It’s more than 1,000 miles away, but union workers and supporters in Connecticut will show their brothers and sisters in Wisconsin that they’re with them when they rally at the state Capitol in Hartford Wednesday afternoon.
Wisconsin is the birthplace of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, and “we want to show our solidarity,” Larry Dorman, spokesman for AFSCME Council 4, said Tuesday.
He said the noon rally is specifically rooted in the crisis in Wisconsin and Gov. Scott Walker’s desire to take away workers’ collective bargaining rights.
But it’s unlikely the situation in Connecticut, mainly the $2 billion in concessions Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has called for, will be completely ignored.
“I don’t want to say there’s a connection,” Dorman said. “There’s absolutely a marked contrast between Gov. Malloy, Gov. Walker, and Gov. Christie.”
He said unlike Walker and Christie, Malloy is not trying to dismantle the labor movement or trounce on collective bargaining rights. However, he said the situation in Wisconsin is a reminder that “we’re in a frontal assault on public employees and all middle class workers, which has to stop.”
“Whether it’s Madison, Wisconsin or New Haven, Connecticut, we will remind elected officials they need to create good jobs with fair pay, instead of attacking middle class working people,” Sal Luciano, executive director of AFSCME Council 4, said.
But despite the election of the first Democratic governor in more than 20 years, Connecticut’s more than 45,000 public employees feel like they’re under attack.
After helping elect Malloy by one of the slimmest margins in recent history, a feat he says he pulled off despite their support, they feel like they were blindsided by Malloy’s request for $2 billion over the next two years in concessions and savings.
At his first of 17 Town Hall meetings to discuss his budget proposal, which includes the largest tax hike in the state’s history, union workers turned out to express their displeasure with budget proposal and their share of the sacrifice.
Many felt they had given enough two years ago when they agreed to a wage freeze in the first year, and 2.5 percent increases in each of the following years, seven furlough days, and higher co-payments for health care benefits. The savings amount to close to $750 million, but Malloy was quick to point out about $300 million of those savings were delayed payments to the pension fund.
Malloy has said the unions got a bargain two years ago and they know it. Union workers countered that they’re taxpayers too and will be contributing not only in wages and benefits, if Malloy gets his way, but also in tax increases proposed in Malloy’s budget.
Wednesday’s rally will be held at noon on the steps of the state Capitol.