As union negotiators and the governor’s administration work to nail down a new agreement, a union spokesman said it’s an unlikely possibility that the leaders of some unions could cast a vote without the rank and file voting again. But it’s a possibility.
Those decisions are up to the individual unions, said Matt O’Connor a spokesman for the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition.
“Every union will have to have a representative cast a vote. How the individual votes are handled is not a SEBAC decision,” he said.
On former Gov. John Rowland’s WTIC talk show Tuesday O’Connor said if leaders chose to cast a vote without another vote by the rank and file, it would likely be limited to unions that voted for the original package. But he said that possibility was unlikely and would only be considered if the new agreement was essentially unchanged from the original.
Ken Best, vice president for communications of the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association, said without a new agreement it was premature to have the discussion. He had not yet heard anything from SEBAC regarding a re-vote and has only read talk of leaders voting without a rank and file vote in the news.
“The way we like to do business is we want our members voices heard,” he said. “If anything is changed substantially it will go to the members.”
On Tuesday Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he didn’t think any new agreement would stray too far from the framework of the original.
“I think it’s going to be very much like the old [agreement] except that it has to address the issues of we’re past July 1 and people got a raise and we have to figure out a way to get that money back,” he said.
Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes said the raises amount to somewhere around $5 million per pay period. But he noted the cost of the first pay period may be a little higher to account for top step bonuses given to some employees instead of raises.
Last month, Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, has said statistics he received from the governor’s office inform them that every day past July 1 they wait to balance the budget the number of layoffs increases to 29 layoffs per day or $1.6 million per day they will have to cut.
The longer it takes to ratify an agreement, the more money the state needs to “claw back” from workers, Malloy said.
If negotiators arrive at new agreement mirroring the original, it stands a good chance of ratification. Due to a high bar set for ratification, the original agreement was rejected despite being approved by 57 percent of the voting members.
Last week union leaders voted to amend their bylaws to make passing an agreement easier. The new language changes the number of unions that it needs to ratify the agreement from 14 to 8 and reduces the threshold of voting members from 80 to 50 percent.
O’Connor said unions understand the need for a new agreement quickly but he wouldn’t speculate on when one may come to pass. But Malloy seemed confident one would be on the table within the next two days and said he hoped to have the hole in the state’s budget cleared up within the next couple weeks.