State employee union vote set for next week

Stan Simpson: Politics In Connecticut

HARTFORD – There’s an important vote expected to happen regarding unions here in the state of Connecticut which would help balance the state’s budget deficit.

The state employee unions are scheduled to begin voting next week in a crucial tally on more than a billion dollars in concessions over the next two years to help balance the state budget. The Hartford Courant reports right now there’s an overall framework for union concessions in place– union leaders decided last month to send it out to its membership for a vote taking place in a few days. The agreement would save the state more than 10 billion dollars over the next ten years, 1.5 billion of that would come over the next two years when the state’s projected deficit is five billion dollars.

The deal calls for a hard wage freeze for a while in exchange for no mass layoffs. It would force state employees to contribute more to their pension and health care plans and for people newly hired, the pension system would look more like a 401-k plan.

The voting would take place all over the state with 15 separate unions and 34 bargaining units. They would each vote twice once on wages and hours and a second time on healthcare and pensions. All votes are expected to be done by July 17th.

With no state budget in place even though the fiscal year has already started, the governor is eager to get this vote passed. If the union concession vote does pass, the state house speaker says a budget may be passed as early as July 18th.