(Updated) State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition spokesmen said Friday afternoon they plan to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office stating that the labor agreement upon which union members are voting this month has been unfairly tainted by outside forces.
Click here to read the letter.
SEBAC spokesman Matt O’Connor said that he believes the Yankee Institute for Public Policy has been doing whatever it could to encourage union members to vote against the tentative agreement and to vote against their own interests. However, the Yankee Institute denied any involvement with spreading misinformation.
“Our concern is that the Yankee Institute has been orchestrating a deliberate campaign of misinformation and they may very well have violated the law,” O’Connor said.
Attorney General George Jepsen said Friday evening that he couldn’t comment because he hasn’t been given any information yet from the unions.
O’Connor acknowledged the conservative think tank is entitled to free speech, but he said they are not entitled to misrepresentation. He and fellow spokesman Larry Dorman said they suspect the institute of being the source behind a series of emails that have been arriving in state employees’ email boxes.
Some of those emails have come from senders claiming to be state employees, but the names under which they have written do not appear on the Department of Administrative Services records of state workers, O’Connor said.
“Unfortunately, it’s been difficult to nail down a lot of this because once it gets out there it does get circulated by actual state employees with actual concerns. So we’re working to get to the root of this,” he said.
O’Connor pointed to a letter penned by seven leaders of the Engineering, Scientific & Technical Council, part of the P-4 bargaining group, to CSEA President Patrice Peterson on Tuesday expressing concern about their contract, which is separate from the contract negotiated by SEBAC.
The group wrote the letter and handed it to their union president and the very next day the Yankee Institute had a ready packaged story on their blog which they fired off to the emails of various reporters, O’Connor said.
“That certainly indicates that they are engaging in whatever kind of practices they can to raise suspicions and doubts among voting union members and to slow down the process,” he said. “I mean, this latest claim that the voting process is somehow unlawful, that’s just wrong.”
“I think what they’re looking for is for the agreement to be rejected and chaos to reign in Connecticut,” he said.
Fergus Cullen, the Yankee Institute’s executive director, denies any misinformation campaign.
After he was read the allegations by the unions, Cullen said “that’s completely false. You just have to smile at the conspiracy theory.”
He said he categorically denies the organization’s involvement, but mentioned that recent polling by the institute showed that there’s very little support for the deal.
According to the poll, 49 percent of voters say state employee unions “did not give up enough and should have been asked for more,” while 36 percent say “the unions did give up a lot.”
Cullen said the Yankee Institute supported Malloy’s effort to get $2 billion in contract concessions from the state employee unions. In fact, even though they disagreed with him on the tax hikes, they conducted an advertising campaign online and in print in support of Malloy’s decision to ask the unions for concessions.
Click here to read more about that.
O’Connor said it makes sense the institute would support the call for $2 billion in concessions because it is anti-union and anti-public services. They seek to take away the voices of union members and the working class, he said. They were likely disappointed when the agreement reached was only $1.6 billion and contained a lot of savings rather than direct, out-of-pocket concessions from state workers, he said.
Cullen said this is the third time in 10 days he’s had to deny the misinformation being disseminated by the unions. He said it’s getting to be tiresome.
Christine Stuart contributed to this report.