Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration decided Thursday to delay sending out layoff notices to thousands of unionized state employees, even though about 100 state employees at agencies impacted by consolidations will still receive them tomorrow.
The decision not to send out layoff notices to more than 4,000 unionized workers could be taken as a “positive sign that the sides are still talking,” Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy‘s senior communications adviser, told reporters Thursday afternoon. However, he remained cautious about what exactly that may mean for negotiations.
Occhiogrosso warned the delay has nothing to do with the tenor of the negotiations, which he refused to characterize. Malloy is asking the state employees for $2 billion in concessions and savings over the next two years to balance the budget he signed into law yesterday. It’s a number some have opined is unachievable and it would be more than any other governor has gotten from state employees in more than 20 years.
“They’re ongoing. Both sides have been very good about adhering to the agreement to not talk about what’s going on inside that room,” Occhiogrosso said.
“The alternative scenario [layoffs] is not one that anyone thinks is a good idea,” he said. “He wants to reach a deal. He has no desire to layoff thousands of people.”
Occhiogrosso said both sides feel a sense of urgency and Malloy was taking that into account when he decided to hold off for a couple of days.
Even though some bargaining groups require eight weeks notice, Occhiogrosso said the delay just means the layoffs would go into effect a few days after July 1, the start of the new fiscal year. He said it doesn’t mean any bargaining groups will be exempted from layoffs if Malloy needs to go in that direction.
“The governor is committed to downsizing government, but is not unaware that even in these hundred positions people’s lives are being impacted,” Occhiogrosso said.
The 100 layoff notices will impact agencies like the Department of Public Works and the Department of Information Technologies, which are just two of the agencies being merged or eliminated under the budget signed into law Thursday. The consolidation of 81 state agencies down to 57 is expected to save between $10 million and $15 million.
Larry Dorman, spokesman for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, said he just received the news about the notices, but wasn’t able to share much. He said the unions will continue discussions with the administration.
In a statement to union members Dorman said, “Coalition leaders remain committed to reaching a mutually agreeable settlement on the role of state workers in the current budget framework. SEBAC is continuing discussions with the Malloy Administration to ensure we create good jobs, protect vital services, and rebuild Connecticut’s middle class.”
If Malloy isn’t successful in getting the $2 billion in concessions he will need to cut $1 billion from the state budget. Legislative leaders met with Malloy who detailed his framework for those cuts this evening.