(Updated 8:32 p.m.) As of Wednesday afternoon, upwards of five of the state’s 34 bargaining units voted to approve a tentative labor agreement to save the state $1.6 billion.
The Connecticut State Police Commissioned Officers Association, a CSEA bargaining unit representing state police captains and lieutenants, voted 23-12 on June 9 to accept the agreement, according to a statement on its website. That’s about a two-thirds vote, but it’s only one of seven bargaining groups in that union.
Meanwhile, the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association voted 1,079 to 178 last week, easily approving the agreement.
Ken Best, editor of UConn Magazine who spoke on behalf of UCPEA, said the vote came after several informational sessions held at the university’s main campus in Storrs as well as at the regional campuses.
After the sessions and some informational mailers, Best said most members were comfortable with the agreement, which is the last piece needed to balance the two-year, $40.11 billion state budget.
“People realize the state’s in a situation that is economically difficult, like all over the country,” he said. Members were confident that the agreement was negotiated in good faith and will help to protect job security as well as pension and health care benefits, he said.
UCPEA is one of five bargaining groups in AFT-CT. Three other educational bargaining units, including the Vocational Federation of Teachers and Connecticut Federation of School Administrators, have approved the SEBAC agreement. There’s rumors of one more union approving the contract, which would bring the total up to five.
The voting process is far from over and the final results are still uncertain. Unions have until June 24 to vote on the agreement, State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition spokesman Matt O’Connor said Wednesday. He said until that time, the final vote tallies won’t be officially announced by SEBAC leadership even though its possible results may be leaked.
“Many unions have votes to be cast before the final tally is counted,“ O’Connor said. “We don’t want to impact balloting for members who haven’t voted yet.“
Voting ends June 24 for all members, but O’Connor said the leaders of the 15 unions may not cast their votes until June 27. The 15 union leaders will be the last to cast their votes. He said they’re still uncertain about the schedule of those leadership votes and it’s unclear if the unions want to wait an entire weekend to announce the results.
In order for the agreement to be adopted, 14 of 15 unions, or 80 percent of those voting, will need to ratify it.
The $1.6 billion labor package is based on changes to the health and pension package. The bargaining groups will have to vote separately on wage and other contract changes.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he will have to lay off as many as 7,500 workers over the next two years if the deal is not ratified.