July 17, 2017

State workers to finish voting today on concessions deal

Voting by unionized state workers will end today on the tentative concessions deal reached on May 23 with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. More than 40,000 workers were eligible to cast ballots.

The outcome will have a major impact on the gridlocked budget debate now consuming the Capitol. The state started a new fiscal year July 1 without an adopted budget and is now functioning under an executive order issued by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Malloy says the concession package would save $1.57 billion over the next two fiscal years combined. That's if the coalition of all 15 unions accepts the benefits concessions and all 35 bargaining units that compose the unions accept the wage concessions. A smaller savings could result if some bargaining units accept the wage concessions and others reject it, but approval or rejection of the benefits package applies to all workers.

The plan would freeze wages for each of the next two fiscal years. Employees, most of whom are working this fiscal year under contracts that expired in June 2016, also would forfeit any retroactive pay hike.

The cumulative three-year wage freeze would provide nearly half of the total projected savings. Workers would receive 3.5 percent base pay hikes in 2020 and in 2021, and also would be eligible for step increases.

Workers would be required to take three furlough days.

The framework also would double pension contributions for most workers, create a hybrid pension/defined-contribution plan for future workers, increase health care co-payments and premiums, and require active workers to contribute more toward their retirement health care benefit.

In return for these concessions, the state would extend its worker benefits contract — which otherwise would expire in 2022 — until 2027. Unions that grant wage concessions also would be largely exempt from layoffs through the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Reporter Keith M. Phaneuf contributed to this story.

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