As of today, it is clear we do not have sufficient support under the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition’s (SEBAC) strict rules to ratify the 2011 tentative agreement. On the other hand, it is clear that a majority of members and their unions voted in favor of the agreement.
The coalition’s democratic ratification process is a difficult one with a high threshold. The requirements that no more than one union vote to reject any agreement and that those voting “yes” represent at least 80% of all unionized employees in the coalition cannot be met.
The concern now is the consequences of the results to our union’s members and their families, and the public services they provide to the people of Connecticut.
The Malloy Administration has announced plans to issue layoff notices on Tuesday to approximately 7,500 state workers. On Thursday, the legislature is preparing to convene a special session to address the budget shortfall. State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney has said publicly he will seek to change collective bargaining laws to restrict public employees’ negotiating rights during this special session.
Senator McKinney is simply echoing a national anti-worker, anti-public employee movement that has spread to the northeast. New Jersey’s governor and legislature are poised to raise state employee health premiums and pension contributions while removing healthcare from collective bargaining. Massachusetts’ lawmakers voted to eliminate negotiating rights over healthcare, and Rhode Island’s legislature is even threatening to reduce pensions for current retired employees.
Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has reached a five-year agreement with his state’s workforce that includes a three-year pay freeze with 2% salary increases in the fourth and fifth years, nine unpaid furlough days over the next two years, and higher healthcare premiums. In exchange, their governor promised just two years of job security for state employees, and their legislature reserves the right to change their retirement benefits.
On Monday, June 27, SEBAC union leaders will meet to decide what steps we take next. We will ensure that members’ voices continue to be heard through a fair and democratic process. And we will seek a way to prevent cuts to public services that will surely have a devastating impact on Connecticut’s economy and harm already struggling middle-class families.
Click here to learn more about SEBAC and access the coalition’s by-laws. The tentative agreement to save state workers’ jobs and benefits and related resources are also available at www.InThisTogetherCT.org.