The Rep-Am reports that the governor and state employee unions are quietly talking about concessions:
Rell is already making overtures to public employee unions for help in closing the yawning budget gaps. The unions are responding cautiously and offering arguments against layoffs.
For the time being, Rell isn’t talking layoffs, but she isn’t ruling out the possibility, either. There are more than 48,000 unionized employees on the state payroll, according to administration figures. (Hughes)
Rell has supposedly learned a lesson from the labor relations disasters of the Rowland years, and is approaching the unions with a less hard-line tone than her predecessor. It’s good that they’re talking at all, of course.
Unions are taking the line that cutting employees and state services will only make times harder for the people of Connecticut. From a release from the CSEA/SEIU Local 2001:
“…When we invest in human needs and our infrastructure, we not only improve everyone’s quality of life, but we help provide the spark to revitalize our economy. If, instead, we retreat and make deep cuts now, we not only make the current crisis worse for the people of our state — we make it harder to pull out of this downward spiral in the future,” [said chief SEBAC negotiator Dan Livingston].
Union leaders, members of congress, and state legislative leaders have been discussing the need for a broad partnership that includes all levels of government and the private sector to secure the resources needed to turn Connecticut around. “We welcome the Governor’s involvement in this effort,” said Livingston “It will be a struggle either way, but it’s far better that we struggle to begin a positive cycle of reinvestment, hope, and renewal, than a vicious cycle of cutback, despair, and decline.”
We’ll see if unions and the governor can come to any sort of agreement during the next legislative session.
Hughes, Paul. “State unions, governor talking possible concessions.” Waterbury Republican-American, 25 November, 2008.