Here’s the latest edition of The Hanging Shad’s ‘Apropos of Nothing’—a collection of random thoughts, observations and general fun to read (I hope) and write (I know).
1. One of the more predictable, manufactured issues of the 2011 Connecticut General Assembly was Sen. John Kissel (R-Enfield) objecting to the state police delivering notice of the special session. Just as the Democrats did to Gov. Jodi Rell when she did it, Kissel was whining about the money spent to have the police serve notice of the session. It’s the law. If you don’t like it, change it. Or at least propose changing it. How many bills has Kissel proposed to change the law governing the noticing of special sessions? None. Zero. Nada. It’s easier to complain.
2. Sal Luciano, executive director of AFSCME Council 4, one of the four SEBAC unions that voted against the concessions, said of the labor situation in the state, “Two weeks ago, I didn’t think this could look like Wisconsin, and all of a sudden, it feels a little bit like that.” Has this guy lost his mind? Labor in Connecticut had a sweet deal on the table—no layoffs, wage increases of 9 percent over five years, reasonable changes to health care and pensions—and THEY TURNED IT DOWN! Most of the reporting, albeit anecdotal, showed rank and file either didn’t like the health care changes or were “sending a message” that the governor didn’t make enough cuts elsewhere. In reality, rank and file said “Fung Wah” to 6,000 of their “brothers” and “sisters” and then threw them under the bus of the same name. (Actually, I have no idea what “Fung Wah” means but it sounds about right.) Those thousands of families will now suffer as their union loved one gets laid off. Solidarity, indeed.
3. At one point in the whole messy process, the media ask Malloy chief strategist Roy Occhiogrosso about what was going on with union leadership and whether it was trying to finagle a do-over on the rejection vote of the concessions deal. Roy O. said “I have no idea.” He was either, 1) not telling the truth or worse, 2) really didn’t know, which is scary. Also, in response to New Jersey Gov. Chris “Fat Tub of Goo” Christie’s mocking of Malloy on national TV, Occhiogrosso said, “He who laughs last, laughs best.” Here’s hoping no one is laughing at the layoff of thousands of workers and the subsequent hardships on both the workers and the state.
4. In the end, the unions got beat by Gov. Malloy, got beat by the legislature and to add insult to injury, got beat by former Gov. John Rowland (who is 7 years, a prison term and a truth-challenged radio show between him and the governor’s office). The state employee unions in Connecticut had a chance to be the shining example of the going-against-the-antiunion-tide national trend and blew it.
5. It was the not-exactly-conservative Boston Globe that was probably the hardest on the state employee labor unions (and maybe wrote what others in Connecticut were thinking): “In a season of confrontations between state governments and their public-employee unions, the deal cut by Connecticut’s pro-labor governor, Dannel Malloy, and a group of 15 state unions was a model of cooperation. That is, until the membership failed to approve it last week, in a truly startling display of selfishness. This was no Draconian giveback. No one’s pay would be cut. There would be no raises for two years, followed by solid 3 percent hikes for three consecutive years. There were also modest cost-savings adjustments on pensions and health care, similar to some that have been enacted in Massachusetts. In return, however, the Connecticut government promised no layoffs for at least four years.” Yikes.