All 14 Senate Republicans sent a to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Thursday calling on him to rescind the October longevity payments expected to go out the door in the middle of the month to about 3,600 non-union state employees.
“We are writing this letter to you to ask that you rescind any planned October longevity payments to non-union state workers,” they wrote. “This action is critical to restore the trust of state workers and legislators in your leadership and in our government.”
Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior adviser, replied by saying, “the Governor’s position is clear: he doesn’t think anyone should be getting longevity payments.”
In order to accomplish that “legislative action is necessary, and it’s not even clear that that will be enough because there are legal questions that also need to be answered,” Occhiogrosso said.
Minority Leader Sen. John McKinney, R-Fairfield, strongly disagreed.
In his letter last week to Malloy, McKinney argued that the governor has the power to limit the payments of some non-union employees to $75 to $300. There are exceptions to the rule, such as judges and state attorney’s, whose contracts require the longevity payment to be a percentage of their salaries.
Last week the unions expressed their disappointment in the decision to dole out the longevity payments to non-union employees. The bulk of the unions forfeited their payments this October in accordance with the SEBAC agreement. A smaller number of union employees forfeited 25 percent of their payments.
“It is clear that union state employees voted for the SEBAC agreement based on the understanding that the terms and conditions of that agreement, including the forfeiture of the October longevity payment, would be applied to all non-union employees,” the 14 Republican Senators wrote Thursday.
“Their frustration and disillusionment upon learning that highly paid executive managers will be receiving longevity payments in October—many totaling thousands of dollars—is understandable and justified,” the Republicans wrote.
There had been language to make the non-union longevity payments comparable to what was in the SEBAC agreement—which would have essentially eliminated them—but that language mysteriously disappeared in Section 11(c) of the final draft of the bill passed by the General Assembly in special session June 30. There was language in the May budget bill to eliminate these bonuses, which is why so many lawmakers were surprised to learned they will still be given out in mid-October.
But Occhiogrosso said the administration has concerns about the legality of eliminating the payments.
“As to the request made by the Senate Republicans, they know full well that the Governor can’t do what they’re asking him to do – it’s not legal,” Occhiogrosso said.
Longevity payments, which date back to the 1960s, begin on an employee’s 10th anniversary and increase after 15, 20 and 25 years of service and are made in April and October each year. Malloy signed an executive order in January capping them and eliminating them for any new members of his administration.
The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that longevity payments, along with unused vacation and sick days, had to be included in the pension calculation for retiring state employees.