SEBAC Statement: 3/9/22

SEBAC Statement: 3/9/22

March 9, 2022

Leaders of the unions in the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) are proud that local negotiations teams have secured tentative agreements for fair and honorable successor contracts. They worked tirelessly on behalf of  the 43,000 working people they serve. You can review the wage pattern below.

Every one of the 169 communities and the 3.5 million residents which make up Connecticut depend on public services, which are severely underfunded and understaffed after decades of downsizing and austerity measures.

Decades of downsizing and privatization have left us critically understaffed, even before the threatened “retirement tsunami” by this July. Unless we encourage workers to stay and new workers to apply, we won’t have the engineers and environmental analyst to invest in new infrastructure while fighting climate change, we won’t have the aides, nurses and doctors to care for seniors and the disabled, the teachers and professors to educate our children, the protective services to keep us safe and many other critical public services that keep our state moving. That ought to be something that everyone agrees upon regardless of partisan politics.

During the past 12 years, state workers experienced 6 years of 0% pay freezes paired with decades of sacrifices to their pension and health care agreement. While those measures have saved billions of dollars for the State, they have depleted the wages and benefits of our state workers, which has led to difficulties recruiting and retaining a talented, diverse and knowledgeable workforce to provide the critical public services our state needs.

With thousands of retirements on the horizon, continued underfunding could cause real harm to our public services. Now is the time to invest in Connecticut’s future with a diverse and talented workforce ready to move us forward, not backwards. We hope that these Tentative Agreements encourage our current workforce to delay their retirement and continue to provide these critical public services.

“In the coming months, it is estimated that thousands of state workers will opt to retire, leaving the public services we rely on at risk,” Travis Woodward, President of CSEA SEIU Local 2001 and Department of Transportation Supervising Engineer said. “A fair and honorable contract that works to encourage middle class members to stay in state service benefits everyone in Connecticut who has ever driven over a bridge, taken a drink from a public water source or utilized any one of the hundreds of public services provided by state workers. With 6 of the last 12 years being 0% raises for state workers and numerous givebacks, it was time to recognize the importance of public services with strong contracts.”

“Dedicated faculty and staff at the community colleges serve students — any and all students because we are open enrollment institutions,” Elle Van Dermark, faculty member at Asnuntuck Community College and 4C’s member said. “The SEBAC tentative agreement will help us attract more faculty and staff to the colleges, which we desperately need.”

“Connecticut’s prisons are dangerously understaffed,” Correction Officer Sean Howard, President of AFSCME Local 387, Cheshire Correctional Complex Employees, said. “The tentative SEBAC agreement will help recruit and retain frontline employees, which is critical to improving staffing levels, safety and security in our prisons. That’s why we are urging our union members to vote yes.”

“At the CSUs, faculty go to epic lengths to serve students every day,” Patty O’Neil, President of CSU-AAUP, said. “They worked even harder to serve students during the global pandemic. This agreement would ensure our higher education workers get some thanks for their efforts and dedication so they can continue this important work.”