By the end of last week four of the 15 unions that make up the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition voted in favor of the $1.6 billion tentative agreement.
By Friday, the New England Health Care Employees Union District 1199/SEIU, UConn AAUP, CT Association of School Administrators, and CT Association of Prosecutors had all voted to ratify the agreement. The largest union to date to approve the agreement was the District 1199 health care employees, with 7,700 members.
In order to ratify the agreement 14 of the 15 unions, or 80 percent of the voting members need to vote in favor of it.
There are 34 bargaining units within the 15 unions, and only one of those bargaining units, AFSCME Local 749, which represents Judicial Branch employees, has voted against it.
Thirteen bargaining units have approved the new SEBAC agreement, which includes changes to their health and pension benefits, and those units have also voted to extend their individual unit contracts which include salary changes and four years of job security.
Union leaders cautioned their members on the SEBAC website, suggesting members bear in mind that the final results have yet to be determined. In order for the agreement to fail, two or more SEBAC voting members would have to turn down the agreement, according to union spokesmen.
Union leaders remain optimistic and frustrated about some of the misinformation they say has been circulated about the agreement. Meanwhile, at least a few local unions who voted against the contract expressed their disappointment in the process.
Moises Padilla, vice president of AFSCME Local 387, which represents correction officers, said his officers wanted to be part of the solution, but the state budget resulted in more of a “spending spree” than the shared sacrifice Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called for in the beginning when he asked for $2 billion in concessions from the unions.
“The Governor’s spending spree, additional program formulations (State Earned Income Tax Credit), continued unabated institutional spending, a complete disregard for common sense solutions along with the fact that public policy (universal healthcare/single payer system) will be inserted into a collective bargaining agreement has, in part, resulted in a great deal of frustration and consternation within our ranks leading to the end result of our ratification process,” Padilla wrote in an email Saturday.
He said Malloy’s threats of layoffs didn’t do anything to help the situation.
“Certainly, Governor Malloy and his inner circle of representatives did nothing to alleviate this situation, but inflame the passions of those whom they were trying to court by publicly disrespecting, vilifying, attempting to intimidate and coerce into a YES VOTE with repeated threats of layoffs,” Padilla added.
Padilla’s local, is just one of three unions that comprise the NP-4 AFSCME Corrections bargaining unit, so it’s still unclear at the moment exactly how that bargaining group will vote in the end.
“I agree with my union brother Mo Padilla that Governor Malloy has not helped matters by threatening layoffs and not asking the super-rich and big corporations to step up to the plate,“ Jon Pepe, president of Local 391, wrote in response to Padilla’s email. “But we as state employees can’t sit on the sidelines. We’re in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Supporting the tentative agreement is the best way to protect our pay and benefits while making sure we’re still around to fight the bigger fight for a fair economy.”
Pepe’s Local 391 will vote on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. The third local in the bargaining unit, Local 1565, voted against the agreement last week, but no vote tallies were available. Padilla’s local defeated the SEBAC agreement 471 to 91.
With about 10,000 of the 45,000 employees casting their votes last week, more votes will be cast this week by the remaining unions and voting will end June 24.