Connecticut Governor Seeks to Avoid Public Employee Layoffs
By Melissa Maynard, Staff Writer
UNION NEGOTIATIONS: Even if Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy succeeds in pushing through the $1.5 billion tax increase he has proposed, the state will have to make $2 billion in spending cuts to balance its budget. The governor is hoping to find half of that through labor concessions, and has signaled that thousands of public employee layoffs will be necessary if an agreement isn't reached. In the absence of concessions, the governor's remaining choices will be few and difficult, the Connecticut Mirror reports , particularly given his campaign promises to protect the social safety net and aid to towns. Laying off 5,000 employees — one-tenth of the state workforce — would achieve less than $500 million in savings during the next year because of contractual obligations with employees, including sick time payouts and mandatory dismissal notice times of up to eight weeks.
CUTTING SALARIES: As labor contract negotiations begin in Pennsylvania , the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports , Governor Tom Corbett is asking for a 4 percent reduction in pay for workers represented by AFSCME, the state's largest employee union. This would save the state more than $60 million a year. If the change is enacted, the workers represented by AFSCME would see their pay drop from an average of $34,000 to an average of $32,640, union executive director David Fillman told the Post-Gazette . "Do we know we're going to have to make some sacrifices in this budget? Of course we do," Fillman said. "But for a lot of folks, 4 percent would be devastating."
PAYING DUES: The Missouri Senate has given preliminary approval to a measure that would require public employee unions to get written consent from members each year before using payroll deductions to collect union dues, the Associated Press reports . Separate approval would be required to devote dues to political purposes, and state agencies would begin charging a small administrative fee for the deductions.
REFERENDUM DRIVE: Ohio unions are seeking 230,000 petition signatures by June 30 in their campaign for a ballot initiative to overturn the state's new law restricting collective bargaining rights for public employees. If the unions do meet the deadline, implementation of the law would be delayed until after a statewide vote in November. But the Columbus Dispatchreports that Republican Governor John Kasich and GOP House Speaker William Batchelder are exploring a plan to include some of the law's provisions in the state budget, which would allow them to take effect regardless of the referendum.
MAINE MURAL: Maine Governor Paul LePage's administration will argue in U.S. District Court that it was exercising "government speech" when it removed a labor history mural from the state Labor Department headquarters, the Associated Press reports . A lawsuit filed on behalf of the artists and Maine unions seeks to put the mural back in place. In addition to removing the mural, which the governor says is biased in favor of organized labor at the expense of business, LePage ordered that the names of departmental conference rooms currently named for labor organizers be changed.