Impact of state’s worsening budget troubles taking shape

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Stan Simpson: Politics In Connecticut

HARTFORD — Real fallout from Connecticut’s worsening budget deficit problem is starting to materialize.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said Friday he was notified by the union representing nearly 1,900 non-teachers at the University of Connecticut it was temporarily withdrawing its labor contract from legislative consideration. The move comes after Gov. Dan Malloy called on lawmakers to reject the agreement because it’s unaffordable.

The governor said “this is a contract Connecticut cannot afford.”

Malloy says the five-year deal negotiated last year does not reflect our new economic reality. The raises of up to 4.5 percent yearly would cost $94 million over five years and that might not happen even though UConn says it can cover the cost and that it’s getting longer hours from employees.

Friday, Senate Democrats agreed with the governor, calling the contract “awful” for Connecticut taxpayers, also saying “The university and the union need to go back to the negotiating table.”

“If the administration had problems with any kind of finances they were concerned about in this contract, they had plenty of time to address that with the bargaining committee from the UConn side,” CT AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier said Friday.

She says that contract was negotiated in good faith by UConn and its employees, a process that should be respected.

“After spending months at the table,” said Pelletier, “the members willing to work 14 percent more, not get compensated for the full 14 percent, for then at the end of the game to say no this is a bad idea how is that fair?”

Pelletier says union members will now decide how they move forward.

Also this week, Malloy’s administration notified hospitals they won’t receive about $150 million. Sharkey disagrees with that move and wants the state to still make the payments.

The current fiscal year is more than $220 million in deficit.