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”

UConn hires Gov. Chris Christie connected law firm to negotiate contract with faculty union

For the first time in UConn history, the University of Connecticut will not be using their own legal and labor relations staff to negotiate the upcoming contract with the University’s professors.

Instead, Governor Dannel Malloy’s political appointees on the UConn Board of Trustees have retained a New Jersey based law firm known for their anti-union record and their close relationship with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Although the public and students pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for UConn’s existing legal and labor relations staff, earlier this year the UConn Board of Trustees authorized President Susan Herbst to sign a lucrative agreement with McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter LLP to represent the State and the University of Connecticut at the bargaining table through the end of the year.

The generous deal hands $250,000 over to the New Jersey based firm for their work through December 31, 2015 and then allows UConn to “extend” the contract, without re-bidding, into 2016.

Considering negotiations only officially began this week, the agreement virtually guarantees the New Jersey firm will get a half a million dollars or more in state and student funds in the coming months.

According to one of the websites that track law firms, McElroy, Deutsch generates gross revenue of about $120 million a year with a “Profit per Partner” of about $970,000.

As the Star Tribune reported, the amount of New Jersey state business that McElroy, Deutsch, was getting skyrocketed after Christie took office.  In just the first couple of years of his administration the law firm’s take from state work jumped by more than fivefold.

The law firm’s Managing Attorney, Edward Deutsch, who served as a high ranking member of Christie’s transition and has since been appointed by Christie to other major commissions explained in an interview that the money flowing into his law firm was a result of the “spike in state business to the firm [after] taking over contract negotiations with labor unions, a critical focus of the Christie administration.”

The law firm’s relationship with Christie is extensive.  The New Jersey Governor appointed McElroy, Deutsch partner Walter Timpone to serve as Vice Chairman of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, the agency responsible for regulating campaign financing for all state’s elections and campaign finance laws.

Last year, Christie named Louis Modugno, another McElroy Deutsch partner, to serve as a Commissioner on the State of New Jersey School Ethics Commission.  Like Governor Malloy, Governor Christie is a major advocate of charter schools and the corporate education reform industry, which in New Jersey makes the School Ethics Commission a key appointment.

And just this past summer, Christie named Thomas Scrivo, McElroy, Deutsch’s Managing Partner in their Newark office as his Chief Counsel.

With Chris Christie now running for President, the law firm’s Managing Attorney, Edward Deutsch, is back in the news as one of Christie’s fundraising leaders.

As for the situation in Connecticut, according to information released by the University of Connecticut, McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter partner John Peirano will “lead the negotiations” for UConn and the State of Connecticut.

According to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in Connecticut and New Jersey, Peirano has an extremely rocky and controversial record when it comes to union negotiations, with multiple unfair labor practice complaints arising from his work.

Both Rutgers University and Rutgers’ medical school, the Biomedical and Health Sciences of New Jersey, used attorney Peirano and McElroy, Deutsch with chaotic and even catastrophic results.

With Attorney Peirano playing a leading role in the negotiations at BHSNJ, the Rutgers medical school is still negotiating an initial contract after more than 6 years and the negotiating tactics lead to at least one Unfair Labor Practice Charge against the schools’ administration.  Apparently Peirano is no longer part of the negotiation team and the talks are reportedly finally moving toward conclusion.

Meanwhile, Rutgers University reached a contact settlement with its faculty in March of this year, but not before “both sides agreed to pare down their negotiating teams and Peirano was eliminated from the bargaining table by the Administration.”

As of result of their relationship with Christie, McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter has been mired in controversy in recent years.

For example, as Christie’s “Bridgegate” scandal unfolded, Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff and the alleged ringleader in the effort to close lanes onto the George Washington Bridge in order to punish a local mayor retained McElroy, Deutsch’s Walter Timpone.  Christie fired Kelly after emails revealed she had played a major role in the bridge situation. Timpone and McElroy, Deutsch later dropped Kelly citing that there was a “conflict” due to the fact that he was one of Christie’s appointees to the Elections Commission.

In another case, McElroy, Deutsch hired Michele Brown, one of Chris Christie’s close friends after she resigned from her job in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2009, “amid a furor over a $46,000 loan she received from him that he did not report on his income tax return or disclosure reports.”  About three months after Brown was hired by the firm, Christie hired her as his appointments counsel.

While it is unclear why UConn even thinks it is appropriate to hire outside negotiators, this is hardly the first time that the Malloy administration has retained expensive out-of-state lawyers and consultants to do the work state employees could and should be doing.

AFT President Randi Weingarten in Farmington today for Malloy campaign rally

Update:  After posting this piece, AFT President Weingarten and Malloy spoke at the AFT Get-Out-The-Vote rally and Weingarten tweeted: “@DanMalloyCT has apologized;affirmed pledge to coll barg.”  The media hasn’t reported what Malloy said, does anyone know?

RanRandi to farmingtondi Weingarten, the national president of the American Federation of Teachers, is headlining a Malloy Get-Out-The-Vote Rally for Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s re-election effort today in Farmington, Connecticut.

Although a number of public education advocates, including myself, have been critical of Weingarten on some issues, I have tremendous respect for her and the role she has played in the effort to speak up for teachers on numerous occasions including this week’s decision by Time Magazine to run with a cover bashing the nation’s public school educators.

Weingarten, along with the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter and the Connecticut Education Association have endorsed Malloy despite the fact that Governor Malloy remains the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose repealing tenure for all Connecticut public school teachers and unilaterally eliminating collective bargaining rights for a teachers working in the state’s poorest schools.

If Weingarten and the leadership of the AFT and CEA were serious about persuading Connecticut’s teachers, parents and public school advocates to get out to vote on Election Day and vote for Malloy they would use this opportunity to ensure that Malloy finally renounces his 2012 anti-teacher proposal.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Malloy’s effort to repeal collective bargaining for a sub-set of public employees:

Governor Malloy’s Corporate Education Reform Industry initiative was submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly in a bill entitled “AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS.”  Malloy’s bill was submitted on February 9, 2012 and referred to the Education Committee for a public hearing.

Section 18 of the Senate Bill provided for the creation of what has become known as “Commissioner’s Network Schools.”

Malloy’s proposal was to allow the Commissioner of Education to override local boards of education and take control of Commissioner Network Schools by requiring local or regional boards of education to “enter into a turnaround agreement with the department regarding all aspects of school operation and management, without limitation.”

As part of that agreement, the proposal provided that the Commissioner of Education would have the power to, “Require the implementation of specific operating and working conditions in a commissioner’s network school.”

Since the unilateral control of the operating and working conditions would violate collective bargaining agreements, Malloy’s bill included the following language;

(F) The provisions of sections 10-153a to 10-153n, inclusive, [which are the state’s collective bargaining laws] shall not apply to any teacher or administrator who is assigned to a commissioner’s network school, except (i) that such teacher or administrator shall, for the purposes of ratification of an agreement only, be permitted to vote as a member of the teacher or administrator bargaining unit, as appropriate, for the local or regional board of education in which the commissioner’s network school is located, and (ii) insofar as any such provisions protect any entitlement of such teacher or administrator to benefits or leave accumulated or accrued prior to the teacher or administrator being employed in a commissioner’s network school. The provision of any financial or other incentives, including, but not limited to, compensation or the availability of professional coverage positions, shall not be subject to collective bargaining pursuant to sections 10-153a to 10-153n, inclusive.

Malloy’s proposed language unilaterally repealed teachers’ rights to collectively bargain – if they worked in a Commissioner Network School – and specifically stated that compensation or other professional working conditions – SHALL NOT BE SUBJECT TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING.

Malloy’s bill was nothing short of a proposal to destroy the collective bargaining rights of teachers (and administrators) in what was supposed to be up to 25 public schools in Connecticut.

In response to Malloy’s proposal, the CEA wrote to its members on March 14, 2012 telling them that Malloy’s Education Bill would have “real and dramatic consequences for teachers.”

Leading the list of negative impacts, the CEA leadership explained that,

“The bill would take away collective bargaining rights from teachers in the lowest performing schools….”

The CEA letter went on to urge teachers to contact their legislators and tell them to “Fix the governor’s bill” and “Restore collective bargaining rights.”

Thankfully, the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly stripped Malloy’s effort to repeal collective bargaining rights before they went on to pass most of the rest of his bad bill.

Malloy’s effort to eliminate tenure for Public School Teaches;

Even the AFT and CEA have admitted that Governor Malloy’s 2012 Corporate Education Reform Industry Initiative sought to eliminate tenure for all public school teachers in Connecticut and replace it with a system of short-term contracts in which continued employment as a teacher would depend, in part, on the test scores teachers’ students got on the unfair and inappropriate Common Core Standardized Tests.

At the time Malloy introduced his anti-tenure, anti-teacher bill he famously observed that “teachers need only show up for work” in order to get tenure.

Weingarten and the leadership of the AFT and CEA have consistently told their members that Malloy has apologized for proposing his anti-tenure, anti-teacher bill.

However, that claim is absolutely untrue.

The truth is that Malloy has never publicly renounced his anti-tenure position nor has he admitted that he made a mistake when he originally introduced the proposal.

When the idiotic “all you have to do is show up” statement was raised at a candidate debate earlier this year, here is what Malloy DID say;

 “I should admit that was bad language. It wasn’t about them. It was about tenure… I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize for saying it.’”

Wait, What?

Malloy is now claiming that his attack on tenure wasn’t an attack on teachers but, “it was about tenure.”

The sad truth is that Malloy’s HAS NEVER retracted his anti-tenure stance and his effort to “apologize” to teachers has only made his anti-tenure position clearer.

With Randi Weingarten in Connecticut today, the leadership of the AFT and CEA have a unique opportunity to actually force Malloy to stand up, step up and come clean about his 2012 effort to eliminate tenure for all public school teachers and repeal collective bargaining for teachers working in Connecticut’s poorest school districts.

A Malloy statement renouncing his actions on tenure and collective bargaining would be the most effective Get-Out-The-Vote effort Weingarten and the AFT and CEA leadership could make.