State continues mapping layoffs by the thousands
HARTFORD -- It may turn out to only be an academic exercise if most state unions approve $1.6 billion in givebacks, but Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's office continued Wednesday in planning for as many as 6,000 layoffs if the proposal is rejected a second time.
The process of announcing the layoffs gets complicated by so-called bumping rights, in which more-senior unionized workers can remain on the job, but less-experienced employees will lose their jobs.
In the governor's weekly update on layoffs, Benjamin Barnes, secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, said in a statement that 2,984 layoff notices have been given to employees in the executive branch of government, but follow-ups are required on bumping rights.
"This is a time-consuming and intricate process, which, in some cases, may result in several layers of bumping among state employees," Barnes said, adding that this week's layoff total has decreased by 24 positions compared to from last week. He said it is the result of some agencies choosing to keep vacant a few positions that recently opened up after employee retirements.
Barnes said that as the calendar moves toward the third week of August, many of those who received layoff notices will be separated from state employment, although they would come back if 8 of the 15 major state unions were to approve the pending concessions deal.
The tentative agreement includes a two-year pay freeze and changes to health insurance and pension benefits, in exchange for a four-year promise of no layoffs.
A similar proposal failed in June when 4 of 15 state unions voted against the deal, but union officials later changed bylaws to require only 8 of the 15 for an agreement.
The American Association of University Professors last week agreed to let leaders support the governor's proposal. Other unions are expected to finish voting by mid-month, followed by a final ratification vote by the leaders of the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition.
"In about two-and-a-half weeks, a large number of our fellow state workers will leave state service, and it continues to be the administration's hope that the unions will ratify the agreement and avoid the layoffs and painful spending cuts outlined in the last few weeks," Barnes said. "If that does not happen, people are beginning to get a clearer picture of the way in which those layoffs and cuts will impact our state and we will have to adjust accordingly."