2-Year Wage Freeze Discussed For State Workers

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBS Connecticut and AP) – State employees could receive four years of full job security if they agree to concessions such as a two-year wage freeze, three furlough days and higher insurance premiums and pension contributions, according to a draft framework for a labor concession agreement being considered by labor leaders.

Union officials may decide Tuesday whether to present the proposal to rank-and-file members for consideration.

A copy of a three-page summary of the framework, the result of months of closed-door negotiations between Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration and the state employee union leaders, was obtained Monday by The Associated Press. Malloy has been seeking $700 million in labor savings in the new fiscal year beginning July 1 and an additional $870 million in the second year of the two-year budget.

The summary did not include savings estimates. Cutting state worker costs is considered crucial for covering the state’s projected $2.3 billion deficit in the first year of the approximately $40 billion two-year budget. The second year is predicted to have a $2.7 billion deficit.

A closer look at the proposal:

JOB SECURITY
Under the proposal, unionized state workers could receive four years of full job security, effective July 1, if they agree to the concessions. Any layoff notices that have already been issued would be rescinded.

The summary notes that the unions would be willing to discuss “voluntary alternatives” if there is reorganization within a state agency.

In the 2011 labor concession agreement Malloy reached that runs until 2022, workers were promised two years of no layoffs in exchange for various givebacks, which included an employee wellness program and retirement changes.

This proposal would extend the health and benefits portion of that deal for an additional five years, until June 30, 2027, but with some changes. That could become a point of contention with legislative Republican lawmakers, who have voiced concern about extending that agreement.

WAGES
Besides three furlough days, the proposed framework calls for a “hard freeze” in the first two years of the plan, retroactive to 2016.

In the third year, some workers could receive a $2,000 lump sum bonus. In the fourth and fifth years, the proposal includes 3.5 percent general wage increases, plus the annual increments that some units receive. Units without annual increments would receive an additional 2 percent.

BENEFITS
The summary indicates there are “no major health care design changes” in the proposal. Rather, it said, “substantial savings” is generated from proposals such as implementing a “standard formulary to prevent prescription drug price gouging.”

The copay for unnecessary emergency room visits is increased to $250, while a copay will also be imposed for outpatient use of out-of-network labs.

Under the proposal, pension contributions for current employees would increase 1.5 percent, beginning July 1. An additional 0.5 percent pension contribution increase is also scheduled for July 1, 2019.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 

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