Connecticut State Union Layoffs: Now You See Them, Now You Don't?

Call it hokus pokus or smoke and mirrors. The Norwich Bulletin reports that the leaders of Connecticut’s state employee unions (SEBAC) plan to meet on Monday to vote to change their bylaws in order to stave off Democratic and Working Families Party Governor Dannel Malloy’s threats of 4,300 layoffs and the halt of many government services. As was reported here several weeks ago, 57% of public sector union members rejected a concession package, which was to close a $1.6 billion hole in the state’s budget, where, currently, 80% rank and file is required for approval of concessions.

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Amidst much fanfare focused on the special relationship between Connecticut’s public sector unions and their choice for governor, Mr. Malloy and union leaders agreed to the concession package, behind closed doors. Union leaders were embarrassed that the concession plan approved by the governor they worked to elect was rejected by a sufficient number of their members, suggesting that they were out of touch with their rank and file members. In June, however, Matt O’Connor, a spokesman for the coalition of union leaders, said some union members were operating under several misperceptions, including a belief that a rejection of the deal would lead to further negotiations.

Apparently, yesterday’s misperceptions are today’s realities.

Scrambling to figure out how either union bylaws can be changed or the concession package tweaked to obtain more support from members, union leaders not only want to save face, but, obviously their coffer of union dues, since 4,300 layoffs means 4,300 fewer state workers paying dues. The unions will reportedly have most of the summer, until August 31st, to come up with a way to accept the concession package. And, already, according to local conservative talk show host, Dan Lovallo, a state worker has called in to his show, reporting that a deal has been struck.

If a deal is not reached, Mr. Malloy states that, in addition to layoffs, he will close motor vehicle offices, prisons, armories, welfare offices, courthouses, and state highway rest buildings. Prison riots are predicted, by Department of Correction union members, if the governor goes ahead with planned budget cuts. Members of the judiciary warn of massive delays, particularly in hearing civil cases.

Connecticut has become so dependent on state government and, hence, the public sector, that some believe the state cannot survive without them. According to the Hartford Courant, “some lawmakers believe that the consequences of service cuts are so dire that only the unions can bail out the state- and themselves- from severe economic pain for many families.”

So, perhaps you get the picture. The name of the game is to shame the union members who voted against the concession package to come around to their senses. The real reason, of course, is that Democrat/Working Family Party politicians and unions don’t want Connecticut’s citizens- the ones who don’t use many government services- to get a taste of life with less government, because they might start to like less regulation, less welfare services, more money in their pockets, and more private sector jobs. As we speak, the taxpayers of Connecticut are participating in “shared sacrifice,” i.e. the largest tax increase in the history of the state. No negotiations for them.

But such is the incestuous nature of the Democratic party and the unions. In order to feed each other, they cannot be creative, they cannot find a better, more cost-efficient way to get things done. Their very existence depends upon everything remaining the same.

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