HARTFORD, CT — Gov. Ned Lamont, who asked Connecticut labor unions to come to the table to have a conversation about scheduled raises, said that those discussions have not been productive.
“Look, I treasure the people who are on the frontlines,” Lamont said Tuesday outside the Connecticut Science Center.
Lamont said nursing home workers got a raise and he believes others, including those in state government, deserve “some combat pay.”
“In my world, the private sector, you delivered, and you delivered at incredible risk to yourself,” Lamont said.
However, Lamont said he couldn’t see himself giving everybody in state government a raise on June 30.
Lamont said if it were up to him and not something contractual, “I would put it off.”
He said there’s 20% unemployment and lot of people are furloughed or losing 20% of their pay “just so they can keep their jobs.”
“I’m not looking to lay anybody off, but I think that’s what we should do,” Lamont said.
Labor officials pointed to a May 9 statement explaining that the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition met with Lamont on May 5.
“SEBAC union leaders attending solely to listen to the administration. No further meetings with the administration are scheduled,” they wrote in a statement.
“Of course, state employees are already sharing the state’s fiscal pain. Those raises are due in accordance with the 2017 SEBAC Agreement, where state employees to date have received one general wage increase in the last four fiscal years. Meanwhile large corporations and multi-millionaires and billionaires have done little to help address state fiscal issues. Their state and local tax rate remains below that of working families,” the group said in a statement.
The raises were negotiated by former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Under the 2017 SEBAC deal, state worker pay increases include a 3.5% general wage increase and an annual step increase of 2%. The raises are estimated to cost the state $119 million from the General Fund and $15.3 million from the Special Transportation Fund, which covers the cost of employees at the Transportation Department.
Sal Luciano, president of the AFL-CIO, said that if state employees were asked to forego their raises it would be the seventh time in 10 years. Luciano said he understands the concern over the budget, but many of these workers are working 16-hour shifts and endangering themselves and their families.
“You can’t go back to the well when these workers are putting their lives on the line,” Luciano said.
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano said he’s disheartened by the union response.
“I hope the legislature remembers this when they come back with their contract,” Fasano said.
He said it’s not like they were asking them to forever forego their raises.