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Malloy Seeks Changes To Relationship With Labor

by Christine Stuart and Hugh McQuaid | Jun 29, 2011 4:12pm
(18) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Election 2006, Labor, State Budget, Special Session

Hugh McQuaid photo

Roy Occhiogrosso and Ben Barnes talk about the changes

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will ask the legislature to change how it calculates state employee pensions and how it bargains for health benefits when it convenes Thursday for a special session.

The proposal   excludes overtime, longevity, and other fees currently included in the definition of base salary for the calculation of pension benefits after the expiration of the current State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition agreement in 2017. It also says that at the expiration of the agreement, SEBAC will no longer be able to negotiate health and pension benefits on behalf of its members.

News of the proposed changes come less than one day after Malloy announced he plans to lay off nearly 5,500 state employees’ in the absence of a $1.6 billion concession package. Malloy’s proposal also asks for increased rescission authority up to 10 percent of any fund or $45 million of any line item. It would further grant the governor authority to cut municipal aid by 3 percent, but does not allow him to touch education funding.

Under Malloy’s proposal, longevity payments will no longer be a negotiable item in any collective bargaining agreement entered into after July 1. It will not take away longevity already earned by non-union employees, but would freeze it at the amount they were receiving before the new legislative language is approved.

Malloy’s Budget Director Ben Barnes said the capping of longevity payments doesn’t save an enormous amount of money initially, but over time it will save $20 million. Union longevity payments will be capped until they are phased out when contracts are renegotiated and non-union employees reaching their 10th year of service will not receive any longevity.

Barnes said the administration would have loved to eliminate longevity completely, but even non-union employees can claim a property interest in it and could take the state to court if they try to completely eliminate longevity. State employees currently receive the additional payment after they reach their 10th year of service and those payments, made twice a year, are increased every five years according to the schedule.

The bill also would restrict to 10 the number of accrued sick days for all state employees subject to collective bargaining rights.

Neither sick days nor longevity payments will be negotiable under arbitration, the proposal Malloy’s administration distributed at 2:42 p.m. states.

“I would point out that these are relatively modest proposals given what is going on in other states, in neighboring states,” Malloy’s senior communications adviser Roy Occhiogrosso said Wednesday. “They don’t undermine the fundamental principles of collective bargaining. What they do is make some modest changes to some of the provisions.”

The proposal also provides the state employee unions a window, until the end of August, to ratify the $1.6 billion concession agreement, which could keep the proposed changes from taking place. On Monday union officials tabled the final vote on that agreement.

Democratic lawmakers who consider themselves friends of labor said they’re willing to take a look at the proposals.

“Folks are willing to look at the big picture,” Sen. President Donald Williams said Tuesday evening after a telephone caucus. “This has really changed the dynamic. You had a reasonable concession package, everybody anticipated it would be widely accepted and approved… Folks are definitely willing to look at the big picture.”

Sen. Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said changes to overtime being included in pension is something the Senate Democratic caucus is willing to look at. He said there’s “broad based support for those kinds of modifications.”

“They understand we can’t do that right now that that would be prospective,” Williams said.

Majority Leader Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said his caucus hasn’t had a lot of time to absorb some of the proposals Malloy made Wednesday, but it’s had enough time to “try and work on language that’s amenable to both Houses.“

Since Sharkey and House Speaker Chris Donovan haven’t met with members yet, they were trying to get a sense of where the caucus stood in regards to these proposals by phone and email.

“I’m confident we can take decisive action that does not cede our full authority to the governor, but gets us to where we all want to be,” Sharkey said.

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said he hadn’t spoken to Democrats about their stance on looking at collective bargaining but indicated he was absolutely open to it.

“If they tried the negotiations and concessions route and that has failed, and clearly it has, end of story, then I think we have to look at all the options we have available to us as a legislature as elected officials of this state to get our fiscal house in order,” he said.

“I think it is a very legitimate thing to revisit and I think the time to revisit it is now,” he added.

But labor leaders urged patience.

“We understand the governor’s concern for properly funding state employees’ healthcare and retirement security. Not only do we share that concern, our unions did something about it 30 years ago,” Matt O’Connor, SEBAC spokesman said Wednesday.

“Before state workers had collective bargaining rights, the health and pension plans were not properly funded. Collective bargaining created the obligation for the state to pre-fund employee benefits. Over time, contracts have proven a much more reliable way to ensure long-term, stable funding than unilateral actions by politicians,” he added. “Only by mutual agreement can we move quickly and effectively to provide stability for the critical public structures upon which our economy relies. That’s the best way to protect the services upon which people depend. And it will prevent a series of rolling layoffs—first in the public and then in the private sector—that endanger all of us.”

In addition to the labor changes, the special session legislation also gives Malloy the power to privatize any state government service.

The provision suspends for two years a section of state statutes that requires the state Contracting Standards Board to conduct a cost benefit analysis before allowing a service exclusively performed by state employees to be privatized.

“It would allow us greater latitude to privatize services during the next two years,” Barnes explained.

Occhiogrosso said it was too soon to speculate about which areas of government would likely be privatized.

“When you have potentially thousands fewer employees able to deliver certain services across state government then you have to take a look at each and every one of those services,” he said. “Where there are services that you want to continue to provide and you don’t have the ability to provide them with state employees then they’re going to need to be privatized.”

Malloy also decided to lower the Earned Income Tax Credit for poor families from 30 percent to 25 percent. The move will save $18 million.

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(18) Comments

posted by: HartfordPaul | June 29, 2011  4:26pm

Time to Decertify the Unions - the leadership does not have the membership in mind when they negotiate. 

http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/csblr/statepet.pdf

We don’t have to stand for this - we have options and decertifing the union is the best one - time for new leadership!

posted by: Truth, Justice and Karma | June 29, 2011  4:58pm

What a joke.  The Governor’s proposal contains a contingency for SEBAC to still approve the concession deal it already rejected. 

SEBAC needs to honor the results of the vote rejecting the deal.  The voting rules in place for passage of changes to the SEBAC deal were well known before bargaining on the proposed SEBAC 2011 began.  Any changes to the SEBAC contract required 14 unions in favor and 80 percent of union votes calculated using an electoral college type system with AFSCME weighted about 33%.  Our negotiator, Dan Livingston, is a lawyer and was very familiar with this requirement as were the other few individuals privy to the negotiations.  No effort was made to change the voting process or contract re-opening requirements before these negotiations began or before this concession package was presented to members.
SEBAC unveiled the concession package.  To educate SEBAC members about the deal, it held numerous meetings, posted informational fact sheets and video clips on the union websites and YouTube for over a month.
Union members asked many questions and carried on a big dialogue of their own that included blogging on internet news sites and facebook.
A SEBAC vote was held and the deal was rejected.  The deal failed to gain support of 14 unions; only 11 supported it.  It also failed to gain 80% of the electoral college-style support, gaining only about 55%.  The largest union, AFSCME, comprising about 33% of all SEBAC members rejected the deal as did the fourth largest union, comprising another 10% of all members.
Despite the clear rejection of this concession deal under the rules in effect at the time of the vote,  SEBAC leaders are now trying to tamper with the legitimate voting outcome by engineering some type of “creative” attempt “to do everything we can to reach a different outcome.”
We are dealing now with issues of fundamental fairness, rule of law, integrity of the voting process and the duty to represent members within the scope of authority provided in the union rules.  On June 27th, the 15 union presidents were supposed to show up and vote as their respective unions voted on the SEBAC deal.  If the concession deal passed, these leaders without question would have done their duty and accepted the deal.  As the deal was rejected, the leaders should have voted to reject the deal reflecting their unions’ votes.  Although most of the SEBAC leaders and union presidents may have wanted the deal to pass, they need put aside those biases, reconvene and vote how each of their unions voted on the proposed concession deal, Yes or No, and reject the deal.
Members who voted No have legitimate reasons for doing so.  The SEBAC leaders and union representatives cannot disregard their duty to represent the No voters voices and only represent the Yes voters.  If anything, the voting requirement requires the union leaders keep the burden on the Yes voters to get enough votes in support of the proposal to change a SEBAC contract in 2011 that is still valid and enforceable until 2017.  Union leaders trying to facilitate the re-opening and changing of the SEBAC contract contrary to past intent to make it difficult to do so seems like it may present legal and ethical challenges that could get SEBAC leaders sued and maybe appearing before grievance panels (who knows maybe even arrested depending on the facts) if they are stupid enough to try pull off a crazy stunt like not honoring the outcome of the vote. 
The SEBAC leaders and union presidents ambiguous suggestions that they may in 30 days take some creative actions to pass the deal that failed under the rules in place at the time of the SEBAC members’ vote will destroy any members’ trust in the unions for a long time.  Their will be chaos in and among the various unions and SEBAC.  Legal actions will follow.
If I were one of the 15 leaders who is supposed to vote I would seek legal advice from some one other than Dan Livingston before I took any more action besides casting the vote I was supposed to cast on June 27.  If I was Dan Livingston, I would pick up a copy of the Rules of Professional Conduct and reacquaint myself with its many rules such as duty to communicate with clients, duty to disclose potential conflicts of interest and obtain client waiver, duty of loyalty to client, etc.  Also, all the union leaders should take a look at the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.  You can’t take our dues and then make deals behind closed doors without our consultation, try to coerce us to vote for it, and then try to use bizarre undemocratic and unfair slimy tricks to get it through after SEBAC members rejected it under voting rules.  All we need is Tony Soprano shaking the SEBAC leaders down to make the concession deal go through and we would have a perfect HBO movie.
Do The Right Thing.  Reconvene immediately and cast your votes reflecting the voting outcome in your union.

posted by: NOW What? | June 29, 2011  5:02pm

“HartfordPaul” - The “problem” is this - The State (YES, the STATE), its employees and retirees NEEED collective bargaining. And yes, theoretically a bargaining unit can petition or otherwise call for voting to replace its current union with a different union. BUT - and here’s the “rub” - GOOD LUCK trying to find a (new) union that will be willing to represent that bargaining unit!

posted by: truth hurts | June 29, 2011  6:04pm

This is now totally out of control.  State employees tier II are being impaled at both ends by governor and unions.  Members have to contact the legislature and have them intervene.  I thought I was living in the United States of America.

posted by: oliviahuxtable | June 29, 2011  6:18pm

What’s the next threat, Dannel? The state will take your first born child! We will make you work 23.59 hours a day! You will be required to view Ishtar three times a week!
Good luck getting elected to anything again. The private sector hates you because in their relentless pursuit of state employee blood you just aren’t baking, barbecuing and otherwise eating us alive. State workers hate you because you screw us and protect your wealthy, yachting friends. I know you’re using all of the citizens of CT to further your career. Good luck and sleep well. If you can.

posted by: NOW What? | June 29, 2011  7:32pm

“truth hurts” - What in God’s name did you EXPECT? You *are living in the United States of America, and WELCOME to American Politics at its very finest LOL! - THAT’S why SEBAC was urging everyone to vote for that deal - at least with a signed agreement you’d have at least SOME protection from the politicians, including the General Assembly! Now, with no deal, those politicians are able to and WILL screw with you from now until eternity!!! DUH…

posted by: nobody | June 29, 2011  8:27pm

“In addition to the labor changes, the special session legislation also gives Malloy the power to privatize any state government service.
The provision suspends for two years a section of state statutes that requires the state Contracting Standards Board to conduct a cost benefit analysis before allowing a service exclusively performed by state employees to be privatized.”

This is a license for corruption. With this, Malloy can hire anyone he wants no matter the cost to do anything he wants.
Its been proven time and again that contractor out is more expansive than in house work. Other states have gone the route of privatization, and found out the hard way it does not work. It may be cheaper at first, but once the contrator gets entrenched costs double and triple soon enough. Once that happens, it could cost far more to reestablish a privatized state agency than it would have cost during the same time to keep it in place.

As for SEBAC, the beatings will now commence. One of the leaders made a statement on the news over the weekend, something to the tune of ” those who voted no are “misinformed”, and need to be “reeducated” so as to realize the error of their ways”
Didn’t an earlier generation fight a war to rid the world of some folks who thought like that? Whats next? Will be be sent to “reeducation centers” in order to get our priorities straight?

posted by: Disgruntled | June 29, 2011  8:47pm

Ask the custodians in Stamford about Dan. You should have done so BEFORE you voted for him!
I love New Haven as they start to squirm. They are basically a city living on welfare and the teat is going to run dry.
Dan.Dan.Dan.
You are SUCH a career politician.
A lace curtain man of the people!

posted by: perturbed | June 29, 2011  8:51pm

perturbed

@HartfordPaul—You are correct. The current SEBAC leaders did not have our best interests solely in mind when they negotiated this mess. I am thoroughly convinced of that. Would it be too much to ask for our lead negotiators not to have conflicting interests?

If these guys want to fight for health care reform, fine. Maybe it’s a noble cause, I really don’t have an opinion on that. But if they do, they have no business furthering that agenda at our expense.

Do you have any additional details on what it would take to let those guys work full-time on their side project? Is decertification really a viable option?

I can’t imagine there’s some state law on the books somewhere that says, “Danial Livingston and Robert Rinker shall represent SEBAC.” If it’s not a law, then there must be some way we can fire them.

If it’s enormously difficult to get rid of them, or just simply not practical, then doesn’t that go a long way to explaining how we wound up here?

“All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

—perturbed

posted by: Stuckinthemiddle | June 29, 2011  8:54pm

Is all this a surprise to anyone??
The offer was as even handed as anyone could expect. Where else can you get a comparable benefit package?
Hopefully, some of those no voters can enlighten a privatized employee to their voting no. Please take into account the benefits a person less than 3 years(you’re union bros and sis) would enjoy in your reasoning.

Thank you

posted by: CitizenCT | June 29, 2011  8:57pm

The immediate focus should be on the budget year starting Friday.  While some of his proposed changes to the SEBAC agreement are good, Malloy’s successor can manage that closer to 2017, when they’d go into effect.

posted by: perturbed | June 29, 2011  9:14pm

perturbed

@jonessAC12—Which longevity payments were you referring to, Management’s or union employees’? The typical union employee’s longevity payment starts after 10 years of service might be something like 150 bucks twice a year. In 5 year increments, those get a little bigger. But let’s be realistic: in the 1970’s, when your gross salary was $5k/year, that $300 bucks (6%) might have actually retained some good people, as intended. After 40 years of inflation with no adjustments that thought is a joke.

Management’s longevity? Those payments are roughly 10 times more than the union employees. Those matter a little more. Here’s the thing, Management can’t vote on our agreement. The SEBAC-state team could have/should have eliminated longevity payments if they were interested in saving money and preserving “yes” votes at the same time. Union employees couldn’t care less about them, in the grand scheme of things.

However, you are incorrect on one point. State employees in a union do not get bonuses for superb performance and self-improvement. There’s just no mechanism for it. Some get promoted, yes, but there really aren’t enough promotions to go around for the truly talented, hardworking people in state employment.

That’s one of those trade-offs we all make (oops, “made”) in exchange for the delayed gratification of a defined benefit pension.

—perturbed

posted by: truth hurts | June 29, 2011  9:55pm

Hey Steve hc.  Good I hope they screw everyone because this state is all done anyway.  Cut all unnecessary people and programs.  Reduce the amount of unions to one like it should be.  This will cut our union dues drastically.  Get rid of waste!

posted by: illogicallylogical | June 29, 2011  10:36pm

Has anyone read his proposal in this article and the past pdf file with his “itemized” list of layoffs? I couldn’t find anything concerning the Department of Public Safety (aka Connecticut State Police). I also couldn’t find a layoff figure for the Judicial Marshals.  I might be mistaken, but if he isn’t laying off anyone in those two departments, then it explains why Gov. Malloy going after everything else in this new proposal listed in this article.  Gov. Malloy has absolutely no leverage against these two unions.  They voted “no”, and without the threat of a layoff, Gov. Malloy would actually have to make CONCESSIONS to these two departments in order to secure a “yes” vote.  So Malloy is left with only one “strong-arm” tactic left…go after the pensions of these unions. He is already going to layoff DCF and DOC employees (the other 2 “no” voters). Basically, this new proposal is designed to punish HD employees.  However, if OT is not allowed in the calcualtion of pensions and retirement, then any OT can’t have money taken from it and contributed to the pension.  Finally, to all the people that always comment “...screw Correctin Officers…blah blah blah…” why is this one department villified?  Four bargaining units voted against this so criticize ALL four rather than single one group out.

posted by: StunningContradiction | June 29, 2011  11:48pm

“...exclude longevity payments, overtime and other income beyond wages in pension calculations.” That’s great, these payments *never* should have been included in pension calculations! Nothing outside of base wages should be included in a pension calculation. I wholeheartedly endorse these changes.

posted by: Hebee | June 30, 2011  6:49am

The American Way (and anti-Union way) is to be the best, excel and reap the rewards. The Union way is to reward mediocrity and discourage excellence. The State’s Union System not only encourages “Just Showing Up” but pays extra for it. “Atta Boy! You are doing great. Keep up the crappy work BUT continue to show up on-time.” Pension based on Overtime? Prison Guards work hardest for 3 of their 20 employed years, retire at 42 and the taxpayers pay them for the next 50 years; until they die fat and happy in FL. Thank You No Voters for finally teeing off the rest of the 3 Million Connecticut Residents. Hopefully, we may finally get some sustainable changes made to this insane system.

posted by: kevinc526 | June 30, 2011  7:23am

I am a union supporter but I feel that the unions really screwed the Governor on this one. The union leaders agreed to the deal with Malloy and then failed to get it ratified. The Governor could have chosen layoffs and cuts from the beginning but he chose to work with the unions instead and it came back to bite him. I feel the unions should have accepted the deal with the Governor.

posted by: hawkeye | June 30, 2011  2:23pm

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is doing a good acting job, by treating each day liked he is going to a masquerade ball.  The only question is which mask will Malloy wear—on any given day, in dealing with the state budget?