Nancy Wyman – It’s time to step up for Academic Freedom and Connecticut’s universities and colleges

There was a time when Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman was considered one of the most important and outspoken advocates for public higher education in Connecticut.

Heralding from the 53rd House District, Nancy Wyman served as a state representative from 1987 to 1995.  In that capacity she was a powerful voice for her constituents who were faculty, staff, students and alumni of the University of Connecticut, Connecticut State University and Connecticut’s Community and Technical Colleges.

As the Vice Chair and then Chair of the General Assembly’s Education Committee, and a high-ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, Nancy Wyman worked tirelessly to make public higher education a priority, including helping to successfully derail an outrageous plan to merge Connecticut’s Community Colleges and State Universities under a new bureaucratic and administrative structure.

Considering Nancy Wyman was one of the few public officials who truly understood, appreciated and supported the fundamental role that public higher education plays in Connecticut, there were high hopes that as Governor Dannel Malloy’s Lt. Governor, Nancy Wyman would help usher in a new era of state support for public universities and colleges.

Instead, she became a silent partner in Malloy’s unprecedented attack on Connecticut’s institutions of higher education.  Malloy’s excessive and record-breaking budget cuts have systematically undermined all of Connecticut’s colleges and universities, resulting in higher tuition and reduced educational opportunities for those who could actually come up with the money to pursue a college degree.

And in what was a truly ironic and tragic moment, Nancy Wyman not only failed to stop Malloy’s inappropriate initiative to merge Connecticut State Universities and Community Colleges via the creation of the Board of Regents, but it was Wyman’s phone calls and lobbying of Democratic legislators that actually allowed Malloy to eviscerate the very programs that she had previously worked so hard to support.

Yet as bad as Malloy’s higher education policies have been over the last five years, it has become apparent that the greatest threat to UConn and CSU are the Malloy administration’s recent contract proposals.

Rather than focus on issues of salary and compensation, Malloy’s political appointees on the UConn Board of Trustees and the Board of Regents are seeking contract language and policy changes that would destroy the core aspects of Academic Freedom, shared governance and tenure.

For examples see;

Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU

The Malloy Administration’s stunning attack on unions, professors and the future of Connecticut State University

New Jersey lawyer known for privatization effort leads UConn bargaining effort against faculty.

While both the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapters at the University of Connecticut and Connecticut State University are speaking out against the Malloy administration’s proposals, the damage that would occur, should these concepts be adopted, would reach well beyond the impact that they would have on the faculty.

These proposals would literally undermine the national reputations that UConn and CSU have been building up over the years and limit what the schools can achieve in the years ahead.

Among Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s most important contributions was his observation that,

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King, Jr

Those of us who have worked with and for Nancy Wyman over the past forty years know the difference she can make when engaged in an issue that she truly cares about and we know she was once a true friend of higher education.

With the very future of Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education hanging in the balance, the time has come for Nancy Wyman to truly and honestly step up and speak out…

Silence is simply not an option.

Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU

During last year’s gubernatorial campaign, Connecticut’s state employee unions mobilized their members with the powerful message that a vote for Democrat Dannel Malloy was the only way to prevent Connecticut from having a “Wisconsin Moment,” a reference to Republican Tom Foley’s comments in support of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s unprecedented attack on public employees and their rights.

As the state employee unions wrote in a commentary piece that appeared in a summer 2014 on CT Newsjunkie entitled Union Members Not Interested in ‘Wisconsin Moment’

The last thing we need is a Koch Brothers-funded campaign to transform Connecticut into Walker’s Wisconsin.

AFSCME’s newsletter further explained,

“Preventing a “Wisconsin moment” from taking place in Connecticut was the prevailing theme of the Connecticut AFL-CIO’s 10th biennial political convention that took place June 16-17 in New Haven.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders electrified the more than 300 union delegates to the convention with his keynote address on June 16. “We can’t afford Connecticut to become another Wisconsin.”

[…]

Hours after Saunders’ speech, Gov. Malloy declared “We’re going to have a ‘Connecticut moment!’” in contrast to Republican endorsed gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley’s call last year for a “Wisconsin moment.”

In response, Connecticut’s state employees gave Malloy the votes he needed to stay in the Governor’s Office for a second term.

Now, a year later, faculty at the University of Connecticut (UConn) and Connecticut State University (CSU-Board of Regents) have become prime targets in the Malloy Administration’s attempt to push through some of the very policy changes that have been championed by the appropriately vilified Scott Walker.

The Malloy administration’s proposals to remove shared academic governance at the University of Connecticut and destroy tenure protections at Connecticut State Universities by repealing the requirement of declaring financial exigency prior to laying off tenured faculty are exactly the policy outcomes contained in Wisconsin Act 55, which Scott Walker signed into law this past July. Continue reading “Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU”

The national Academe Blog asks – Is Dannel Malloy – A Democratic Scott Walker?

A special thanks to Hank Reichman, the first vice-president and chair of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, and the nationally respected Academe Blog, the blog of Academe Magazine, for reposting my Wait, What? article entitled, The Malloy Administration’s stunning attack on unions, professors and the future of Connecticut State University.

While people across the nation may not know it, in a few months, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy will be taking the helm of the Democratic Governors Association.  In that position he will claim to be speaking for the nation’s Democratic governors and be responsible for electing more Democratic governors in the 2016 election cycle.

Having already pushed through the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education, the neoliberal, pro-Corporate Education Reform Industry governor is now engaged in an unprecedented attack on faculty at both Connecticut State University (now under the Connecticut Board of Regents) and the University of Connecticut.

For the first time in UConn history, the Board of Trustees, which is made up of the governor’s political appointees and donors, have hired an outside, out-of-state, Chris Christie affiliated, anti-union law firm to lead the attack on the UConn AAUP.  You can read more about the Malloy administration’s approach at UConn at: New Jersey lawyer known for privatization effort leads UConn bargaining effort against faculty. And UConn hires Gov. Chris Christie connected law firm to negotiate contract with faculty union.

And now, as yesterday’s post explains, the Malloy administration dropped a contract proposal on Connecticut State University – AAUP faculty that eliminates a requirement that the institution declare financial exigency before firing tenured and non-tenured faculty and eliminates the requirement that prior to taking that “nuclear option,’ the management first meet with the AAUP chapter to discuss and find alternative solutions to firing tenured faculty.  In addition, Malloy’s contract proposal takes the unprecedented step of inserting “Agency Fee” language into the contract itself, even though the matter is well settled and does not appear in any of the other State Employee contracts that cover more than the 45,000 Connecticut unionized state employees.

In his introduction to my blog post, Hank Reichman properly asks the question; Is Governor Dannel Malloy a water-downed, Democratic version of Scott Walker?

Reichman writes,

Last week I posted an item reporting on the bargaining efforts of two AAUP/AAUP-CBC affiliated faculty unions, the California Faculty Association (CFA) in the California State University system and the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) in the City University of New York.  Now comes word that the AAUP’s own collective bargaining chapter at the Connecticut State University (CSU) is facing a major challenge as it opens negotiations with the Board of Regents over a new contract.  Apparently the implosion of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s pathetic presidential campaign (and his accompanying collapse in the polls at home) hasn’t discouraged a Democratic imitator.  For under the administration of Governor Daniel Malloy the CSU Board of Regents has released bargaining proposals that amount to nothing less than a wholesale assault on the faculty in the true spirit of Scott Walker.  But don’t just take my word for it — or for that matter the word of our CSU chapter.  Read instead what Connecticut political blogger Jon Pelto, a former state legislator, has to say:

The Malloy Administration’s stunning attack on unions, professors and the future of Connecticut State University (Wait, What? 10/6/15)

“In a stark reminder that action speaks louder than words, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration has dropped a stunningly anti-union, anti-faculty, anti-Connecticut State University proposal on the table as it begins its contract negotiations with the CSU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the union that represents faculty and a variety of education professionals at the four universities of CSU.

“This development comes on top of the news that Malloy’s political appointees on the University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees have authorized a contract with an extremely controversial, high profile, anti-union, Governor Chris Christie affiliated New Jersey law firm to lead the negotiations against the UConn Chapter of the AAUP. That contract could cost taxpayers and students as much as $500,000 or more.

“The Malloy administration’s approach to the faculty who teach at Connecticut’s State Universities is particularly troubling since there has already been a growing recognition that Malloy’s initiative to merge the Connecticut State University and the Connecticut Community College System into the Board of Regents has been an utter failure.

“In just three years, the first two presidents of the Board of Regents were forced to leave under a cloud and Malloy’s political appointees on the Board of Regents have wasted millions of dollars in taxpayer funds on out-of-state consultants and some of those contracts apparently violated state law.

“Earlier this fall, in an effort to put his Board of Regents program back on track, Malloy had his chief-of-staff, Mark Ojakian, appointed as the [Interim] President of the Board of Regents.

“However, if the move was an attempt to turn over a new leaf and bring stability to Connecticut’s state universities and community colleges, that notion was blown away by the unbelievable anti-union, anti-professor, anti-Connecticut State University contract proposal that Malloy’s administration recently submitted.

“The proposal also includes language that will be of concern to Connecticut’s other public employee unions.

“For starters, it is safe to say that by proposing to insert a major new “agency fee” section into the CSU union contract, reducing release time for union activities and adding language that states, “Use of the Employer’s email system by CSU-AAUP staff or members for the purpose of transacting union business is strictly prohibited,” the Malloy administration’s proposal would be better suited to the likes of right-wing Republican Governor Bruce Rauner who is infamously working to destroy public employee unions in Illinois or Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker.

“The issue of Agency Fees are well settled in law and the unwarranted inclusion of such language in a Connecticut State Employee contract is not only unprecedented but mirrors a broader effort that is taking place across the country as corporate and conservative-funded anti-union front groups work to undermine collective bargaining rights in the United States.

“A key strategy that these groups are using is to try and pass laws that limit a union’s ability to communicate with its members.  In this environment, suggesting that the new contract outlaw AAUP-CSU’s ability to use their university’s email system to share information with faculty who are represented by the union is appalling.

“In fact, having studied the history of public employee unions in Connecticut and reviewed nearly every contract since public employees were given the right to collectively bargain in 1970s, Malloy’s CSU-AAUP contract proposal may very well be the most anti-union plan ever dropped on the bargaining table.

“And making matters worse, the anti-union provisions of Malloy’s proposed contract pales by comparison to the other proposals related to the Connecticut State Universities and its faculty.

“This includes eliminating all funds for faculty research, community service and professional development.  If adopted, the Malloy administration’s contract proposal would dramatically reduce the ability of CSU’s faculty to conduct the research and community service the state needs in order to grow and prosper.

“It is disturbing to say the least that Malloy, who spends much of his time claiming to be an advocate for Connecticut’s economy, would seek to destroy the important contributions that the Connecticut State Universities are making to Connecticut and its economic future.

“Equally troubling for faculty and students is that while tuition and fees have been skyrocketing due to Malloy’s record budget cuts to Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education, his new proposed contract for CSU would actually allow far more part-time faculty to be used when it comes to teaching courses.

“There is widespread recognition that Connecticut’s public institutions are already relying on too many part-time faculty when, in fact, university students need and deserve to learn from full-time faculty who can provide the knowledge, expertise, training and support that students will need in this increasing complex world.  The General Assembly has actually been very proactive on this issue, making Malloy’s maneuver all that more inappropriate.

“The Malloy administration’s plan suggests other extraordinary changes in the contract, changes that would immediately be thrown out of any reputable university or college in the nation.

“The proposed contract strips the provisions that the Board of Regents would need to declare financial exigency before firing tenured faculty and removes the Board’s duties to notify and work with the union on how to avoid financial exigency in times of extraordinary economic problems.  This change alone would ensure Connecticut State University’s national ranking and reputation would drop significantly considering the issues related to financial exigency and cooperation with faculty are deemed among the most important elements of a high quality institution of higher education in the United States.

“Eliminating the right to a termination hearing in cases of reprimand, suspension and termination is also among the proposals.  Such a change would not only be unfair to existing faculty, but open the state up to extraordinary lawsuits since there would be no mechanism to guard against politically motivated attempts by “management” to unfairly fire particular professors.

“The plan also calls for the implementation of an evaluation system worthy of George Orwell’s 1984, in which the measure of professional duty shifts from “productive service” to service that is also “collegial” (a term that is undefined) and one that requires faculty to adhere to “official policy statements,” which are not only undefined, but downright scary considering what such a phrase could possibly mean in a community built on the notion of academic freedom.

“The proposal also eliminates important job protection language for librarians, counselors and coaches.

“And, in a move that should worry all of the state’s public employee unions, the proposed contract would terminate any and all side-letters to the contract, a traditional and important mechanism that is used to make contract changes that are separate from the day to day contract or deal with special issues that arise.

“And the list goes on and on…

“With perhaps the most mean-spirited award going to the Malloy administration’s proposal that would change how the Board of Regents would deal with the children of long-time faculty who have died while employed.

“For the last twenty-five years, the State’s contract with AAUP-CSU has provided that, like other faculty dependents, children of professors who have worked at least ten years and passed away while employed by the institution could take classes tuition free, although those students would still have to pay for all fees related to course work, dormitories, meal plans, etc.

“The new proposal states that only students who are already enrolled as matriculated students could continue to take those courses.  If the faculty parent dies before the child is enrolled at the college, for example if they are still in high school, then that child is, as the saying goes is , “s**t out of luck.”

“While few rank and file union members actually believed Dannel Malloy when he said he would be a “friend of labor” in a second term, many voted for him out of fear of what his opponent Tom Foley might do if elected.

“Now with Malloy proposing anti-union, anti-faculty contract language and pushing the need for public employee concessions as a way to balance the budget – a budget Malloy promised would not need new taxes, cuts or concessions – Connecticut’s public employees are getting a taste of what they feared most.”

The Malloy Administration’s stunning attack on unions, professors and the future of Connecticut State University

In a stark reminder that action speaks louder than words, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration has dropped a stunningly anti-union, anti-faculty, anti-Connecticut State University proposal on the table as it begins its contract negotiations with the CSU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the union that represents faculty and a variety of education professionals at the four universities of CSU.

This development comes on top of the news that Malloy’s political appointees on the University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees have authorized a contract with an extremely controversial, high profile, anti-union, Governor Chris Christie affiliated New Jersey law firm to lead the negotiations against the UConn Chapter of the AAUP. That contract could cost taxpayers and students as much as $500,000 or more.

The Malloy administration’s approach to the faculty who teach at Connecticut’s State Universities is particularly troubling since there has already been a growing recognition that Malloy’s initiative to merge the Connecticut State University and the Connecticut Community College System into the Board of Regents has been an utter failure.

In just three years, the first two presidents of the Board of Regents were forced to leave under a cloud and Malloy’s political appointees on the Board of Regents have wasted millions of dollars in taxpayer funds on out-of-state consultants and some of those contracts apparently violated state law.

Earlier this fall, in an effort to put his Board of Regents program back on track, Malloy had his chief-of-staff, Mark Ojakian, appointed as the [Interim] President of the Board of Regents.

However, if the move was an attempt to turn over a new leaf and bring stability to Connecticut’s state universities and community colleges, that notion was blown away by the unbelievable anti-union, anti-professor, anti-Connecticut State University contract proposal that Malloy’s administration recently submitted.

The proposal also includes language that will be of concern to Connecticut’s other public employee unions.

For starters, it is safe to say that by proposing to insert a major new “agency fee” section into the CSU union contract, reducing release time for union activities and adding language that states, “Use of the Employer’s email system by CSU-AAUP staff or members for the purpose of transacting union business is strictly prohibited,” the Malloy administration’s proposal would be better suited to the likes of right-wing Republican Governor Bruce Rauner who is infamously working to destroy public employee unions in Illinois or Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker.

The issue of Agency Fees are well settled in law and the unwarranted inclusion of such language in a Connecticut State Employee contract is not only unprecedented but mirrors a broader effort that is taking place across the country as corporate and conservative-funded anti-union front groups work to undermine collective bargaining rights in the United States.

A key strategy that these groups are using is to try and pass laws that limit a union’s ability to communicate with its members.  In this environment, suggesting that the new contract outlaw AAUP-CSU’s ability to use their university’s email system to share information with faculty who are represented by the union is appalling.

In fact, having studied the history of public employee unions in Connecticut and reviewed nearly every contract since public employees were given the right to collectively bargain in 1970s, Malloy’s CSU-AAUP contract proposal may very well be the most anti-union plan ever dropped on the bargaining table.

And making matters worse, the anti-union provisions of Malloy’s proposed contract pales by comparison to the other proposals related to the Connecticut State Universities and its faculty.

This includes eliminating all funds for faculty research, community service and professional development.  If adopted, the Malloy administration’s contract proposal would dramatically reduce the ability of CSU’s faculty to conduct the research and community service the state needs in order to grow and prosper.

It is disturbing to say the least that Malloy, who spends much of his time claiming to be an advocate for Connecticut’s economy, would seek to destroy the important contributions that the Connecticut State Universities are making to Connecticut and its economic future.

Equally troubling for faculty and students is that while tuition and fees have been skyrocketing due to Malloy’s record budget cuts to Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education, his new proposed contract for CSU would actually allow far more part-time faculty to be used when it comes to teaching courses.

There is widespread recognition that Connecticut’s public institutions are already relying on too many part-time faculty when, in fact, university students need and deserve to learn from full-time faculty who can provide the knowledge, expertise, training and support that students will need in this increasing complex world.  The General Assembly has actually been very proactive on this issue, making Malloy’s maneuver all that more inappropriate.

The Malloy administration’s plan suggests other extraordinary changes in the contract, changes that would immediately be thrown out of any reputable university or college in the nation.

The proposed contract strips the provisions that the Board of Regents would need to declare financial exigency before firing tenured faculty and removes the Board’s duties to notify and work with the union on how to avoid financial exigency in times of extraordinary economic problems.  This change alone would ensure Connecticut State University’s national ranking and reputation would drop significantly considering the issues related to financial exigency and cooperation with faculty are deemed among the most important elements of a high quality institution of higher education in the United States.

Eliminating the right to a termination hearing in cases of reprimand, suspension and termination is also among the proposals.  Such a change would not only be unfair to existing faculty, but open the state up to extraordinary lawsuits since there would be no mechanism to guard against politically motivated attempts by “management” to unfairly fire particular professors.

The plan also calls for the implementation of an evaluation system worthy of George Orwell’s 1984, in which the measure of professional duty shifts from “productive service” to service that is also “collegial” (a term that is undefined) and one that requires faculty to adhere to “official policy statements,” which are not only undefined, but downright scary considering what such a phrase could possibly mean in a community built on the notion of academic freedom.

The proposal also eliminates important job protection language for librarians, counselors and coaches.

And, in a move that should worry all of the state’s public employee unions, the proposed contract would terminate any and all side-letters to the contract, a traditional and important mechanism that is used to make contract changes that are separate from the day to day contract or deal with special issues that arise.

And the list goes on and on…

With perhaps the most mean-spirited award going to the Malloy administration’s proposal that would change how the Board of Regents would deal with the children of long-time faculty who have died while employed.

For the last twenty-five years, the State’s contract with AAUP-CSU has provided that, like other faculty dependents, children of professors who have worked at least ten years and passed away while  employed by the institution could take classes tuition free, although those students would still have to pay for all fees related to course work, dormitories, meal plans, etc.

The new proposal states that only students who are already enrolled as matriculated students could continue to take those courses.  If the faculty parent dies before the child is enrolled at the college, for example if they are still in high school, then that child is, as the saying goes is , “s**t out of luck.”

While few rank and file union members actually believed Dannel Malloy when he said he would be a “friend of labor” in a second term, many voted for him out of fear of what his opponent Tom Foley might do if elected.

Now with Malloy proposing anti-union, anti-faculty contract language and pushing the need for public employee concessions as a way to balance the budget – a budget Malloy promised would not need new taxes, cuts or concessions – Connecticut’s public employees are getting a taste of what they feared most.

New Jersey lawyer known for privatization effort leads UConn bargaining effort against faculty.

If there was any doubt that Governor Dannel Malloy was lying to state employees last fall when he was courting their vote, they need only look to the decision by Malloy’s political appointees on UConn’s Board of Trustees to hire a New Jersey based, corporate law firm with close ties to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to lead the contract negotiations against UConn’s faculty.

New Jersey lawyer John J. Peirano, a partner with Elroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, has been given a contract that could cost state taxpayers and UConn students $500,000 or more to serve as the lead negotiator against the American Association of University Professors – UConn Chapter.

Peirano’s firm, McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, is closely connected to Christie.  The firm’s Managing Director, Edward Deutsch, served on Christie’s gubernatorial transition team and is now a member of the Christie for President fundraising committee.  The firm’s Newark Managing Partner was recently appointed Christie’s chief legal counsel and other firm lawyers have been appointed by Christie to major New Jersey Boards and Commissions.

The news that the University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees had hired a big time, out-of-state law firm to represent UConn in its negotiations with the faulty was first reported here at Wait, What? in an article entitled UConn hires Gov. Chris Christie connected law firm to negotiate contract with faculty union.

While both the Hartford Courant and CT Mirror have recently followed with their own news stories about the development, both media outlets skipped over any reference to the law firm’s connection with Governor Christie.  The Hartford Courant article is here – UConn’s Hiring Of Outside Law Firm Angers Faculty and the CT Mirror story is here – UConn begins labor contract talks with cost savings as goal.

As confirmed in the news reports, UConn will be paying the New Jersey firm $250,000 plus expenses for its work through December with an automatic contract extension into 2016.  The cost to UConn students and Connecticut taxpayers for the out-of-state “expertise” will run $310 an hour for attorney Peirano’s help.  Considering how long contract negotiations generally last, the total cost for the New Jersey law firm could easily surpass $500,000.

While UConn already spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on its own legal and labor relation staff, what makes the decision to hire outside negotiators particularly newsworthy is that this will be the first time that UConn has hired outside labor negotiators.

Considering Governor Dannel Malloy serves as the President of the UConn Board of Trustees, appoints the Chairman of the Board and directly appoints and controls the majority of the members of the board, the unprecedented decision has the Malloy administration’s fingerprints all over it.

The choice UConn made is also a strange one.  In addition to the close relationship that the New Jersey law firm has with Republican Governor Chris Christie, is the fact that controversy has often surrounded John J. Peirano, the law firm’s lawyer who will be leading the UConn negotiating operation.

A review of his track record reviles that Peirano has been associated with a series of unfair labor practice charges brought by unions, not to mention the role Peirano played in the Christie administration’s failed attempt to privatize the New Jersey Turnpike.

After taking office, Governor Christie created the New Jersey Privatization Task Force in March 2011.  Two months later, the anti-union governor’s Task Force reported that “privatization offers a variety of benefits to governments and taxpayers including lower costs, improvements in the quality of public services and access to private sector capital and professional expertise.”

A corresponding effort to privatize the New Jersey Turnpike Authority was derailed when the contract with toll collectors was extended for two years after toll collectors agreed to salary cuts of about 25 percent — from around $65,000 a year to $49,500 annually.

Attorney Peirano has been a lead labor lawyer for the Turnpike Authority.

Despite the major concessions given by toll collectors, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority issued a Request for Proposal to privatize the work of the Turnpike’s toll attendants.  The plan called for firing more than 200 full-time public employees and approximately 350 part-time employees, although the RFP did include a provision that would require any private contractor to offer positions, even if they were at a much lower salary level, to any of the public employees who would be laid off.

However, only a few weeks later, on February 25, 2011, the Turnpike Authority suspiciously eliminated the First Right of Refusal provision from the RFP.

In response to the Turnpike Authority’s decision to cut the public employees off at the knees and not even allow them an initial opportunity to remain employed, the union filed a lawsuit claiming the action was in retribution for the union’s outspoken opposition to the plan and that the Turnpike Authority’s action should not be allowed to stand.

In his brief to the court, the Turnpike Authority’s lawyer, Attorney Peirano, blasted the union and the public employees they represented in a court brief that opined,

“In an effort to undermine that decision, plaintiffs – the union representing toll collectors and seven of its members – have impermissibly sought to derail that process by manufacturing a First Amendment lawsuit in federal court.”

As the Star-Ledger reported at the time in an article entitled,

Wednesday in federal court, a lawyer for the toll collectors said that after they spoke out against plans this summer to privatize their jobs, the authority on Feb. 25 vindictively removed a “right of first refusal” provision that would have given the toll takers first dibs on jobs with the new company handling toll collection.

The clause was removed two days after union members picketed and protested at an authority meeting, and Simpson told reporters after the meeting he was “not happy” with the way toll collectors were behaving.

“The timing here could not be any clearer,” said lawyer Steven Weissman, representing International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local No. 194.

But John J. Peirano, a lawyer representing the authority, said toll collector protests did not lead to the removal of the right of first refusal provision.

[…]

The provision was removed because it was causing some prospective bidders to drop out, he said. Even though 23 prospective bidders initially expressed interest, only four bids were received.”

Whether the move was an immoral attempt to silence the unions or an unethical attempt to appease private contractors, the net effect was the same.

Attorney Peirano and his client, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, was intent on privatizing a public activity and refused to even give the displaced workers a first right of refusal to keep their jobs.

Inherently, despite the Christie administration’s best efforts, the ill-conceived privatization effort later collapsed.

Now that same lawyer is part of Governor Dannel Malloy’s team.

And as for Malloy and his record on higher education…

The CT Mirror reported yesterday that as a result of Governor Malloy’s utter failure to propose sufficient funding for the University of Connecticut and the state’s other public institutions of higher education,

The university in June reported is was facing a $52.7 million deficit for the fiscal year that begins in July 2016 — a 4 percent hole in the $1.36 billion needed to continue providing existing programs, services and salary levels. That projection was made before the final two-year state budget was adopted, providing UConn $4.5 million less than its leaders were anticipating.

University officials declined Wednesday to provide updated budget projections for the fiscal year that starts in nine months.