During a rally in New Britain with organized labor groups Friday, Democratic Gubernatorial Nominee Ned Lamont provided a pledge to public sector unions.
“I support labor,” Lamont said. “I support the right to organize. I support collective bargaining.”
Lamont’s support for unions comes at a time when major organized labor groups could be targets for further concessions from unionized employees when budget talks start up in January and February of 2019, when the next General Assembly is seated.
The bargaining unit known as SEBAC, which represents tens of thousands of state employees, has provided cost-saving concessions over the years, but they have come at a cost when it comes to overall budgeting.
Those unions are immune from layoffs until 2022, and the contract does not expire until 2027, tying the hands of future governors and General Assemblies.
Lamont’s promises provide relief to unions who fear that Republicans, like Gubernatorial Nominee Bob Stefanowski, may pursue what’s known as, “Right to Work,” legislation.
“Right to work takes away eight hour days, overtime, health insurance,” said Sal Luciano, who starting in December will be the interim Executive Director of the Connecticut AFL-CIO. “All of those things really are products of being in a unionized environment.”
Republicans have said throughout the campaign that SEBAC must be reopened or renegotiated as part of the conversation to balance the state budget, which currently faces a two-year $4.6 billion shortfall.
The GOP’s candidate for lieutenant governor, Joe Markley, said Republicans have pledged to reduce taxes, and attempt to bring benefits like pensions in line with the private sector.
“If you want change in Connecticut, the only choice is Bob Stefanowski,” Markley said, during a campaign stop at the West Haven Rotary Club’s Taste of West Haven event Friday night.
Markley met with prospective voters during the evening.
He said while the Democrats keep discussing national issues and trends, he doesn’t think that’s going to work on November 6.
“People in Connecticut are smart enough to distinguish between national issues and state issues and the problem in Connecticut hasn’t been Washington, it’s been Dan Malloy and the Democratic Party.”
Democrats are counting on robust turnout in suburbs surrounding Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven from voters looking to rebel against Republicans in Washington DC. Markley says that energy is going against Connecticut Democrats.
“The wave is going to be in our direction and we’re going to come away with this, with governor and with both chambers of the legislature,” Markley said.