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They Said ‘Yes’

by Hugh McQuaid | Aug 16, 2011 4:00pm
(24) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Labor, State Budget

Hugh McQuaid Photo

Tom Long, professor of English at UConn

Union members said Tuesday they feel the tide has changed and are confident that when the votes are tallied Wednesday night, their fellow state workers will have approved a clarified agreement.

Speaking with reporters at the CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 Union Hall in Hartford, members offered different reasons why they felt the sentiment that killed the first $1.6 billion agreement has shifted.

Click here to read about why the first vote was defeated.

The requirements for ratification are lower this time around after union leaders voted in July to change the number of unions that it needs to ratify the agreement from 14 to 8 and reduces the threshold of voting members from 80 to 50 percent.

Many attributed it to the more than 3,000 layoff notices and program cuts Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called for in the wake of the vote to reject the original package.

SEIU 1199 member Charlene Bell, a Department of Developmental Services employee at Southbury Training School, said older employees who haven’t been at the department that long were unhappy with an additional three years tacked on to the retirement age.

But a strong education effort by union leaders and some layoffs put things in perspective for members, she said.

“They realized that any paycheck is better than no paycheck,” she said.

While the layoffs may have contributed to the change of heart on the agreement she’s expecting, they have taken an emotional toll on members, Bell said. Even though many expect the agreement to pass Wednesday, laid off workers are feeling down, she said.

“Now it’s a matter of getting the morale of members who received slips back up. It’s a tough thing,” she said.

Many state workers have said they felt bullied by Malloy as the number of layoffs grows each week. Tom Long, an English professor at the University of Connecticut, was not among them. When asked, he laughed at the question.

Long said another state employee told him that he felt Malloy was shoving the agreement down the throats of union members.

“I told him, ‘My friend, if you want to see shoving down the throat go visit Wisconsin,’” he said.

Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker led a widely publicized and successful effort to eliminate the collective bargaining rights of some state employees, while limiting the rights for many of the others.

By contrast Malloy avoided hostility and has been largely respectful of Connecticut’s workers, Long said. He cited a growing awareness of the differential between Connecticut’s situation and that of labor unions in Wisconsin and across the country as a reason more folks are likely to vote to approve the package.

“I think they are more alert to the larger dimensions of the issue.  The eyes of the nation are on us and we have a chance to show America that there is an alternate way for public workers to be partners with governors,” he said.

Long said he’s seen the alternative first-hand. A recent addition to Connecticut’s payroll, he spent 20 years working in Virginia as at a community college. Virginia is a right-to-work state where employees cannot be required to join a union and there are no public employee unions.

Not having a voice was demoralizing, Long said.

“In Virginia they treated us like beggars and field hands,” he said.

Year after year he said he saw huge increases in healthcare co-pays and monthly premiums. He said he understands the concerns of workers regarding changes in the agreement that require them to contribute 3 percent to their healthcare plans over 10 years. But to Long it was a compromise that reflected the current healthcare situation in the United States.

Judicial marshal supervisor and president of their unit within CSEA SEIU Local 2001 Mark O’Brien said that he’s encouraging his members to vote yes even though one could argue that his unit would benefit by not adopting the agreement. His is the only union in the state that has another year of its contract. He said it’s not about individual benefits; it’s about saving the jobs of fellow state employees in rough economic times.

“It’s a very simple, straightforward motivation of benevolence, of caring about your fellow state employee, of trying to get this state back to where it needs to be and the labor movement of this country,” he said.

O’Brien said state workers were fortunate the governor was willing to negotiate with unions and give them a second opportunity to ratify an agreement.

State workers are expected to finish the voting process by Wednesday night and the 15 members of the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition will cast their votes on Thursday morning, SEBAC spokesman Matt O’Connor said.

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(24) Comments

posted by: Disgruntled | August 16, 2011  4:42pm

“Long said another state employee told him that he felt Malloy was shoving the agreement down the throats of union members.”

No doubt Tom enjoys,or looks forward to,two pensions.
As for the orifice the agreement is being shoved into…well. It is pretty obvious.

posted by: Disgruntled | August 16, 2011  4:45pm

And speaking of things getting crammed…

“Next week, the state Department of Transportation will start a series of six public hearings on Malloy’s plan to impose a 16.4 percent fare hike on Metro-North riders, eliminate Shoreline East weekend service introduced in 2008, and boost CT Transit bus single trip fare from $1.25 to $1.35 while reducing bus service by 10 percent in November.”

More shared sacrifice for Nutmeggers. Will Dan cut back on his travel,or take public transportation with his four bodyguards?!

posted by: state_employee | August 16, 2011  5:09pm

He didn’t just write this did he…???  am i seeing things…???
“By contrast Malloy avoided hostility and has been largely respectful of Connecticut’s workers, Long said. He cited a growing awareness of the differential between Connecticut’s situation and that of labor unions in Wisconsin and across the country as a reason more folks are likely to vote to approve the package.”
Malloy has been respectfull…???  REALLY…???  WOW, what an outright lie.  it’s either a lie or delusion.

“O’Brien said state workers were fortunate the governor was willing to negotiate with unions and give them a second opportunity to ratify an agreement.”  FORTUNATE…???  another delusion.  we were not fortunate, we were, we were, oh i cant even say what happened to us.  its too graphic…

posted by: skydogct | August 16, 2011  5:17pm

“In Virginia they treated us like beggars and field hands,” was a good indication of what it could have been like if Foley was elected governor. Long sounds like someone I would want as a co-worker. Someone who understands reality and knows what could have been.

posted by: Vote Yes!!!!! | August 16, 2011  5:49pm

Vote Yes!!!!!

Major Shmuck says,  And the union leader puppets speak…  They may as well add,  and Malloy is the greatest Gov ever.  He protected all of the TEIR 1’s pensions too,  and I will make a six figure pension during my retirement….  Absolutely disgusting

posted by: Disgruntled | August 16, 2011  7:14pm

Don’t know about pensions but do not look too hard at what Dan will be collecting,or collects,along his road to nowhere. Did he qualify for something for the thirteen years he spent screwing up Stamford?

posted by: Truth, Justice and Karma | August 16, 2011  7:48pm

What is the purpose of this story?  Is CTNewsJunkie predicting that the deal gets ratified?  If this is a piece on workers’ views on the deal, why is only perspective on the deal, pro-ratification, being covered?  This story does a disservice to state workers in the middle of voting as well as the general the news reading public and frankly tarnishes this news outlet’s otherwise good reputation for appearing neutral, fair and balanced in its reporting.  What prompted you to write this article?  What prompted you to write this article with this particular pro-ratification focus?  What prompted you to write this particular article right now in the middle of voting with this particular pro-ratification focus?  How did you find this particular Professor to interview?  Sorry to tell you, but I think CTNewsJunkie got used by the SEBAC or one of the unions for free advertising.  I really expect neutral, fact-based reporting with some type of balance when it comes to reporting of opinions.  I’ll still keep reading because CTNewsJunkie is still 10 times better than the rest, like the Hartford Courant.  Also, I everything about like super-journalist extraordinaire Christine Stuart!

posted by: illogicallylogical | August 16, 2011  7:56pm

Seriously?  I can’t believe this article…I seriously can’t believe this is an article and not a major “trolling” effort just to get some responses.  Before I address this article @SkyUnionDogCt…zip it…you have yet to discuss an article in full in a mature manner…the adults are talking now…  Anyhow, to start, the “tide” never shifted, the “requirements for ratification” were lowered…period.  If everyone voted the same as the last time, it would pass so no “tide shift” was necessary.  Second “...strong education by union leaders and some layoffs put things into perspective…”  You have got to be kidding me with this statement.  I haven’t even SEEN my union leaders since the debacle of the first TA and threatening people with their jobs isn’t “putting things into perspective”...it’s downright extortion.  Third, why are we constantly using other states as a measuring stick…they should be using us as a measuring stick and fighting for their jobs.  Fourth, “Malloy avoided hostility and has been largely respectful…”  Good grief!  Malloy has done nothing but threaten, threaten and threaten again with layoffs, program cuts…anything he could think of.  He doesn’t need to be disrespectful…Edith Prague will do that for him by calling anyone that disagrees “Stupid”.  Finally, the state workers were “...fortunate the governor was willing to negotiate with the unions and give them a second opportunity to ratify…” The governor did NOTHING to negotiate.  SEBAC turned on its’ members and changed rules THEY created in the first place after the vote didn’t go their way.  There was no “negotiation” and a “second” opportunity wasn’t necessary as I stated in the beginning…everyone could’ve voted the same way and this would have passed.  It’s amazing that most of the authors of this site only provide one side of the story and never report about the other side…unreal.

posted by: ... | August 16, 2011  7:58pm

...

It will be a big day tomorrow, that is for certain. But hopefully this little saga of negotiations and union controversy will move its way forward to a sustainable agreement/partnership so the state (our state government, media, and the general public) can begin heightening their focus and input on the special session coming up regarding jobs and economic growth in the state of Connecticut.

posted by: soldoutbytheunion | August 16, 2011  8:05pm

A disgustinng display of anti democratic actions, the SEBAC leadership needs to be held legally responsible for forcing this concession package down our throats ILLEGALLY.  The package doesn’t make sense and is basaed on pie-in-the-sky economics and “projected” savings. 

They robbed the rank and file of an opportunity to bargain in a legitimate fashion and forge a truly cost saving package with the People of Connecticut. 

The union leadership should know that their coersions, threats and illegitimate back room dealings will be addressed through every legal recourse. There are thousands of incensed union members who are willing and able to address this in the proper legal forum. 

One already has, thank you Lisa Herskowitz, and I’m sure more legal action is on the way.

BTW, anyone look at the Connecticut State Police “clarified” concession package?  A bit different from everyone elses, huh?

posted by: soldoutbytheunion | August 16, 2011  8:06pm

O’Brien said that with a straight face?  Wow, he’s good….with that kind of talent for lying I wouldn’t buy a used car from him, never mind a labor deal!

posted by: Wakewhenover | August 16, 2011  8:50pm

so, a socialist professor from the AAUP union hacking for this Ageement?  His is not the typical pension of tier 2.  Malloy respectful?  Are you joking?  Hope this hack teaches kiddie lit and not Beowulf.  And to the DDS employee who thinks a paycheck is all that matters:  you will probably have a job but then a pension that will qualify you for public assistance, but that is what Malloy and his ilk want.  wakewhenover has been awake, and now will work to decertify our union.

posted by: aimnegs | August 16, 2011  8:55pm

So the three year agreement I signed two years ago is being thrown into the garbage to sign a new agreement. Let me think what will happen in two years when it is apparent this new plan is a farce? We will have to wait and see if all the lambs were right.

posted by: Vote Yes!!!!! | August 16, 2011  9:33pm

Vote Yes!!!!!

Don’t know who’s pictures are in the back ground on the wall, but if they are of CSEA’s forefathers, they must be spinning in their graves wondering “We worked so hard to make all these gaines while today’s leaders worked so hard to give it all away…..  And people wonder why Unions are a dying breed.

posted by: newview | August 16, 2011  10:11pm

I don’t even understand any more debate about this situation.  It’s just idle rambling…noise. 

This deal is done..if you thought you had a vote…or that your vote meant anything…dream on.  It’s like watching a Superbowl game and the idea of the game is to score the least points.  There’s no point whatsoever.  When folks finally come to terms with this reality, only then can we begin to understand the dynamics of this mess.

In complete defiance of what transpired, both with the initial concession package and the subsequent self-inflicted union demise, my vote will remain off the record, because, quite frankly, it just doesn’t matter to me.  A potential negative vote doesn’t result in a negative impact for co-workers who might be in the crosshairs, and a yes vote doesn’t buy into this madness.  As a Tier1 employee, with a short time left, all I can say is that I am happy to be leaving soon.  I’m happy to be rid of the union’s falsehoods, and rid of management that is nothing less than a self-fulfilling black hole.  I am thankful that my State employment has allowed for me to provide for myself and my family, I could not be any more in appreciation of my 30 years state employment, and the protected benefits that Tier 1 provides.

That said, I will finish out my career honorably, hold my head high with the dignity and respect I have for myself and a very limited number of co-workers I have shared my time with and equally respect.

But, I’m not sorry to say that I have no respect for the manner in which compromise was established in this situation, the dynamics that played out, or the entities that dictated them.  So, I will just walk away peacefully, knowing that I have successfully provided for those priorities we all pursue as adults and parents.  In the end, that’s all that matters. 

I wish all you fellow state employees well, and hope that the internal unrest subsides into something manageable for everyone.  In case you haven’t heard, you can begin to attempt to manage that conflict now, because this thing was over before it began.

posted by: Truth, Justice and Karma | August 16, 2011  10:25pm

In my frothing fervor I made more typos than usual in my last post.  The last sentence should read, “I love everything about . . .  super-journalist Christine Stuart.”

posted by: mollyanme | August 17, 2011  5:15am

Now that this BS deal is over, just a few final thoughts. In an article the other day, this paper reported that Malloy stated “now that he has plug the deficit(before voting was done) he would concentrate on education by appointing a 12 member committee to review education in the state. Some members are “past” commissioners, and I think current democratic state employees. Where is their salary coming from? CT residents including state employees have very short memories. The legislatures who9 have been in office most of their lives will be elected again, Malloy if he runs will be elected again, we will still have the same unions, with the same leaders, which are mostly tier 1 ( which is why they were excluded from most of the changes in this agreement.) CT will forever, in my opinion, remain status quo, because no one takes the times to really look at canidates, and vote on issues.  CT residents have always been like robots, pulling a lever they always pulled, which is evident with the rediculously long terms of people like,rosa, edith, dodd, lieberman.I never realized these positions where for a lifetime.

posted by: Thomas Long | August 17, 2011  7:43am

It’s interesting to me that those who have chosen (anonymously, of course)to criticize supporters’ views on this agreement resort to personal attacks or to insults. What does that tell you?

posted by: Thomas Long | August 17, 2011  7:45am

Since moving to CT three years ago, I have been consistently impressed with the professionalism, knowledge, and courtesy of the public employees that I’ve encountered, both as co-workers and providers of services.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | August 17, 2011  9:46am

Don’t the aaup professors have an alternative higher education pension plan that they can belong too? Why are they even part of sebac and how is it possible that they can vote on changes that do not affect them?

Just asking…

posted by: NOW What? | August 17, 2011  3:41pm

“DrHunterSThompson” - If you were a State employee you’d know the answer to the “question” that you “ask.” So assuming that you’re NOT a state employee, why concern yourself with something such as this issue? And if you ARE a state employee, I’d have to assume that your “question” is a rhetorical one intended to simply provoke.

posted by: Thomas Long | August 17, 2011  4:34pm

Many of those with whom I’ve spoken who voted against the agreement have reasonable grounds for doing so, but in the current economic and political context (both in CT and US) I think that’s a mistake. However, I don’t think that the opponents are stupid or selfish.

posted by: Puzzled... | August 17, 2011  7:19pm

CSEA’s voting has been completed and tallied; members have voted OVERWHELMINGLY to accept the SEBAC TA by more than a 2-to-1 margin. The only CSEA bargaining unit to vote “no” was their Corrections bargaining unit (naturally) - and even in THAT unit the vote was VERY close, being defeated by only 35 votes.

posted by: Puzzled... | August 17, 2011  9:51pm

Re: the CSEA vote count - CSEA’s saying that ALL of their bargaining units voted in favor of the SEBAC agreement, so I’m assuming that the numbers regarding their Corrections unit that went out in their first email were a typo and that (presumably) that unit voted in FAVOR of the TA by about 35 votes… ?