Still uncertain about how they will proceed, union leaders met Friday and rejected motions to amend SEBAC bylaws to affect the vote already taken by their members.
Union spokesmen, Matt O’Connor and Larry Dorman, said the group of union leaders will meet again on Tuesday to formally reject the 11 to 4 vote of its membership and discuss future changes to the bylaws.
The agreement the unions rejected received support from 57 percent of the membership, but a minority of members who voted against the $1.6 billion concession package were able to defeat it because of the coalition’s rules which calls for ratification by 14 of the 15 unions and 80 percent of its membership.
“What that solution is is going to be determined early next week,” O’Connor said. “But it’s not thousands of job cuts, it’s not contracting out the services that the members provide to private consultants, and it’s not taking away workers’ rights.”
“We have a plan going forward and it does involve working directly with the administration,’ O’Connor said.
Asked if there will be a completely new vote in the future on an agreement, O’Connor said “that’s an option that’s been discussed.”
“But at this point we’re not in a position to announce what the next step is—what the path forward includes,” O’Connor said.
He said a vote on the package that was just voted on isn’t part of the path forward.
However, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he’s not open to sitting down and negotiating another agreement.
“I’ve been asked many times over the past few days about rumors regarding SEBAC and what they might or might not do, so let me be clear,” Malloy said in a statement early Friday morning. “If they choose to ratify the agreement that was recently turned down, and if they do so in a timely fashion, much of the pain that’s been inflicted over the past few days can be reversed. If they end up not ratifying the agreement, then the budget we now have in place is the one we’ll live with for the next two years.”
Earlier in the week Malloy said he would be open to clarifying the agreement, but was not willing to negotiate a new one.
With both sides standing their ground on the issue, it’s hard to image a solution will be reached. But the unions and lawmakers, who are sort of stuck watching this process as it unfolds from the outside, continued to express optimism a solution will be reached.
O’Connor said he appreciated the show of support from the House Democratic caucus earlier today who showed confidence in union leaders ability to reach an agreement when it decided not to take up changes to collective bargaining.
“I think that’s a very positive development considering what that particular law could have done if it were in fact acted on and passed,” O’Connor said.
House Speaker Chris Donovan said Thursday the collective bargaining bill will remain on the House calendar and can be taken up in the future if SEBAC can’t reach an agreement on the $1.6 billion concession package. And despite SEBAC’s inability to delineate a clear path forward, Donovan remained optimistic.
“If there is no agreement we may be dealing with these issues. So right now we are concentrating on dealing with the budget issue. That’s why we came in,” Donovan said.
Malloy, who was backed by the unions during his election, even seemed to signal on MSNBC‘s “Morning Joe” show that he may be willing to sit back down at the table.
“I ’m hopeful that we’ll all get back to the table,“ Malloy told Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough. “That the package that was negotiated will be approved one way or another.”
Meanwhile, Malloy has promised to layoff 6,700 employees in order to balance the budget without an agreement in place. And as some of those pink slips go out close to 40,000 unionized state employees are scheduled to get salary increases over the next two weeks. Only three bargaining units, currently negotiating their contracts will not be receiving wage increases.