Layoffs Loom in Connecticut, New York

The new working number for pending layoffs in Connecticut is 7,500. That is enough lost jobs to bump the state's overall unemployment rate up from 9.1 percent to 9.4 percent, reports the Connecticut Mirror

Union leaders and the administration of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy brokered a last-minute deal in May after the governor initiated the process of laying off up to 4,700 workers-and made clear that he intended to follow through in the absence of $1.6 billion in concessions. The deal included the promise of no layoffs for four years in exchange for a wage freeze and changes to health care and pensions. Many Republicans criticized it as a "sweetheart deal," arguing that the Malloy administration was only pretending to take a tough line by threatening thousands of layoffs. Almost everyone expected rank-and-file members to ratify the agreement.  

But under the rules, at least 14 of the state's 15 public employee unions-representing at least 80 percent of all unionized employees-must ratify the agreement in order for it to go into effect, and four unions rejected it, including some of the state's largest. So it wasn't even close, particularly given the large size of some of the unions rejecting the deal.  
Union officials met yesterday to discuss next steps, potentially including a re-vote. Malloy told business leaders  that he would seek ways to reduce the number of layoffs, according to the Associated Press , but has emphasized that job reductions will be large and swift. He has called a special legislative session that will begin Thursday to ask lawmakers to expand his budget-cutting authority. 

Union leaders and state workers on both sides of the issue cited a range of reasons for the deal's outcome, from concession-fatigue after a series of givebacks to misinformation about the impact of changes to health care. 
"I believe in the process and I don't believe that the process failed us. I believe that we failed the process and that people more or less made choices that were selfish and not for the common welfare of those involved," Dawn Tyson, a processing technician at the Department of Social Services who supported the agreement, told the Associated Press . "Most people looked at their years and service and figured, `I'm not going to be touched and I'm going to be out of here in a few years and it's not going to affect me.'"

In neighboring New York , Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo reached a deal last week with the state's largest public sector union, the Civil Service Employees Association, after threatening to lay off up to 10,000 workers, reports the New York Times . That deal includes a three-year wage freeze and the first-ever furloughs for New York state workers, as well as an increase in employee health insurance contributions. Rank-and-file members are in the process of voting on the deal. Negotiations with other state unions are ongoing, and Cuomo has said that widespread layoffs will begin July 15 in the absence of agreements.

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