Down To The Wire, Republican Leader’s Request For Contracts Is Ignored
HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut’s state employee unions finished voting on an extension of health and pension benefits and nearly three dozen wage contracts Monday. The tally is expected to be announced later today.
The deal includes job protection for four years for bargaining groups who agree to a three-year wage freeze and three furlough days, and a 3.5 percent pay increase in the final two years. In addition, it increases employee contributions to health and pension benefits and is expected to save the state $1.57 billion over the next two years, according to an actuarial report.
But Senate Republican President Len Fasano said he can’t be certain because Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration won’t release the wage contracts.
Fasano and his staff formally requested the wage agreements on July 6, but have not received a response from the administration.
“There’s no reason that they could not give us the contracts other than they don’t want us to have them,” Fasano said Monday.
He said if lawmakers are expected to vote to approve or reject the concessions deal they should be able to see what’s in the agreements.
“Not releasing these contracts makes me question, and should make every legislator question, what is in them that the administration does not want us to see,” Fasano said. “From the few contracts that are already public, we see many increased costs. We need to know what we are voting on before we actually vote. To withhold these documents from any member of the legislature is an affront to transparency.”
Chris McClure, a spokesman for Malloy, said the administration has been extremely transparent during this entire process.
“We’ve released detailed actuarial analyses, answered all questions presented to us, and proactively volunteered to sit down with legislative leaders to answer questions,” McClure said.
He said they’ve met more than once with Fasano and have another meeting scheduled for today.
Fasano said “there’s no reason why documents that have been shared with individual unions should not also be shared with the public and especially lawmakers who have the same obligation to review, assess, and vote on the labor deal.”
Fasano believes that the state could save more money by making changes to collective bargaining rules, eliminating two state holidays, increasing the course load of UConn professors, prohibiting meal and clothing allowances, and eliminating executive assistant positions.
Malloy has said he doesn’t believe Republicans could achieve those savings outside collective bargaining. Not to mention the unions promised a court battle if lawmakers tried to change collective bargaining.
Malloy has said he would veto any attempt to legislate benefits for state employees.
Also, Malloy has said if the legislature — which also will be asked to vote on the labor agreement — turns down the tentative deal, then Republicans aren’t going to have his help to legislatively address the problem.