The State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) announced this afternoon (May 13) that “after several months of discussions and many long nights,” union leaders and Gov. Malloy have reached a tentative agreement on a cost-savings package to help close the state’s budget deficit.
The administration has also agreed to rescind layoff notices for nearly 5,000 state workers that were announced earlier this week, the SEBAC press release states.
According to Patrice Peterson, President, CSEA SEIU Local 2001, “The agreement is intended to help reduce costs while protecting public services in the current and next fiscal years, and to help put Connecticut on a firmer footing for economic recovery.”
When finalized, the agreement is expected to result in approximately $1.6 billion in combined labor cost reductions and service efficiencies, she states.
“The agreement also provides job security, and does not contain any furlough days or reductions in work hours for permanent state employees… State employees used their knowledge and experience to create a better future for themselves, their services and the people of Connecticut they proudly serve,” she states.
The SEBAC did not release specifics of the agreement.
According to Peterson, “in order to respect the fundamental rights of the working men and women we represent, SEBAC leaders have agreed not to publicize details until they can be presented to members of our unions. This process will begin immediately.”
SEBAC represents about 45,000 members.
“Given the extraordinary stakes involved, we sought to avoid the speculation and misunderstandings that would hamper our ultimate goal of reaching a mutual settlement by keeping our discussions out of the media,” the release states. “The reality is that more work remains to be done. Any final agreements must be ratified by the members of our unions and approved by state lawmakers.”
Gov. Malloy’s remarks
Gov. Malloy also made an announcement on the tentative agreement to the media this afternoon.
“I am pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement with our fellow state employee leaders that will, over the next 20 years, save Connecticut taxpayers a total of $21.5 billion,” he said.
“This is the most significant agreement with state employees in Connecticut history, not just because it solves a short-term problem – but because it produces the kind of long-term, structural reform WE – Connecticut’s residents, elected leaders and our state’s workforce – so desperately need if we are to again grow, produce new jobs, and prosper together,” Gov. Malloy said.
“Our agreement is also historic because of the way we achieved it. We respected the collective bargaining process and we respected each other, negotiating in good faith, without fireworks and without anger. To my friends in SEBAC, thank you. You have stepped up to the plate and said you want to be part of the solution. Under this agreement, we will all share in the sacrifices necessary to stabilize the state’s finances,” Gov. Malloy said.
“In the short-term, over the next two years, this agreement will save taxpayers 1.6 billion dollars. The remaining $400 million we need to balance this budget will come from a mix of additional spending cuts and existing budgeted revenues,” he said.
He added, “Taxes will not rise beyond what is already in this budget.”
“These savings were achieved in the areas of healthcare and pension benefits, and wages. Our fellow state employee leaders have asked us to refrain from discussing the specific details within each of those categories until they’ve had a chance to communicate them to their members. We’re happy to comply with that request,” Malloy said.
Malloy also noted that there are no furlough days (unpaid days off) in this agreement or a reduction in the 40-hour work week.
“This means we’ve achieved these savings without reducing government’s ability to serve its constituents, and without reducing employees’ productivity,” Gov. Malloy said.
He also thanked Democratic leadership “for the strength and leadership they have demonstrated” as well as Mark Ojakian and Linda Yelmini who negotiated on behalf of the governor’s office and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.
“As many of you know, Nancy has a long-standing relationship with our state employee unions and their members, and her guidance and wisdom throughout this process has been invaluable,” Gov. Malloy said.
He concluded by saying, “I want to be very clear that, as I said the day I signed the budget that was passed by the Legislature, this is not a day to celebrate. Yes, it’s a significant accomplishment, and yes, it will save taxpayers an enormous amount of money over time – but any time you ask sacrifices of people, you need to be mindful of the impact on their lives. And I am.”
He added that he will continue to downsize state government.
“Over the next few years, I intend to reduce the number of state employees, but rather than doing that by layoffs, we will do it by attrition, and by eliminating managerial positions,” he said.
Gov. Malloy also said he has directed OPM to immediately suspend layoff notices and rescind those that were handed out earlier this week, “as a show of good faith.”
He added, “I urge my fellow state employees to approve this agreement in a timely fashion. Once ratified by the rank-and-file workers, we stand ready to work with the leadership of the General Assembly to secure final approval. When that happens, come July 1, the state will have in place a budget that is balanced with no gimmicks, and one that provides something the state hasn’t had in many years: fiscal stability.”
Posted May 13, 2011
Have a news item or event you’d like posted on this news site? Want to comment on current events in a Letter to the Editor? Simply send your information to email@example.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. To keep up-to-date on local news, like us (HTNP) on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!