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Second & Third Lawsuit Against Forced Unionization Filed

by | Mar 22, 2012 12:19pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Courts, Labor, Legal

Two of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s executive orders came under increased fire this week as two new lawsuits, funded by the conservative Yankee Institute, are being filed in Superior Court.

The lawsuits allege that Malloy’s executive orders permitting home care assistants and daycare workers to unionize and collectively bargain violate state and federal labor laws and the state’s constitution.

Two weeks ago a constitution advocacy group based in Waterbury called We The People of Connecticut also sued the governor and challenged the constitutionality of the executive orders.

The Malloy administration has been dismissive of the lawsuits. The governor’s Chief Legal Counsel Andrew McDonald said the first lawsuit seemed to be “political hyperbole,” lacking a recognizable legal theory.

Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior communications adviser, said the new complaints were an attempt by the Yankee Institute to push its conservative agenda.

“The Yankee Institute is a right-wing organization, it’s funded by right-wing special interests, and not surprisingly, it’s pursuing a right-wing, radical agenda. This lawsuit is simply a manifestation of all that,” he said.

However, the group is willing to spend a considerable amount of money on the complaints, which they said are tailored to be heard in the Supreme Court. Fergus Cullen, the institute’s executive director, anticipated spending tens of thousands of dollars on a trial and the appeals he expects from the governor’s office.

“This is a significant financial commitment for us,” he said after a Capitol Thursday press conference.

The lawsuits name a number of plaintiffs including a personal assistance worker association and two state lawmakers. Attorney Joseph Summa said the two complaints aren’t identical in language but make similar points. Both call for the court to void the executive orders and halt any action from the working groups they created.

Summa said Malloy usurped the legislature’s constitutional authority to make laws, violating the constitutional separation of powers.

The legislature has put in place a number of labor laws that cover small employers like daycare providers and the clients who employ personal care attendants, he said. Those laws preempt the governor’s orders, Summa said.

“The governor has exceeded his authority. This is a separation of powers issue,” he said.

Cathy Ludlum, a Manchester resident with spinal muscular atrophy who employs personal care attendants, said Malloy and SEIU violated the rights of the people who work for her.

“Certainly workers should have the right to organize, but they should also have the right to say no to unionization efforts,” she said.

The lawsuit alleges that the right to not associate for purposes of lobbying the government is implicit in the First Amendment.

“Executive Order No. 10 although couched in ‘collective bargaining terms’ in reality is simply state mandated political representation,” the lawsuit said.

Rep. Rob Sampson and Sen. Joseph Markley, plaintiff’s of the lawsuit who have been decrying the executive orders for months, agreed.

“This is an attempt from the top down, from the governor’s office to force these folks into a union,” Sampson said. “... They did not ask for this.”

Sampson pointed to Tuesday’s Labor Committee meeting when the committee failed to pass bills that would have given the groups bargaining rights before its deadline. Last year the Senate tabled two similar bills.

“This is the second time this legislature has sent a message that it does not have the will to proceed with making this union a reality,” he said. “I think the governor should really seriously consider cutting his losses and rescinding the executive orders.”

However, daycare workers who receive state funding through the Care 4 Kids program voted 1603 to 88 in December for CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 to represent them. A union election is currently underway among personal care attendants.

Deborah Chernoff, spokeswoman for SEIU 1199, said she’s confident the vast majority of home care workers will vote for representation. She objected to claims that the unionization will be forced.

“That’s typical rhetoric borrowed wholesale from people who don’t think workers should have a voice,” she said. “We think the appropriate thing to do is let people vote.”

But Summa said the executive orders that allowed them to vote violated the equal protection clauses in the state and federal constitution. The orders only applied to a small group of workers within both categories, but the working groups Malloy established will make recommendations that could impact everyone, he said.

“It has set up a scheme whereby some people have a voice and other people don’t, but they’re all going to be impacted by it,” he said.

Speaking to reporters later in the day, Malloy defended his executive orders, which he said helped a group of people who are employed but classified differently.

“I believe that people have been denied the right to organize by a legal subterfuge calling them independent contractors when they were being told what hour to arrive, what hour to leave, how to do their work, their wages were set. That’s an employment situation,” he said.

The executive orders don’t require anyone to organize, they only require they have the right to if they want, he said. Malloy said he understood Markley didn’t want that to happen.

“In fact there’s a whole political party in this country that doesn’t want that to happen,” he said.

Click here to read the lawsuit filed on behalf of the homecare workers.

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Comments

(9) Archived Comments

posted by: Mansfield1 | March 22, 2012  1:08pm

And if the vote comes in heavily in favor of the Union do Summa and Cullen still maintain that the “people” didn’t ask?  there is no clearer indication of support for a union than voting for it.

And as for Ms. Ludlum,if
one of her attendents, who has no health insurance and no workers compensation, is injured while caring for her her is her response Opps?

This is nothing more than right wing 1%‘s trying to make sure the poor stay poor and without benefits.  All the high minded talk about ” Individual is just a smokescreen in their efforts keep wages low and benefits non-existant.

posted by: concerncit | March 22, 2012  1:43pm

Remember only around 41% of the daycare providers returned their ballots. Saying a majority of daycare providers voted to unionize is not factually correct. It is a majority of the returned ballots. Around 2400 ballots were not returned. Most of them, by not returning the ballot, probably thought it would count as a “no” vote. I doubt the rules were clearly explained to them. The people did not ask to be unionized, the Governor told them they would go thorough the unionization process whether they wanted to or not.

posted by: lkulmann | March 22, 2012  3:32pm

If PCA’S want to unionize that’s their business. If an employer doesn’t treat their employees fairly, they have the right to unionize for protection and representation. Interfering with that right, which seems to be happening here, is a no no.  The PCA’s want better wages, benefits and all the perks that go along with having a good job and making a decent living. This lawsuit seems odd to me. “Let people vote?”  Didn’t we do this stuff during slavery or women’s rights eras a long time ago?? I don’t think we can own or control people anymore…

posted by: state_employee | March 22, 2012  3:43pm

more of the malloy administrations arm twisting behavior.  glad to see the chickens are coming home to roost.

posted by: recalldannelmalloy | March 22, 2012  4:02pm

It is obvious that Danny’s boy Roy has not read the CT Constitution either.
The Governor DOES NOT have the power to establish unions period.

posted by: lkulmann | March 22, 2012  10:21pm

I think we need to scratch the surface of this fiasco…Governor Malloy wants to give PCA’S the opportunity to unionize. The current national trend is to try to increase home-care and decrease institutional care. I think he’s getting the caregivers strong and ready for this change in healthcare. He’s trying to make it a viable attractive career choice. Many home health aides are on public assistance because its IMPOSSIBLE to work full time and afford life with the current pay from most Home Health Agencies. The PCA’S jumped all over the opportunity to unionize. So, why are these advocates on fire over this?? Because they think that CT DSS will take away their services because there’s ‘not enough money for everyone.’ These people are terrified of any changes to the system in place fearing loss of their lively hood and possible institutionalization if they can’t keep their services exactly as they are. Isn’t this the saddest thing ever? What’s even sadder is that they are absolutely right. The CT DSS can just change the rules and regulations to fit their needs and there is not 1 State Agency that can do a damn thing about it. And, it is almost impossible to find a private lawyer for representation to challenge DSS decisions. After education reform, I hope DSS gets a little makeover…putting this kind of stress on the disabled is inhuman. Shame, Shame on you DSS!

posted by: rankandfile | March 23, 2012  9:43am

The issue isn’t interference with the right to unionize. The issue is forced unionization and confiscation of dues money from those who do not wish to unionize.

posted by: blackslaw9 | March 24, 2012  2:17am

If this is an actual quote from the governor it should be used in any existing and especially future lawsuits “I believe that people have been denied the right to organize by a legal subterfuge calling them independent contractors when they were being told what hour to arrive, what hour to leave, how to do their work, their wages were set. That’s an employment situation,” he said.

The executive orders don’t require anyone to organize, they only require they have the right to if they want, he said. Malloy said he understood Markley didn’t want that to happen.

“In fact there’s a whole political party in this country that doesn’t want that to happen,” he said.

posted by: blackslaw9 | March 24, 2012  3:16am

For: Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior communications adviser-
Our forefathers would have been called “right wing radicals” in their time, because they opposed tyrants.That term is a badge of honer.

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