HARTFORD – State Representatives Bill Simanski (R-62), Tami Zawistowski (R-61) and Carol Hall (R-59) voted against an arbitration award for state Assistant Attorneys General on Wednesday, March 27th.
“These agreements are putting the cart before the horse and growing our fixed costs before we have passed the budget,” said Rep. Simanski. “We are continuing to struggle with the ripple effects from the 2017 SEBAC agreement and the expansion of bargaining units. We are locked in to these labor agreements until 2027 making the rest of the appropriations process more difficult. Already the Democrat majority has pushed two employee contracts with salary increases and has more contracts to come before we take up the budget.”
The arbitration award between the state and the brand new bargaining unit created for 185 Assistant Attorneys General and 14 department heads results in more than $3.3 million in new spending each year. Included are $2,000 lump sum bonuses and base salary increases of 5.5% each year.
Rep. Zawistowski commented, “The agreement shifts money away from our urgent needs – such as assistance to the elderly and disabled – within the budget and adds to our overhead costs. We will have difficult choices to make to close our deficit, this agreement will make it even harder. I am disappointed that the legislature is rubber stamping union agreements without consideration of the impacts on taxpayers or the programs that will have to be cut due to these expenses.”
“These are already highly compensated positions and the bonuses included in this agreement are truly excessive. In addition to a 3.5% wage increase, a 2% cost of living increase, a $2,000 bonus and $18,000 bonuses for department heads, there is a no-layoff agreement,” shared Rep. Hall. “Taking care of this deal before we take care of the budget is offensive to working class and middle class families looking for relief.”
Current average annual salaries are in excess of $120,000 as a result of this contract the average annual salary will increase to $133,000. Additionally the agreement applies to department heads who will receive additional $18,000 stipends over two years.
According a 2017 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, Connecticut is one of only 4 states that set employee benefits through collective bargaining. The remaining 46 states set compensation for their employees through statute.
Reps. Simanski, Zawistowski and Hall serve on the General Assembly’s budget writing Appropriations Committee.
The legislation passed 77-67 in the House with all Republicans and 8 Democrats voting no. It was later passed in the Senate 19-17 again all Republicans voted no, they were joined by 3 Democrats.