Union leaders circulating details of concession deal to state workers

Union leaders circulating details of concession deal to state workers


Union leaders have already begun pushing a possible concession deal to state employees, even as they remain in negotiations with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration over the formal details.

Leaders with the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition last week began circulating to members details of the framework of an agreement with Malloy, and informed them the two sides are now moving to more formal discussions aimed at finalizing a deal.

The memo to members also includes a warning about rejecting the agreement, including a concern about “the real possibility of losing collective bargaining after 2022.”

“This is but the first step in a weeks-long process in which you and all state employees will have the opportunity to make your voices heard,” American Federation of Teachers of Connecticut President Jan Hochadel said in a memo to members last Tuesday.

Among the issues that still need to be finalized are negotiations for individual bargaining units regarding wages and working conditions for the next five years.

State employees negotiate retirement and healthcare benefits collectively under SEBAC, but have separate agreements for wages and work conditions. The state police union is currently the only one of 33 unions with a contract in place.

The framework dictates a pay freeze beginning in the current fiscal year and remaining in place through the end of the 2019 fiscal year, although state employees would receive a one-time payment that year.

They would then receive 3.5 percent raises in the next two fiscal years, concluding the wage portion of the agreement.

The tentative agreement would also require current employees to pay more into their pensions, and create a new 401k-pension hybrid system for new hires. All employees and retirees would also need to contribute more for healthcare costs.

The agreement would meet Malloy’s proposed $1.55 billion goal in labor savings over the next two fiscal years, with the reduced costs growing to more than $1 billion annually after that, according to the details released. An actuarial analysis isn’t expected for at least two weeks.

An estimated $734.8 million in savings is expected from wage freezes and furloughs over the next biennium. An estimated $432 million in savings are expected from changes to pensions and $371 million from healthcare alterations.

In exchange for the agreement, the state would extend the current SEBAC agreement by five years to 2027. A presentation from SEBAC leaders to members indicates that was non-negotiable, as was job security, a reduction in a shift to privatize state services, and delaying the most significant retirement changes until 2022.

The agreement will be voted on in two parts, with each local union voting on the wages portion of the agreement. The retirement and benefits portion would then go to a SEBAC vote, which requires approval of two-thirds of the member unions.

Votes aren’t expected for at least a few weeks, though, as union leaders will need to have meetings with members to discuss details once a formal agreement with Malloy is reached.

The memo doesn’t mention a no-layoff guarantee, but it does indicate one of SEBAC’s non-negotiable points was the avoidance of “programmatic layoffs.”

It also warns that wage negotiations would go to arbitration and raises concerns that lawmakers, who can choose to vote on any labor contract, would reject anything they view as unfavorable.

Additionally, it warns that SEBAC may no longer be able to negotiate for its members after 2022, a reference to a push from Republicans to remove some things, including retirement benefits, from the collective bargaining process.

Twitter: @reporter_savino


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