2, 2011  9:24pm

You know the true irony of this thing.  Lisa is represented (technically)by a union, but no doubt in my mind, she is going about this thing on her own which is entirely within her right to do.

So, would the union be acting in an arbitrary or capricious manner…or would that be a matter of bad faith, dishonest, or an invidious position if they willingly, deliberately, purposefully not support and not represent a valid claim??...HA! for thought!

Prohibited practice and bad faith representation.

Now…let’s watch the labor board bury it’s head in the sand.  No way they are siding with Lisa.  They are going to bury this thing as deep as they can for as long as they can.  Trust me, they have had all the legal advice they need to make a determination.  The politics of this is huge.  But she better watch out what she asks for in a remedy…they will throw the entire complaint out if the remedy she is seeking is beyond the jurisdiction of the Board to grant.  If they grant her back union dues…the Board is setting the basis for an entire tsunami of claims at their doorstep.  Would love to see it happen, but I’m guessing they are just going to delay, delay, delay and attempt to dismiss this as beyond their jurisdiction to rule on a legislative action. When is the vote?  That’s what this little cat and mouse game is all about.  As much as I hate to admit it, Lisa’s wasting her breath…there is always a loophole for justice and fairness to be absconded from those rabble-rousing, villanous pro-se windbags!

Read them the riot act while you still have the chance Lisa!

posted by: tier-1 st empl | September 3, 2011  2:39pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you Lisa for doing what most of us rank & file don’t have the experience or training to attempt.
Lets also say goodby to all the union leaders who fell in step with Malloy.

posted by: Unbelievable | September 3, 2011  9:17pm

Thank you Lisa for standing up for us rank and file that feel this whole process was illegal. There are thousands of us. If you have to file a class action law suit. I, and many, many others, are IN !

posted by: Not that Michael Brown | September 4, 2011  10:52am

Something tells me Lisa will be a candidate for something in 2012.  I predict, she will be a Republican candidate.

posted by: Careful | September 4, 2011  12:12pm

Not that Michael Brown:  Lisa Herskowitz is probably a Democrat with scruples.  Why can’t a responsible Democrat run for office in 2012?  We need some good Democrats in office—after we elected a bunch of failures!

posted by: Careful | September 4, 2011  4:11pm

newview:  Don’t sell Lisa short!

posted by: Michaelreed | September 5, 2011  10:35am

Thank you Lisa for all your time, work, and effort. 

They need to be held accountable for their corrupt behavior.  I support you 100% and would contribute to a class action lawsuit.

Thank goodness we have someone who is willing to stand up for state employees!

posted by: 52meowth | September 5, 2011  11:39am

Yes I signed the petition “let the no vote stand” . I also just found out anyone with over 25 yrs. service could of retired in lieu of layoff, but your paperwork had to be approved by 8-31-11. It is my opinion Ct.s economy has nothing going for it, I wish it did as housing values make one stuck here. One would think if your job was to make the economy better, it could be achieved. But to go after veteran state employees kind of tells one you have nothing else to go after, its either us or the rich, how many times can you even tap both?

posted by: interesting | September 5, 2011  8:58pm

Go Lisa go…..

I would be willing to hop on board with the class action also!! I know many more who would like to have a seat for the ride also.

posted by: Unbelievable | September 5, 2011  9:24pm

“I also just found out anyone with over 25 yrs. service could of retired in lieu of layoff”.
I received the letter 11 hours prior to the deadline to submit your paperwork. I read it very carefully and it stated that it was only for anyone under 55 years of age. I’m 58 with 28 so i wasn’t eligible. If they told me I could retire without a 12% early retirement penalty I’d take it in a heartbeat.

posted by: Vote Yes!!!!! | September 6, 2011  8:05pm

Vote Yes!!!!!

“factually inaccurate”  Well Matty boy will need to explain that to Major Shmuck.  When union leaders change rules, lie to members and the Governor gets the legislature to go after collective bargainin… Matty, you seem to be “factually inaccurate”  By the way, loved your post filled with the “f” bombs….Where you being factually accurate?  I may say after reading that “f-bombed” post of yours, I am not suprised that almost 3000 of CSEA members are leaving by choice to another union.  You forget the most important thing, Union Staff works for the union members.  You do not dictate to us…we dictate to you sunshine!  PS…shave the beard