Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and state employee union leaders announced late Friday that they had reached a tentative agreement on a concession deal that, if ratified, would close the state’s $1.6 billion budget gap while averting .
Malloy, whose office announced the deal in a statement shortly after 10 p.m. Friday, said it was essentially the same agreement state workers had failed to ratify in June, just “clarified” so that revisions to the health care included as part of the deal were better explained.
“So that there is no confusion, let’s be clear about what this clarified agreement is,” Malloy said. “This agreement saves the same amount of money as the last agreement– $1.6 billion over two years, $21.5 billion over 20 years – and it contains all of the same cost-saving provisions as the last agreement.”
Malloy said language in the agreement had been tweaked so that it now contained a provision that would allow the state to recoup any money it had paid to state employees in raises since the new fiscal year began July 1, and the date that state employees can retire before any of these changes would go into effect had been pushed back a month from Sept. 2, 2011 to Oct. 2, 2011.
“That’s it,” Malloy said. “No other changes from the first agreement. I said all along that I was only willing to clarify terms from the last agreement, and that’s what we’ve done.”
A posting to the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition’s Web site, which represents the bulk of Connecticut’s unionized state employees, also announced the news late Friday.
The posting, entitled “Union Leaders Reach Tentative Agreement with Governor’s Representatives to Save Jobs, Protect Benefits, Preserve Services,” stated that as part of the agreement all layoff notices already sent out to state employees would be rescinded.
Both Malloy’s statement and the SEBAC posting, credited to spokesman Matt O’Connor, noted that any changes to state workers health care plans will not include the controversial SustiNet health reform legislation, which the SEBAC posting describes as “now-dead.”
“The united effort of union leaders has produced an agreement that is not just fair for the members they represent. It’s also good for the people they serve, and will restore vital public services cut in the governor’s alternative budget plan. The agreement is the path forward to restoring early intervention services for infants and toddlers, keeping courthouses open, maintaining respite homes for families in need, and avoiding closure of motor vehicle offices,” the SEBAC posting states.
Under the agreement, state workers would receive the guarantee of no layoffs for four years in exchange for a wage freeze and alterations to state employee health care and pension benefits. The full agreement can be viewed here.
Under SEBAC’s new bylaws, enacted Monday specifically in hopes of reaching an agreement with the Malloy administration to avert the layoffs and facility closings, a simple majority of union members and unions must approve the concession package in order for it to be ratified. Under the previous bylaws, 80 percent of union membership and at least 14 of the state’s 15 unions needed to endorse the agreement for it to take affect; about 57 percent of union members voted in favor of the proposal in June, and 11 of the state’s 15 unions.
“Voting is up to each union, which they are still finalizing. Leaders know they have to act quick,” O’Connor said late Friday evening when asked when union members would begin voting on the agreement.
Earlier Friday, , after he repeatedly stated that he had no intentions of negotiating a new agreement with union leaders, Malloy was asked by a reporter if he thought the necessary amount of rank and file union members would vote to endorse the same agreement after it had already been rejected under the unions’ previous bylaws.
“This agreement got shot down once, it could get shot down again,” Malloy replied. “It will get shot down again if people don’t do their jobs and explain to people why this is necessary.”