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Stakes Continue to Climb

by Christine Stuart | Jul 22, 2011 6:12pm
(5) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Labor, State Budget

Christine Stuart photo

Mark Ojakian, deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management

Closed-door labor talks continued Friday afternoon when Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s chief labor negotiator, Mark Ojakian, returned to the CSEA union hall around 2:30 p.m. to continue working on clarifications to a labor savings and concession agreement that failed to win ratification last month.

Despite his confidence in his negotiator, Malloy complained at an event in Manchester that the process is taking too long.

“Listen, this agreement got shot down once, it could get shot down again,“ Malloy said Friday. “It will get shot down again if people don’t do their jobs and explain to people why this is necessary. So let me be very clear: we are prepared to fully fund our obligations in a program that is sustainable.”

In the absence of a sustainable program, he said they are talking about layoffs this year, next year and the year after because the state can’t afford to maintain the current state employment ranks under the current system. 

Malloy said that attempts to clarify the agreement were ongoing but he also implied there wasn’t much left to clarify, saying there is “precious little” left for Ojakian to talk with union leaders about.

After returning to the union hall Friday afternoon, Ojakian said they continue to have discussions around the tentative agreement, but he refused to offer any specifics.

“We’ve identified the issues that need to be clarified. We feel that we’ve offered a clarification of those issues and now we’re in discussions over those issues and over some language,” he said. “I’m hopeful we can come to some resolution today.”

Sources say the governor was too anxious to announce the first tentative agreement back on May 13 before the final language had been drafted. Some suspect the announcement prior to the release of the 20-page agreement may have led to the “misinformation” campaign. Sources have speculated that misinformation was spread in order to fill the void.

Leslie Maddocks, secretary treasurer of the Connecticut Employees Union Independent, SEIU Local 511, said the governor’s pronouncements of a deal on a clarified agreement being reached is “not helpful.“

Earlier in the day Ojakian thought he had clarified the agreement enough and was waiting to hear back from the unions about whether it was acceptable. But he said he was back at the union hall Friday afternoon because his “clarifications, needed clarification.”

In the meantime, the lack of information from union leadership is troubling to some rank and file union members.

“This is a process and it needs to go forward. Everybody just needs to take a deep breath,” Maddocks, who is in the room with negotiators, said Friday. “We are still talking.”

“It is a frustrating process,” Maddocks said. “It’s not a neat, clean process.”

She said being in the room has been more frustrating than being in the dark like most of the rank and file members. She said the governor, the media, and others shouldn’t be handicapping this because “no one wants this done more than the people in this room.”

The stakes couldn’t be higher.

“We have a lot of pressure on us. There are lots of things at stake, lots of lives at stake,” Maddocks said.

“These layoffs are not just a few that are being proposed and they’re not a one-time shot,” Maddocks said. “I’m not so sure the legislators or governor are cognizant of the trickle down that will effect the community these people live in.”

“The governor just needs to take a deep breath along with our members and the public and realize what’s at stake,” Maddocks said.

With the bill that changes collective bargaining rights on the House calendar, union members are aware that their ability to bargain for health and pension benefits could be changed forever, if this deal doesn’t get ratified.

But even if union leaders reach a deal on a clarified package it’s unclear if the membership will ratify it. Earlier this week union leadership voted to change the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition to lower the threshold for passage of a package.

The labor deal was supposed to generate $1.6 billion in savings over the next two years, and in its absence Malloy has proposed $1.6 billion in service reductions and eliminations, including the elimination of 6,560 positions, 1,599 of which are currently vacant.

Some of the first employees to receive layoff notices will be separated from their employment as early as the middle of next week. If they get separated from their jobs, they will no longer be state employees, and will no longer be able to vote on a concession and savings package.

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(5) Comments

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | July 22, 2011  6:39pm


Well, they can’t legislate their way out of the contract that is good until 2017. I’m sure they know that.

And I’m tired of “clarification.” we don’t need clarification, we need an offer we can live with. Let’s talk wages, furlough days - as many as you want, 8? 10? 12? Whatever, but changes to the health and pension benefits will never fly, unless there is a retirement incentive. But Malloy has said no to that.


posted by: soldoutbytheunion | July 22, 2011  8:25pm

It’s amazing that none of the media outlets in the great state of Connecticut can see the forest through the trees on this issue. The SEBAC “leadership” and the Malloy Administration underestimated the rank and file membership and foolishly believed that their backroom deal would be rubber stamped in a union vote. It was an amazingly pompous and arrogant move on both parts.  How did they assume that their backroom deal would pass the muster when there were no explanations of the terms, dodging and avoiding by union leaders when questions were asked and outright lies being told to the rank and file when and answer was (rarely) provided?  Then, when their faulty deal went under, they think people will blindly accept their scheme to change the rules to fit their agenda’s. It’s incredible.  SEBAC commited administrative malfeasence by changing their by-laws in the fashion that they did.  The leadership needs to be held criminally and civilly responsble for this.

And the lives of 6500 workers stand in the balance.  We who voted “no” are put to blame but that is not the case.  No where, at no time, did out unions reach out to us and ask us about cencessions.  I, for one, asked an AFT Connecticut VP (there’s more than one VP you know!) why more furlough days weren’t offered (and immense and immediate savings to the state—and a move almost all union members I’ve spoken with would’ve approved) and the response was “Malloy didn’t want it.”  Really?  the Governor, who’s stated that he wanted, nay—needed, immediate savings scoffed at furlough days?  And when this same union vp was asked about the exact vote tallies on the concession package, and the whereabouts of the ballots themselves, responded “there’s more than one way to skin that cat.”  Ridiculous.  Criminal. 

Perhaps the worst part of the package was the proposed Sustinet healthcare package that no seemed to be able to explain, not even out current insurance companies.  And, oh yeah…one “top” union negotiator just happens to be knee deep in the sustinet swamp himself.  WHo would vote for a labor package with no defined medical benefits except for being told we’d have to enter into contracts with out doctor’s or pay stiff penalties?

Many in this great State forget that union members heartily signed off on a concession package with Gov. Rell and that we’ve time and again expressed willingness to meet Malloy i nt he middle on the budget issue.  It’s a shame that the fault too often is squarely placed at out feet instead of where it belongs….the union fat cats and Malloy administration.

Signed,  a PO’d state worker and Union serf

posted by: perturbed | July 22, 2011  8:30pm


A Conflict of Interest suggested by the sequence of events.

I’m absolutely convinced the SEBAC health care reform activists—and as far we know, every single one of the handful of actual negotiators was an adamant health care reform activist—were so overcome with the possibility of furthering their health care reform objectives that they were willing to buy Malloy’s support for their compromise deals using state employees’ pension benefits as bargaining chips. It’s not the health care provisions in the agreement or how they were characterized that was important, what mattered most is what SEBAC had to give up in state workers’ other benefits to salvage as much of their original vision as they could. A sampling of the news headlines provides circumstantial support for that suspicion.

This listing simply documents that health care reform negotiations coincided exactly with state employee contract negotiations. It’s already been widely documented that the SEBAC negotiators are a subset of the health care reform activists, as they freely admit.

How entangled were these negotiations? (Or is a listing of headlines a “misinformation campaign” too?)

February 16, 2011: ctmirror—Malloy pledges to create private-sector jobs, while demanding state labor concessions

March 4, 2011: ctmirror—Malloy: No concessions mean ‘dire conquences’ for him, labor

March 22, 2011: ctmirror—Malloy’s negotiator: Can a friend coax $1 billion from labor?

March 25, 2011: ctmirror—Malloy: No concessions would mean ‘nasty and ugly’ budget

March 29, 2011: ctmirror—Malloy expresses strongest doubts yet about SustiNet

April 1, 2011: ctmirror—The ‘public option’ in forefront of state’s health reform debate

April 4, 2011: ctmirror—Analysts: SustiNet would cost the state hundreds of millions per year

April 5, 2011: ctmirror—SustiNet backers dispute analysis saying plan would cost millions

April 8, 2011: ctmirror—The tense dance of Dan Malloy and organized labor [Poor Sal Luciano, always holding the smoking gun. Here’s a quote from this article: “Our number one concern is always to our members,” said Sal Luciano, the executive director of AFSCME Council 4. “But yes, we’re also concerned about him politically, because we did put in an enormous amount of energy to help get him elected.” Hmmm…could health care reform have been a motivating factor?]

April 11, 2011: ctmirror—If labor talks fail, Malloy’s choices are few and difficult

April 14, 2011: “Dear Governor Malloy…I respectfully ask for your leadership and your strong and broad support for SustiNet. As time is critical, I would appreciate it if you would agree to meet with those who continue to work for SustiNet’s enactment next week. Sincerely, Sal Luciano”

April 20, 2011: ctmirror—SustiNet deal reached, but without a ‘public option’

April 22, 2011: ctmirror—SustiNet backers not giving up on public option

April 27, 2011: ctmirror—Fight for ‘public option’ goes on, Donovan tells SustiNet rally

May 13, 2011: ctmirror—Unions, Malloy reach a $1.6 billion concession deal

May 16, 2011: SustiNet backers, Malloy administration reach agreement

May 27, 2011: inthistogetherct—Signed Tentative Agreement to Save Jobs & Benefits for State Workers

May 27, 2011: ctnewsjunkie—House Advances Healthcare Legislation, Including Pooling & SustiNet

May 27, 2011: ctmirror—SustiNet compromise passes House with both sides declaring victory

Jun 6, 2011: ctnewsjunkie—Senate Passes Health Care Pooling Bill

Now that the SEBAC/Malloy Coalition® has cut their deal, each of the two parties has done their part to ensure the transaction is completed—Malloy with layoff notices and SEBAC with a lowered bar for ratification. (50% + 1—could they have approved anything less?)

Both parties of the coalition are now demanding that state employees pay for the deal. SEBAC was actually in a great position: they get their health care pooling bill, and state employees get to foot the bill.

Speaking of CSEA/SEUI—mentioned in the article—did everyone know that the majority of the Connecticut State Employees Association/SEIU Local 2001 members are not state employees? That’s right. The majority of the Connecticut State Employees Association are municipal employees, with some private services workers. And they have 4 staff members whose job (“organizer”) it is to find new members for the dues-hungry national SEIU. As state workers are already spoken for, every new municipal or private union member CSEA/SEIU signs up only makes state employees a smaller minority in their (formerly) own union.

Does that help to explain why this is necessary?


posted by: NOW What? | July 22, 2011  8:41pm

“Sources say the governor was too anxious to announce the first tentative agreement back on May 13 before the final language had been drafted… the announcement prior to the release of the 20-page agreement may have led to the “misinformation” campaign. Sources have speculated that misinformation was spread in order to fill the void.”

- Absolutely; that’s why people were complaining about seeing “multiple versions” of the TA and not knowing which one was the “real” TA.

posted by: sharewhut | July 24, 2011  6:37pm

Steve, I saw 4 versions, all on Union letterheads and signed by the union brass distibuted via union fax or email. Wasn’t like it was an external campaign to spread misunderstanding.