Republicans Say Union Dues, Not Taxpayer Dollars, Should Pay Stewards’ Salaries

April 4, 2011

Union Officials’ Pay Tops out at $201,698; Costs Taxpayers millions

HARTFORD – Republicans today said the more than 900 state workers, who also function as union stewards on state time, cost taxpayers an estimated total of $93 million and their union activities should be paid with union dues, not taxpayer dollars.

Salaries for the stewards range from a low of $20,107 to a high of $201,698 with an average of $62,618 not including fringe benefits. Republicans pointed out that in comparison to the 911 stewards on state payrolls, there are only 698 workers in the entire Department of Environmental Protection.

“It is unacceptable that taxpayers foot the bill for union officials to conduct their activities in the workplace and in union halls. There appears to be no regard for how much actual state work is being done by these stewards. The fact that we have 911 of these positions in the state’s bureaucracy is simply stunning,’’ House Republican Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., said.

Senate Republican Leader John McKinney of Fairfield said, “It is plain common sense that a state worker’s union activities should not be paid for with taxpayer dollars. State government has been too lenient for too long in paying state workers for time spent lobbying and organizing on behalf of their unions. We need to shine a bright light on this wasteful practice and institute necessary oversight in order to end it.”

There are no limits on how much time the stewards, employed in every corner of state government, can devote to union activities, a system Republicans called “abusive’’ to taxpayers. Union dues, not taxpayer dollars, should pay for union activities such as handling grievance procedures, organizing, lobbying and communications.

Cafero said public employee union members have a right to adequate representation regarding workplace issues. “It is completely appropriate that union officials are given ‘release time’ to conduct their business but the unions should bear the costs, just as many town and city union contacts provide,’’ Cafero said.

“Connecticut taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize these union activities while Gov. Malloy wants to raise taxes by another $1.9 billion to fill the budget hole,’’ Cafero said. “We can no longer do business this way because this system raises questions about accountability and loss of productivity.’’

Republicans said they have anecdotal evidence of union stewards spending large amounts of time in union halls and lobbying legislators, virtually absent from their designated state workplace. Imposing greater restraint and transparency on the union stewards’ activity would increase productivity, Republicans said.

“We need to make this system more transparent so we will all know what the union activity amounts to compared to work done in the workplace,’’ McKinney said. “Ending this wasteful government spending practice, along with the longevity payments state employees receive, will help reduce our deficit and save taxpayers hundreds-of-millions of dollars.