Plan B, held out to unions then in negotiations with the Malloy administration as a spook on a stick, was a thing of shark’s teeth and vampire fangs.
Senator Edith Prague, almost always friendly to unions, warned the rank and file members who ultimately rejected the plan that brimstone would fall from the sky should Plan A be rejected and, when the plan was rejected, Ms. Prague suffered what can only be described as a political breakdown; she said union members were mad to reject a plan described by a private union leader as an offer to die for. Jonathan Pelto, the voice of unionism in Connecticut’s left leaning press, writhed in indignation and bit his fingernails to the cuticles. The leader of the Democratic caucus in the House, Speaker Chris Donovan, up to this point a declared disinterested observer in the negotiations taking place between the Malloy administration and union leaders, put off plans to announce his candidacy for U.S. Rep. in the 5th District and pledged his services as facilitator in chief in the General Assembly, along with his counterpart in the Senate, President Pro Tem Don Williams.
After the unions defied Governor Dannel Malloy by rejecting Plan A, thought by many commentators in Connecticut to be considerably more benign than the fearsome Plan B, Mr. Malloy’s union unfriendly Plan B was submitted to a union friendly Democratic caucus in the General Assembly, which proceeded to defang it.
The number of layoff threatened by Mr. Malloy were pared back; a threat to fill positions left vacant by layoffs through the privatization of state jobs did not survive the chopping block; a measure to save expenses by reducing the number of sick days accrued by state workers from 15 to 10 per year did not make the cut.
Mr. Williams’ spokesman, Derek Slap, told reporters that Mr. Malloy’s attempt to rein in spending by suspending for two years a provision in the statues that restricts the privatization of state jobs and imposes a formal process before any state service can be contracted out to a private business was hacked out of Mr. Malloy’s revised budget by General Assembly leaders who were concerned that even a temporary suspension of the provision might cause administration officials of the Malloy administration to revert to the felonious behavior that resulted in a jail term for former Governor John Rowland.
The Democratic dominated General Assembly, over vigorous protests made by Republican leaders excluded from budget negotiations, did festoon the governor with extraordinary rescission authority for a limited period. Mr. Malloy may proceed with his layoffs, later to be fine tuned by the legislature. A deal struck at the last moment between Mr. Malloy and Democratic caucus leaders in the General Assembly allows legislators to reject from July 15 through August 30 any negotiated rescissions made by the governor.
Forbidden by union friendly Democratic leaders in the General Assembly from privatizing the jobs “lost” through layoffs, Mr. Malloy can only refill positions deemed necessary after the bloodletting has occurred by rehiring as consultants state workers he has laid off or by hiring new blood; and once one computes the payouts in pension and benefit costs owed to those laid off plus the somewhat reduced salaries and long term liabilities assumed by the state in the case of new workers, the net costs of the transaction forced upon the Mr. Malloy by leaders of the Democratic caucus in the General Assembly will still be unsupportable.
This happy news, once it sinks into the cranial matter of Ms. Prague and Mr. Pelto, should bring a spring to their step and a bloom to their pale cheeks. Bottom line: Malloy has been snookered by friends of labor in the General Assembly. A little tete a tete with departed former Governor Jodi Rell might have tipped Mr. Malloy off to what was coming round the bend at him at the speed of a new environmentally friendly bus.
It is said that -- somewhat like Lafcadio, the anti-hero of Andre Gide’s novel, “Lafcadio’s Adventures,” who stabbed himself in the thigh with a small knife whenever he did something that contradicted his much prized freedom of choice, so as not to forget the insults he was forced to bear -- Mr. Malloy has a lively memory. If so, the snookerers will have much to fear somewhere down the road; and, if not, they will have lived politically successful lives.