Christine Stuart file photo
Public safety worker rally at the state Capitol at the end of March (Christine Stuart file photo)

Department of Correction staff who arrived for third shift Thursday at Bridgeport Correctional Center were walked off the job and given their pink slips. The routine continued throughout the day at various locations.

When the dust settled 166 Correction Department employees, including 40 new correction officers, were separated from state service.

Earlier this month Correction Commissioner Scott Semple shared a letter with staff to let them know a plan to eliminate 147 positions had been approved by the administration. Over the past few weeks the plan changed and 19 more positions were eliminated.

The presidents of AFSCME’s three locals representing correction staff said “it’s a shame Governor Malloy is playing politics with our lives and our futures instead of doing the right thing, which is to honor a contractual agreement that has benefited our state, and to find other ways of making government more efficient and effective.”

Correction officers and other public safety staff rallied at the state Capitol at the end of March to call on the governor and lawmakers to consider tax increases, instead of layoffs.

“Laying off workers who defend and protect the citizens of our great state is an unacceptable alternative to doing the right thing. We will continue to fight the governor’s reckless layoffs and service cuts,” the three presidents, Collin Provost, Mike Tuthill, and Rudy Demiraj, said.

Malloy has said he plans to eliminate 2,500 positions.

With 360 retirements, 288 vacancies, and 518 layoffs announced over the past few weeks, Malloy has 1,334 left to announce.

The administration has been notifying employees and relieving them of their duties the same day they are handed a pink slip.

“This is consistent with human resources best practices, and it will allow those employees the opportunity to explore and seek alternative employment opportunities going forward. They will be paid their salary and maintain all their State-provided benefits throughout the contractual notice period,” a memo from the Office of Policy and Management announcing the layoffs reads.

Connecticut is facing a more than $900 million budget deficit in 2017 and Malloy has said it needs to reduce the size of its workforce to accommodate a “new economic reality” where revenues have not kept pace with state spending.

Malloy and legislative leaders have asked labor to reopen its contract for health and pension benefits, but labor has declined. It’s unclear if renegotiating health and pension benefits would prevent layoffs.

Additionally, the Judicial Branch laid off 126 employees last week, but those jobs are in addition to the 2,500 positions Malloy is eliminating in the Executive Branch.