UConn Contract Vote Imminent

The fate of raises for about 1,000 non-teaching UConn staff will hang in the balance during a State Senate vote that could happen as early as Friday.

The contract, which was negotiated starting last year and approved by the General Assembly's Appropriations Committee last week, would provide about $100 million in raises to the workers that include nurses, office staff, and admissions officers.

In addition to the raises, workers agreed to increase their work week from 35 hours to 40 hours, in effect decreasing how much they make each hour.

The contract came under intense scrutiny because the day after the contract was OK'd by the committee, the states worsening fiscal crisis became more apparent.

Governor Dannel Malloy's administration has come out against the contract, for fear of not being able to pay for the raises in a difficult budget years, but also because it could worsen the state;s bargaining position with other unions with which the state negotiates.

Thursday, top Senate Democrat Sen. Martin Looney said a vote could come either Friday or Monday on the contract. If neither chamber acts, the contract would automatically go into effect next Wednesday.

“We are planning a session to consider the contract" Sen. Looney, (D - New Haven) told reporters.
Labor groups say a deal is a deal and the state should honor what was negotiated in good faith, despite the state's financial conditions.

“They need to just respect the process and understand that both sides came to an agreement and so they should implement the contract" said Lori Pelletier with the Connecticut AFL-CIO.

Sen. Len Fasano, the top Republican in the State Senate is happy about the vote but said it took political pressure for Democrats to reach the conclusion his caucus reached quickly after the contract was approved in the committee stage.

"It's political posturing," Sen. Fasano, (D - North Haven), said.

“How will those people feel if they get laid off. Will they pay an extra $3 for a generic drug? Will they pay an extra $5 for a prescription drug? $10 for a doctor’s visit? I would suggest to save their job, their pension and their healthcare, they’ll gladly pay a little bit more.”

Johanny Baez is an admissions officer at UConn and would receive a raise if the contract goes into effect. She fears for UConn's image.

“Parents pay a lot of attention to what’s going on and my fear is that parents are going to lose confidence in UConn. UConn is a flagship university and this is why people come to UConn.”
Baez says rejecting the contract could have a ripple effect.

“This is not just about our contract. This is about UConn students.”

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