HARTFORD, CT — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and a coalition representing the state labor unions announced at 7 p.m. Tuesday that they had agreed to reopen the contract currently governing health and pension benefits for state employees.
The word “draft” was removed from the package and press releases were sent by the Malloy administration and the unions, along with updated documents. Each page of the agreement was initialed by Malloy’s Undersecretary for Labor Relations Lisa Grasso Egan, and Dan Livingston, the attorney for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition.
The deal, according to the new documents, would save the state $708 million in 2018 and $845 million in 2019, which is slightly less than the initial estimate.
“This framework and potential savings are a clear example of why collective bargaining is so imperative for our state,” a spokeswoman for SEBAC said. “Without collective bargaining, the billions of dollars in savings would not have been realized. This was an important first step as middle class workers are doing their part to help solve the budget deficit. Now is the time for legislators to ask the same of the state’s most wealthy and billion-dollar corporations.”
The statement says that when the deal is ratified by the unions, the layoff notices that have been issued since April will be rescinded. The five-year deal also would provide four years of layoff protection and extend healthcare benefits for five years.
The coalition said the administration must complete all unit wage negotiations before the individual bargaining units can move forward toward a membership vote.
At least one union doesn’t believe they could hold a vote until mid-July. That’s several weeks after the June 30 end of the fiscal year.
“It is vitally important that all members inform themselves by reading the framework,” a notice on the A&R Administrative and Residual Employees Union’s website reads. “This document encapsulates every facet of what is being proposed. Don’t be mislead by rumors in the press. If it is not listed within — it is just rumor and not a part of the framework.”
Union leadership said the deal is being criticized by some because “it does not cause enough pain for working families.”
“These critics would undoubtedly stand against any agreement with SEBAC,” a union spokeswoman said. “Those individuals need to be reminded of the fact that state employees continue to save the state $1 billion annually through concessions.”
The unions began selling the deal to their members Tuesday through various posts on their websites and through Facebook.
“Our current economic reality requires that we revisit and redefine the state’s relationship with employees and I want to thank the leaders of our state employee unions,” Malloy wrote in a statement.
He said the framework “will surely create more affordable and more sustainable labor costs in a way that generates structural, long-term savings of over $20 billion over the course of the next two decades.”
The plan freezes wages for the next three years and allows for a 3.5 percent increase in pay in 2020 and 2021. It also requires employees to take three furlough days.
The framework of the deal also increases the pension contributions for most workers and creates a hybrid 401k/defined benefit plan for new employees. It also asks active employees to pay more in health insurance premiums and co-pays and retirees are also asked to contribute more to their health insurance.
The contract would be extended by another five years to 2027.