On Monday Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration was notifying state agency heads it will need to cut their budgets by 10 percent if negotiations with state labor unions don’t go as planned, but by Wednesday it was sending those same agency heads instructions for layoff notices.
“It is clear that in many instances it will be impossible to achieve these levels of reduction without reducing the number of employees, both through attrition and also through lay-off,” Ben Barnes, Malloy’s budget director, wrote in this memo Wednesday.
“In order for your agency to make orderly plans for implementing whatever lay-offs are required, I am providing the most recent guidance from the Office of Labor Relations with respect to layoff procedures by bargaining unit,” Barnes wrote.
Each bargaining unit has a different set of notification requirements for employees and the 50-page packet attached to the memo include instructions for both notifications and bumping privileges. Some bargaining groups require up to eight weeks of notice and the end of the fiscal year is about 13 weeks away.
Both sides are down playing the significance of the memo, saying it doesn’t reflect the tenor or progress of the negotiations.
“I’m not surprised, nor am I unduly alarmed,“ Larry Dorman, spokesman for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, said Wednesday. “We all need to focus on a ‘Plan A’ and not a ‘Plan B’.”
Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior communications adviser, shared Dorman’s sentiment that the move was not meant to be threatening.
“Simply reminding – or, in some cases, informing – agency heads about the procedures that need to be followed if layoffs become necessary,” Occhiogrosso said. “ To be clear: we hope that doesn’t happen, and we’re working hard to avoid it. But there’s obviously a scenario in which they do occur.”