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State union workers approve concessions agreement

State union workers agreed to make concessions as part of a deal that should help stem the tide against the state's budget woes.

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Sujata Jain
HARTFORD, CT — State union workers agreed to make concessions as part of a deal that should help stem the tide against the state's budget woes.

The State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition announced the official voting results on Gov. Dannel Malloy's proposal Tuesday morning at the Connecticut State Employees Association in Hartford.

Union representatives said thousands of workers from 15 different unions overwhelmingly approved the deal that will save $24 billion over 20 years.

They said their workers definitely did their part. They then called upon the state's big corporations and companies to do theirs.

"If you care about Connecticut working for every Connecticut resident, not just the wealthy and the powerful, then you must ask for the same from the billionaires and corporations that you ask from us," said Darnell Ford, a union representative.

Ford said middle class workers can't be the only ones making sacrifices.

"When we asked labor to come to the table and be part of the solution, our state workers answered the call," Malloy said in a statement. "This agreement contains significant short-term savings that will be the foundation of a responsible, balanced budget. More importantly, the agreement delivers over $20 billion in savings to taxpayers over the long term and ensures that the promises we make to our employees today are promises that we can afford to keep. They agreed to historic concessions that will put the state on a sustainable path."

The SEBAC deal immediately saves the state $1.5 billion over the next two years, which may be enough to help save a state that is estimated to have a $5 billion deficit over the next two years. This will affect 42,000 state employees.

The deal includes a three-year wage freeze and three furlough days as well as higher insurance co-pays and higher premiums. There will be an increase pension contribution.

Since June 30, the state has been operating on an executive order after state lawmakers and Malloy failed to pass a budget.

The concessions deal, which was brokered between the governor's staff and unions, will make state workers pay more for health care and would double pension contributions for most workers.

Lawmakers anxiously awaited the results.

Republicans pushed for more concessions because of the shortfall, but Malloy said that would have been too much for unions to accept.

House Democrats will also meet privately on Tuesday about the status of budget talks.

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