SEIU District 1199 announced Thursday that home care attendants, one of two groups allowed to unionize under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s controversial executive orders, have voted by a wide margin to allow SEIU to represent them.
However, the bargaining unit does not yet have the opportunity to collectively bargain, so SEIU does not yet have any power to enter negotiations with the state on their behalf.
Through a mail-in ballot, the group voted 1,228 to 365 in favor of unionization, creating a new division of SEIU called CT Home Care United, according to a union press release.
The personal care attendants follow a group of daycare workers who voted in December for representation through CSEA/SEIU 2001. Both groups are paid in part by state funds through social service programs.
The SEIU press release heralded the vote as a victory for workers and employers.
Jennifer Brown, an attendant from Windsor, said unionization was a step in the right direction but the group still needs the right to collectively bargain with the state.
“I think it’s only fair that we have the same rights that millions of other workers have, but the right to bargain collectively has been denied us,” she said.
Last week two bills that could have given both groups a seat at the collective bargaining table died when the Labor Committee failed to raise them before its deadline. However, union officials said they’re hoping the concepts will be added to another bill before the session ends in May.
The governor’s executive orders have been controversial. Three lawsuits have been filed in Superior Court challenging the constitutionality of Malloy’s actions on the grounds that he overstepped the authority of his office.
Sen. Joseph Markley, R-Southington, a plaintiff in two of the lawsuits, said the vote to unionize was largely irrelevant given the lawsuits and status of the bills.
“It doesn’t mean much because this is an illegal process that still has no legislative approval,” he said.
Markley said the lawsuits have a good chance of rendering Malloy’s executive orders null and void and he doubted language allowing the groups to collectively bargain would pass the legislature this year.