Fairfield Reps. raise concerns about viability of state union deal

State Representatives Brenda Kupchick (R-132) and Laura Devlin (R-134) voiced serious concern over Monday’s House approval of the state employees’ union concession package due to its insufficient savings and structural changes and its extension of the current union contract until 2027.

The concession package, negotiated by Governor Malloy and union leaders, was ratified by state employees earlier this month and now is tentatively scheduled to go before the Senate on July 31.  Analysts have predicted the plan could save approximately $1.5 billion over the next two years by increasing pension contributions, creating a hybrid/defined contribution plan for future state employees, increasing healthcare co-payments, and realizing other labor savings. The deal also restricts the state’s ability to lay off workers until 2021.  

Reps Kupchick and Devlin said, “The pension and healthcare concessions are not near parity with state union workers in surrounding states, let alone the private sector. The pension contributions double from 0-2% to 2-4% and health care deductibles for a “Cadillac plan” will continue to be zero. It is unconscionable that meal allowances and longevity pay, among other benefits, will still be permitted under this agreement while our state social service providers are being cut. Every legislator who voted in favor of this deal bears responsibility for every single tax increase and service cut Connecticut residents may have to bear for the ten years until the contract expires.”

No action was taken Monday on passing a two-year budget for Connecticut.  

House Republicans’ attempts to call their fully-vetted, no tax-increase budget proposal for a vote were rebuffed by the majority Democrats.  Their first attempt took place in the form of a proposed rules change, the second in the form of an amendment to the union agreement.

Reps. Kupchick and Devlin along with their House Republican colleagues highlighted some of the structural change in the concession package as “steps in the right direction” that they supported, but were disappointed the notion that the deal solved Connecticut’s fiscal crisis and indicated it could lead to funding cuts and tax increases in the future.

The SEBAC 2017 document negotiated by the Governor and OPM includes:

Health/Benefits Highlights:

  • Health/Benefits agreement extended additional 5 years until 06/30/2027
  • Zero ($0.00) healthcare deductible if participate in HEP program
  • Healthcare premiums increase 1%/yr. for 3 yrs. beginning 7/1/2019 thus avg. contribution increases from 12 to 15%
  • Co-pays increase for generics $5 to $10, non-generics $25-40
  • Non emergent ER visit copay increase from $35 to $250

Wage Highlights:

  • No layoffs until 07/01/2021
  • $2,000/person payment in FY 2019 (7/2018) in lieu of no raises until FY 2020  
  • 3.5% raises in FY 2020 and 2021
  • Wage agreements are in effect until 6/30/2021
  • Continues to provide longevity bonus
  • Continues to provide meal allowances

Retirement Benefits:  

  • Increases employee pension contributions by 2% over over 2 years (1.5% of salary effective 7/1/2017 and 0.5% of salary effective 7/1/2019). This results in most non-hazardous duty employees contributing 4%.
  • For current Medicare-covered retirees imposes Medicare Advantage plan effective 1/1/2018
  • Increases retiree healthcare contributions for new retirees by 1.5% (retirements after 10/1/2017) to 5% (retirements after 06/30/2022)
  • New Tier IV  for health care and pension benefits for new hires, instituting hybrid plan (defined benefit & defined contribution) and requiring 6.5% employee contribution.

(By comparison, the House Republican budget continues the no increase in pay for legislators and increases healthcare premiums by 20%).

State Representatives Laura Devlin R-134) and Brenda Kupchick (R-132) .

State Representatives Laura Devlin R-134) and Brenda Kupchick (R-132) .

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