Malloy notifies 1,100 state employees of possible layoffs as concession talks continue

Malloy notifies 1,100 state employees of possible layoffs as concession talks continue

Record-Journal


HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget office has warned 1,100 state employees of possible layoffs next month if the administration and unions are unable to reach an agreement on concessions.

The notifications, announced Thursday, are the first step in a contingency plan that could save roughly $80 million if an agreement isn’t met in time.

Malloy’s budget proposal for next year assumes $700 million in labor savings — a figure that would require 4,200 layoffs if there are no concessions — as part of a plan to close a $1.7 billion budget deficit.

State employee union leaders criticized the timing, noting that they are in talks with Malloy’s administration about possible concessions.

Malloy told reporters Thursday he remains hopeful talks will produce an agreement, but the timeline requires that his budget office moves forward with layoff notifications.

The governor said the move was “not saber-rattling.”

“It’s not for the purposes of trying to obtain an edge or blow up a discussion — it just is a legal requirement, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.

Along with their criticism of the timing, officials with the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition also continued their stance that the state shouldn’t rely on layoffs at all to balance the budget.

“Layoffs hurt local economies in the short-term and will lead to an even deeper fiscal crisis for our state down the road. What we need is not more austerity, but a more balanced approach,” American Federation of Teachers of Connecticut President Jan Hochadel said in an internal memo. Other SEBAC unions shared similar memos with their members.

Joe Gaetano, president of International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 731, issued a similar statement.

“Connecticut is one of the richest states in the country,” he said. “We encourage the governor and the legislature to find budget solutions that don’t gut state services, endanger the public or put thousands of state workers out of jobs.”

Carmen Roda, president of the probation officers’ union, said that concessions offered in 2009 have saved the state $1 billion annually.

“State employees are hardworking women and men who have given back, time and again,” she said.

While Malloy has credited state employee unions for a concession agreement in 2011 and has said that balancing the budget will require more than just labor savings, he has also made concessions a focal point this session.

He included it as one of his keys for a balanced budget during his State of the State address in January. Malloy also maintained Thursday that budget solutions will have to rely largely on cutting expenses.

“I don’t think this year is the occasion upon which we will be spending a lot more money,” he said, adding his proposed $18 billion general fund budget is “the right spending number.”

The concession talks with SEBAC are focused on state employee benefits, such as pensions and healthcare, and their costs to the state, which are currently dictated by an agreement that doesn’t expire until 2022.

Each union negotiates salary and wages separately, and all but one union are currently negotiating those contracts.

msavino@record-journal.com 203-317-2266 Twitter: @reporter_savino


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