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Cutting Jobs "No Way to Achieve Prosperity"
The announcement, made to comply with notice requirements in various state employee union contracts, follows Governor Dannel P. Malloy's February reference to workforce cuts in his proposed state budget package. At the time he stipulated layoffs would be necessary if the exploratory talks with SEBAC leaders did not eventually yield additional significant labor cost savings.
"Cutting jobs is no way to achieve shared prosperity," said AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel. "Layoffs hurt local economies in the short-term and will lead to an even deeper fiscal crisis for our state down the road. What we need is not more austerity, but a more balanced approach," added Hochadel, who sits on the SEBAC steering committee of 15 union leaders, and who taught physics and science in the state's technical high school system.
The failure of austerity policies — such as state employee layoffs — are highlighted in a new study from the Center for Public Policy and Social Research (CPPSR) at Connecticut Central State University (CCSU). Its authors have presented well-founded data demonstrating that elected leaders should not fall prey to the temptation of continued disinvestment and service cuts that threaten long-term harm. Instead they urge a fair-minded approach to generating revenues that will keep Connecticut's communities vibrant by protecting the services and structures that are critical to economic health.
Click here to read the full CPPSR study.
"State employees are hardworking women and men who have given back, time and again," said Carmen Roda, an adult probation officer (APO) with 15 years experience in the Judicial Branch. "We want the same things as everyone else; to support our families and to be treated fairly. Politicians can't keep balancing the budget on the backs of state employees," added Roda, who serves as president of our AFT Connecticut-affiliated Judicial Professional Employees (JPE) Union.
Roda's comments refer to over $1 billion in annual savings produced since 2009 from agreements SEBAC leaders reached with the current and previous administrations. They represent real and ongoing sacrifice to wages and other employee benefits secured over three decades of collective bargaining through their unions. Members have over the past six years helped realize millions in additional cost reductions through more efficient service delivery, despite the significant challenges of a shrinking state workforce.
Click here for a fact sheet on recent state employee union members' cost savings.
"Our elected leaders need to realize that Connecticut does not exist in isolation," said Dennis Bogusky, an international student advisor at Norwalk Community College (NCC). "New York just implemented free state college tuition for middle class residents and will raise the minimum wage to $15 over the next few years. And Massachusetts, despite their higher taxes, successfully wooed General Electric away by investing in infrastructure," added Bogusky, who serves as president of our Federation of Technical College Teachers.
Bogusky's comments refer to the decades-long failure by elected leaders from both parties to fix a tax system that has proven inadequate to protect Connecticut's quality of life. Union members have for years advocated for revenue-generating policies to support vital services without placing an unfair share of the burden on working and middle class families. As SEBAC leaders continue to explore possible ways for state workers to once again play a role, legislators must do their part, too.
Click here for our initial response — and call to action — following the governor's proposed state budget in February.