State Unions, Malloy Celebrate Passage of Concessions Deal
State employees have approved a labor savings and concessions agreement. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, the governor says he'll now be able to take back most layoff notices and avoid drastic cuts to state services. Standing in a crowded union hall blocks from the capitol, state worker and union representative Dawn Tyson broke the news. "Union members have voted overwhelmingly to ratify the revised tentative agreement and this morning it was adopted by our SEBAC coalition." This was the second attempt by state unions to approve a plan negotiated with Governor Dannel Malloy to save money. After the first vote failed earlier this summer, union leaders changed their bylaws and lowered the bar for passage. This time around, union members overwhelmingly approved the deal. By doing so, they gave up some health, wage, and pension benefits, while getting a guarantee of no-layoffs for four years. "My name is Ron McClellan, I've worked for the state for over 32 years as a power plant operator. Today, despite the sacrifices made by the hardworking men and women in state service, there is a victory. A disaster has been averted and we are on solid ground to regroup and go forward." The governor celebrated the vote. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is an historic agreement. It represents a fundamental restructuring of the relationship between state government and state workers that has ever occurred in the State of Connecticut. It saves taxpayers $21.5 billion over the next 20 years, and it takes a relationship that is unsustainable and makes it sustainable." Malloy, a Democrat, took his hits earlier this summer, when the vote of the unions that helped elect him failed. Now, he took a bit of a victory lap. "Some people even suggested that the rejection of the agreement proved that Hartford was too difficult for me to navigate and that I was naive to think that we could implement real change. On that point, they were very, very wrong." The governor says the budget deal is one step in his goal of reducing the size, scope, and cost of state government. For WNPR, I'm Jeff Cohen.