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Looks Like Second Time Will Be The Charm

by Christine Stuart and Hugh McQuaid | Aug 17, 2011 8:56pm
(17) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Labor, State Budget

CTNJ file photo

SEBAC negotiator Daniel Livingston after the defeat of the first agreement.

Neither Gov. Dannel P. Malloy nor the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition would comment on the vote for the $1.6 billion concession package Wednesday. But their cheerful demeanors — coupled with vote tallies from union sources — made it apparent that the second time was the charm.

Several bargaining groups, including the three locals that represent 4,800 Correction Officers who voted against the agreement in June, voted in favor of it this time. Union sources say the NP-4 bargaining unit voted 2,057 to 1,154 for the health care and pension portion of the contract, and 2,476 to 731 for the wage concessions.

The Connecticut Employees Union Independent Local 511, which represents 4,500 service and maintenance workers, voted 2,383 to 811 in favor of the contract this time, according to its website. Last time, they were one of the four unions that helped defeat the agreement.

“This has been a process that all of us wish we never had to experience,” Patrice Peterson, president of CSEA SEIU Local 2001, wrote in an email to her members Wednesday evening.

As one of the 15 union leaders, Peterson told her members that she will cast her vote in favor of the agreement Thursday morning. CSEA voted 2,349 to 1,083 in favor of the agreement this time. And even though they passed it last time by about 643 votes, they passed it this time by 1,266 votes.

The state’s Administration and Residual Employees union announced on its website Wednesday that its members approved the proposal 1,604 to 687.

“Clearly from the coverage they’re doing a better job,” Malloy said Wednesday of the union’s ability to get information to its members.

“First of all they got out ahead of it as opposed to waiting. I think they were slow off the ball the last time. And I think they’ve taken an active role in beating back the untruths. Again, because I think they were slow in getting off the ball, it was hard to do last time,” he said.

However not everyone felt the union effort was better the second time around. Department of Children and Families investigator and New Haven Alderwoman Jacqueline James-Evans said it felt the same to her.

After the first concession agreement failed, James-Evans told the New Haven Independent she felt unions had done “a terrible job” of selling the deal to members.

As voting on the clarified agreement drew to a close Wednesday, she said not much had changed. She said it seems like common sense for unions to educate their members about what they’re voting on, she said.

James-Evans, who voted “yes” both times, said she’s optimistic the deal will be ratified, but it won’t be because of an improvement in union effort.

“It still feels the same. I think overall most people will support it because they don’t want to see their co-workers laid off,” she said.

What has changed was the work climate, she said. The first time they voted, state workers knew that layoffs were likely if the deal failed, but since then folks have seen their co-workers forced to pack up and leave, she said. That hit close to home.

“It was so tangible that it changed the climate,” she said.

But it’s likely AFSCME Local 391 President Jon T. Pepe would disagree.

Pepe said last week that he was able to accomplish more in 15 minutes by talking to Correction officers over the past few days than he was able to do in a month prior to the first vote.

He said that during his tour of Osborn Correctional Institute and MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institute he ran into workers who just didn’t understand the information from the unions last time, and by default voted against the agreement.

“They voted ‘no’ as a defensive mechanism,“ Pepe said last week.

Most of the misinformation centered around the health care changes. Pepe said he was able to put to rest some of their apprehension about the health care package by reassuring them that they get to keep the health care they already have and won’t be paying more for it if they visit their doctor for regular check-ups.

“Most said they already visit their doctor, so it wasn’t an issue after a brief conversation,” Pepe said.

Even though all the information was written down before or explained at informational gatherings, which were voluntary, some workers still didn’t understand what was in the deal, he said.

Before the first vote, he assumed the 1,800 employees in the union would come to him and ask questions or attend one of the informational sessions, but that’s not what happened. He said attendance wasn’t what he expected at the informational sessions and his phone wasn’t ringing off-the-hook.

“Every question they had they were thinking the opposite of what was actually going to happen,” Pepe said.

Voting was scheduled to conclude at 8 p.m. Wednesday and SEBAC spokesman Matt O’Connor said he expected the ballot counting process to continue late into the night. Union leaders are expected to announce the results Thursday at a 12:30 p.m. press conference at the CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 Union Hall in Hartford.

Following the rejection of the first agreement in June, the unions changed their bylaws to make passage of the clarified agreement easier. Instead of needing approval by 14 of the 15 unions and 80 percent of the voting membership, now they need only 8 of the 15 unions and a majority of the voting membership to ratify the deal.

Eleven of the 15 unions ratified the deal the first time, so by changing the bylaws critics argue that SEBAC all but made certain the deal would pass the second time. In addition, it gave them time to counter misinformation being circulated, specifically about the health care portion of the deal.

Malloy has said the bargaining groups that vote in favor of the wage concession portion of the deal will get their jobs back in addition to four years of layoff protection. However, it’s still unclear at the moment, with the votes still being counted, whether every bargaining group will receive that no-layoff guarantee.

In addition to layoff protection, the deal offered no wage increases for two years, followed by three years of 3 percent increases; no furlough days; shaved cost-of-living increases for pensions; it raised the retirement age by three years for those retiring after 2022; and instituted a new $35 co-pay on emergency room visits. One employee used the emergency room 150 times in one year, according to union officials.

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(17) Comments

posted by: Leslie4 | August 17, 2011  9:25pm

LOL! the unions really got the word out to us this time…more like the threats and manipulation from the “govna” worked. The two post cards really cleared things up for me! But at least I can sleep at night knowing that I’m sharing and sacrificing for my fellow man-just like the corporations and the power elite do for us every day.

posted by: state_employee | August 17, 2011  10:04pm

What a joke.  I got a letter from 1199.  There was no opportunity fir me to even speak to a union person.  I asked my delegate hiw to donate my dues and weeks later I still have not been given the information. 
Malloy the tyrant will get his way after all of the criminal behavior. 
I’ll never vote democratic again.

posted by: SayWhat | August 17, 2011  10:23pm

I got to cast my “vote…” this week.  There was a cardboard box on the table with a slot on top. Three inches away, was a color poster advising me to vote YES, with a list of reasons why; and another list of dooms-day scenarios if I voted no.  I understood EVERYTHING the first time around.  I understood everything the second time around.  What I don’t understand is why there was a second time around.  The tactics employed in the handling of this fiasco still feel like extortion!  I can do much better self-employed, which is why I’ve now decided to leave state employment.  There are lots of us who don’t need this crap!  To those of you who are celebrating saving $$$, my role is federally required, and they will be obliged to replace me…  and it’s gonna cost a bundle to find someone.  Some victory…

posted by: skydogct | August 18, 2011  12:14am

It looks like the perseverance of union members is going to pay off. Finally, a possible end to the ongoing nightmare for stateworkers and their families. Instead of thinking about cancelling vacations and putting out resumes maybe they can start thinking again about moving forward. School’s starting soon and their kids can probably use some new clothes.

It was disgusting the way Malloy used stateworkers throughout this process. Threatening layoffs and using workers as scapegoats for the state’s fiscal mess. State workers don’t have much choice but to ratify this deal because of the most serious threat, the possible loss of bargaining rights. It’s a lose, or really, really lose proposition. The good news is you live to fight again. I think SEBAC did the best it could under the circumstances. They made some mistakes but they eventually did what it thought best for the membership.

posted by: Upset.Citizen | August 18, 2011  5:50am

Upset.Citizen

I voted yes yesterday under duress.  I wanted to vote no but I would have lost my job, I had one of the layoff letters! 


THE UNION I PAY TO REPRESENT ME WAS ‘SELLING ME A DEAL’!


THEY FAILED TO REPRESENT ME AND MANY OTHER UNION MEMBERS! THIS WHOLE DEAL WAS CORRUPT! IT SHOULD NOT HAVE GONE DOWN THIS WAY! TIME TO FIND A NEW UNION!


https://sites.google.com/site/p4upseu/


MANY VOTED YES OUT OF FEAR.  MANY VOTED YES OUT SYMPATHY FOR THE AFRAID.  WHAT HISTORICALLY HAPPENS TO GOVERNMENTS THAT RAN ON FEAR?

posted by: Vote Yes!!!!! | August 18, 2011  6:31am

Vote Yes!!!!!

Changing the bylaws to get something to pass?  Really???  I have yet to this date, heard one negative ad by SECRAP or our union against Malloy.  I have yet heard to date, one negative ad about the Legislature’s outrageous spending.  I have yet heard one Positive add showing the public, what hard working state employees do.  This is a huge loss that unions will feel for a long, long time.  The next politition in office will ask for more and the unions will cave again, and again, and again.  Yes lets say this is a victory and say lets regroup and fight another day.  Someone may believe that. but in truth, the unions will just give back more…  TEIR 1 Union leaders who are retiring, enjoy your retirement that the the rest of us and tax payers will be paying for.  You saved yourselves today…...

posted by: Michaelreed | August 18, 2011  7:03am

It is a sad day for state employees.

I have never heard so many lies spoken to our members by the unions and the scare tactics used to manipulate members to vote yes. 

All the benefits and wages senior state workers protected for decades eventually will be gone. Employees with 5 years or less do not have a clue what they threw away that their senior employees worked so hard to achieve nor do they have the experience or understanding of the way the unions operate.

You can bet they will open up this new contract again and keep chipping away at our benefits. Wait until some of your providers don’t take your insurance and you’re charged $100 this month and having big problems getting reimbursed.

Not far down the wrong you are going to be so surprised they want to open up this new contract again.  Why not -  they succeeded in opening up contracts before we entered into in good faith. HOW COULD ANYONE POSSIBLY BELIEVE THEY WILL HONOR THIS CONTRACT?

I am so disappointed in our unions and the corrupt way they handled the voting.  So should we have another re-vote?  2 out of 3. 

It shows our members -YOUR VOTE DOES NOT COUNT UNLESS THE UNIONS AGREE and IF THE UNIONS DON’T AGREE WITH THE RESULT OF THE VOTE, THEY JUST HAVE A RE-VOTE.

Hopefully some legal action will be taken against the union.

posted by: soldoutbytheunion | August 18, 2011  7:41am

“The Charm”....that’s quaint.  It’s no suprise that this “deal” passed when SEBAC and the Union “leadership” rigged the process and engaged in coersion, threats and lies.  It won’t stand, legally it’s a no brainer…unfortunately this entire deal is a pipe dream….and illegal and immoral pipe dream.

posted by: soldoutbytheunion | August 18, 2011  7:47am

By the Way…we’ll all be going through this in 2 years AGAIN…just like we did 2 years ago….like lambs to the slaughter.

posted by: Disgruntled | August 18, 2011  8:23am

Where are all the NewHaven liberals in all this? They sure seem to want to protect the rights of illegals in their santuary city but things are mighty quiet when it comes to workers rights!
Labor can only do one thing now…store this in the memory banks for the next time Dan runs. DON’T VOTE HIM INTO HIGHER OFFICE TO GET RID OF HIM! DO NOT RE-ELECT HIM! Give him a taste of his own medicine and send him to the private sector to seek employment from his pals,the Job Creators.Let him pay for his own transportation and housing and meals.Remember,and act accordingly!

posted by: ALD | August 18, 2011  8:48am

Obviously it certainly looks like the outcome of this “vote” was decided by a handful of people months ago. It just took them a while to figure out how to properly “explain” everything to those doing the “voting”.

I do wonder why what went on here regarding this matter never seemed to make any news outside CT.  At least what went on in Wisconsin regarding how that state wanted to deal with some of it’s union rules and rights no matter if you agree or not, got lots of national attention.

In the end should we conclude that all those who pay their union taxes each month, and voted this agreement down once already under existing rules were treated any more Democratically here in CT by changing those voting rules and then re voting again, then union members in Wisconsin are being treated?

All that aside since the outcome of this vote certainly looks to have been set up in back rooms and not the voting booth, I wonder what will next come out of those same back rooms when it is soon obvious the $1.6 billion in union “concessions” add up to much less, and a 4 year promise of no lay offs?

posted by: Esq. | August 18, 2011  8:59am

“lambs to the slaughter” “rigged” “coersion, threats and lies” “illegal and immoral”
“scare tactics” “manipulate” “what historically happens to governments that ran on fear?” “duress” “corrupt” “extortion” “tyrant” “criminal behavior” “threats and manipulation”

LISTEN TO YOURSELVES.

posted by: Noteworthy | August 18, 2011  10:03am

It’s really amazing what can happen when you cook the votes and change the rules. Why is the outcome so suspenseful? uh, it’s not. They’ve been doing that for 75 years in Chicago.

posted by: Unbelievable | August 18, 2011  11:53am

Sold out by my union. Now I pay for the rest of my life, through my reduced Tier II pension, for out of control democratic spending. Tier I’s, enjoy the laugh on us. You pretty much went untouched.

posted by: Unbelievable | August 18, 2011  1:01pm

Clap and cheer today. Two years from now, you’ll be crying again when the governor comes back for more. I’m done with SEBAC. They have mishandled this since Day 1. Trust no one from now on.

posted by: mmal231294 | August 18, 2011  1:53pm

Mr. Schmuck hit the nail right on the head. It was a huge loss for CT unions, and a great victory for all the rest of CT’s citizens. And the next Governor will extract further concessions, another win for all the rest of CT’s citizens. 50,000 lose so a couple million can win…I think I must pinch myself now. A CT Governor that put the best interests of the people over the wants of the Unions…Jeesh whats next??

posted by: andygayle | August 18, 2011  3:54pm

See you next year. Everyone knows that the $1.6 billion does not exist in this concession package. The most you get is $800 million. You folks that screwed by your own union. They got their dues, you got shafted. SEE YOU NEXT YEAR.