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Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Rowland Appeal In Union Layoff Case

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Governor John Rowland, 2004 (Bob Falcetti/Getty Images)

Governor John Rowland, 2004 (Bob Falcetti/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP/CBS Connecticut) — The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from former Connecticut Gov. John G.Rowland over claims his administration violated state employees’ constitutional rights when it laid off 2,800 workers based on their union membership in 2003.

The justices did not comment Tuesday in turning away Rowland’s appeal, including his contention that the case could have national implications because it would hamper governors during labor negotiations.

Last year, the New York-based federal appeals court ruled against the Rowland administration and ordered a trial judge to decide on an award for the laid-off employees. The appeals court also ruled that Rowland and his then-budget director, Marc Ryan, could be sued individually.

Rowland is the afternoon talk show host on WTIC-AM, and has a blog.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor did not take part in the court’s consideration of the case. She previously served on the appeals court.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Through their attorney Daniel Klau, Rowland and Marc Ryan released a statement:

It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court is not taking this case. It will have a profound impact on Governors, Mayors, Boards of Education and taxpayers all across America.

Notwithstanding the decision, we continue to believe in the correctness of our actions, which the unions’ lawyers have repeatedly conceded complied with the layoff provisions of the unions’ collective bargaining contracts. Similar to our approach with non-union managers at the time, upon whom a wage freeze was imposed Click on link and see first paragraph of sixth page of the PDF document (paragraph labeled “Estimated Lapse and Other Built-In Savings”), we offered every union the chance to take a wage freeze in return for job security. In fact, a number of unions agreed to this wage freeze in return for no layoffs. The actions we took on the labor front saved the taxpayers hundreds of million of dollars on an ongoing basis. What we asked of labor during a time when we were facing a $2.7 structural budget gap was not unreasonable. Spending cuts and tax changes far exceeded the amount requested. It’s important to remember the budgetary plan, including the layoffs, was adopted by the Legislature with Republican and Democrat support.

The state’s decision to pull out of the appeal clearly undermined the chances of the high court accepting the petition. The Second Circuit’s decision was clearly misguided and public chief executives throughout the nation may now be faced with no power at the negotiating table. Even during the last budget negotiations, Governor Malloy had to resort to issuing thousands of layoff notices to help solve a budgetary shortfall. Ironically, he too will find himself with no negotiating leverage in the future if unions are unwilling to share in the pain — even in a small way — of solving financial crises.

Finally, it is important for the public to understand that the Second Circuit decision did not award any monetary damages nor did it direct the trial court to award money damages. Instead, it sent the case back to the federal district court in Connecticut for a full trial on ALL issues, both liability and damages.  Accordingly, we have instructed our attorneys to immediately file a motion asking the district court to dismiss the case based on the undisputed fact that our actions complied with all relevant layoff provisions of the plaintiffs’ collective bargaining contracts.  We are confident that the district court will grant that motion, which will save the State of Connecticut tens of millions of dollars.”

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