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AFSCME Pulls Plug on Deal; Rejection Leaves Leaders Struggling for Answers

by Christine Stuart | Jun 24, 2011 3:20pm
(46) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Labor, State Budget

Christine Stuart photo

SEBAC spokesmen Larry Dorman and Matt O’Connor

As AFSCME Local 391 put the final nail in the concession package’s coffin with a 955-527 vote, lawmakers and union leaders were left at a loss Friday. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why the agreement, which preserved jobs for four years and made changes to health and pension benefits, was defeated by a minority of the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition.

“The people who voted ‘No’ have a lot of explaining to do to all the members that voted ‘Yes’,” Rep. Patricia Widlitz, D-Guilford, said Friday.

Sixty percent of the coalition voted in favor of the agreement, but AFSCME’s rejection was enough to kill the deal, denying SEBAC the 80 percent threshold it needed for approval. In the end, just two of the 15 unions rejected it.

Widlitz called the agreement’s defeat “incomprehensible” and “unfortunate.” She said she didn’t understand why members would give up job security and “outstanding health and pension benefits.”

The Value-Added Health Benefits were problematic for many union members, who expressed concern that they would have to pay more money if they didn’t lose weight or stop smoking. They also expressed concern it would enroll them in SustiNet, originally proposed as a public health care option that was later watered down to a 21-member planning board.

Those identifying themselves as union members used comment boards of various online publications to call the plan “Marxist” and said they didn’t think they should have to pay more if they didn’t want to attend annual physical exams.

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo even wrote an editorial for CTNewsjunkie to address some of the misconceptions he was hearing about the health portion of the package.

“As confusing as the changes may seem, the new health program is actually very simple. It offers the same quality health benefits currently provided, but now employees may receive financial and physical rewards for using those benefits,” Lembo wrote on June 14.

Even Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman tried to dispelled the misinformation about SustiNet in an email to all state employees, but to no avail. The rumors persisted.

Rep. Russ Morin, D-Wethersfield, who worked for the Department of Transportation for more than a decade, said all it takes is one guy to walk into the garage after hours and talk about how the state is trying to “shove Obamacare” down their throats. He said sometimes misinformation like that is all it takes.

But Morin said he heard from state employees complaining about having to contribute more money to their pensions and having to work longer in order to obtain the same benefits offered currently.

“It was all over the board,” Morin said.

Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, who belongs to one of AFSCME’s private unions, said there were structural problems with the tentative agreement from the very start.

He said the delay between the draft agreement and the tentative agreement was three weeks and allowed time for those people who wanted to see the agreement defeated to spread false information. But he said there are also those employees who don’t care about their co-workers and believe they’re safe, so why should they vote to freeze their pay another year.

He said they already feel like they gave up enough in 2009 and now the first year their wages are supposed to increase, they’re being asked to sacrifice again.

A majority of the bargaining units will be getting a 2.5 percent wage increase on July 1, as some of their co-workers are getting laid off.

Larry Dorman, spokesman for SEBAC and AFSCME, said the bottom line is members’ voices have been heard and members voices will continue to be heard. The rules of the coalition govern the voting process and those rules haven’t been revised since 1996.

“This is an example of union democracy allowing each of the individual members of the union to vote and to vote under the rules of the union they’re members of,” Matt O’Connor, another SEBAC spokesman said.

He said they’re not proceeding as if a re-vote is even an option.

“We understand the frustration they feel at this process and we’re asking them to take a step back and allow the process to play out. Voting continues today. We have two unions that have not completed their balloting and leaders have to cast their votes Monday,” O’Connor said.

The members who voted to approve the agreement voted to preserve their jobs, their co-workers’ jobs, their benefits, to be part of the solution and to reject our opponents’ scare tactics, O’Connor said.

Dorman said he’s heard from employees in offices where the viral misinformation emails spread rapidly and they believe they had an impact on the outcome of the process. The Auditor’s of Public Accounts have been asked to look into the details of those emails and determine if there was any wrongdoing.

“We understand the anger we’re hearing from lawmakers and others,” Dorman said. “We urge everyone in this building to be calm and cool and rational because we all want the same thing in the end. We don’t want to see layoffs and massive service cuts.”

But some have blamed union leadership for not getting the information out about the agreement in a timely and thoughtful fashion.

“I can tell you we did our due diligence,” O’Connor said. “We held informational sessions that were coordinated by all unions in the coalition. Collectively we had a tremendous number of meetings and informational sessions held by individual unions.”

O’Connor said the union he works for, CSEA, held more than 90 informational meetings over four weeks.

“Every effort was made to answer questions and provide information, refute the lies, the deceptive tactics of the Yankee Institute,” O’Connor said. “There’s no question a few people were able to cause a lot of damage.”

The Yankee Institute has repeatedly denied any involvement with the campaign against the agreement, which could have been waged by union members themselves.

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(46) Comments

posted by: CTforFreedom | June 24, 2011  3:47pm

If they talked to their union members they would not be at a loss of words.  How about having a conversation instead of FORCING your agenda down to the little guys.

posted by: BMS | June 24, 2011  4:01pm

A quote from a recent auricle “All of the participants in this shakedown seek to behave as though labor concessions and cuts to social programs are the unavoidable outcome of some immutable objective process. This outlook must be rejected. There is more than enough money not only to eliminate Connecticut’s deficit while keeping state workers’ wages and benefits, as well as all social programs, intact, but to drastically improve those wages and benefits and expand state services. That money is to be found in the fortunes of the super-rich, who reside in no small numbers on Connecticut’s “gold coast,” one of the principal centers of hedge fund managers.

According to Forbes’s list of The World’s Billionaires, there are four individuals living in Connecticut whose personal wealth is greater than or equal to the state’s $3.3 billion budget deficit. There are 11 billionaires in the state, with a combined wealth of $31.4 billion, nearly 10 times the deficit. Steven Cohen, Connecticut’s richest man, has an estimated net worth of $8 billion dollars, more than enough to cover the deficit twice over.”

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | June 24, 2011  4:29pm

DrHunterSThompson

I find it hard to comprehend how anyone cannot understand why this package got voted down. I’ll try one more time, and I will make it real simple:

      There are simply too many people that plan on retiring by 2017 to make changes to the existing contract without offering them something.

This deal promised job security to folks that have 20 years or so until they retire. They have plenty of time to adjust to new pension rules and convoluted healthcare.

The deal was backwards. You need to offer something to the largest voting block if you intend to get something passed. This was doomed from the start and never should have even made it out of the negotiating room.


Now let’s get to work on quantifiable savings the membership will embrace. Let’s talk furlough days and wages.

posted by: WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot | June 24, 2011  4:35pm

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

WHO are these clowns we have in the legislature anyway if they don’t understand why this POS was defeated???

Duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Think about Pension/Healthcare maybe????????

Yeah, let’s dangle a 4 year no lay-off in front of their noses and take everything else away, yep, they’re sure gonna approve that.

Unbelievable

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | June 24, 2011  4:39pm

GoatBoyPHD

It was Yankee Institute.

SEBAC says so.

posted by: pdm68 | June 24, 2011  4:50pm

Why wait 3 weeks to show the full agreement? They didn’t do anything to stop the Sustinet rumors at all. These guys are horrible represenatives. How many years are you supposed to go without a raise3 and then you do get a raise and that raise is paid to retiree healthcare so its a wash. People aren’t as dumb as you think. You were hush hush with everything. I’m glad it blew up in your faces.

posted by: truth hurts | June 24, 2011  5:06pm

Ok now it will be simple.  Unions, governor Malloy, legislature.  Take the change to pensions and healthcare out.  All state workers are willing to accept concessions to balance the 2 year budget.  2 year wage freeze, no longevity, increase insurance copays.  Furlough that will work for EVERYONE. In otherwords realistic ways to save money.  Revaluation of all management pay and positions.  Gov. Malloy stop your talking and renegotiate now.  Thank you.  You have the time.  Stop the media hype and get back to work.  We have been state workers for a long time.  You are a new employee.  You have the time. Get everyone negotiating again.  Thank you for your time.

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | June 24, 2011  5:36pm

GoatBoyPHD

All CT citizens over 55 could qualify for a one-size-fits-all Medicare style program if the public sector unions gave up their private plans and the Gold Coast kicks in.

We are all in this together. One health care policy for all.

posted by: and 1 | June 24, 2011  6:06pm

AFSCME Council 4 can not be trusted and the members know the truth.  Truth Hurts- I could not have said it better.  I supported Malloy in the primary and for governor- will not ever make that mistake again!  It is done- I am waiting to cast my vote in 2014 and it took me a long time to stop sticking up for the governor but now I know I was wrong to continue to support him.

posted by: SaveCT | June 24, 2011  6:07pm

Marxist?!?! OMG what morons! Why would a state employee want to have their destiny decided by such idiots who think this proposal was marxist? Time to decertify people! They’re the marxists, forcing their stupidity down on others in their collective bargaining group. You can’t blame the Yankee Institute for member idiocy.

posted by: Davefrom NewsTalk2niteOTH | June 24, 2011  7:27pm

What part of “There are going to be layoffs and cuts” do the no voters not get?  There will NOT be a re-negotiation.  This was the best that the union leaders and the Governor’s office could do for a negotiated agreement.  Now the Governor will follow through with what he said he’d do if the agreement was “voted down.”  It is a shame that 70% or more of the union membership voted in favor of the agreement, and their votes effectively don’t count because of the CBA rules (14/15 unions approve, 80% approve).  I know of one person who told me she voted no because she would have to work an additional nine years to put her pension at the level she expected at her planned retirement.  If she gets laid off, she gets nothing.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that.  So now we get to deal with the draconian changes, because a minority said no.  Not only will there not be a re-negotiation, but there will now be a legislature and an admiistration who will NOT be sympathetic to the union plight.  The Governor knew he might not get re-elected, but he is trying to put the State’s fiscal house in order, after 40 years of mismanagement.  It is sad that we will be feeling the impact and effects of this decision for some time to come.

posted by: Helen | June 24, 2011  7:31pm

State workers, of whom I am one, are close to making a tragic mistake by rejecting the proposed concession agreement our union leaders negotiated. This would inflict significant damage on taxpayers, state workers and Connecticut’s economic future.

Despite charges that the agreement is a sweetheart deal, it isn’t. It is a meaningful effort to address major, long-term structural problems — the unfunded liabilities — in retiree health care costs and pensions. Failure to address those issues threatens their existence.

At the same time, it asks us to accept a two-year wage freeze and then modest salary increases — while having all employees contribute for 10 years to ensure their retirement health care benefits. The agreement also would gradually raise the retirement age for those retiring after 2022, except for employees qualifying under hazardous duty. Finally, the agreement asks us to participate in preventive medical care — common at major employers — that would improve our health and potentially save tens of millions of dollars.

In exchange, the agreement offers two valuable benefits: a guarantee of no layoffs and an extension of the current labor agreement from 2017 to 2022, which protects our supplemental retiree health care benefits and pensions. We would gain job, income and retirement security — a very good deal — for a modest price.

The payoff for taxpayers would be much larger. Adopting the agreement would mean that, in five years, assuming a steady level of employment, personnel costs would fall as a share of the state budget from 25 percent of the budget to 20 percent. This would save more than $1 billion annually.

With additional funds from the retiree health care contribution and the reconfigured health care system, annual long-term savings could easily exceed $1.5 billion. This approaches a 25 percent permanent reduction in personnel costs. Even more important, the agreement would substantially address the unfunded retiree health care costs and produce a significant reduction in pension liabilities. And taxpayers also would benefit from the preservation of state and local services.

Equally important, avoiding massive layoffs would spare the state’s economy a brutal body blow. Connecticut has the worst jobs record in the nation, with fewer employed now than in 1987. Layoffs will do little to help Connecticut out of its economic lethargy. Laying off 10,000 public sector workers — the scale of layoffs possible with the rejection of this agreement — would result in perhaps as many as 7,000 private sector layoffs.

The public sector contraction would probably swamp private sector job creation; our rejection of this agreement would be likely to throw the state into a double-dip recession.

Worse, it means that state revenues will shrink even as public sector expenditures grow with the surge in unemployment and increased uncompensated health care costs. Projected state budget surpluses will likely disappear, forcing the governor and General Assembly to again wrestle with significant deficits, possibly forcing additional layoffs and program cuts.

The falling revenues will jeopardize strategically important public investments, retarding economic recovery. The deterioration of state (and municipal) services will create more barriers to economic growth, even as state cuts force local property tax increases.

Rejection of the union agreement may produce the perfect storm. Remaining state workers will face increasing challenges in meeting our professional responsibilities, live with constant uncertainty about the stability of our employment and — unless we plan to retire soon — serious questions about our pensions and, especially, our supplemental retiree health care coverage.

Because of the damage that rejection would inflict on the state’s economy, besides further layoffs we could face legislative modification of our bargaining rights. For taxpayers, rejection means a struggling state economy. This means little prospect for future tax reductions as the economy delivers weak job creation and anemic growth in tax revenues.

The pernicious long-term interaction between the failure to restructure state personnel costs and future liabilities and economic performance may condemn Connecticut to a decade or more of malaise. It may never fully recover.

What are we thinking?

posted by: jeff672 | June 24, 2011  8:05pm

Just to let everybody know, The Judicial Marshal’s voted the SEBAC agreement down 436 to 191, making them the 3rd union voting no.  And the State Police still haven’t reported their result’s yet, and if they vote honestly, they should be a no also, but, since they knew their vote did not matter, thay may have voted yes, just to try to make then look good.

posted by: Mansfield1 | June 24, 2011  8:14pm

If Malloy is smart he’ll simply say to Unions “OK boys and girls you have your pension and health care deal until 2017.  I and the legislature are not going to put up with this stupidity any longer so we’ll legislate it out of the mandatory list for collective bargaining issues, just as Massachusetts is doing so after 2017 pensions and health care will be what the governor and Legilature say they are.”

And he’ll be Governor for as long as he wants to be since the general public is plenty angry and will support him.

posted by: Helen | June 24, 2011  8:43pm

I read a lot of these posts and have to bow my head in sadness. It seems many people here don’t work for the State. Otherwise they would understand that State workers have it absolutely made in every way, shape and form.

All I have is a high-school diploma and I make $33 dollars an hour. My contemporaries in the private sector that do the exact same job as I do make $15 dollars an hour.

I have fantastic health care insurance. The private sector guy doesn’t.

I have a fantastic pension plan. The private sector guy doesn’t have any pension plan. He’s on his own.

I get paid sick leave. The private sector guy doesn’t.

I get paid vacation time (lots of it). The private sector guy gets a week off in the summer.

I get “personal leave days”. That means if I don’t feel like coming to work I don’t have to….yet I get paid that day, The guy in the private sector doesn’t get that.

I get numerous holidays every year which I can take whenever I want. The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

I get to exercise during work (with pay). The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

I can work all the overtime I want. I get time and a half for that. The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

In the event (and it happens often) that I get “mandated” to work….I get double time pay. The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

I can save my sick time and at the end of my career I get paid a large sum of money in a payout when I retire. The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

I can save my vacation time and at the end of my career I get paid a large sum of money in a payout when I retire (or I can have it applied to my retirement pay). The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

I can spike my income for 3 years and then have my retirement income based on that “enhanced” salary. The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

I get 2 “longevity” payments every year….just because I didn’t die or quit. The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

I have a prescription plan where I pay a tiny co=pay for any medications I may need if I get sick. The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

I am just scratching the surface of the generous benefits I get as a State worker.

And people in these forums complain they have to give back?

They come off as entitled, spoiled, and selfish.

They say I got mine and I don’t care if you lose yours.

Where is the compassion people? Where is the love thy neighbor attitude?

7500 of our brethren are about to get laid off and you complain about giving up practically nothing?

You should be ashamed of yourselves.

posted by: jeff672 | June 24, 2011  8:44pm

Judicial Marshal’s voted it down 436 to 191

posted by: nobody | June 24, 2011  8:45pm

The Governor knew he might not get re-elected, but he is trying to put the State’s fiscal house in order

Are you for real? You don’t get your fiscal house in order by proposing one of the largest budgets ever with billions in frivolous and questionable spending then expect that your employees will give up billions to pay for it. 
The agreement was voted down for good reason- it was all a lie. I guess you have either not been paying attention to whats actually been going on or are as totally out of touch with reality as those two goofy SEBAC spokesman clowns who just can’t understand what went wrong.

posted by: and 1 | June 24, 2011  10:04pm

Well the union rank and file may well be laid off but what are the rest of you going to do when you don’t have access to the services provided by those laid off?

posted by: markiemark | June 24, 2011  10:07pm

As many others have stated, there is a simple solution. We’ll give back wages in the form of furlough days (let’s say 6 a year), are willing to pay more for our co-pays/healthcare and don’t need the longevity BUT do NOT mess with our pensions or healthcare. Those are REAL savings. No need to lay people off Governor. Is anyone listening?????

posted by: Helen | June 24, 2011  10:28pm

I read a lot of these posts and have to bow my head in sadness. It seems many people here don’t work for the State. Otherwise they would understand that State workers have it absolutely made in every way, shape and form.

All I have is a high-school diploma and I make $33 dollars an hour. My contemporaries in the private sector that do the exact same job as I do make $15 dollars an hour.

I have fantastic health care insurance. The private sector guy doesn’t.

I have a fantastic pension plan. The private sector guy doesn’t have any pension plan. He’s on his own.

I get paid sick leave. The private sector guy doesn’t.

I get paid vacation time (lots of it). The private sector guy gets a week off in the summer.

I get “personal leave days”. That means if I don’t feel like coming to work I don’t have to….yet I get paid that day. The guy in the private sector doesn’t get that.

I get numerous holidays every year which I can take whenever I want. The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

I get to exercise during work (with pay). The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

I can work all the overtime I want. I get time and a half for that. The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

In the event (and it happens often) that I get “mandated” to work….I get double time pay. The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

I can save my sick time and at the end of my career I get paid a large sum of money in a payout when I retire. The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

I can save my vacation time and at the end of my career I get paid a large sum of money in a payout when I retire (or I can have it applied to my retirement pay). The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

I can spike my income for 3 years and then have my retirement income based on that “enhanced” salary. The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

I get 2 “longevity” payments every year….just because I didn’t die or quit. The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

I have a prescription plan where I pay a tiny co-pay for any medications I may need if I get sick. The private sector guy doesn’t get that.

I am just scratching the surface of the generous benefits I get as a State worker.

And people in these forums complain they have to give back?

They come off as entitled, spoiled, and selfish.

They say I got mine and I don’t care if you lose yours.

Where is the compassion people? Where is the love thy neighbor attitude?

7500 of our brethren are about to get laid off and you complain about giving up practically nothing??

You should be ashamed of yourselves.

posted by: SouthernWreck | June 24, 2011  10:42pm

SouthernWreck

A strange and perplexing confluence of Fox-style disinformation, Tea-people simpatico,old-fashioned Me Me Me greed/childishness, health insurance scare tactics based in false libertarianism (aimed at the least healthy), and an overall basic disconnect from the idea of unionism.

The leaders and the stewards could have done better, but the media and the interloping neo-fascists (Yankee Inst. etc., Ray D. TIC, Rowland the Crook, Tea-Bagger noise-makers, GOP smoke-screeners, etc.)all jumped in to create such an anti-reality that certain less savvy or newer members simply went Nihilist. Voted against their interests, like countless middle class/poor whites in the 2010 election - it is a hard place this nation has come to. No room for thought, consideration, or historical perspective.

Teach your children well, you yes voters - this is a profound lesson. From my upper echelon perspective, basic services will indeed suffer. The haters will keep on - this is what we have to defeat now, for the future. Change is hard - our own fellow workers delivered this cataclysm - isn’t that message enough?

posted by: WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot | June 24, 2011  10:47pm

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

You DON’T threaten people with a take it or leave it proposal.

If this POS agreement is the best SECRAP and our OUT OF TOUCH union leaders can do, then labor’s in a whole mess of trouble and NOT from the Guv’s threats, but from within.

The Guv will be a 1 and DONE if he follows thru on his layoff threats. I don’t believe he wants this.

Time to swallow a little pride Dan and offer up something to save face and your future.

The Republicans are even saying there’s money there so layoffs don’t have to occur. Now if THEY’RE saying that and he follows thru with his threats, he has NO friends.

As it is now, he’s walking on thin ice with Labor and I’m NOT talking about the SECRAP & Union Leaders, I’m talking about the one’s that count, the working men and women!!!

posted by: Bill$Ratepayer | June 24, 2011  11:01pm

From what I have heard many union member votes are not binding.  I will laugh my butt off if AFSCME leadership ignores its members votes and votes YES anyway.  Or I wonder if somehow they restructure SEBAC by-laws before the vote.

posted by: johnnyb | June 24, 2011  11:33pm

So Don Williams, how about taking away the $7000 longevity bonuses from the management employees who already make $100,000 a year plus. Where have you been on that one. Same thing for Fred Carstenson from UConn. You sit in your ivory tower making huge bucks along with all the other UConn employees who get free tuition for their kids while they never have to get dirty or sweat for a dollar. Easy for you to say that the deal should have passed. The mail order drug plan was going to be a real pain in the backside, how did that get in the deal? The bosses in my department still drive to work every day Malloy for free in State vehicles and with State gas. How about the busway Malloy? Wow do we need that. There has been no cutback in spending. On this principle alone I voted NO! The management to worker ratio was never addressed either. How about all the high paid employees that go to meetings all week and can never make a decision because it has to come from the Commissioners office. How about all the Deputy Commissioners and spokespeople for each Department who do nothing to really help the public or get the dirty jobs done? You clean up some of the above issues and I’ll vote yes.

posted by: and 1 | June 25, 2011  6:25am

I can’t believe the lies out there! Helen- STOP- you don’t work for the state now do you? Getting paid to exercise and making $33.00 an hour with no college? I was a union steward for more than 10 years and never knew anyone outside of those working in Hazardous Duty who made so much per hour unless they were managers.  State Employees have heard this GIVEBACK SPEECH again and again over the past 15 years and it is always the same!!! Talk about misinformation! 
The pensions are not costly because the employees get so much- THEY ARE COSTLY BECAUSE OF ALL THOSE SO CALLED “GOLDEN HANDSHAKES!”
And the state in the last handshake deal borrowed from the Pensions in order to fill in the budget gap.  Just imagine how much more you would have been taxed without the state digging into those pension plan investments!!!!
Helen - prove to us you are a real state employee making $33.00 an hour while getting paid to exercise- see I know you are lying and while I don’t know why; I do know that is exactly these lies which cause the people to turn on state workers.  Let’s see how we all feel if these layoffs happen and our own need to utilize state services such as DMV, permits, the state library or whatever office we need to communicate with us is unavailable due to lack of staffing.

posted by: CTisFUBAR | June 25, 2011  6:43am

It is astonishing that neither the politicians nor the union leaders can understand why I and so many others voted no.  At the outset, we told the leadership we would be willing to help solve this budget crisis by giving up our raises, taking pay cuts, furlough days, etc.  We also told them we would not agree to a permanent erosion of benefits.  We probably would have even conceded to those, IF they only affected new hires.  Instead, they applied those to current employees, and did so unevenly.  To top it off, the union leaders tried to present it as though no current employees would be affected, but they got caught in their lies.  To top it off, the Governor’s budget was an unbalanced lie with increased spending for the upcoming two years, and this deal would have opened the hiring floodgates.  Over the past two years, the public was lead to believe there was no hiring going on - in reality, the State has been doing non-stop hiring.  Someone had to step up and do something, and that was me and my fellow “no” voters.  It is especially irritating to read Representative Widlitz’ comments.  Perhaps if she responded to mail from her constituents, she would be better informed about things.  At least Sen. Meyer had the good sense to vote against that budget instead of blindly believing ratification was just a formality.

posted by: allpolitics | June 25, 2011  10:33am

I think a lot of people are missing another aspect of the deal that people were voting against, and that was making the smaller pension Tier II and IIA benefit even smaller but by keeping the other plans intact.  A Tier II benefit that would have been worth $1,280 on September 1st would have changed to about $800.00 on October 1st of this year AND had to pay higher health premiums.

Helen mentions “It is a meaningful effort to address major, long-term structural problems — the unfunded liabilities — in retiree health care costs and pensions. Failure to address those issues threatens their existence.”  I totally agree with that statement, the problem is though that the highest paid pensions were not being touched.  If there is a concern about the funding of the system, how can you not make adjustments to the highest ones and only touch the lowest pensions?

I know people will say “but Tier I and HD pay for their plans”.  I agree.  HD pays so that can leave at any age after 20 years of service, and Tier I pays to have a higher pension.  But Tier II doesn’t pay (Tier IIA has been contributory since 1997) and their benefit reflects the difference.  A Tier II and IIA member who may get 30 years of service in the future, under already existing rules will NEVER see a pension worth 50% of their highest years.  Most Tier II pensions today, a 55 year old who leaves with 25 years of service and an average salary of $60,000 will see a pension worth around 28% of their highest years because of the already existing early retirement reduction.  And this agreement was going to make it even LOWER starting with changes to the early retirement reduction this 10/1/11.

This agreement wasn’t shared sacrifice, and I know a lot of people who voted NO for that reason.  You can’t just make Tier II and IIA get lower benefits because you want to make sure the pension plan has enough money to pay for the higher ones (and not touch those higher ones)

posted by: miketcha | June 25, 2011  11:25am

Unfortunately, whether your a strong unionist and felt you have been pushed to far, or whether you didn’t trust your union leadership and the Governor, this was not the time to draw the line in the sand. Public sector unions have been on the defensive since the start of the “Great Recession” and by many citizens for a long time who are truly ignorant of what a public service worker endures and believes that every worker is like the ones that gamed the system and sensationalized in the media.
Of course, there were things not to like in the concessions; but employment in this state has been flat for years and is expected to take longer to come out of this downturn - now it will be longer.
Union members should have approved the pkg, if they don’t like the leadership, vote them out at the yearly elections.
Union members needed to wait till the economy stabilized and the political environment was more favorable to undo or modify the concession pkg.
Come on, over 45 million unemployed, who is going to feel your pain

posted by: BMS | June 25, 2011  12:21pm

To quote a recent article “The 7,500 layoffs looming because of state unions’ rejection of the governor’s concessions agreement will ripple through Connecticut’s economy, causing another 3,000 or more lost jobs, Connecticut-based economists said Friday.” link 

posted by: Leslie4 | June 25, 2011  12:26pm

Helen,
I’m a state worker and don’t get all the benefits you get. I bring my work home on the weekends and on my vacations. Not whining.. just sayin! BTW, not all junior employees are so hard working as you contend. Plenty of young, entitled slackers out there just like in the general public.

BTW, Glad to see you’re not posting during work hours on this site.

posted by: bobinglastonbury | June 25, 2011  12:58pm

I’ve said it before when I urged active state employees to vote yes on the SEBAC Agreement and I’ll say it again - although I can think of a thousand perfectly valid reasons for voting No, in my opinion there is one overriding reason to have voted yes - in the longer term, lots more will be lost by voting no than the possibility of layoffs in the short term. These losses will come from the gradual weakening of collective bargaining rights probably starting during the “recall” of the legislators next week and extending through sessions in the next handful of years…Sadly, I believe that all of you will be far more worse off in 5 years from now than you ever would be if you had held your nose, taken mind alternating drugs if necessary and voted yes. You needed to be pragmatic here but instead you won a battle but will lose a very costly war in the short years ahead…Thank God I retired in 2009 after 40+ years of experience at all levels of state government..And, this comes from someone who was heavily involved in going from nothing to collective bargaining as we now have it today…Sadly, I know these people and they will go after collevtive bargaining whether they be dems or republicans…..That will hold true whether or not there is some sort of an 11th hour effort to save jobs in the weeks ahead..

posted by: Helen | June 25, 2011  1:04pm

With their misguided and selfish votes, some state employees have both assured that many of their fellow workers will be out of jobs and reinforced the stereotype of the privileged government worker unwilling to compromise.

The “no one gets fired and everyone goes to the prom state employee contract “ which put off raises for two years with minimal inconvenience on benefits and salaries to 50,000 plus workers is now a non-deal. These union people have either big stones or rocks in their heads. Their actions have caused a delightful meltdown at state Capitol. Everyone but the Republicans is white-faced hornet mad.
Malloy is many things, but if you diss him – he will cut your heart out.

With the union members acting like ungrateful teenagers who didn’t get to borrow the car Saturday night, Malloy can now act like the father figure by putting them on curfew and cutting their allowance.

The union members who voted “no” have finally been revealed for what they are – a very comfortable and entitled class – no better than the capitalists and robber barons of the late 19th century.

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | June 25, 2011  1:25pm

GoatBoyPHD

Here’s the thing:

Correction Workers are betting residents will notice the effects of a 16% layoff.

The other unions? Smart enough to ratify it in droves. They know better. If Malloy’s agency heads make judicious layoffs and cuts the public will be happier with the downsized government and get better service.

posted by: bigdavers | June 25, 2011  2:50pm

Malloys married to the state for 4 years but got caught climbing into bed with the union leaders! Ironically, the taxpayers hate him, as do the state workers, his only friends are the republicans only because he’s ushering them back into office in 2015. His liberal agenda was more important to him then fixing the states woes. And he wants to reconvene in September to deal with job creation, Isn’t that what he was suppose to do in January???

posted by: and 1 | June 25, 2011  3:38pm

State employees loaned the state money via the pension plans in 2009.  CTis- you are only missing that one point—until I was talking to a friend about the 2009 agreement we had I had forgotten all about that.  And employees with less than 10 years of state service are paying an additional 3% of their pay in order to make up for all those golden handshakes in June and July of 2009!  How many of you in the private sector would consider such a thing?  Personally, I voted against the agreement in 09 because I continue to believe it not fair to the new employees- a union should mean equality!

posted by: NOW What? | June 25, 2011  4:48pm

“BMS” - You’re generally right about Connecticut’s wealthy. A few of them actually *earned* their money honestly, through their own efforts and not at the expense of taxpayers, the government, or through shady business dealings. But as far as the *rest* - well, you obviously know THEIR story.

“and 1” - Actually there are a NUMBER of State job classes that pay around $33/hr if you’ve been working long enough to get into those higher “steps.” I don’t know about Helen’s “high school diploma” bit, though. And there *are* a number of State facilities that have employee exercise area; I believe CVH in Middletown allows employees to exercise on paid time but I don’t know if there are other locations that also offer paid time to exercise without combining the 2 15-min. paid breaks or whatever.

“CTisFUBAR” - They understand why some people voted “no,” they just don’t AGREE that voting no was in that voters’ own best interest (let alone *others’* best interest).

posted by: Lawrence | June 25, 2011  10:01pm

The SEBAC complaint to the AG/auditors doesn’t single out The Yankee Institute so much as it does Zach Janowski of “Raising Hale” which is the Yankee Institute’s ‘investigative media wing” or some such nonsense. It’s all just part of the GOP’s astroturfing of journalism anyway.

From the complaint:

On behalf of the State Employees’ Bargaining Agent Coalition (“SEBAC”), we hereby request that your office investigate possible violations of state law by the Yankee Institute by and through its employee, Zachary Janowski, who purports to be an “investigative reporter” and who also publishes a blog under the name of “Raising Hale.”

So, Fergus can make all the denials he wants about his actions. The complaint mentions Zach Janowski. What does Janowski have to say??

posted by: jeff672 | June 25, 2011  10:37pm

The problem with this deal was that the employees were asked to give back their 2.5% cola, and their next step that was given during the last concession.  Then, it was admitted to us that the last 3% raise was “Pie in the sky”, meaning that the no layoff clause would be over by then, and we would be back to where we are now in asking to give up our raise.  That would have meant only 2 raises in 5 years.  Now with the cost of living going way up, and with Malloy’s HUGE tax increase, I’m sorry, I want my raises.  They could have given us our raises, and then give the number of furlough days to make the raises a wash, which would have been our first zero, that way we would still be moving forward on pay, and we make out in the long run. Then have the 2nd hard zero, and then the 3%, 3%, and a maybe 3% in final year.  People asked me as a President of a local….what should I do, how should I vote.  I told them what I would do personally. I would vote for the SEBAC, why, because I can’t retire until ‘29, and although I don’t like the healthcare portion, and yes it was Sustinet, maybe not now, but real soon.  I’m not really happy the union lied about this, it was right in the Sustinet bill, that sebac would eventually be the charter member’s.  That aside, I told my people that for me, anything that get’s our retirement/pension settled closer to my retirement date, I have to vote yes.  Now as for the contract portion, I’m in a position with the state where I don’t have to worry about layoff’s, because they have never layed off my job title, and even if they did, I have more than 30 people under me, so I’m safe.  So, yes, I’m being selfish as I want my raises.  I don’t mind taking zero’s, but I want what’s coming to me from the last concession.  The other problem as to why a lot of people voted no, was Malloy’s little spending spree, The Busway nobody is going to use, close to a Billion dollar’s for UConn Health Center, a location that has been nothing but a black hole in term’s of needing bailing out, etc, etc,etc.  We can’t be broke, and need concession’s if we are spending all this money we don’t have.  So bottom line is this, if Malloy pull’s the layoff trigger, he’s a 1 term governor.  I just hope he doesn’t do much more damage to this state, secondly, I’m willing to bet that more money will be “FOUND” to keep him from pulling the layoff trigger.  Hopefully, SEBAC is not going to try to rig this thing to make it pass.  It got rejected, fair and square, and all must live by the vote.

posted by: NOW What? | June 25, 2011  11:41pm

“Lawrence” - Let’s face it, it doesn’t really make a difference whether it was the Yankee Institute or their self-proclaimed mouthpiece “Raising Hale.” And they probably didn’t have to resort to even TRYING to “hack into” the State’s email system - they just “got” to a few (or more) whacko’s in the State’s workforce, who then spread looney spam emails around just like everyone else in the world does. Unfortunately, there are enough nut-jobs among the State’s workforce who actually BELIEVE every piece of crazy spam email and chain letter they get.

posted by: newview | June 26, 2011  6:42am

Some folks are absolutely mystified by the fact that there will be layoffs.  The argument about laying off your fellow brother and sister in the union, blah blah blah…and comparing the lavish things that State Employees get that private sector employees don’t get..blah blah blah.

Well guess what…take a look around…they LAY OFF in the private sector!  In fact, companies have folded in the private sector! Why should layoffs be such a big deal in the public sector???  It is the wave, then, now, and in the future.  Get a grip and look around you! 

Gov. Malloy is faced with, so he claims, 7,500 layoffs.  His administration has already acknowledged that the bloated managerial positions are double any other State.  The fact is, he could wipe out those levels of management to the tune of thousands and it would have absolutely no effect on the actual delivery of front line services to constituents… not a terrible cleansing of top heavy, highly paid employees.  Whether or not that happens is another story, but one from which we can draw reasonable conclusions about our newly elected.  From what I’ve heard, the doors are busting loose at he retirement board because employees have just “had it”.  On the other hand, now that the agreement is off, there may not be as many retirees hitting the street in September, but that is questionable.  Let the dust settle and see where we are.  Over-reacting (7500 layoffs), which is your typical knee-jerk State response, really should be avoided at this point.  I’m not saying layoffs should be avoided, but the number, given the other factors mentioned, is a bit of a stretch (being kind).

Again, very little of what I’m reading addresses the real inherent problems within the current system.  State employees, private sector employees, you and I as citizens of CT will continue to pay for those fundamental errors, and we will continue to be at war at eachother over these fundamental and disproportionate numbers in….bloated management, retirement/padded retiree calculations, appointee, and yes you little devils, elected officials perks and retirements.

Now, rather than have a go at each other, public/private, I think it would far more sensible to to initiate legislation, (pulling teeth you say), that addresses the problems rather than beating eachother up every few years over this stuff.  Enough already!

Our Legislators will not touch their sacred grounds; this is a citizen effort.  This is the kind that realizes we are beating each other up again and again over the same ignorant things, and realizes and understands a common interest and goal.  Now, we are all on the same page and can accomplish more than blowing a little steam on a blog.  Let’s go people!  Now who is organizing, or who is nominating SOMEONE of signficance, to get this done,....How about Mr. Pelto…he has wherewithall to get this in motion?? hmmm?

What say you… Mr. Pelto??

posted by: jeff672 | June 26, 2011  1:01pm

Just found out that the State Police voted SEBAC down 711 no to 243 yes, the contract portion of the vote was even worse.  So that make 4 union’s to vote SEBAC down, or 1/3 of the union’s.

posted by: NOW What? | June 26, 2011  3:33pm

I hope everyone’s read up on what just went down in New Jersey…

posted by: gutbomb86 | June 26, 2011  9:23pm

gutbomb86

@steveHC - Is this what you’re talking about?

NJ cuts union benefits; will ax fall nationwide?

posted by: jeff672 | June 26, 2011  9:36pm

I already pay for my pension, and I have no problem paying an extra 3% for retirement healthcare, provided that the legislator’s can’t steal from that fund to spend on things we dont need, read UCONN in farmington, the busway nobody is going to use, etc.  And I don’t want sustinet.  I know at some point, we will not have a choice.  So the father away sustinet is, the better in my view.

posted by: NOW What? | June 26, 2011  11:36pm

“gutbomb86” - The actual details of the New Jersey story are far, FAR worse for New Jersey’s active employees, retirees and future retires than what’s included in the CBS News story that your link points to. FAR worse.

posted by: gutbomb86 | June 27, 2011  10:47am

gutbomb86

@stevehc - post a link?

@jeff - you’re way past the point of having no choice.