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Sunday afternoon open thread

by: ctblogger

Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 12:55:17 PM EDT

Sorry is this round-up is a little heavy handed against the selfish minority of union members who screwed thugs up for everyone but Malloy's alternative is not good for anyone.

UPDATE: After taking a deep breath and counting to ten, I'll definitely agree with elements of Matt W's comment, particularly where he states that the state's bully in chief bears a great deal of responsibility for the union concession mess...and Jon Pelto has been one on the lone voices pointing out this very factor out for several months. Make sure you read Pelto's union concession timeline a read...in fact, it's required reading.

  • Why many of the selfish voted no.
    So what happened?

    "Just in speaking to different people," James-Evans said, she found people left with unanswered questions from union brass. "I think the communication wasn't there. The union did a terrible job communicating with their members. It was a big, big issue. They didn't make the investment in communicating with folks."

    Indeed, misconceptions about the deal spread like wildfire among the rank and file, with tales of "Obamacare" "nanny state" provisions forcing workers to switch doctors, penalizing them for smoking or being fat, or denying emergency care, for instance. The plan required them to sign a form saying they'd undergo annual physicals (or face new deductible and higher premiums) and twice-annual free dental cleanings. It also required most workers at some point to have colonoscopies or mammograms absent compelling reasons not to, and to visit primary care centers rather than emergency rooms if the option exists.


    "I voted no basically because of the medical," said one, a member of AFSME Local 749. He said he already pays $500 per month for health insurance for his family.  He said he didn't have enough information about the proposed health care plan to trust that he wouldn't lose benefits.

    He said his union already gave seven furlough days under former Gov. M. Jodi Rell. "We weren't afraid to give back something" more, he said, but "there was just so much" he was willing to give up.

    A state judicial marshal turned in his ballot Thursday as part of the National Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 731, whose votes have not yet been tallied.

    "I voted it down," he said. He said he already gave up a pay raise in concessions under Gov. Rell. A self-described "diehard Democrat," he supported Malloy in his election for governor. Now he feels the new governor is trying to balance the budget on the backs of the working class, he said.

    "They go after the working [class] people," he said, while judges are allowed to retire with a pension, then return to get $225 per day "to just sit up on the 9th floor and drink coffee."

    Another state judicial marshal also voted "no" on the proposal. She said she didn't have much information about the labor deal, but "it seemed like the right thing to do." She said there was a "consensus" among coworkers to vote no.


    Another worker, who has been with the state for five years, said the biggest split is between senior employees and newer hires like her. The junior workers are more cognizant that times are hard in the private sector, she said, and are more likely to be willing to accept less from the state. Many older employees, by contrast, "they're in their comfort zone, and change is not a good thing."

    "Let's just say this: you have performers and non-performers," she said. "There's a good chance the performers are going to be let go" because they haven't been around as long. The more senior workers "don't think they'll be touched" by layoffs.

  • Lockhart thinks the rejection amounts to seniors versus juniors.
    Basically, as some folks tell it, senior workers decided their jobs were safe and figured they'd sacrifice the newbies (i.e. "First in, last out...") to Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, who has been threatening layoffs if the unions did not ratify the $1.6 billion deal.

    And Matt O'Connor, a spokesman for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, said it is certainly something his bosses will consider when they convene Monday to figure out what the heck happened.

    "That's going to be part of the analysis," O'Connor said.

  • Feedback on the selfish minority who screwed it for everyone...
    Many Connecticut residents on the outside looking in on the state's labor battle say they are stunned by the defeated concessions deal and wholly apathetic to the unions' woes.

    "I think it's a shame," said Jeff Parker, of Easton. "Now we're going to have 7,500 people lose their jobs."


    Marge Tremel, a Fairfield resident who works at St. Vincent's Medical Center, said union members that voted down the deal have been selfish.

    "In these days and ages, everyone needs to give a little," she said. "Some of the unions are a little bit too greedy."


    Elizabeth, a Shelton resident who withheld her last name, called the rejection of the contract "short-sighted and selfish."

    "Unions were set up years ago to protect employees in a very different work environment," she said. "Today they have so many benefits that the rest of us don't experience and I think they have missed the bigger picture."

  • More feedback...
    While this newspaper felt Gov. Malloy should have insisted on greater givebacks from labor, it agreed with his overall strategy of achieving savings through negotiated concessions rather than putting more people out of work. Adding thousands to the unemployment roles, crippling their buying power, will only exacerbate Connecticut's economic problems.

    But that's the path the state unionized workforce has chosen, or at least a part of it. Through its collective bargaining, the state labor unions purposely made it very difficult to approve concessions. Now many of its members will pay a heavy price. When the unions finish counting, a majority of members will have agreed to the modest concessions, but the arcane weighted formula required to approve a contract adjustment means the lack of support from one large bargaining unit, AFSCME, killed the deal.


    With their misguided and selfish votes, some state employees have both assured that many of their fellow workers will be out of jobs and reinforced the stereotype of the privileged government worker unwilling to compromise.

  • Bigelow:
    The political consequences are sure to be dire. "No" voters can't possibly believe that the public will support them; rather, their worst prejudices against state employees have been confirmed. This is not Wisconsin. No one is on the unions' side. National labor leaders have been conspicuously silent. Any state employees believing that elected officials are now going to turn around and negotiate a better-for-them deal are clearly not thinking straight; no one in the legislature or the governor's office has any reason to stick their necks out for the unions now.

    Sen. Edith Prague, hardly a union-busting lawmaker herself, wondered if some state employees were just out of their minds. The unions "will never get another thing out of me," the quotable Prague remarked in disgust. Nor should they.

    Malloy has long threatened a draconian "Plan B" budget that slashes services, lays off thousands, and puts a huge burden on towns and cities. There is no reason not to think that this is exactly what will be put into place. The governor has called a special session for next week, and lawmakers will probably end up approving a budget slightly less destructive than Malloy's original. Whatever the outcome, budget cuts and higher taxes are coming to your town, courtesy of a small minority of state employees.

  • Dixon predict's Malloy's Plan B
    How about this scenario, which is being contemplated by the Malloy team: Social workers in the DCF rejected the concessions, so how about wholesale shutdowns of the DCF social-worker departments, who would be replaced with private non-profits, saving the state lots of money? Those jobs would be so easy to privatize that the social workers wouldn't know what hit them.

    The program of providing teachers in state prisons is another one that could be so easily privatized. It would almost be as if Republican Tom Foley had won the gubernatorial election after all.  And the liberal Democratic lawmakers will be sitting up there in the stands with Malloy, giving the state employees the big thumbs down.

  • Finally, Daily Kos' DemfromCT landed an interview with Governor Malloy which is a must read!

What's your thoughts on the concession rejection?
ctblogger :: Sunday afternoon open thread
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Ugh (4.00 / 5)
Are you really calling union members that opposed giving back $18000 each "selfish" and "thugs?" Very unpleasant.

I don't buy for a moment that CT workers had to give back 10X what Wisconsin workers were forced to give back, nor do I believe Malloy has to lay off 7500 workers or more now. It was an unreasonable amount and a false choice, offered by a bully who believes that he's above responsibility for his decisions.

Overall, what your comments (and many of those in the media) are sidestepping is that this entire affair, from the giveback amounts to the layoffs, were decisions that Dan Malloy made, and that other decisions were always (and still are) possible. That Malloy would rather issue those pink slips than sit down and resolve the issues (which, with the vote being as close as it was, should not be too difficult) says a great deal about him.

Union members -- those voting yes and those voting no -- did what they thought was best. For their union brothers and sisters and yes, for themselves as well. Is that wrong? Some of the yes votes were surely from those who didn't relish the deal but were scared of the threatened layoffs. Some of the no votes were surely from people who were unwilling to sacrifice years and years from a retirement they've worked a lifetime to earn. What we witnessed was not a negotiation -- it was a gun pointed at the head of organized labor, classic union busting -- and while I'm not inclined to be judgmental of how anyone voted, watching progressives go on the attack against union members voting their conscience is grotesque and horrifying to me.  

Couple of thoughts (3.00 / 1)
1)Does anyone here believes that if this concession package passed it would have been the last time concessions were asked for?I think we all know had it passed that a pattern would have been established that would NEVER have been broken amd Cts pubic employees would have joined the ranks of a rather substantial percentage of the private sector(can you say Journalists amongst others) that are members of the race to the bottom.

2)Can someone explain to me why I'm suppose to be all worried about the 7500 or so people who used their political connections to the Rowland/Rell administations to get a job that will now see a pink slip?

[ Parent ]
Can't answer question 2... (0.00 / 0)
...but as a parent who just witnessed my bigoted anti-immigrant mayor flat fund education in Danbury, I'm most concerned over the prospect of cuts to municipal aid and the impact that could have on schools.

Between the increase in regressive taxes and the prospect of further cuts, in the end working families get the shaft while the well-to-do get a pass.

...so much for shared sacrificed.

[ Parent ]
Then blame Malloy for being a bully (4.00 / 1)
and the legislature for being cowards but not the state workers who knew if this concession package passed every contract in the future would be another concession package.

[ Parent ]
Update on Update (0.00 / 0)
Jon deserves a lot of credit for having the intestinal fortitude to stick with the topic -- and his earlier, strong support of Malloy gives him the credibility to make those criticisms stick.

Al, you also deserve a lot of credit for keeping with it while so many others (myself certainly included) have become exhausted by the almost inevitable waves of disappointment. We're looking at a horrible mess following this vote, and I know you're reacting to the pain that will almost certainly come about in the weeks and months to come.

Apart from Malloy offering the choice he did -- which I think was wrong of him to do -- I also think there could have been more pushback from labor about giving back a billion dollars on a $5 billion total compensation and benefits budget. Whether there should have been is something that the labor locals will have to sort out between the members and the leaders going forwards -- whether the goodwill they gained in their relationship with the governor in the process yielded a benefit that offset the public relations nightmare that's in their future now.  

Unions (0.00 / 0)
If unions fold like a cheap suit every time they're pushed by management, they might as well close up shop right now because they will serve no purpose at all.    

whom pushes whom? (4.00 / 1)
 The union leaders thru SEBAC negotiated agreed  to the deal and pushed  their individual unions by way  of information meetings.They didnt  fold  so much as  they miscalculated  their members voting against the very deal  that they negotiated.

[ Parent ]
Divide and conquer (4.00 / 1)
The union leadership in these state unions and many others FAILED when they agreed to allow, at managements insistence,a 2 or three tier system.

I believe the current union leadership has a much better relatonship with Malloys cronies than thry do with their own membership.

I'll bet neither the union leaders that were at the table or Malloys negotiators could tell you what a gallon of milk cost and the average square footage of their homes was at least twice that of the average worker they were willing to sell out.

[ Parent ]
I dont think if anyone "sold out" so much as the negotiators misjudged their members (4.00 / 1)
 Hi Keith...always a pleasure...

 My take on the situation is  that the negotiators from both sides terribly miscalculated  the sentiment of the public sector union membership to a stupifying degree.You might be  right that the union leaders  are way too removed  from their membership  to be effective conveyor's  of an agreement and effective negotiators for their membership.

[ Parent ]
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