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Connecticut state union workers overwhelmingly approve concessions agreement

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The State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition announced today that its union members voted overwhelmingly in favor of granting concessions as part of a deal that could have a significant positive impact on Connecticut’s budget crisis.

SEBAC said that more than 80 percent of votes cast were in favor of accepting the concessions, which include wage freezes and increasing personal contributions to health and pension funds.

“This agreement contains significant short-term savings that will be the foundation of a responsible, balanced budget,” said Gov. Dannel Malloy, whose administration worked with the unions to hammer out the deal.

“More importantly,” he added, “the agreement delivers over $20 billion in savings to taxpayers over the long term and ensures that the promises we make to our employees today are promises that we can afford to keep. They agreed to historic concessions that will put the state on a sustainable path.”

Malloy had announced a tentative agreement with the unions last month.

In the short term, the concessions are estimated to save the state $1.57 billion over two years. However, the agreement now goes to the state legislature, where Republicans have said they plan to reject it.

“State unions held up their end of the bargain – negotiating in good faith, leading their members through some tough changes, and ultimately rallying their members,” Malloy said. “Now it’s up to the legislature to do their part and approve this agreement. We will continue to be available to meet with any legislator who may have questions about the value and significance of this agreement.”

“Lawmakers must hold a vote on the SEBAC deal as soon as possible,” stated Senate President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven). “This should occur irrespective of Democrats having a budget to vote on or not. The sole question before us is whether or not the SEBAC deal as a standalone item is good for the state of Connecticut, and lawmakers need to answer that question before they build it into any budget.

“From what I see today,” Fasano continued, “the labor deal is not an appropriate solution for our state’s financial crisis, which is why I will continue to advocate for the Senate Republican alternative proposal, which does not require the SEBAC deal be approved to achieve the savings we’ve identified, as they could all be achieved through legislative action alone.”

Under the agreement, members of unions that agreed to a three-year pay freeze and three furlough days per worker would be exempted from layoffs for the next four years. The deal would also double pension contributions for most workers; create a hybrid pension/defined-contribution plan for future employees; increase health care co-payments and premiums; require active workers to contribute more toward their retirement health care benefit; and reduce health care benefits for existing retirees.

The concessions involving health coverage, pensions and other benefits will be decided collectively by the 16-union labor coalition.

The changes, if ratified, would affect all of the roughly 46,000 unionized state employees.

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