We interrupt the light humor, witty banter and sharp repartee that is the hallmark of Cedar's Mountain with a major reality check.
For those of you who chose not to follow politics, be it on the national, state, or local level, simply because its too damn depressing, Connecticut managed to become one of the top e-mailed stories from the New York Times website (I don't read the Times, but a good friend of mine pointed this out to me the other day). Why? The "why" is due to the incredibly sloppy handling of the budget and the labor concessions package that the guv'nor and the union leadership is trying to ram down the collective throats of the rank and file.
In the guv'nor's infinite wisdom, he decided early on that to balance a $2 billion dollar budget, the 45K+ state employees that work for him should bear the brunt of the "shared sacrifice". No reduction in expenditures (oh my god, fiscal responsibility!), nor serious cuts in municipal aid (oh my god, no junkie fix!), nor other fiscally prudent ideas (oh my god, toll bridges! you mean people shouldn't be allowed to travel for free?) should be implemented.
So his office and the State Employee Bargaining Action Committee (aka SEBAC) negotiated a concessions package that they deemed to be good, and presented it to the rank and file, as well as the masses and the biased media. The patted themselves on the back and congratulated themselves on a job well done, figuring that rank and file would overwhelming approve a package that included a four year no layoff proviso.
However, there was a small problem with their assumption.
What problem, you may ask?
Problem is called "thinking for one's self". Seems that upon closer examination, the package had a rank smell that would offend B.O. Plenty. Instead of having concessions like a shorter work week and more furlough days (both of which were being floated around by the rank & file), they had things like a higher retirement age, more years to work for a hazardous duty retirement, and most importantly, turning our health insurance benefits into something along the lines of ObamaCare and low cost health insurance for people who weren't poor enough for Medicare.
So the rank & file did research and asked questions. The union leadership attempted to answer the questions by not really answering the questions, which in turn got the rank & file upset. When it came time for voting though, the union leadership still thought it would pass.
And technically, it did. 57% voted in favor of approval. However, due to the bylaws that stated that 14 of the 15 bargaining units that represented at least 80% of the workers must approve it, it failed.
Shocked that the rank & file would reject such a "generous" concession package, the guv'nor went through with his promise of layoffs. So layoff notices went out a week ago today.
Shocked that the rank & file would reject such a "generous" concession package, the union leaders met to discuss changing the bylaws so that a simply majority would be needed to pass something.
You know where this is headed, right?
Correct! The replay of Gore/Bush 2000 was executed and a REVOTE is currently being scheduled for the previously rejected concession package.
But wait, it gets better! Because of this craziness and the tunnel vision being applied by the powers that be, you have:
1} Members of the rank and file who are livid because they feel that they're being chastised and punished for voting what was best for them and their family.
2} Members of the rank and file who have absolutely no confidence in their union leadership because they're playing all kinds of games in trying to get this concession deal passed (which btw, won't affect the union leadership because none of them are state employees)
3} A possibility that the REVOTE will not take place. In the days leading up to the union leaders meeting to accept the vote/change the bylaws, certain statements came out of the guv'nor's office that were interpreted as, "if you do this, then we will do this". Which some people might be inclined to call that "tampering" and those very same people might be tempted to file a lawsuit espousing that very same belief.
4} You have Connecticut looking like one big fat joke because it can't get its act together and that it's giving everyone another fine example of why people think that public sector labor unions are evil.
And I'm sure you're asking me what's my take on all this. Well, as a taxpayer, I'm pretty much appalled by the concessions that are being offered because I believe it doesn't really help solve the economic recession that will be lasting an abnormal amount of time compared to other states. I also believe that the state desperately needs to be downsized. As state worker, I'm kind of pissed that I'm being forced to vote again in order to potentially save my fellow co-worker's jobs. Call me callous, but after experiencing first hand all of this layoff crap back in 2003 and having no one being concerned enough to save my job then, I'm really not in the mood to save someone else's job.
Welcome to my world.
Be very, very afraid.