Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration announced Wednesday that a total of 1,157 new layoff notices went out over the past week bringing the total number of layoff notices up to 3,008. But unlike last week, nearly 600 employees will be separated from their employment with the state before they can vote.
Malloy has promised to rescind their layoff notices if their colleagues approve the wage concessions which are part of an overall $1.6 billion package that includes changes to health and pension benefits.
By the end of the week 158 employees will already be separated from their jobs and voting is expected to conclude Aug. 18.
Ben Barnes, secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, said Wednesday layoff notices for executive branch agencies are largely complete. The remainder of the approximately 6,500 total layoffs will come from higher education and the judicial branch. Neither higher education or the judicial branch have released its layoff notices.
Asked about how he thinks the unions have been doing in getting the information about the clarified agreement to their members, Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior communications adviser, said he thinks the governor was clear about that Tuesday in his remarks.
“I think it’s also safe to say that there’s a little bit of a different environment this time,” Occhiogrosso said. “I think the consequences of an agreement failing are a little bit more clear to people.”
Asked if the weekly update on the layoff notices could be viewed as encouraging the state employees to vote in favor of the deal, Occhiogrosso said he wouldn’t characterize it that way, but “if that has an effect and an impact in a way that helps ratify the agreement then that’s an unintended consequence, although perhaps a welcome one.”
Barnes said it’s a dynamic environment and he’s trying to prepare for whatever unfolds regarding the budget and layoffs. Since unions could vote against the wage portion and still approve the health and pension portion of the agreement, the final outcome could be a mix of layoffs and budget cuts.
“We’re trying to prepare for whatever unfolds. We’ll do our best to have OPM respond quickly no matter how things develop,” Barnes said.
Since releasing the budget cuts and the first round of layoffs that would result if a labor deal isn’t ratified, changes have already been made to the plan. Barnes said they figured out a way to phase out at a much slower pace the reduction of detox beds at Connecticut Valley Hospital in a way that saves the same amount of money. But something like the closure of Bergin Correctional Institute is moving forward and would have regardless of the current labor situation.
Lawmakers are expected to hold a public hearing on some of the proposed budget cuts before Aug. 15.