Connecticut Budget Is Upended as State Workers Reject Deal
When I read stories like the one on the cover of today's NYT about CT unions insanely voting down a generous deal, I'm reminded that our greatest allies in the political fight to reform our schools might well be the unions themselves. They've been so powerful for so long that they've become bureaucratic, sluggish and thuggish – and, by and large, remain in total denial about their current reality – and therefore continue to make mind-boggling mistakes that destroy their support – this vote in CT being a perfect example:
Connecticut's state workers, in voting results announced on Friday, rejected a deal meant to produce $1.6 billion in labor savings over two years, blowing a gaping hole in the state budget, raising the likelihood of thousands of layoffs and threatening chaos in a state that has largely avoided the rancorous labor issues seen elsewhere.
The rejection was an emphatic slap to both the union leadership and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat who was elected in November with enthusiastic support from labor.
…The agreement called for wage freezes for two years, followed by 3 percent annual raises for three years and a guarantee of no layoffs for four years, as well as concessions on pensions and health care.
It had been hailed as a harmonious resolution, in contrast with the strife in states like New Jersey, Ohio and Wisconsin, where legislatures have reduced benefits or curbed bargaining rights in the face of vehement labor protests.
The defeat also came the same week that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wrung major concessions from New York's largest public employees' union, in a deal that appeared even less generous than Connecticut's, and that also must be ratified by union members.
The results of the voting in Connecticut exasperated and infuriated even longtime allies of state workers.
"The failure to ratify by state employees does more harm to them and the cause of labor than anything their enemies could possibly achieve," Donald E. Williams Jr., a Democrat who is president pro tem of the State Senate, wrote colleagues in a message announcing the special session. "It's unbelievable that they don't understand that."
June 24, 2011