CT Dem Governor urges Dem Legislature to reject union contract his appointees negotiated and approved

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Governor Dannel Malloy is the President of the UConn Board of Trustees and appoints and controls a majority of the votes on the Board.  On January 27, 2016, UConn’s Trustees voted 15 – 0 to adopt a new contract with the University of Connecticut’s non-teaching professional staff.  Malloy’s personal representative to the Board of Trustees skipped the meeting.  In fact, they haven’t shown up for 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings.

But Malloy’s neglect to perform his gubernatorial duties didn’t stop him from issuing a press release condemning the new contract and instructing the Democratic controlled General Assembly to reject the contract.

These days, Donald Trump is the world’s leader when it comes to a detachment from facts and reality, but by his action today, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, who also serves as the Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, rocketed into his own parallel universe by calling on the legislature to reject a contract his own political appointees approved.

As noted, according to Connecticut State Law, Malloy is President of the UConn Board of Trustees, he appoints and controls a majority of the members of the Board, yet his personal representative on the UConn Board has missed 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings including the one in January where the Board of Trustees voted to approve the contract 15-0 (with on abstention).

Malloy’s latest neo-liberal, anti-state employee maneuver is laid out in a CT Newsjunkie article entitled, “Malloy Urges Legislature To Reject UConn Labor Contract.”  The CT Newsjunkie reports;

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy urged the General Assembly to reject a labor contract for 1,900 non-teaching staff at the University of Connecticut.

The legislature has until March 9 to vote on the contract before it automatically goes into effect.

Malloy, who was still on vacation in Puerto Rico Wednesday, sent out a statement repeating remarks he made last week about the state’s fiscal situation. Except, this time he took it a step further and urged rejection of the five year contract, which includes a wage hike and an increase in hours. Malloy, who hesitated last week to offer a firm opinion on the issue, said the contract negotiated last year between the University of the Union does not reflect “our new economic reality.”

The CT Mirror, in Malloy urges rejecting UConn labor pact, explains

After nudging legislators to reject a labor deal granting raises at the University of Connecticut, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy gave them a hard push Wednesday, publicly urging rejection of a contract the university negotiated with its Professional Employees Union.

“We must value and support those that serve the public,” Malloy wrote in a statement. “This contract was negotiated in good faith, and I appreciate the work of UConn and UCPEA. At the same time, agreements negotiated between labor and management must reflect our new economic reality. This contract, which was negotiated last year, does not.”

The leaders of the Senate Democratic majority quickly agreed with the governor, an indication the Senate is prepared to formally reject the contract, which covers nearly 1,900 non-teaching professionals at UConn.

Malloy’s failure to tell legislators, the media and Connecticut voters the truth about his utter failure to influence the process and raise concerns prior to the labor contract’s adoption by his appointees on the UConn Board of Trustees is a testament to his ability to say anything, even when it ignores reality.

The truth is that Malloy had the chance to fulfill his duties as Governor of Connecticut and a “leader” of the Democratic Party, he failed to act.

And now, in a gratuitous pandering move to appear “fiscally” attentive, he throws Connecticut’s state employees under the bus … again!

As explained in yesterday’s Wait, What? post Hello Governor, a bit of truth about UConn’s “controversial” state employee contract is in order…,

On January 27, 2016, the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees voted to approve a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Connecticut and the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA), the non-teaching professional staff at UConn.

No member of the UConn Board of Trustees voted against the contract.  All voted yes, but one of the two alumni representatives, who abstained.

Over the past week, ratification of the contract by the Connecticut General Assembly has become controversial and Governor Dannel Malloy has suddenly become critical of the agreement despite the fact that, by law, Malloy is the President of the UConn Board of Trustees, Malloy appoints the majority of the members of the Board and Malloy’s own personal representative on the Board has missed 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings, including the Trustee meeting in January when the contract was approved.

As the debate grows, a headline in the Hartford Courant reads, “GOP Leaders Call for Vote Soon on Controversial UConn Contract.”  The Courant reports;

Len Fasano and House Republican leader Themis Klarides are calling for the full legislature to vote on a controversial contract for nearly 2,000 non-teaching employees at the University of Connecticut.

The contract will automatically go into effect if the legislature takes no action by March 9. But Fasano, other Republicans, and some Democrats say that a vote is needed on the multi-million-dollar contract to set the tone for future union awards. The contract calls for a 3 percent raise in the first year and then 4.5 percent increases for four consecutive years – including an increase in the workweek from 35 hours to 40 hours.

Last week, the CT Mirror article entitled,  Malloy: UConn pay raises don’t reflect new economic reality, explained that Governor Dannel Malloy was critical of the new state employee contract with non-teaching professional staff at the University of Connecticut claiming that it was out of step with current economic conditions.

Speaking at press conference, Malloy said;

“That contract does not fully represent the new economic reality, and I have some concerns about it, but the legislature is in charge on this one.  I think there is an economic reality that people are having a hard time adjusting to.”

[…]

The pending contract for the 1,839 members of the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association provides for annual raises ranging from 3 to 4.5 percent over the next five years.

[…]

“I don’t play a role in it, but I will answer questions about the evaluation of it. I think I am going pretty far by saying that if it’s approved, if it becomes the contract, it will be a contract made in this year that will make all other contracts much more difficult to enter into, or to negotiate. It has implications… It’s going to make the legislature’s job a lot harder if they intend to balance the budget.”

Wait, What? 

Malloy said, “The legislature is in charge on this one.” 

And added, “I don’t play a role in it, but I will answer questions about the evaluation of it.”

Is Governor Malloy that naïve or does he really think we are that stupid?

As noted, according to Connecticut State Law, the governor serves as the President of the UConn Board of Trustees.

Malloy appointed 12 of the 21 regular members of the UConn Board AND his Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Education and Commissioner of Economic and Community Development are all members of the UConn Board due to the positions they hold in the Malloy administration.

Malloy also appoints a personal representative to the board to attend in his absence.

In the parlance of politics, the governor controls the votes.

The truth is that all of Governor Malloy’s appointees to the UConn Board voted in favor of the proposed state employee contract including Board Chairman Larry McHugh, former Speaker of the House Tom Ritter and West Hartford Deputy Mayor Shari Cantor.

To even suggest that he had no role in the decision to approve the contract can only mean that he intentionally overlooked the important role he plays on the UConn Board of Trustees or he has decided to lie to the voters of Connecticut.

Meanwhile, the debate continues about whether the State Senate and State House of Representatives will hold a vote on the contract.  According to the latest Courant story,

The House Democrats talked about the UConn contract during their closed-door caucus last week at the Jackson Laboratory in Farmington, but no final decisions have been announced on whether there will be a vote by the full legislature.

[…]

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey of Hamden, who will play a key role in whether there is a formal vote, is concerned about the price of the contract for the UConn Professional Employees Association, known as UCPEA.

“Everyone understands the overall budget challenges we face, and I heard from legislators, both on the committee and not, who expressed understandable concerns, which I share, over the price tag of this contract,” Sharkey said.  “Through no fault of UCPEA, it is apparent that UConn negotiated this without consideration of the economic reality of the state, and their CFO couldn’t say how they are going to pay for it. The truth is it has to either come from taxpayers, more tuition hikes, or layoffs, and that concerns me greatly.”

A longtime political insider said the UConn contract is probably the most important union vote, politically, at the Capitol in the past 10 years.

Republicans say the legislature’s budget-writing committee missed a chance last week to set the fiscal tone by failing to block the contract for professional employees. House members on the committee voted in favor of the contract, which some legislators described as unaffordable and others said should be approved because it was bargained in good faith and approved by the university.

While the House members approved the contract, the Senate members battled to a 6-6 tie as they debated over whether the full legislature should approve the contract.

Sen. Beth Bye, a West Hartford Democrat who co-chairs the committee, voted in favor of the deal because she said that turning it down could eventually cost the state even more money.

[…]

Sen. John Kissel, a longtime lawmaker from Enfield who voted against the contract, said in an interview that the contract could eventually boomerrang on the employees.

“They’re setting themselves up for layoffs,” Kissel told Capitol Watch.  “I think it sets a bad standard because we have 15 others coming up. The other unions would look to that and say there’s precedent.”

Setting aside the arguments for and against this particular contract, the most amazing news of all is Malloy’s attempt to revise the reality surrounding his role in the contract and the fact that legislators are apparently going to allow him to get away with the charade.

Hello Governor, a bit of truth about UConn’s “controversial” state employee contract is in order…

Comments Off on Hello Governor, a bit of truth about UConn’s “controversial” state employee contract is in order…

On January 27, 2016, the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees voted to approve a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Connecticut and the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA), the non-teaching professional staff at UConn.

No member of the UConn Board of Trustees voted against the contract.  All voted yes, but one of the two alumni representatives, who abstained.

Over the past week, ratification of the contract by the Connecticut General Assembly has become controversial and Governor Dannel Malloy has suddenly become critical of the agreement despite the fact that, by law, Malloy is the President of the UConn Board of Trustees, Malloy appoints the majority of the members of the Board and Malloy own personal representative on the Board has missed 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings, including the Trustee meeting in January when the contract was approved.

As the debate groups, a headline in the Hartford Courant reads, “GOP Leaders Call for Vote Soon on Controversial UConn Contract.”  The Courant reports;

Len Fasano and House Republican leader Themis Klarides are calling for the full legislature to vote on a controversial contract for nearly 2,000 non-teaching employees at the University of Connecticut.

The contract will automatically go into effect if the legislature takes no action by March 9. But Fasano, other Republicans, and some Democrats say that a vote is needed on the multi-million-dollar contract to set the tone for future union awards. The contract calls for a 3 percent raise in the first year and then 4.5 percent increases for four consecutive years – including an increase in the workweek from 35 hours to 40 hours.

Last week, the CT Mirror article entitled,  Malloy: UConn pay raises don’t reflect new economic reality, explained that Governor Dannel Malloy was critical of the new state employee contract with non-teaching professional staff at the University of Connecticut claiming that it was out of step with current economic conditions.

Speaking at press conference, Malloy said;

“That contract does not fully represent the new economic reality, and I have some concerns about it, but the legislature is in charge on this one.  I think there is an economic reality that people are having a hard time adjusting to.”

[…]

The pending contract for the 1,839 members of the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association provides for annual raises ranging from 3 to 4.5 percent over the next five years.

[…]

“I don’t play a role in it, but I will answer questions about the evaluation of it. I think I am going pretty far by saying that if it’s approved, if it becomes the contract, it will be a contract made in this year that will make all other contracts much more difficult to enter into, or to negotiate. It has implications… It’s going to make the legislature’s job a lot harder if they intend to balance the budget.”

Wait, What? 

Malloy said, “The legislature is in charge on this one.” 

And added, “I don’t play a role in it, but I will answer questions about the evaluation of it.”

Is Governor Malloy that naïve or does he really think we are that stupid?

As noted, according to Connecticut State Law, the governor serves as the President of the UConn Board of Trustees.

Malloy appointed 12 of the 21 regular members of the UConn Board AND his Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Education and Commissioner of Economic and Community Development are all members of the UConn Board due to the positions they hold in the Malloy administration.

Malloy also appoints a personal representative to the board to attend in his absence.

In the parlance of politics, the governor control the votes.

The truth is that all of Governor Malloy’s appointees to the UConn Board voted in favor of the proposed state employee contract including Board Chairman Larry McHugh, former Speaker of the House Tom Ritter and West Hartford Deputy Mayor Shari Cantor.

To even suggest that he had no role in the decision to approve the contract can only mean that he intentionally overlooked the important role he plays on the UConn Board of Trustees or he has decided to lie to the voters of Connecticut.

Meanwhile, the debate continues about whether the State Senate and State House of Representatives will hold a vote on the contract.  According to the latest Courant story,

The House Democrats talked about the UConn contract during their closed-door caucus last week at the Jackson Laboratory in Farmington, but no final decisions have been announced on whether there will be a vote by the full legislature.

[…]

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey of Hamden, who will play a key role in whether there is a formal vote, is concerned about the price of the contract for the UConn Professional Employees Association, known as UCPEA.

“Everyone understands the overall budget challenges we face, and I heard from legislators, both on the committee and not, who expressed understandable concerns, which I share, over the price tag of this contract,” Sharkey said.  “Through no fault of UCPEA, it is apparent that UConn negotiated this without consideration of the economic reality of the state, and their CFO couldn’t say how they are going to pay for it. The truth is it has to either come from taxpayers, more tuition hikes, or layoffs, and that concerns me greatly.”

A longtime political insider said the UConn contract is probably the most important union vote, politically, at the Capitol in the past 10 years.

Republicans say the legislature’s budget-writing committee missed a chance last week to set the fiscal tone by failing to block the contract for professional employees. House members on the committee voted in favor of the contract, which some legislators described as unaffordable and others said should be approved because it was bargained in good faith and approved by the university.

While the House members approved the contract, the Senate members battled to a 6-6 tie as they debated over whether the full legislature should approve the contract.

Sen. Beth Bye, a West Hartford Democrat who co-chairs the committee, voted in favor of the deal because she said that turning it down could eventually cost the state even more money.

[…]

Sen. John Kissel, a longtime lawmaker from Enfield who voted against the contract, said in an interview that the contract could eventually boomerrang on the employees.

“They’re setting themselves up for layoffs,” Kissel told Capitol Watch.  “I think it sets a bad standard because we have 15 others coming up. The other unions would look to that and say there’s precedent.”

Setting aside the arguments for and against this particular contract, the most amazing news of all is Malloy’s attempt to revise the reality surrounding his role in the contract and the fact that legislators are apparently going to allow him to get away with the charade.

ALERT:  Malloy’s Budget Cuts lead to another 23% Tuition Increase at UConn plus 7%

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As a result of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s unrelenting attack on Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education, the University of Connecticut Board Of Trustees will be voting at their next meeting to raise tuition by as much as 23 percent for Connecticut students on top of an additional 7 percent increase.

Despite what will be another massive “tax” increase on Connecticut middle class families who are trying to ensure that their children get a college education, the additional tuition funds will not be enough to prevent equally appalling program cuts at UConn.

The new tuition increase comes in addition to the 25 percent jump in tuition and fees that UConn adopted four years ago.  The earlier tuition increase was required to balance UConn’s budget  in response to the record cuts Malloy proposed during his first year in office.

Connecticut’s failure to properly fund its public colleges and universities means that the cost of tuition at the University of Connecticut will have increased by more than $6,000 during Malloy’s tenure, an increase of nearly 50 percent.

As the Hartford Courant is reporting, faced with a $40 million deficit due to the decline in state support, UConn officials are submitting a proposal that would implement a series of tuition increases beginning with a 6.6 percent increase in 2016, and averaging about 7 percent for each of the next three years.

As the Courant explains;

“A key issue for the university has been the state’s shrinking share of the university’s costs. The state’s block grants have grown in recent years, but those increases have not kept pace with the university’s rising costs…

During the past eight years, the state has cut UConn’s funding by approximately $82 million, including $40 million in rescissions.”

When Malloy was sworn in, the State of Connecticut’s appropriation (Block Grant and Fridge Benefits) covered about 18% of UConn’s overall budget.  This year, the level of state support dropped to 16% of UConn’s budget and that reduction does not count the more than $40 million in budget rescissions that Malloy has implemented over the past five years.

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

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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

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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. More

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

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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.”

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

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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.

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

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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.

Important Correction and Update – Educators 4 Excellence and UConn’s Neag School of Education.

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Yesterday’s Wait What? post entitled, UConn’s Neag School of Education aligns with faux “Educators 4 Excellence” reform group, reported that UConn’s Neag School of Education had co-sponsored a “happy hour” on April 23, 2015 with the corporate funded education reform group that goes by the name of Educators 4 Excellence (E4E).

However, according to E4E and other sources, the Neag School of Education DID NOT co-sponsor the Educators 4 Excellence event at the Wood N Tap in Hartford that day and that the NEAG School is not, in any way, affiliated with Educators 4 Excellence or its activities.

Those knowledgeable about the event explain that the misunderstanding was due to the fact that E4E posted the following to the NEAG School for Education Facebook page;

[email protected] alums/school teachers are working together with Educators for Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization that works to ensure that the voices of classroom teachers are included in the creation of policies that shape our classrooms and careers. They are having a happy hour to discuss the organization and to get feedback from current Hartford teachers. Share your feedback at the discussion: Hartford @WoodNTap, 4/23, 5 p.m.”

Apparently the message was not meant to suggest that the Neag School of Education was sponsoring the event but that students and alumni of the Neag School were individually working with Educators 4 Excellence and that anyone associated with the Neag School of Education was invited to join the April 23rd social, which was being sponsored exclusively by E4E

Part of the confusion may be due to the fact that while the Neag School of Education was not working with E4E on their event, it was, at the very same time, working to publicize an event it was co-sponsoring with another corporate funded education reform group called Achieve Hartford!

Achieve Hartford! is the corporate funded education reform group that is has been at the forefront of the effort to expand the number of charter schools in Hartford, while implementing other aspects of the education reform agenda in the Capital city.

Ironically, at the very time that the E4E Happy Hour was about to begin on April 23, the Neag School of Education tweeted.

Neag [email protected] Apr 23

Neag School retweeted Achieve Hartford!

We’d love for you to join us, 4/29, 4 p.m. @kateschimel @eduflack @CBIANews @Ed4Excellence @conncan @CTedreform

However, please note that the tweet had nothing to do with the E4E event but was merely inviting E4E and other corporate education reform groups in Connecticut to participate in the event that the Neag School was co-hosting with Achieve Hartford! a week later.

Achieve Hartford! has been among the most vocal supporters of Steve Perry, the would-be charter school management company operator who is relying on Governor Malloy to force the  Connecticut General Assembly to fund Perry’s plan to open a privately owned, but publicly funded charter school in Bridgeport.

Achieve Hartford! was also an outspoken proponent of the FUSE/Jumoke Academy charter school enterprise until that charter school chain collapsed amid revelations about the criminal past of its CEO, his lying about his academic credentials and an FBI investigation into the potential misuse of public funds.

Achieve Hartford’s funding comes from a wide variety of individual and corporate sponsors including Connecticut’s leading charter school advocacy group, ConnCAN, as well as from Teach for America.

Apologies for any confusion that was caused by yesterday’s post.

UConn’s Neag School of Education aligns with faux “Educators 4 Excellence” reform group

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A couple of weeks ago nearly 500 students were handed diplomas from the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education.  Most were Connecticut residents and after spending years studying and paying tens of thousands of dollars to get a comprehensive education from a premier teacher preparation program, many are now out looking for teaching jobs in an incredibly difficult job market.

So whatever you do, don’t tell these new UConn graduates that rather than promoting the need for teachers who have acquired the depth of knowledge and skills that comes from attending a true teacher preparation program, their university has aligned itself with a corporate funded education reform front group that is overwhelming made up of teachers who have bypassed all that “teacher prep stuff.”

Although UConn’s Neag School of Education graduation ceremonies were held with great pomp and circumstance, the Neag School’s most profound message to its students and graduates actually came a couple of weeks before graduation day when the Neag School of Education hosted the following;

@NeagSchool alums/school teachers are working together with Educators for Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization that works to ensure that the voices of classroom teachers are included in the creation of policies that shape our classrooms and careers. They are having a happy hour to discuss the organization and to get feedback from current Hartford teachers. Share your feedback at the discussion: Hartford @WoodNTap, 4/23, 5 p.m.

Neag School and Educators 4 Excellence…

Wait, What?

Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) is the corporate funded education reform advocacy group that purports to be “working across the state to provide a more elevated teaching profession and improved student outcomes.”

With chapters in Connecticut, New York, California, Minnesota, New Jersey and Chicago, E4E has collected and spent approximately $20 million over the past three years, money it received from the Gates Foundation, the Walton Foundation (Walmart) and other major anti-teacher education reform groups.  E4E’s mission is to make it seem like real teachers support the corporate education reform industry’s agenda that includes repealing teaching tenure, eliminating the teacher seniority process and promoting the use of the unfair and discriminatory Common Core testing scheme.

In fact, E4E is one of the leading organizations behind the push to use the unfair Common Core tests as part of the teacher evaluation system.

And perhaps most incredible of all, Educators 4 Excellence is primarily made up of people who simply sidestepped an undergraduate teacher training programing, choosing instead to grab a quick alternative certification before entering the classroom.

In Connecticut, E4E claims to have five teachers staffing their advocacy operation.

However, not a single one of the E4E “educators” attended an undergraduate teacher training program in Connecticut or in any other state.  Rather than actually take the time to attend a comprehensive teacher training programs these individuals used the five week Teach For America program to get their teaching certificates.

E4E’s operatives in other states followed a similar path.  While a couple picked up a Master’s degree in some education related field, few did the heaving lifting that provides the depth of knowledge that comes with attending a teacher preparation program.

Of the Educators 4 Excellence staff in New York, only two of thirteen bothered to attend an undergraduate teacher training programs.

In Minnesota, the number is zero out of seven.

In Chicago only one of the four E4E staffers attended a teacher training program and in Los Angeles none of the group’s ten staffers attended an undergraduate teacher preparation program.

The E4E message is that “excellence” does not require going to school to become a teacher.

And that is who UConn’s School of Education is joining with…

Yet according to 2016 U.S. News & World Report rankings, the Neag School ranks among the top 25 public graduate schools of education in the nation and has three specialty programs ranked in the top 20 nationally: Special Education, Educational Psychology, and Educational Administration & Supervision.

As one of the nation’s “premier education programs,” you’d think UConn would be sending a clear and powerful message that while there is a time and place of alternative routes to certification, students who want to be teachers in the United States should attend a true teacher preparation program in order to get the comprehensive education they will need to succeed in today’s classrooms.

But no, for reasons beyond comprehension, while their own students were busy focused on their studies and taking exams to finish up the semester, UConn’s Neag School of Education was off sponsoring a “happy hour” with a corporate front group whose employees didn’t even bother to attend a teacher preparation program.

For more about E4E and this “work,” check out the following Wait, What? posts;

Educators 4 Excellence – Because teachers NEED their own “Education Reform” front group (4/22/15)

Teacher-led organization that gives teachers a meaningful voice in policy is expanding in CT! (5/23/13)

and Another faux pro-public education group targets Connecticut (12/18/12)

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