State workers to learn details of concessions sought by Malloy
Published 7:36 am, Tuesday, May 10, 2011
HARTFORD -- Thousands of unionized state employees this week finally will get briefed on the various concessions and savings on the table in cost-cutting discussions with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
As the clock runs down before about 4,700 state workers receive layoff notices effective July 1, union leaders will direct briefings on various options before them in Malloy's attempt to cut $2 billion in the two-year budget that starts July 1.
Matt O'Connor, spokesman for the State Employees Bargaining Agency Coalition, the umbrella for 15 bargaining units and 43,000 workers, said that locals throughout the state will hold briefings on the variety of concessions being sought.
But there will be nothing in writing to hand out at the meetings.
Instead, rank-and-file employees will receive verbal updates, in an attempt to keep various giveback options secret until a possible deal with the governor is reached or rejected.
CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 officials were briefed Monday by SEBAC negotiators, as part of the process to get the word to the rank and file, O'Connor said.
If, or when, a deal is made for concessions, it could be several more days to schedule membership votes among the SEBAC workers.
O'Connor said that while indications are that Malloy would issue the layoff notices as soon as Tuesday, such a move could take away union attention and energy in the discussions.
"Notices are only notices and does not mean jobs will actually be cut," O'Connor said. "But it would take attention away from the talks, especially for leaders of the coalition." He suggested that Malloy hold off "several days more" before notifying those who might be laid off.
Meanwhile, state agency heads and department commissioners on Tuesday will present alternative plans to the governor's "Plan B" cuts, in case the union discussions fall apart.
Last week Malloy released a contingency budget that would result in the massive layoffs and $1.2 billion in additional spending cuts beyond the $760 million already approved in the budget approved last week by majority Democrats and the governor. Much of that plan was first reported by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers in April.
Malloy, speaking to reporters after a ceremony at Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford to celebrate its recent contracts for a fighter plane and tanker, told reporters that his Plan B is "terrible" because it would require $1.2 billion in cuts above and beyond those $760 million in reductions approved by Democratic legislative majorities.
If there are no concessions in place by May 30, Malloy would have to submit additional budget adjustments to the General Assembly. His alternatives include reduced municipal aid and terminating the Operation Fuel low-income assistance program.
"Many of those things are things I rejected doing in coming up with this budget," Malloy said. "But I also made a promise: We are not going to raise taxes any more than we are. That should be understood to be assured. If we have a deal, we don't send any notices out."