THE WAY OUT: MALLOY CAN ‘CLARIFY’ UNION CONCESSIONS DEAL, UNIONS RE-VOTE AND RATIFY, STAVING OFF SOME LAYOFFS

The dance continues. Gov. Malloy says he won’t renegotiate the doomed labor concessions deal but is willing to “clarify” it. He has now dispatched his top labor negotiator to meet with labor leaders to try to determine if they have a plan to get the rank and file to approve a “clarified” deal.

As The Shad laid out (see video) on NBC Connecticut with Brad Drazen and FOX Connecticut Morning News with Logan Byrnes, there is a way out for the Malloy administration and labor to avert some of the numerous layoffs in store for state employees while saving face and some credibility at the same time. Currently, the two sides are playing political word games. Malloy is rightly and nobly trying to find a way to avoid laying off thousands of workers — it hurts the economy, the state pays unemployment benefits, state residents will certainly notice the effect on state services and most importantly, thousands of families will suffer. But the governor has drawn a line in the sand — no negotiating of the rejected deal. He’ll only clarify it.

Labor’s reputation has been battered and the average Connecticut resident now has a very negative view of state employee labor unions (if they didn’t already). From the response to The Hanging Shad’s commentary “Are They for Real?…” I can tell you many state employee still don’t get. They justify the rejection of the concessions deal by pointing out the governor hasn’t cut enough elsewhere, including managerial layoffs. That may very well be true. It’s also irrelevant. The deal is: You give up some coveted things you’ve been accustomed (health care and pension issues) or nearly 7,000 of your “brothers and sisters” lose their jobs.

State employees are also upset that changes in their health plan basically cancels the 9-percent pay raises they would get under the deal. Maybe true that. That’s why they’re called “concessions.” And as far as givebacks go, these are mild at worst. Union leadership wants another bite at the apple.

Here’s how it can happen: Gov. Malloy agrees to “clarify” the defeated labor concessions deal by explicitly putting in the deal that changes to health care plans will not include rolling the rank and file into the SustiNet universal health care plan (of course, SustiNet doesn’t exist yet and may never come to pass because of the cost, but that hasn’t stopped misinformed union members from worrying about it). With such an assurance, union leadership must find a way to circumvent the ridiculous union bylaws, consider it a “new” offer, and have a re-vote. Malloy can credibly claim he only clarified things because he and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman have said all along there was no SustiNet component involved. The rank and file — if they have any “solidarity” at all — will approve the concessions deal and some (but not all) layoffs are averted.

Sounds simple in theory; in practice, maybe not so much.