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Press Conference Turns Into Shouting Match

by Hugh McQuaid | Apr 25, 2012 12:08pm
(4) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Health Care, Labor

The controversy surrounding two of the governor’s executive orders intensified Wednesday when a press conference attended by the lieutenant governor ended with shouting from people opposed to a bill allowing care workers to collectively bargain.

The press conference was held by the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women in support of legislation giving daycare and homecare workers — who are paid through state programs — the right to collectively bargain salary and benefits.

The House passed the bill late last Friday in an 84-57 vote. The Senate has yet to raise the legislation.

“We know that this is a women’s issue,” PCSW Executive Director Teresa Younger said. “Seventy-nine percent of home health aides and 98 percent of family child care workers are women and we are looking for means by which their voices can be heard on an ongoing basis.”

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman also spoke in support of the bill, saying it aims to support a group of people who do some of the toughest jobs, taking care of children, the handicapped, and the elderly.

“They are taking care of the most precious of our people. And yet they can be working for some agency that will be charging something like $35 an hour and the person that’s actually doing the work is only getting $10 an hour. We’ve got to be standing up and making sure their voices can be heard,” she said.

But the room was also filled with another group of people who say they haven’t had their voices heard — those who fiercely oppose it.

The executive orders that set the bill in motion have generated controversy since Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed them last year. Three lawsuits have been filed in Superior Court alleging the governor overstepped his authority in issuing orders which they say amounts to the forced unionization of the groups.

Malloy’s executive orders created a pathway for the workers to form a union and both groups have since voted to do so. However, opponents contend many either did not know the election was taking place or didn’t understand the process.

And as soon as the speakers at Wednesday’s press conference finished talking, the room erupted with shouts of “Vote No!”

Laurie Wojnarowski, a daycare worker from Bristol, stood and demanded the panel answer her questions.

“One sided,” she shouted. “You’re all with the union representatives. It’s totally one-sided!”

Cassandra Parkman, a personal care attendant from Manchester who spoke in support of the bill, called back at Wojnarowski from the podium.

“I’m not with a union representative, I’m on my own,” she said.

Wojnarowski continued over her:

“I’m a childcare provider, I would like my voice to be heard free before you start taking my union dues.”

She asked how she could be considered to be volunteering if there were non-member fees applied. According to the legislation, the workers who don’t want to join the union will have to pay a fee, which is typically about 60 to 70 percent of the union dues.

Parkman asked, “Will you benefit from the same rights we fight for you?”

The shouting continued for several minutes with neither side really engaging the other. Younger said the press conference had ended and suggested if opponents wanted to talk about the issue she would speak with them outside the room.

The commotion died down when opponents of the bill left the conference room to find and lobby Sen. President Donald Williams.

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(4) Comments

posted by: lkulmann | April 25, 2012  6:42pm

So, let me understand. Some Caregivers are shouting ‘NO! I don’t want more money an hour, hours for mileage, medical benefits, paid vacation and sick days, pensions, dental, longevity bonuses and what ever else State employees get. NOOOOOO!!!! That’s a pretty shabby deal for $50.00/month. Just let me make $10.00/hours, free medicaid, SNAP, housing subsidies. I like living at poverty level.” “Woohooo!!!!” Ok maybe some prefer that lifestyle and that is fine, BUT let me explain what is really going on with Caregivers and the DISABLED, not handicapped, please. If Caregivers get more $$$ then less patients/clients get services, period. So, the sqeakiest get more lubrication, which is unfair and IMO discriminatory. There are many people terrified that this will cost them their independence causing institutionalization. Fortunately, the 1915 waiver under the ACA is in place to prevent institutionalization and promotes community living for the disabled and it’s backed with federal funding. My only hope is that CT chooses to implement this waiver AND CT DDS assumes all programs disability-related AND becomes an Entitlement Agency. CT DSS needs permanent respite from the
disabled population. Well, 3 hopes…

posted by: redlady | April 25, 2012  9:04pm

How disgusting that a taxpaying constituent has to beg to be heard and then be ignored as if her opposition to forced unionization is unimportant!  A fine example of how low the State of CT has fallen under the majority rule of politicians caught up in a love-fest with SEIU.

posted by: Champion For Eldercare | April 26, 2012  4:32am

If ever we needed another reason why the Permanent Commissions need to go, this is it.

posted by: youremployeefriend | April 26, 2012  2:28pm

I don’t think that the employees wanting the Union understand that this Bill does NOT provide you with any State Employee benefits. There is NO money in the State budget.. you cannot grieve against employees nor receive State health care ... what do you think you are getting? The Union will represent your voice at a price… don’t kid yourself go look at the current wages in Oregon, California, and other Union States. Do you want a voice or more money, because what you are going to get is Union dues deducted from your paycheck. Unless you are a person with a disability, you have not reference for why there is such strong opposition. And that perspective is what has been missing since the beginning of this unionization. People with disabilities do NOT need pity, they are demanding a seat in the decision making process.