State Employee Professionals Say "Union YES"

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More than half of those surveyed said they believe collective bargaining would improve their salaries and benefits — up from previous poll results among working professionals. These findings also reflect reality; on average, union members' wages are 27 percent higher than their non-union counterparts. Members are also 60 percent more likely to have employer-provided pensions than those without a seat at the bargaining table.
 
The online poll of over 1,000 working people was sponsored by the AFL-CIO's Department for Professional Employees (DPE) and conducted by Hart Research Associates. 
 
Click here for more on the DPE survey's methods and findings.
 
The ability to negotiate a better future in an increasingly uncertain economic and political climate has been a leading factor among state employee professionals recently joining or forming unions. Assistant attorneys general (AAGs) last fall voted to organize in AFT Connecticut after health insurance premium co-shares were hiked for managerial and other non-union state workers.
 
Click here to watch AAGs share their plans for winning a strong first contract.
 
"I'm not surprised to hear that unions are popular among professionals," said Shawn Sims (left in photo, above), a tax attorney in the Department of Revenue Services' (DRS) Office of Legal Affairs and Research. "Just look at the hundreds of state managers who have organized over the past year," added Sims, who has worked in the agency for over 30 years.
 
Sims and his fellow tax attorneys in February won voluntary recognition of their free choice to join our AFT Connecticut-affiliated Administrative & Residual (A&R) Employees Union. Their positions have since the early 1980s been classified as "management," which had excluded them from a means for improving their wages, benefits or working conditions.
 
"Our state's economic crisis isn’t going to get better anytime soon," said Jean Morrison (second from left in photo, above above), a tax attorney in the department's Office of Legal Affairs and Research. "Managers will be left on their own and exposed without the collective representation and protection that union members can claim," added Morrison, a 26-year veteran employee in the agency.
 
Morrison's comments echo sentiments raised by AAGs and public defenders in the Division of Public Defender Services who last fall also successfully formed their own local union.
 
Click here for press reporting on both groups organizing their unions.
 
"We are the agency that brings in the revenue for the State of Connecticut," said Clara Raymond (right in photo, above), a tax attorney in the Office of Legal Affairs and Research. "We are the experts on tax law and play a big role in the collection of revenue by providing legal guidance to the agency, to taxpayers and to practitioners," added Raymond, who has served in the agency for the past 12 years.
 
Raymond's comments refer to the broader value of a voice for professional state employees beyond bargaining for their own wages and benefits.
 
"Professionals participating in decision and policy-making has a positive impact on the services they deliver," said AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel. "Clearly, their work experience improves when they're empowered to share their expertise and express their concerns. The results benefit the tax-paying public, too," added Hochadel, who previously taught in the Connecticut Technical High School System.
 
Click here for a Century Foundation research paper on how public sector unions uphold America's democracy.