Gov. M. Jodi wrote a letter to legislative leaders Thursday urging them to reject a state arbitrator’s decision to award 5,200 Department of Correction officers a three-year contract, which increases their salaries 3 percent in the first year and 2.5 percent in the following two years.
In her letter to legislators she said the decision to ask them to do this was difficult for two reasons. First because she values and respects the job Correction officers have and secondly because the arbitrator upheld the state’s position in nearly every instance.
“Unfortunately, the state’s last best offers were put on the table in May and were based on economic data available at that time, long before the national fiscal crisis created a sea-change in the state’s economic circumstances,” Rell said in a press release.
“The fact that the governor is urging rejection of her settlement, crafted by her own economic advisors and contract negotiators, leaves us surprised,” Larry Dorman spokesman for AFSCME Council 4 said in an emailed statement. “Correctional employees walk Connecticut’s toughest and most dangerous beat. We hope legislators will honor front line prison employees by supporting the arbitration award.”
Either the House or the Senate can reject an arbitrators award by a two-thirds vote. Both Democrats hold two-thirds majorities in both chambers, and Democratic leaders would not be pinned down Wednesday about what action, if any, they would recommend.
The last time the legislature rejected an arbitration award was 12 years ago.
Majority Leader Denise Merrill, D-Mansfield, said Wednesday that she thinks a majority of the state workers, whose contracts may be up for negotiations or awaiting an arbitrators decision, want to help out the state as it navigates through perhaps its worst fiscal crisis ever.