HARTFORD, CT — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he’s not using the threat of layoffs as “leverage” to get the state employee unions to agree to $1.56 billion in concessions over the next two years, but under the law he has to start giving employees notices.
“These are legal requirements in contracts with respect to giving notice,” Malloy said Thursday during a Capitol press conference.
The Malloy administration said it will reduce the state workforce by over 1,100 employees in May “as a first step toward resolving the budget shortfall.” In addition to those filled positions, the administration said it will allow another 120 vacant positions that were scheduled to be filled remain vacant.
The impacted employees will include non-union employees as well as members of various bargaining units, according to Malloy’s press release.
The layoffs are expected to save about $80 million.
When he released his budget in February, Malloy said 4,200 state employees would need to be eliminated in order to achieve the $700 million in labor savings in fiscal year 2018.
The Malloy administration and chief negotiators for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition have been informally talking since last November, but have been unable to reach a consensus. The two sides met as recently as last Tuesday.
A statement that was published on all bargaining group websites acknowledges the notice requirement, but doesn’t believe it’s a necessary step.
“Layoffs and service cuts threaten public health and safety, our children’s education, and our state’s future,” a statement on the American Federal, State, Municipal and County Employees Council 4 website says. “They will hurt our economy and lead to even more fiscal crises. Connecticut needs a balanced approach to resolve our budget deficit that isn’t entirely dependent on damaging state services to meet that goal.”
It goes onto say that over the past eight years, Connecticut state employees have given back over $1 billion annually through their 2009 and 2011 concession agreements and the state workforce is now “the smallest it’s been since 1960.”
Malloy said the decision to develop a contingency plan is not a statement on how negotiations are going with the unions.
“We have legal requirements with respect to the giving of notice,” Malloy said. “I remain hopeful that we’ll reach an agreement.”
He said they didn’t “jump the gun” on giving those notices because they didn’t want to be seen as trying to influence negotiations.
“We left it to the latest possible date we could,” Malloy said. “I’m hopeful those layoffs will ultimately not be required.”