Complaint challenges state union dealings with Malloy
Published 7:35 pm, Thursday, July 28, 2011
The state Board of Labor Relations has scheduled a preliminary meeting Aug. 3 on a prosecutor's complaint that union leaders' efforts to strike a $1.6 billion concessions deal with the governor violated collective bargaining laws.
Lisa Herskowitz, a senior assistant state's attorney in Manchester, filed the paperwork earlier this month.
In late June, members of the 15-union State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition failed to ratify $1.6 billion worth of givebacks Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the Legislature counted on to balance their new, two-year budget.
Fifty-seven percent of voting members and 11 unions -- including Herskowitz's, the Connecticut Association of Prosecutors -- backed the givebacks, but not the supermajority required. Although the governor has begun implementing layoffs and budget cuts, he and labor leaders clarified portions of the deal late last week and unions are scheduling a second-round of voting they hope will save jobs.
SEBAC leaders last week also amended their rules allowing ratification by a simple majority.
Herskowitz in her complaint to the labor board alleges SEBAC violated its own bylaws by agreeing to a two-year wage freeze, arguing the coalition's negotiating authority is limited to pensions and health care. Herskowitz also called the SEBAC process of selling the negotiated terms "highly coercive."
She further argues SEBAC should not have reopened the existing pension and health-care agreement, which expires in 2017, without allowing union members to first vote to authorize SEBAC to renegotiate the deal. Rank-and-file approval should also have been sought in early July when SEBAC approached Malloy about reopening talks, Herskowitz said.
"SEBAC carried out the negotiations in secret without ... input from union members," she wrote. "SEBAC basically said, `Here it is. Take it or leave it. And if you leave it, there will be layoffs and the state will be economically devastated."
SEBAC spokesman Eric Bailey said, "We are confident that SEBAC leadership have acted in the best interests of its members in reaching a tentative agreement with the state."