Public employee union members in Connecticut will get a chance for a do-over vote after disapproving contracts their leaders worked out with the administration of Governor Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, in June. The administration has said that 6,500 state workers will be laid off to fill a $1.6 billion hole in the state budget if concessions in pay and benefits similar to those in the previous contracts aren't implemented.
Malloy and union leaders agreed to "clarified" language on Friday geared toward assuaging fears about potential alterations in health benefits. Union leaders also modified their by-laws to make it easier to ratify changes to pensions and benefits. And now that at least 1,851 layoff notices have already been delivered, the choice between accepting concessions or widespread layoffs has become far more real — the difference between a numerical threat from the governor's office and colleagues with pink slips in hand.
Still, no one is making any assumptions about ratification until the votes are counted, perhaps because of the unexpected nature of the original deal's collapse. "I think it's a 50-50 proposition, but it's 100 percent guaranteed that the budget will be in balance," Malloy told
the Hartford Courant
. "We are going to be in a position to have the budget in balance one way or the other."
Most of the employees who have received layoff notices are in a state of limbo and have been told that they will now be able to keep their jobs if their peers ratify the contracts, according to
the Connecticut Post
. " I was elated. I thought, 'Oh my God ... Maybe there is a second chance,'" said Marcia Barry, a paralegal specialist for the state Workers Compensation Commission who was among those to receive layoff notices.