They knew from the start that it was a long shot, but former Gov. John G. Rowland and Marc Ryan, his former budget director, said it’s “unfortunate” that the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear a petition regarding a decade-old labor dispute.
Rowland and Ryan had petitioned the court seeking a review of a unanimous decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals as it related to their decision back in 2003 to lay off 2,800 state employees. The U.S. Supreme Court decided on Friday not to take up the petition seeking a reversal of a Second Circuit Court decision.
Last June, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court found that the decision to terminate 2,800 state employees “violated their First Amendment right to freedom of association by targeting union employees for firing based on their union membership,” Judge Gerard Lynch wrote.
Rowland and Ryan are represented by Attorney Daniel Klau of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, LLP of Hartford.
“It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court is not taking this case,” Rowland and Ryan said in a statement circulated by Klau. “It will have a profound impact on governors, mayors, boards of education, and taxpayers all across America.”
Through Klau, Rowland and Ryan, argued in the petition that the decision hobbled public sector chief executives during the collective bargaining process. Rowland and Ryan maintained in their statement Tuesday that before layoffs were even considered they “offered every union the chance to take a wage freeze in return for job security.”
An attorney for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition has said the situation the Second Circuit Court decided was very specific.
“The Second Circuit’s decision in plaintiffs’ favor was based on defendants’ stipulation that this is not a case in which work force layoffs were ordered to obtain the budgetary savings that the rejected concessions would have achieved,” David Golub, a SEBAC attorney, wrote in a Dec. 2 letter.
He said the layoffs Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed in 2011 and the ones proposed in 1991 were constitutional and would continue to be constitutional even under the Second Circuit Court’s decision in this case.
In their statement Tuesday, Rowland and Ryan also partially blamed the court’s decision not to hear the petition on the fact that the state had earlier withdrawn its own petition for a hearing.
“The state’s decision to pull out of the appeal clearly undermined the chances of the high court accepting the petition,” Rowland and Ryan wrote. “The Second Circuit’s decision was clearly misguided and public chief executives throughout the nation may now be faced with no power at the negotiating table.”
Attorney General George Jepsen decided in December to withdraw the petition because he felt it put the state in the best bargaining position to negotiate a settlement with the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition.
Rowland and Ryan still want a federal trial court to dismiss the case “based on the undisputed fact that our actions complied with all relevant layoff provisions of the plaintiffs’ collective bargaining contracts.”
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals did not award any monetary damages.
In the meantime, Golub and Jepsen are trying to negotiate a settlement.
“We are committed to moving forward with settlement discussions, as we feel it is in the best interest of the state and its taxpayers,” Jaclyn M. Falkowski, a spokeswoman for Jepsen said Tuesday. “In the event that a settlement cannot be reached, we retain the right to seek Supreme Court review of the claims against the state.”
Falkowski said she didn’t believe the court’s decision to hear Rowland and Ryan’s individual capacity claims will impact a review by the court if the state decides to refile its petition in the future.