According to the Office of Policy and Management, 328 state employees had received layoff notices as of 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, while staff in the governor’s office said that thousands more could expect to receive similar notices in the coming days and weeks.
The state’s current , which took affect July 1, has a $1.6 billion hole that stems from a failed attempt by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to reach a concession agreement with the state’s more than 45,000 unionized workers. When in late June, Malloy said that in order to balance the state budget without further increasing taxes or reducing state aid to towns and cities he would have to reduce the state’s workforce by as many as 6,500 employees, while eliminating an additional 1,000 vacant positions.
The largest agency affected by the layoff notices announced Wednesday was the Department of Correction, where 222 employees received notices; the bulk of those employees work at the Bergin Correctional Institution in Mansfield, which is slated for closure as a casualty of the state budget crisis. The Hartford Courant reports that the last inmate at the facility will be transferred by Aug. 5, and that the prison is expected to be shuttered soon after.
Other agencies that reported employees who received layoff notices Wednesday were: the Department of Construction Services, where 14 employees received notices; the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, where one employee received a notice; the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, where 89 employees received notices; and the Office of Policy and Management, where two employees received notices.
The Courant’s Capitol Watch blog reported late Wednesday afternoon that 56 state police troopers have also received layoff notices, mostly members of the state police’s most recent graduating class, and that those notices are slated to take affect Aug. 21.
Colleen Flanagan, a spokesperson for the governor’s office, said that several other “large agencies,” such as the Department of Transportation, have also received authorization to begin the notification process, and that more notices were expected in the coming days and weeks.
When asked for a final figure of the total number of state employees who can expect to receive pink slips, Flanagan said that Malloy and his staff were in the process of finalizing a detailed plan that would be released to the legislature and media by Thursday or Friday.
Flanagan said that state agencies were delivering the notices “as soon as possible” to their employees, due to differences in the collective bargaining rules of each union that require state employees to be given varying periods of notice before the elimination of their positions.
“There are some unions that require two weeks notice, some that require four, some that require six or eight weeks, and some that even require the period of a year,” Flanagan said. “So they are trying to deliver these soon.”
Matt O’Connor, a spokesman for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, which represents the bulk of the state’s unionized employees, said Wednesday that union leaders remained “committed to a mutual agreement with the administration” to avoid all employee layoffs, but O’Connor said he could not specify what such an agreement might look like or how it might be reached.
The majority of state workers approved Malloy’s concession agreement through a complex voting process, but union rules required 80 percent of all state workers and at least 14 of the state’s 15 unions to ratify the agreement. When that did not materialize, union leaders rejected a motion that would have allowed the SEBAC to amend its bylaws to lower the voting threshold to allow it to ratify the concession agreement under the previous vote, and also passed a resolution that blocks it from retroactively amending those same bylaws, effectively quashing any way to ratify Malloy’s concession agreement under the vote already taken.
Malloy has repeatedly stated that he would not negotiate a new agreement with the unions.
When asked if negotiations for a new agreement were being held between union leaders and members of the Malloy administration, O’Connor replied “no,” but said that there remained a “direct and open line of communication” between union officials and Malloy’s chief negotiator for the previous agreement, Mark Ojakian, deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management.
O’Connor said he could not specify what form those discussions were taking.