The Connecticut AFL-CIO publicly protested the decision by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Labor Department to lay off 95 workers Friday, a day after the administration announced it has found room for 22 of them in other state agencies.
The AFL-CIO, which is a coalition of unions, will protest the closure of six job centers and a reduction in the workforce at the Labor Department site in Meriden Friday morning.
On Thursday, Malloy’s administration announced 22 of the 95 impacted employees were placed in previously vacant positions, including seven employees who were chosen to fill vacant examiner positions at the Department of Motor Vehicles to help reduce wait times at DMV branches. Only three employees opted to accept a layoff.
“This is the first step in finding placements for workers affected by the federal cuts,” Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes said. “The employees from Department of Labor have done a great job there, and we are fortunate to be able to bring their talents to other positions.”
The reduction in staff is necessary, according to the administration, because of federal funding for the department is expected to decrease by $32 million over the next two years. The layoffs will result in recurring savings of more than $16 million.
But members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 4, which represents almost all of the impacted workers, say they offered alternative solutions to the reduction in funding.
And while they appreciate that most of the employees who belong to the union have the right to fill vacancies in other departments, the union believes the administration is missing the bigger picture.
“We appreciate the administration’s and the agency’s efforts to work with our union to minimize the disruption that will occur to DOL employees and their families,” Larry Dorman, a spokesman for AFSCME Council 4, said. “However, we have significant concerns about the impact these cuts will have on the services provided to job seekers and businesses. There needs to be a larger and broader public policy commitment to preserve an agency that is critical to the state’s economic health and well-being.”
Sal Luciano, president of AFSCME Council 4, has said that the layoffs will impact the Labor Department’s mission.
“If the state of Connecticut wants a Connecticut Department of Labor they won’t have it after these layoffs,” Luciano said.
He said unemployed individuals may be able to get benefits, “but after these layoffs it won’t be anytime soon.”
The AFL-CIO rallied outside the Meriden job center Friday morning to call attention to the closure of the job sites and one call center, and the layoffs.