Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the coalition of state employee unions voted at the end of last week to enter into a tentative agreement regarding $700 million in concessions, which will help the state deal with an estimated $8.7 billion budget deficit over the next two years.
According to sources, the package which was agreed to by the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition includes no layoffs for two years, higher co-pays and health insurance premiums, seven furlough days, and no wage increases until June 30, 2010 for the more than 50,000 state employees.
A wage increase of 2.5 percent will be given to employees on July 1, 2010 and another 2.5 percent wage increase will be given out on July 1, 2011, if members of the 13 state employee unions vote in favor of the package over the next few weeks. No wage increase would be given this July.
The tentative agreement also includes a three month delay in step increases for 2010 and 2011. Those who are at the top step will receive a $750 bump in pay, which will also be delayed by three months.
According to sources employees will also be asked to pay more for their health insurance. Insurance premiums will increase to $13.46 per pay period, which is an estimated $350 per year. Co-payments for prescription drugs will increase to $5 for generic, $10 for preferred brand name, and $25 for other brand name. Doctors visits for preventative care will decrease to $5 and routine gynecological examinations will decrease to $5.
The plan state employees will vote on over the next few weeks also includes a retirement incentive program for those who are age 55 or older with 10 years of service or those working hazardous duty with 20 years of service.
Details of the tentative agreement will be released next week, after the formal agreement has been signed and unions have had an opportunity to provide information to their members, Rell’s office said in a press release Monday.
Rell’s office was unable to say Monday what the package means for the state’s bottom line, since the above details have yet to be voted on by the rank-and-file membership of the unions.
“SEBAC and my Administration have worked together in a spirit of respect and professionalism,” Rell said, expressing her appreciation for the efforts of union leaders to help her resolve the enormous financial issues facing the state.
Union leadership said in an emailed statement that the agreement will save the state more than $700 million dollars.
As part of that negotiation process, most of the individual unions reached contract agreements consistent with the overall framework previously approved by SEBAC leadership, and those contracts as well will be brought to members for ratification over the next few weeks.
“It’s a fair and balanced sacrifice that helps everyone in the state, while protecting vital services,” Larry Dorman, spokesman for AFSCME Council 4 said Monday afternoon.