Labor leaders and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s lead negotiator met until 3 a.m. this morning trying to reach an agreement on $2 billion in labor savings over the next two years.
“Union leaders have turned down the idea of recessing until the morning numerous times throughout the night,” Matt O’Connor, spokesman for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, said.
The two sides were trying to come up with a framework for a tentative agreement on changes to health and pension benefits, the only two items SEBAC has the ability to negotiate for its 15 member unions. Wages, furloughs and other working conditions need to be negotiated separately with the 34 bargaining groups that comprise the 15 unions.
A tentative agreement for changes to health and pension benefits will have to be voted on by the 46,000 rank-and-file members and 14 of the 15 unions SEBAC represents would have to vote in favor of it for it to be accepted.
Malloy’s office released the departments and positions of the first 182 of the 4,742 layoff notices expected to go out over the next couple weeks in anticipation of layoffs if an agreement can’t be reached. The layoffs are expected to save $455 million in the first year and would be accompanied by $545 million in spending cuts.
“SEBAC leadership remains committed to trying to reach a mutual agreement on cost savings and concessions that is fair to our members and good for Connecticut,” O’Connor wrote on the union’s website Thursday.
“Some members of our unions have asked why SEBAC leadership has not been briefing them on the details of the ongoing discussions in writing. While many members have shared ideas, attended union meetings, or been verbally briefed by stewards, delegates, or other union leaders, others have heard rumors or seen unofficial written accounts of the discussions,“ O’Connor said. “Some of these so-called reports have been wildly inaccurate.”
Social networks and the halls of the state Capitol are abuzz with speculation of what a tentative agreement could look like, but union officials warned its members to ignore any speculation.
“SEBAC leaders believe it is possible to reach an agreement with the Malloy Administration that provides a framework for playing a role in resolving the economic crisis while protecting our members and the services we provide,“ O’Connor wrote. “We don’t want to decrease our chances of success by ‘negotiating through the press‘.”