Unions Criticize Malloy Administration Over Layoff Tactics
(Updated 7:57 a.m.) State employees were walked off the grounds of the Connecticut Juvenile Training School on Monday and on Tuesday about 40 clerical workers at the Department of Social Services were laid off in a conference call, according to union officials.
“This is a terrible and inhumane way to handle layoffs,” Yolanda Rolando, president of AFSCME Local 196 representing clerical workers, said. “It’s also an indictment of the governor’s so-called new economic reality, which seems to be an excuse for punishing middle class state workers instead of asking our wealthiest citizens to sacrifice a little bit to protect public services.”
The Malloy administration announced Tuesday that 71 employees in the Department of Economic and Community Development, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and Department of Social Services were laid off.
That brings the total number of layoffs up to 236. The administration laid off 165 employees from the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services on Monday. There are another 147 layoffs expected by the Department of Correction, but no official notice beyond an announcement from the commissioner has been given to those employees.
“This is a difficult process, one that we aim to ensure is done respectfully and legally,” Malloy’s budget office said in a statement. “As such, there will be additional reduction notices in the future. We will continue to notify the public as future notices go out.”
There were 360 retirements and 288 vacancies before the layoff process started. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Tuesday that he expects to eliminate 2,500 positions, which means there are about 1,600 layoff notices that still need to be served.
The 71 clerical worker layoffs will save the state about $5.2 million. The layoffs in the Department of Children and Families saves $12.6 million, and the 59 layoffs in the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will save $15 million.
Lori Pelletier, president of the AFL-CIO, stood outside Malloy’s office Tuesday and criticized the manner in which the layoffs were being conducted.
She said the governor should be “ashamed” that his administration used a conference call to lay off mostly minority women who belong to the Department of Social Services clerical staff union.
Gian-Carl Casa, undersecretary for legislative affairs, disputed Pelletier’s characterization.
“Every employee affected at DSS met face to face with his or her manager. In 10 of 12 locations there was a union steward present. Human resources staff were present in most cases and were made available on the phone to answer questions the individuals, across multiple agency offices may have had.”
CSEA President Stephen Anderson said Monday that when the DCF employees were walked off the job at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School, they left the remaining personnel “short staffed and at greater risk in what at times can be a dangerous environment.”
Asked why the state employees were told to go home before even starting their shift, Malloy said it was “because that’s how you do those things in this day and age.”
He said state employees will continue to be paid for a certain amount of time, which means they have time to search for another job.
“We want to be as supportive as we can of those individuals, who through no fault of their own, are no longer going to be working with the state,” Malloy said.
State employees will be able to file for unemployment after they stop receiving a paycheck from the state.