HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — On Wednesday, it was announced that state employees will be receiving 3.5% raises and a separate salary increase.
It stemmed from a union contract that was negotiated years ago, and now, some state leaders feel it’s coming at the right time.
The President of the Connecticut Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO), Sal Luciano, told News 8 that 380 correction officers have COVID-19.
“They put their lives in danger, put families’ lives in danger,” said Luciano.
He said the raises they and 45,000 other state employees are getting are well deserved.
“People did work from home, but that was not their choice. It was through executive orders…this was not something they chose to do.”
The union contract, which was signed by former Governor Dannel Malloy, passed with a tie in the State Senate which was broken by then Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman.
Governor Ned Lamont said he asked union employees to delay the raises given the high pandemic unemployment.
“At the same time, I offered combat pay for folks on the front lines,” Lamont said. “That negotiation didn’t work out.”
Representative Jason Rojas, of East Hartford, who voted for the contract back in 2017, said $150 million on raises was budgeted for. However, Senator Kevin Kelly, of Stratford, who voted against the contract, said the governor’s choice to use executive order power to interfere with other contracts and the constitution instead of this fight only hurts the middle class.
“Now that we are looking to try and protect the working class and the middle-class families, the people and businesses on Main Street…there’s no protection there,” Kelly said.
“I can appreciate the concern about giving out raises in a climate like this, but these are the very same people who are responsible for fighting COVID,” said Representative Jason Rojas.
Union leaders said state workers have gone without a raise in six of the last nine years, adding they’ve saved the state $24 billion over 20 years with givebacks.
Union contract negotiations over money and jobs will begin in June of 2021, which is also the year leading into the next race for governor.