The 2nd District court ruling on Friday would have devastating effects on cities, towns and states across America. If Governors and Mayors cannot effectively negotiate with public unions, the taxpayers will pay the price. There will never be any “shared sacrifice” during tough economic times.
In 2003 with a $2 billion deficit, our Administration froze wages of non-union employees, we also froze their merit pay increase and delayed them for a number of years. We then asked the same shared sacrifice of the unionized employees, whose leadership refused,resulting in 2,800 layoffs. After a short period of time the leadership finally agreed and literally all the employees returned to work.We followed the collective bargaining agreements and the unions concurred with that in court. This is exactly the same circumstances that previous Governors have faced, including the Malloy Administration. Ironically two years ago when the U.S.District court ruled in favor of the state under Judge Covello, the Malloy Administration was considering laying off 6,700 unionized employees because the union leadership had rejected the concession package.They then agreed to a concession package and the unions got a guarantee of 4 years no layoffs,imagine if those negotiations could not take place, for any Governor or Mayor in Connecticut? At the time the Malloy administration said they were” glad to be relieved of a liability” when the District court ruled in favor of the state. This is a bad decision and needs to be appealed to the highest court. Here is my statement that was released to the press yesterday..
“Although the State of Connecticut won in the lower court and now the 2nd Circuit has reversed the decision, I think it is imperative that the state appeal this decision, either to the full Circuit Court of Appeals or even to the US Supreme Court.Our Administration acted in full compliance with all collective bargaining agreements , which the unions agreed to in court. This decision however will have national impact on all future budget negotiations, here in Connecticut and nationally.This appeal would be on behalf of future Governors, Mayors, First Selectmen and most importantly the taxpayers of this state. During the budget deliberations over 10 years ago, our Administration froze wages of non-union employees, froze their merit pay, and delayed merit increases in a number of years. During those years we had well over $2 billion in structural deficits that we were seeking to deal with and we attempted to remedy these budget problems in a number of ways, including proposing wage freezes for all state employees in an equitable fashion. Many fundamental issues were not considered when the 2nd Circuit reversed the lower court ruling.