“Some at the time criticized the 2017 agreement as not being harmful enough to state workers,” said Ed Leavy, a long-time English teacher at Bullard-Havens Technical High School. “What those critics failed to understand is that the best agreements aren’t measured by how much pain they cause, but by how much good they do. That agreement got Connecticut’s financial situation to a much better place than we would be in otherwise,” he added.
“Our members are proud to make a difference in the lives of the students we serve,” added Leavy, the president of the AFT Connecticut-affiliated State Vocational Federation of Teachers. “Through honest and respectful collective bargaining with our sisters and brothers in other unions, we help make a difference for all of Connecticut’s families,” he added.
for our report following ratification of the 2017 agreement.
The package approved by members of the unions in the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) included a number of provisions designed to provide both short and long-term savings. The combination of wage and benefit concessions, as well as operational improvements throughout state government, In the first two years exceeded projections by approximately $128 million.
“State employees have once again shown that the way out of economic challenges isn’t sidelining working people,” said MaryBeth Hill, a veteran Department of Children and Families (DCF) social worker. She added that union members, “helped solve a serious budget shortfall because we felt it was a necessary sacrifice to protect the important services that we dedicate our lives to.”
“This was a sacrifice made predominantly by middle-class families,” continued Hill, who serves as president of AFSCME Local 2663, which represents more than 2,000 human and social service workers. “It is a sacrifice that has not been matched, nor even offered, by the wealthy or corporations in this state,” she added.
to watch state employees resist attempts to roll-back their rights.
The agreement is proving that all of Connecticut — not just union members — win when labor and management find common ground, build consensus and engage in collective bargaining. Residents and businesses who depend on the vital public services delivered by state employees are additionally benefitting from innovations adopted at the negotiating table.
“We are especially pleased by how much money we have saved with ‘win-win’ ideas,” said Carl Chisem, president of the Connecticut Employees Union Independent (CEUI), SEIU Local 511. He offered as an example the quality based preferred provider network and smart shopper program, which is “saving the state millions in medical claims.”
Chisem, who worked in the state’s transportation department and serves on the SEBAC steering committee, added that the benefit is keeping members “healthier and cutting costs for them as well.”
to “like” and subscribe to updates from SEBAC’s Facebook fan page.
The timing of the OSC report’s release two months ahead of the Connecticut General Assembly’s 2020 legislative session may be as consequential as its contents. The governor’s budget office has since predicted a significant deficit for the current fiscal year; lawmakers will over the coming months no doubt seek ways to plug the shortfall.
Union members have in this document solid arguments for better choices than cutting critical services or extracting more concessions from public employees.