HARTFORD, Conn., Aug. 18 (UPI) — Connecticut state employees Thursday ratified a concessions agreement that will save the state $1.6 billion in two years, averting layoffs, union leaders said.
The agreement had been rejected in June, but Department of Social Services employee Dawn Tyson told a news conference a second vote, which ended Wednesday, was overwhelmingly in favor of ratification by 25,713 to 9,791.
The State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, which represents 98 percent of state employees, said 14 of the 15 unions it covers approved the deal, under rules that lowered the threshold for ratification.
The vote came as some 3,000 layoff notices were sent out and the Hartford Courant reported those notices were now expected to be rescinded.
“As important as it is that we’ve closed the current budget deficit in a responsible way — by avoiding thousands of layoffs and hundreds of millions of dollars in painful spending cuts — the real value of this agreement lies in the $21.5 billion it will save taxpayers over the next 20 years in the form of lower healthcare and retirement costs for state employees,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a release following the announcement.
“We have achieved something the skeptics said was unachievable: we’ve made the relationship between the state and its workforce sustainable. And, unlike in most other states, we did it without going to war with public employees.”
The New York Times reported the agreement calls for a two-year wage freeze and changes to healthcare and pension benefits as well as a four-year no-layoffs clause.