Thirty-five union bargaining units have ratified an agreement with Gov. Ned Lamont for the next three years that includes 2.5% general wage increases and a lump-sum payment of $3,500 for each member, according to the governor’s office.
“The parties entered these discussions knowing the stakes,” Lamont said in a press release. “The state has to live within its means just like the families and businesses we serve and represent, but this is also a unique situation where state employees did extraordinary work during a paradigm-altering pandemic, inflation has concurrently increased, and the state workforce could potentially undergo significant changes due to retirements and uncompetitive wages.”
The State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition agreement, which has now been made public, will go to the General Assembly for approval.
The cost estimates for the new wage contracts are still under development, as eligibility determinations are being finalized across all affected funds. Those estimates will be reviewed by the Office of Fiscal Analysis when the final package is submitted to the legislature.
Additionally, the issue of hazard or pandemic pay was not part of these negotiations and will be resolved as part of another agreement.
Republicans lawmakers are poised to object.
“We’ve seen rich employment packages in the past. It is unprecedented to give our workers $3,500 bonuses,” House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora has said.
The deal comes at a pivotal time for both Lamont, a Democrat seeking re-election in November, and state government, where the number of workers has plunged this year as many eligible employees choose to retire rather than accept the leaner cost-of-living adjustment terms that will apply to any state worker who retires after July 1.
According to the state comptroller’s office, 952 state workers have already retired this year as of earlier this week and another 2,307 have filed paperwork indicating their intent to retire soon.
In a press release, the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition cast the tentative agreement as a fair deal aimed at recruiting and retaining qualified state workers in the face of a “retirement tsunami.” Unionized state workers have had their wages frozen for six of the last 12 years and the state has demanded benefit concessions as previous negotiations took place against a backdrop of state budget deficits. This year, the state enjoys a surplus.
“Everyday hundreds of thousands of vehicles drive on the over 4,000 bridges throughout Connecticut that the state inspects to ensure safety,” Ned Statchen, DOT Transportation Engineer 3 said. “We need fair and professional contracts retaining and recruiting talented and dedicated staff to do these inspections so that we don’t put Connecticut drivers at risk. We must fund our future to ensure our critical infrastructure is safe and secure.”