HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — It is now unanimous at the State Capitol; the Governor, Republican leaders and Democratic leaders of the General Assembly say the state labor unions must come to the table to negotiate give backs because the state’s cash flow is so bad. This comes as the leaders of the General Assembly announce they will vote on budget cuts for the current budget year a week from today, Tuesday, March 29.
The highest ranking state lawmaker in the General Assembly, Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney of New Haven, is joining in the chorus calling for the state labor unions to come to the table and negotiate give backs on pensions and benefits to avoid thousands of layoffs.
“As somebody who has been a strong labor supporter my entire career here, and I continue to be, and that’s why I am advising them, for the benefit of their members, that they should look to show the leadership they did in 2011,” said Sen. Looney.
Five years ago, the unions were also reluctant to negotiate give backs and Looney points out that the layoff notices went out, then the unions negotiated a series of give backs and the layoff notices were eventually rescinded. He predicts that will happen again this time because, like the Governor, he is committed to no more tax hikes, which is what the union leadership is saying should be considered in internal communications to members.
“Not this year, there won’t be any tax increase this year,” said Sen. Looney. “That’s why it has to be done through cuts and whatever can be done through labor concessions.”
And Looney and the Governor say even with give backs from the unions, there will likely be layoffs anyway with the Governor saying today,
“I’m not even saying that even if they come to the table that we could avoid everything because this is an issue that’s got to be dealt with but the inability to have those discussions is going to make it far worse.”
“This is not about ‘unions are bad’ that we have to take from them but all hands need to be on deck, there’s no other way to look at this, there really isn’t,” said House Republican leader, Rep. Themis Klarides (R-Derby).
So, Democrats, Republicans and the Governor are all on the same page. It’s not about punishing the unions or state workers, it’s a sinking ship and as Minority Leader Klarides put it “all hands need to be on deck” to help keep it afloat.
But the unions will be keeping up the pressure not to negotiate; News 8 has learned a unity rally is being planned at the State Capitol on April 4th.