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Mobilizing Because “We Can’t Afford to Sit on the Sidelines”

An early catalyst for the activism was the mid March release by the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) of a white paper advocating solutions for long-term fiscal challenges. A Yale University history professor and In The Public Interest’s research/policy director teamed up to offer a prescription for preserving public services and avoiding working families’ givebacks.
 
Click here for their March 15 report, “Austerity Versus Reinvestment.”
 
The study provided activists “factual fuel” for a variety of budget advocacy activities over the past two months. From public hearings on policy proposals to demonstrations designed to generate pressure for supporting them, members have made their collective voices heard.
 
“The pandemic hasn’t put a damper on union engagement,” said Ally Sexton, AFT Connecticut’s Legislative/Political Action Committee (LPAC) chair and a member of our Administrative & Residual (A&R) Employees Union’s representative assembly. “The reality is that budgets are foundational to public employees’ jobs. We can’t afford to sit on the sidelines when elected officials are deciding whether to fund services,” added Sexton, who works as a legal services attorney in the transportation department.
 
Click here for AFT Connecticut’s testimony in favor of “recovery for all” finance proposals.
 
Many of the activities over the past two months have empowered activists to demonstrate how the state budget impacts their workplace and the services they deliver. One of the largest was a march and rally in late April organized by union members who annually provide tens of thousands of Connecticut students a quality, affordable higher education. 
“The wholesale shift of funds to private enterprises have robbed colleges and universities of resources,” Dr. Ronald Picard (far right, in photo above), a member of our Federation of Technical College Teachers (FTCT). “It is time for the Board of Regents — and its administrative enablers — to stop stealing from students. Allow the in-house faculty to perform the ‘reform’ magic we were hired to do,” added Picard, an English professor and Naugatuck Valley Community College (NCCC) Faculty Senate president. 
 
Picard’s comments were echoed by colleagues in six additional SEBAC unions representing Connecticut’s public higher education professionals and staff, as well as those they serve in classrooms and lecture halls. They collectively demanded state lawmakers and the Lamont Administration halt wasteful privatization, cancel a misguided “consolidation” scheme and begin investing in student learning opportunities.   
 
Click here for press coverage of the action featuring union members and their students.
 
The effort to secure a state budget that funds vital public services takes on added urgency with just over two weeks remaining in the General Assembly’s 2021 regular session. Members who haven’t already done so are encouraged to take 30 seconds to send a message to Governor Lamont urging he embrace the “recovery for all” fiscal package. 
 
Click here to send a message urging a budget based on fairness and equity today.
 
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