Republicans say unions got the better of Malloy in deal
Labor negotiations: Document offers details of state worker concessions
Published 9:30 am, Tuesday, May 17, 2011
HARTFORD -- Republicans Monday night hammered away at a leaked summary of a labor deal struck Friday between union negotiators and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, saying it showed the governor failed to secure the far-reaching concessions he had sought.
"They (union negotiators) are slapping each other high fives right now," said House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk.
Labor leaders had planned to post the document online Tuesday, but the six pages were being circulated among Capitol insiders and the media Monday evening.
In several areas of negotiation, particularly in pensions and health care, the memo portrays union negotiators as successfully warding off the most aggressive concessions sought by the Malloy administration.
For example, under a section on pensions, it reads, "Pension matters were the most challenging aspect of the discussions, because the parties came at it from no common ground. The administration sought to make huge cost savings by immediate and devastating changes in pension benefits for almost all current employees."
Negotiators instead produced a new retirement classification for new employees that incorporates some of Malloy's proposed reductions, but for the most part maintains most retirement rules for existing employees, including protecting cost-of-living provisions, maintaining overtime pension calculations and preserving hazardous duty retirement rules.
Eric Bailey, a spokesman for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, said the pact, which still faces a vote by nearly 45,000 workers, results in exactly the changes in pension and health care costs the state needs. Far from claiming a victory, Bailey said that workers gave Malloy substantial concessions.
"That's real savings now, that's real savings down the road," Bailey said.
More InformationAt www.ctpost.com Go to our website to read the internal union memo analyzing the deal.
Malloy on Friday said the deal, the results of months of closed door talks, saved $1.6 billion over two years -- $400 million less than the $2 billion calculated in the two-year budget legislative Democrats passed and the governor signed earlier this month.
He also said it resulted in structural savings totaling $21.5 billion over 20 years.
"We've done some pretty careful calculations with our actuaries, our budget staff. We believe the $1.6 billion is a very real total and will be releasing information to that effect," Barnes said. "I did the calculations myself (on the $21.5 billion)."
Another section of the memo analyzes the issue of longevity pay, the controversial, twice-a-year bonuses paid union and non-union workers with 10, 15, 20 and 25 years of service. In 2010 the practice -- payments are issued each April and October -- cost the state over $39 million.
The document notes that Malloy wanted to put an end to longevity pay. Instead, there will be some changes for those already receiving the bonuses, such as the loss of one payment this coming October. Also, increased payments for those workers moving to a new level -- for example, a 14-year employee approaching their 15th anniversary -- will be delayed until 2013.
After July 1, new hires will no longer be eligible unless they had prior military service.
Health changes focus on a new system called Value Based Health Care, under which workers commit to stay healthy rather than increasing their contributions.
"Raising employee premium shares, co-pays and instating deductibles doesn't work," reads the agreement. "In the short term, it saves employer costs by increasing employee costs. In the long term, it discourages employees from getting needed medical care, creating more avoidable illness at great costs for everyone."
The summary does detail an increase in co-pays to incentivize purchase of generic drugs for non-chronic conditions.
Malloy's adviser, Roy Occhiogrosso, in an interview Monday evening, said Malloy has already proven himself serious about trimming government and that, in the long term, this agreement will help reach that goal.
"His first budget proposed a reduction in terms of budgeted agencies from 81 to 57," Occhiogrosso said. "It didn't necessarily involve a lot of positions right off the top, but there was a very serious attempt at restructuring state government."
Occhiogrosso continued, "Probably the single best piece of evidence is ... after 14 years as mayor of Stamford, the city-side work force was 8.4 percent smaller than the day he took over."