Monday, July 25, 2011

Three Notes On The Current Crisis

The unilateral changes in by-laws

 It may be noted that what has been done unilaterally by the union leadership may be undone unilaterally by a different leadership.

Despite a desperate attempt by SEBAC negotiators Dan Livingston and Matt O’Connor to pin on such convenient scapegoats as the Yankee Institute  their dramatic failure to sell plan A to union rank and file members, some unions, dissatisfied with SEBAC representation, are now shopping around for other unions with which they might affiliate. In mid-June SEBAC leaders charged the Yankee Institute had improperly used the state’s e-mail system to communicate with union members and referred their dark suspicions to Attorney General George Jepsen, Connecticut’s version, under the state’s previous Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, of poet Francis Thompson’s “The Hound Of Heaven.”

SEBAC leaders, working in tandem with Plan A salesmen in the administration of Governor Dannel Malloy, unilaterally changed union by-laws to reduce to 50 percent the votes necessary to pass Plan A after it had been rejected under previous inconvenient by-laws.

This change, since it entailed a re-do of a previous vote rejecting Plan A, has not gone down well with many rank and file union members. The re-do vote under altered by-laws rankled the 43 percent of union members who initially voted against Plan A.

Passage of Plan A is virtually assured under the new by-laws unilaterally adopted by SEBAC leaders following the first unsuccessful vote. The re-do vote and by-laws change also have alienated the affections of some union members who initially voted affirmatively to adopt Plan A and regard the by-laws change as an undemocratic attempt to void a legitimate voting process without seeking to affirm the changes though a rank and file membership vote. If you can’t fix a vote, the next best thing is to fix the process that governs the vote. The unilateral change in by laws is viewed by many union members as an attempt to fix a vote by other means and, as such, it is likely to have lasting repercussions.

In the next three weeks, according to a story in the Hartford Courant, members of the 15 unions comprising SEBAC will be voting on re-drafted barely revised Plan A. But just as some pigs are more equal than other pigs in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, so here some votes are more equal than others.

While the new tentative agreement will be presented to the full membership of some unions, some union leaders, Mr. O’Connor wrote on the union’s website, “are planning to have elected leadership cast their union’s vote because there are no negative changes in the revised TA as compared to the previous agreement.” In this tortured sentence, Mr. O’Connor appears to be saying that if a union voted to affirm Plan A, individual members of such unions will not, on a redo vote, be given the opportunity to change their vote from affirmative to negative.


The Closed Doors Of A Putative “Transparent” Administration

Candidate for Governor Dan Malloy promised voters a transparent administration. The budget process this year falls far short of transparency. In previous administrations, the budget shuttle cock was batted in public between two parties, one of which, the Republican Party, controlled the executive office first under Governor John Rowland and later under Governor Jodi Rell.

The political tension between Republican governors and the Democratic controlled General Assembly insured a certain degree of transparency. While it is true that Republican governors often stiffed Republican leaders in the General Assembly while making private deals behind closed doors with Democratic leaders, the party bifurcation nevertheless allowed budget negotiations between the two parties to be ventilated in Connecticut’s left of center media.

With the election of Dannel Malloy as governor, the crack in the door was permanently sealed shut. When reporters during the current budget negotiations asked their usual sources within Republican Party ranks what was going on behind the caucus closed doors, they replied, truthfully, that they knew no more than had been reported in the press. And the press knew nothing.

Negotiations between Malloy administration officials and SEBAC were just as impenetrable. Following Mr. Malloy’s elevation to the governor’s office, an iron curtain had been rung down on what the media in other administrations had denominated “the public’s business.” But this is how the one party state operates; closed doors give the current administration an insuperable propaganda advantage.

Union resistance to the autocratic rule of the union-administration-media-complex is but a crack in the concrete through which, given time enough, a blade of grass may sprout. The blade, one may be certain, will be reported to the attorney general’s office.

Malloy As Prometheus

Prometheus was the god in Greek mythology punished by Zeus for having brought the gift of enlightenment to men. Similarly, Mr. Malloy brought the gift of Plan A to state unions – breathes there a commentator who has not said, multiple times, that Plan A was a boon to unions? – and this gift was rejected, Mr. Malloy having been stretched on a rock outside the portals of heaven, his liver to be torn by the sharp beaks of eagles. Now he has been saved. Mankind’s tears have been turned to shouts of joy. Such is the narrative we can expect to see piped by successfully propagandized media adepts in the next few weeks – when, in fact, it is the state itself stretched on the rock waiting for a ravenous eagle to drink its wise blood.
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