Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Governor Of Unions?

Governor Dannel Malloy banged the knuckles of some state unions when SEBAC, a coalition of union leaders, failed to pass what he called “Plan A,” a budget that some legislators friendly to unions thought was inordinately friendly to unions. Sen. Edith Prague, long a supporter of union interests, said at the time she thought union members who had voted down Plan A were mad to have spurned a plan so favorable to their interests.

The governor had concocted at the same time a default Plan B that simply was not a serious contractual proposal; Plan B was designed to bludgeon recalcitrant union members into voting for Plan A. Union leaders, at the behest of the governor, then unilaterally redrafted union rules so as to facilitate a favorable vote on a slightly readjusted Plan A. The intimidation, along with the compliance of union leaders, worked, and Plan A2 finally was adopted by unions months after the General Assembly, dominated by Democrats, had voted to pass Plan A.

There was some grumbling at the time among a few legislators conversant with the separation of power doctrine: They wondered whether, having voted to accept a budget that would in the near future be subject to alterations imposed on it by unions and the governor, they had in essence surrendered their constitutional obligations to an undemocratic plenipotentiary process. But their scruples were not inhibiting, and in due course a budget, thought by some to be out of balance even now, finally was set in concrete. Apparently, constitutional scruples in the constitution state are more easily disposed of now that the state has become a one party operation.

In mid-September, addressing the AFL-CIO annual convention at Foxwoods Casino Mr. Malloy sought to quell fears that the governor’s lifelong affection for unions hadf suffered a rupture. Previously, Mr. Malloy had been making cooing sounds in the direction of Connecticut’s larger business and awarding carefully selected firms millions of dollars as a part of his First Five Plan.

At the event, Mr. Malloy was praised by executive director of AFSCME Council 4 Sal Luciano for being one of the few governors in the nation that had decided to raise taxes to balance his budget. Mr. Luciano thought much of the anger over the concession agreement between unions and the governor could be traced to poor communications and pronounced himself pleased that the pro-union governor had not declared war on labor: “It’s the first time in a long time we’ve had a governor that hasn’t actively declared war on the labor movement.”

The governor was bathed in warm applause when, contrasting himself with other more brutal governors, he said the final agreement between unions and the executive office was a necessary linchpin “to making sure we did not have to take apart our higher educational system. That was a lynchpin to making sure we didn’t have to cut aid to every municipality in the state.”

Mr. Malloy “delivered” to unions recently by issuing an executive order that will pave the way for the unionization of day care workers and personal care attendants. The order, some queasy legislators say, violates an explicit separation of legislative and executive powers and may be Mr. Malloy’s way of further soothing union restiveness.

Following his soothing address before AFSCME, Mr. Malloy hopped down to Greenwich to assure hedge fund managers he was not, as they might have supposed wrongly from his address to AFSCME, antagonistic towards the captains of industry and Wall Street. The hedgies fear excessive regulation, and the governor showed up to soften their angst.

“There is too much regulation and decisions are made far too slowly,” the governor told the group in his keynote address at the Connecticut Hedge Fund Association’s Global Alpha Forum. “Let me very clear I’m not interested in more regulation. I’m trying to streamline regulation. We know the old adage that time is money… we need to move more rapidly and responsively.”

One newspaper noted that “In a further assurance to an industry that an audience member termed the state’s ‘crown jewel,’ Malloy said that he is not in favor of moving to regulate beyond federal policy.”

The governor gave no indication that he would be willing to work with Connecticut’s wall-to-wall Democratic congressional delegation to lop off the Dodd-Frank bill some regulatory hydra heads. Nor has he been asked by the legacy media whether he intends to lobby other Democrats in the U.S. Congress to pare back onerous federal regulations on behalf of his new hedgie friends. The locution – “Let me very clear I’m not interested in more…” – was last used by the governor in multiple pre-campaign speeches with reference to tax increases. As it turned out, Mr. Malloy was not unfriendly to new taxes.
Post a Comment