Malloy: If no concessions deal, this year's layoffs only the start
SOUTH WINDSOR -- Clawing back the value of recent pay increases is an easy part of the rekindled negotiations on concessions with state unions, according to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
The most important thing is for union members to approve a deal to head off thousands of layoffs and major program cuts, he said.
Malloy warned Thursday that if the planned 6,560 layoffs go through -- instead of the health care and retirement reductions as envisioned in the concessions deal -- more job cuts will follow in subsequent years.
Malloy said that if the $1.6 billion in union givebacks is approved, it would include a mechanism to extend a two-year pay freeze to recapture the money lost in salary hikes. His top labor negotiator estimated Thursday the pay-out at $3 million to $4 million every two weeks, starting with next week's checks.
One tactic to regain the pay increases would be to extend the proposed pay freeze a month into the 2013 fiscal year. Another method would be to take the money out of employee paychecks over a period of time.
Speaking to reporters after an event celebrating loans and other incentives for the TicketNetwork's new headquarters here, Malloy said he's not depending on the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition to finally approve a deal.
Malloy said he's taking a hands-off attitude to the revived discussions, following action earlier this week that changed SEBAC bylaws on the amount of support needed to accept benefit concessions. While 14 of the 15 unions were required at the time of a losing vote on concessions last month, now only 8 of 15 are needed. Eleven of the 15 units approved the original deal.
Without concessions, 6,560 would be laid off this summer. "Almost all of the union-represented jobs could be saved," he said, adding that an undetermined number of managers will be terminated whether the concessions go through.
"We clearly cannot afford 45,000 state employees based on the current compensation platform, which includes the pensions and post-employment benefits being unfunded," he said. "This is a fight for sustainability and lacking a sustainable arrangement, then we have to really enter into long-term planning for a very different state organization."
If the 6,560 layoffs go through, it's just the start. "I assume there will be more layoffs next year. I assume there will be layoffs the year after, until we get the state workforce to a size that we can actually afford between now and 2017" when the 20-year contract on current health and pension benefits expires, Malloy said.
Under the concessions proposal, employees would accept a two-year pay freeze followed by three years of 3 percent raises; changes in health and pension benefits; and massively revamped benefits for new hires.