HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — “These are legal requirements in contracts with respect to the giving of notice,” said the Governor in announcing that formal notification went out to union leadership on Thursday which will allow pink slips to start going out to more than 1,000 rank and file state employees next month. The Governor added, “I remain hopeful that we’ll reach an agreement. It’s always hard, it always takes a long time.”
Negotiations with the 16 state employee unions have been going on for nine months. The Governor’s office says that in absence of $700 million in concessions on salaries, raises and benefits…a total of 4,200 state employees will have to go. This would be in addition to the approximately 2,000 that lost their jobs last year and the major concessions in 2009 and 2011. “State employees have given back a billion dollars and so they’ve been through this before and we just need to let it play out,” said state AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier.
The Speaker of the House, Rep. Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin), notes that two major committees will vote on state budget plans next week with plans that include the $700 million in savings. He said back in February that 4,200 layoffs would be unacceptable, “We’ve assumed those numbers into the budget. If, for some reason they don’t come to fruition we’ll come back and act accordingly.”
On their internal website statement to members, one of the unions says: “The possibility of further job cuts adds urgency to collective efforts to demand better choices than failed policies that have negatively impacted CT’s quality of life. Cutting jobs is no way to achieve shared prosperity.”
After Thursday’s announcement, the Democratic Senate President Pro tem, Sen. Martin Looney (D-New Haven) noted, “If there is an agreement with the state employee unions that might avoid layoffs in exchange for concessions, then these notices would be recinded.”
The unions continue to push for tax hikes for businesses and high income residents, two things the Governor has ruled out but some state lawmakers have not.