The first batch of layoff notices will be going out today, but Gov. Dannel P. Malloy declined to say how many will be going out and which state agencies will be the first to receive them. That information won’t be available until later this week.
“Larger and larger and larger numbers of employees will start to receive their notices beginning today,” Malloy said at press conference following the announcement that CIGNA Corp. will create 200 to 800 jobs in the state. “I think we’ll have a better final number for you on Thursday or Friday.”
Ultimately, about 6,500 workers are expected to get notices because the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition rejected a labor deal to save the state $1.6 billion over the next two years. And no group of state employees will be spared.
“There were no exceptions,’’ Malloy said. “The layoffs had to be delivered in such a way that they were broad-based, and they are. It does not exclude any particular portion of government.’‘
“Coalition leadership has warned repeatedly that putting any worker, public or private sector, on the unemployment line in this economy is like throwing gasoline on a raging fire,” a union spokesman said in a statement.
Union leadership also was unable to put their finger on the number of layoff notices that went out Tuesday, but they encouraged their members to be vocal.
“Those members receiving pink slips or whose ability to deliver vital public services will be diminished by layoffs are encouraged to speak out,” the statement said. “A survey form for affected members will be available online this week that will include suggested options for delivering our message to the public and opinion leaders.”
State employees on their lunch break Tuesday in Bushnell Park were nervous about speaking to news media. Those who did were either not union employees or those who voted in favor of the concession deal.
“I voted in favor of the agreement because it seemed reasonable,” Edith Pestana, an administrator at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said. “They’ll lose very good workers if they do it based on seniority, they’ll lose young workers and the vibrancy they bring.”
Malloy conceded Tuesday that laying off state employees is a complex process.
“Layoffs in Connecticut are very, very complicated,” said Malloy.
He said he’s not trying to avoid the question or delay the news media from reporting it, but because of state employee bumping rights they may not know who actually receives the layoff notices until later this week.
He said a lot of what is happening is position reduction. The employee in that position may have bumping rights, and the person they bump may also have those rights, so it’s too soon to say exactly where the layoffs will be occurring at this stage.
Even the correction officers at Bergin Correction Institution, which is slated to be closed by Aug. 15, have not received their official layoff notices. They were only informed that their positions were eliminated. Enfield Correction Institution also will be closed in order to help the state save money. Malloy said public safety won’t be put at risk by the layoffs.
Meanwhile, Malloy sent his lead negotiator to speak with union leaders last week to find out if modifying the coalition’s bylaws will allow the coalition of 15 unions to vote in favor of an agreement.
“Without a road to an approval process there’s no sense in having any level of discussion. So we await the road,” Malloy said Tuesday.
Malloy used the opportunity at the press conference to reiterate his feelings regarding the layoffs.
“I’m here as the poster person for not doing the things that unfortunately we have to do at this point,” Malloy said. “I spent a fair amount of time early on in my administration trying to avoid this, but now I have a job to do.”
Malloy is expected to present his plan to legislative leaders on Friday. At that point lawmakers can decide whether to hold a public hearing on budget cuts.