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Spotlight: Connecticut State Employees, Part II

Ken DiMaggio (right) is a professor of English and humanities at Capital Community College (CCC) in Hartford where he has taught for 12 years. Prior to that, he worked as an adjunct at several colleges and universities and his full-time faculty position at CCC enables DiMaggio to devote greater attention to his students. 
CCC’s nursing and allied health programs are among the college’s most popular and provide students struggling to escape poverty the opportunity for upward mobility. “These are single moms, people who have been laid off; all trying to make a better life for themselves,” said DiMaggio, who serves as vice president of our AFT Connecticut-affiliated Federation of Technical College Teachers.
He fears that additional cuts to the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) system — notably the elimination of admissions officers and counselors — could jeopardize students’ futures. “We serve an at-risk population, and we have to help them catch up if they miss class time for whatever reason,” DiMaggio added. “This is not a 9 to 5 job.”
Click here for recent press coverage of anticipated additional cuts to the state college and university system.
IB ImageMario Nunez (left) is an advanced practice registered nurse in the intensive care unit (ICU) at UConn Health’s John Dempsey Hospital where he has treated patients for the past four years. He works as part of a diverse team providing care across a diverse range of medical specialties, including neurological and cardiothoracic surgical care.
Nunez worries about the negative impact to patient outcomes resulting from expected layoffs of experienced caregivers both in his unit as well as others throughout the UConn Health system. “Less staff caring for more patients makes everything more difficult,” he said. In the ICU, “bad things can happen quickly, and good outcomes take time,” added Nunez, a member of our University Health Professionals (UHP) union.
Nunez has a message for state officials handing taxpayer-funded incentives over to profitable corporations while at the same time slashing vital services and cutting good jobs. “There must be priorities. There are other things that could be adjusted,” he added, referring to better choices for closing state budget shortfalls that won’t degrade Connecticut’s quality of life.
Click here for press coverage of UConn Health administrators’ latest response to ongoing resource cuts.
IB ImageFrancesca Ford (right) is an English teacher at Emmett O’Brien Technical High School in Ansonia, where since 2004 she has helped prepare future generations of Connecticut’s workforce. Through lessons in classic American literature, Ford provides her 11th and 12th grade students with strong reading, writing and public speaking skills.
Ford is concerned with current and expected future resource and staff reductions to the Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS). “They say education is the important thing, yet it’s always the first thing cut,” she said. “They see education as a line item, but in reality it’s more than that; it’s our students, and they are the future,” added Ford, who serves as treasurer of our State Vocational Federation of Teachers.
Ford is frustrated that lawmakers this year have refused to seriously consider asking Connecticut’s most profitable corporations and hedge fund managers invest more into preserving our state’s quality of life. “If I’m contributing 35% of my salary, they can certainly pay their fair share, too,” she added.
Click here for press coverage of recent service and job cuts in the state’s technical high schools.
The number of state employee layoffs since pink slips were first issued in mid-April has reached nearly 1,000 as of this week. At the same time, vital public services — from rape crisis counseling to student health services to juvenile court re-entry to forensic investigations — are being slashed weekly. 
Few understand better the real consequences of cuts and layoffs than our public employee union members. We asked Nunez, Ford, DiMaggio and their colleagues featured in last month’s spotlight to speak out for a brief video that effectively captures their collective concerns.
Click here to watch these dedicated state workers urge elected leaders make protecting our state’s quality of life a priority.

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