Defending the "Future of Our Collective Bargaining Rights"

The bonuses are due July 19 to members of the unions in the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) and are the product of comprehensive contract negotiations in 2017. The one-time $2,000.00 payments were won as part of an overall master agreement to shield against layoffs and extend members' benefits while protecting services and saving billions for taxpayers.
 
"Fixating on these bonuses misses the bigger picture," said Carmen Roda, an adult probation officer in the Judicial Branch's Bridgeport Court Support Services office. "Last year, we did more than our part to help prevent damaging cuts to public safety, health and education. It was the fourth time in less than a decade that our members agreed to step up and be part of the solution."
 
"This fiscal year alone, we saved 40 times the total cost of these bonuses," added Roda, who serves as president of our AFT Connecticut-affiliated Judicial Professional Employees (JPE) union.
 
Roda's comments refer to agreements SEBAC union leaders reached through a series of mutual negotiations with former and current gubernatorial administrations beginning in 2009. Last year's contracts are reducing budgeted labor costs in both the short and long term through increased healthcare and pension contributions, as well as unpaid furlough days. 
 
All told, taxpayers will see savings of $1.6 billion in the current biennium — approximately a third of the projected budget deficit — and $24 billion over the next two decades.
 
Click here for our report on state employees' ratification of last year's SEBAC and individual unit agreements.
 
IB Image"It's not surprising that certain politicians would criticize the incremental gains labor achieved at the bargaining table," said Michael Myles, MBA/CPA (left, with fellow union member Michael Petosa), a financial examiner at the state's department of banking. "They're ignoring the significant sacrifices we made at that same table, just to score political points. Coming days after the nation's highest court sided with dark money donors out to rob our futures just shows what's at stake." 
 
"The real target here isn't contractual bonuses; it's the future of our collective bargaining rights," added Myles, who serves as first vice president for our Administrative & Residual (A&R) Employees Union.
 
Myles' comments refer to the U.S. Supreme Court's majority decision announced late last month in the Janus vs. AFSCME Council 31 lawsuit and which targeted union members. The case was brought by deep-pocketed special interests whose ultimate aim was to weaken the American labor movement by imposing "right to work" policies on the nation's public sector. 
 
In the two weeks since the high court ruling, the billionaire-funded network behind the case has escalated its attacks on public employees in the 22 affected states, including Connecticut. Union members have reported receiving postcards at their homes and e-mail in their workplaces, all pushing the same deceptive "quit your union" propaganda.
 
Click here for national reporting on the nationwide scheme to exploit the Janus decision.
 
As leaders of AFT Connecticut previously warned, members can expect union-busters to approach them in the days and weeks to come. In response to initial Freedom of Information (FOI) requests made by an out-of-state "think tank," in late May we launched a petition drive to raise awareness of these attacks. That was when we we began demanding candidates seeking our unions' support take a stand on this outrageous abuse of public employees' personal information.
 
Click here for our "Which Side Are You On?" petition.
 
Members are urged to report these deceptive tactics if they or their colleagues are approached with a "cheaper" alternative or flat-out urged to quit. AFT has established a toll-free national hotline at (800) 497-3571 and a new website to help track and defeat these union-busters.
 
Click here to share your experience if you've been contacted by anti-labor forces.