Sen. Fasano offers “common sense solution” – Unions can save jobs [New Britain Herald Editorial]

April 18, 2016

Editorial via New Britain Herald

State Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said something we’ve been thinking: The state employee unions have the power to mitigate the need for layoffs simply by showing a willingness to compromise on workers’ health insurance and pension contributions.

According to the New Haven Register, he accused the “powerful union heads of taking advantage of the powerless bottom rung people in the unions” by refusing to compromise as the state looks to close a $921 million deficit in fiscal 2017.

He added that the painful layoffs we are watching would not be necessary if the union agrees to benefit adjustments.

Fasano said the workers don’t have any co-pays on maintenance drugs, such as those for diabetes and high cholesterol; they pay $5 for a 90-day supply of a generic drug; $15 to see a doctor. He said 75 percent of state workers pay 2 percent toward their pension and 25 percent pay zero.
No one wants to pay more for health care or see pension benefits take a hit — though the deal Fasano describes is one the rest of us can only dream of. But at a time when state government is facing record deficits and Gov. Malloy says he has no alternative but to lay off almost 2,000 people, it just might be time for compromise.

Fasano said if all procedures and drug charges were raised $5 across the board and everyone paid at least 4 percent toward their pension, he estimated a savings of between $110 million and $150 million in 2017.

As we see it, this common sense solution would be good for the people of Connecticut, as well as for state employees.

The unions are flooding our television screens with reminders of the very important work that these people do . By reducing their numbers by almost 2,000, the state is reducing services for the people of this state — so far, for children, for those battling mental health and addiction issues and for young people caught up in the juvenile justice system. Union leaders instead are asking for tax increases on the wealthy, a strategy that many say is driving high earners and valued corporations out of state.

Instead, Fasano is calling for the unions to consult the membership on givebacks they are willing to make to stay employed. He said the rank and file he has talked to would be willing to make such a deal. After all, saying ‘yes’ might save their jobs and those of their co-workers and, at the same time, they will be providing one more valuable service to the people of this state