State Employees Vote to Secure Jobs, Extend Benefits & Protect Services

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"There's a lot to take away from the ratification of our labor cost savings agreement," said Ivonne Hamm, RN (above), a nurse in the Electro Convulsive Therapy Department at UConn Health. "I think the biggest is that we have demonstrated that collective bargaining works. We have again shown that the way out of our economic challenges isn't to sideline working people,” added Hamm, the first vice president of our AFT Connecticut-affiliated University Health Professionals (UHP) union.
Hamm, who spoke this morning at the press conference to announce the ratification results, in her comments referred to efforts by state employees to resist politicians' attacks on our unions. Public employees have since January defended collective bargaining as the most effective way for labor and management — the state workforce and the governor — to work together and solve problems.
Click here to watch the full press conference online.
"It's been disheartening to see so much attention focused on savings from state employees over this past year," said Michael Barry, a juvenile probation officer (JPO) at the Rockville Superior Court. "While we are willing to be part of the solution, we cannot be the only ones to step up. By demonstrating that mutual negotiations works, it should signal to politicians and the media that we deserve respect and appreciation," added Barry, AFT Connecticut's vice president for public employees and our Judicial Professional Employees (JPE) union's secretary.
Click here to send a message to your legislators urging they oppose anti-union policies that would lead to more income inequality.
"This process shows that we're deeply committed to protecting the services we provide — and that residents and small business depend on," said Janet Andrews, a fiscal supervisor in the state's revenue department. "Now that state employees have stepped up — once again — it’s time for our elected leaders to do so, too. They should start by truly listening to our many recommendations for achieving additional efficiencies and reducing costs," added Andrews, the second vice president of our Administrative & Residual (A&R) Employees Union.
Andrews' comments refer to sustained advocacy over successive legislative sessions and gubernatorial administrations by the unions in the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) to promote greater efficiencies in public service. An independent actuarial analysis last month found over $24 billion in long-term savings in the framework for negotiations that produced the latest agreements that members have since ratified.
Click here for the actuarial analysis of the SEBAC framework's cost savings.
"Our members have shown elected leaders that working people are willing to do their part," said AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel, who sits on the SEBAC steering committee. "Now it's time for legislators to do theirs — and for us to demand they adopt a fair share state budget. Working families should not alone carry the burden of protecting Connecticut's quality of life," added Hochadel, herself a state employee who previously taught physics at Kaynor Technical High School in Waterbury.
Hochadel's comments refer to Connecticut elected leaders' refusal since early last year to consider better choices than failed austerity policies for narrowing state budget deficits. Lawmakers and the governor have repeatedly given short shrift to common sense solutions like closing hedge fund tax loopholes or reducing the reliance on costly for-profit government contractors.
Click here to send a message to your legislators demanding they take a more balanced approach.
The ratified master agreement and all 33 individual union contracts will next be forwarded to the General Assembly for further action. Republican leadership in both chambers, who have for seven months led the crusade to roll-back collective bargaining rights, have publicly stated their intention to oppose the agreements. Worse, they have threatened to introduce legislation in an upcoming special session on the state budget that would curtail union members' future ability to negotiate their wages and benefits.
Click here to send a message to your state Representative and Senator urging they respect collective bargaining and support the agreements.