Political Action

As you may have heard, the 2018 legislative session ended at midnight. Democrats and Republicans were able to put forth a bipartisan $20.86 billion budget that was approved and is now on the Governor’s desk. The Senate passed the budget 36-0 and the House passed it 142-8.

Community Colleges

The Community Colleges are facing a $6 million cut to its block grant. The System was able to secure $16 million for the fringe benefits of its employees (of $22 million needed), but we do not know the effect yet of the $6 million cut on overall system operations. More information will be known in the days ahead.
There was some momentum on the part of the Higher Education Committee to restrict the Board of Regents rights to close colleges. (See next article on Consolidation for more information).
Collective Bargaining
The package does not include several major changes sought by Republicans to collective bargaining rules regarding state and municipal employees. But as stated below, they plan to raise these proposals again.
The collective bargaining rules sought “included:
  • Ending collective bargaining for retirement benefits after the current contract expires in mid-2027, leaving all of these matters to be resolved solely by the legislature.
  • Removing overtime from pension calculations.
  • Suspending cost-of-living adjustments to pensions for retirees who become vested after mid-2027 until the system holds enough assets to cover 80 percent of pension obligations. The funded ratio currently stands at less than 40 percent.
“We’re not going to let that be the deal-breaker” Fasano said during a press conference a few hours before the Senate’s budget debate. But he added that Republicans still feel strongly about these issues and expect to raise them again in future years” (CT Mirror).

May 10th, 2018

Posted In: Political Action, State Budget

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Early this morning we became aware that Republicans in the House and Senate are holding any potential budget deal hostage for legislation that would end portions of Connecticut’s collective bargaining laws and weaken others. (Click here to read this morning’s CT Mirror story.)  There is a fair deal available that would protect healthcare for seniors, and protect aid to and cities, but Republicans won’t support it unless it take rights away from working families.

Their proposals include a ban on collective bargaining on pensions and health care after 2027, removal of overtime from pension calculations after 2027 (especially bad for those workers doing hazardous duty), no COLA for retirees after 2027, and a new rule for cities and towns establishing  an “irrebuttable presumption” that 15% of a municipality’s operating budget “is not available for payment of the cost of any item subject to negotiation or arbitration.” Could your town provide raises or improvements in benefits if their budgets were effectively shrunk by 15%? Could the state implement a similar restriction?

The final hours of the 2018 legislative session are likely to be the most perilous for us.  Some members of the General Assembly think the only way to balance our state’s budget is on the backs of public employees. We cannot let them strip away, alter, or diminish our collective bargaining rights, nor the health care benefits and pensions we earned through our years of hard work and service to our state, our cities and our towns.

Click here to contact your legislators

What’s at stake? Anti-union legislators want to:

  • Eliminate matters of retirement, overtime in pension calculations, and health care from collective bargaining;
  • Change the benefit formula for state pensioners, including eliminating a COLA until the fund reaches 80% funded and the General Assembly approves a COLA (this would end COLAs for years);
  • Eliminate overtime from pension benefit calculations, heavily impacting hazardous duty positions like correction police and health care where overtime is often mandated.
  • Make it impossible to provide municipal employees a raise.

Call or email your legislators today.

If politicians do not hear from you, that means they are only hearing from right-wing extremist groups like the Yankee Institute. And, the folks at the Yankee Institute are telling them that your health care plan is too generous or your pension is unsustainable. Too many politicians will listen to this false propaganda. And if you have already spoken with your legislator this session, contact them again. Believe me, the anti-public employee lobbyists are speaking to your legislator every day.

Clearly, there is a fair agreement to be made that protects the services people need, but corporate conservatives at the legislature won’t vote for any agreement unless it hurts working people. So please pick up your phone or turn on your computer and contact the General Assembly members who are supposed to represent you in the State Capitol.

If you do not know who your state legislators are you can click here to find them. These are the caucus phone numbers:

  • Senate Democrats Office: 860.240.8600
  • Senate Republicans Office: 860.240.8800
  • House Democrats Office: 860.240.8500
  • House Republicans Office: 860.240.8700

Tell them to not take away our freedom to unite for a better life, and to improve our communities, through collective bargaining. Community Colleges are also facing MILLIONS in funding losses. 

Together we will stop these attacks and protect our rights and freedoms.

Thank you.

May 9th, 2018

Posted In: Political Action

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As you heard last week, NEASC did not approve the CSCU plan to consolidate the community colleges. While many of you breathed a sigh of relief, others may be more fearful after President Ojakian threatened to close campuses if funding cannot be secured for the system. Regardless of how you felt about Students First, it is clear that the system needs money to continue to operate while determining next steps. As faculty and staff, we certainly hope to influence the next steps. But there is one thing we all need to do right now:
CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS and ask both your state representative and state senator to support increased funding for the community colleges. Calling is best, but email is better than nothing. 
There is one week left of the legislative session. You can find your legislators here. You can use this data to show your legislators how many Community College faculty, staff, and students live in the cities and towns they represent and why their investment is so critical. They cannot allow the BOR to double tuition for our students and state employees have done their part to save the state money by the SEBAC 2017 Agreement. (As you will see below, we also ask that you call legislators about not attaching any bad amendments regarding your collective bargaining rights to legislation).
Please take the time to do this one ask of calling your legislators. The more people they hear from, the more attention it will gain from legislators.
Your Rights Under the Contract
While we cannot predict what the state budget will bring next week, we want to assure you of the job security rights under the 4Cs Contract.
  • Job Security: There shall be no loss of employment for permanent employees hired prior to July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2021.
    • Protection from job loss does not apply to:
      • Expiration of a temporary or special appointment (in 1st year),
      • Nonrenewal of a non-tenured employee for performance-related reasons,
      • Termination of grant or other outside funding specified for a particular position; and,
      • Less than 20-hour per week part-time employees.
    • Employees in the 2nd or subsequent special appointment year on the effective date of this Agreement shall be covered by this provision.
    • It does not prevent the BOR from restructuring and eliminating positions provided that the affected employees shall be reassigned or transferred to an existing comparable job in the
      system for which the employee possesses the requisite qualifications and experience. Salary and tenure status shall be preserved. An employee who refuses an offered position shall not be considered a layoff.
What’s Next?
The General Assembly adjourns on Wednesday, May 9, so we will have an answer to whether the state is making this crucial investment in our state’s neediest students. More information to follow next week.
Please feel free to contact us if you are hearing anything about the consolidation. For example, a member heard this week that Goodwin College was buying Tunxis. The BOR cannot sell a campus; it is state-owned, not BOR-owned. The Department of Administrative Services is in charge of all state property. But the 4Cs was able to reach out to the BOR and get written confirmation that this was not true. Again, please feel free to contact the 4Cs office at 860.296.5172 with any questions or concerns during these uncertain times.

May 4th, 2018

Posted In: Political Action

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As our academic semester comes to a close, so is the legislative session. It is a busy time for legislators as they try to finish a state budget and pass legislation. During these chaotic last few days of the session, it is common for legislators to try to attach an amendment to the legislation, hoping it gets passed with little public scrutiny.
The 4Cs and other unions have been fighting all session against the recommendations of the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Growth – a panel dominated by ultra-wealthy Connecticut citizens and CEOs that issued austerity-style recommendations for the Connecticut legislature, including attacks on working and middle class people and tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.
They know they don’t have the votes to pass the whole report, so they may try to slip through some of the worst pieces of the report — like billionaire tax cuts, or eliminating bargaining of pension and health care or slashing $1 billion from public services — as amendments to other legislation.
Please watch this video – which contains comments from a Capital professor and 4Cs member – about why the Commission’s recommendations would hurt Connecticut and working people.

You can use SEBAC’s action network to directly contact your legislators about this report. (While writing your legislators, why not also ask them to support funding for the community colleges? See article above).
Please contact your legislators today!

May 3rd, 2018

Posted In: Collective Bargaining, Political Action

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As you heard last week, NEASC did not approve the CSCU plan to consolidate the community colleges. While many of you breathed a sigh of relief, others may be more fearful after President Ojakian threatened to close campuses if funding cannot be secured for the system. Regardless of how you felt about Students First, it is clear that the system needs money to continue to operate while determining next steps. As faculty and staff, we certainly hope to influence the next steps. But there is one thing we all need to do right now:
CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS and ask both your state representative and state senator to support increased funding for the community colleges. Calling is best, but email is better than nothing. 
There is one week left of the legislative session. You can find your legislators here. You can use this data to show your legislators how many Community College faculty, staff, and students live in the cities and towns they represent and why their investment is so critical. They cannot allow the BOR to double tuition for our students and state employees have done their part to save the state money by the SEBAC 2017 Agreement. (As you will see below, we also ask that you call legislators about not attaching any bad amendments regarding your collective bargaining rights to legislation).
Please take the time to do this one ask of calling your legislators. The more people they hear from, the more attention it will gain from legislators.
Your Rights Under the Contract
While we cannot predict what the state budget will bring next week, we want to assure you of the job security rights under the 4Cs Contract.
  • Job Security: There shall be no loss of employment for permanent employees hired prior to July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2021.
    • Protection from job loss does not apply to:
      • Expiration of a temporary or special appointment (in 1st year),
      • Nonrenewal of a non-tenured employee for performance-related reasons,
      • Termination of grant or other outside funding specified for a particular position; and,
      • Less than 20-hour per week part-time employees.
    • Employees in the 2nd or subsequent special appointment year on the effective date of this Agreement shall be covered by this provision.
    • It does not prevent the BOR from restructuring and eliminating positions provided that the affected employees shall be reassigned or transferred to an existing comparable job in the
      system for which the employee possesses the requisite qualifications and experience. Salary and tenure status shall be preserved. An employee who refuses an offered position shall not be considered a layoff.
What’s Next?
The General Assembly adjourns on Wednesday, May 9, so we will have an answer to whether the state is making this crucial investment in our state’s neediest students. More information to follow next week.
Please feel free to contact us if you are hearing anything about the consolidation. For example, a member heard this week that Goodwin College was buying Tunxis. The BOR cannot sell a campus; it is state-owned, not BOR-owned. The Department of Administrative Services is in charge of all state property. But the 4Cs was able to reach out to the BOR and get written confirmation that this was not true. Again, please feel free to contact the 4Cs office at 860.296.5172 with any questions or concerns during these uncertain times.

May 3rd, 2018

Posted In: BOR, Consolidation, Contract, Political Action

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The 4Cs, CSU-AAUP, and UConn-AAUP will be hosting a legislative breakfast and lobby day on Wednesday, April 11 from 9:30am-noon. We invite you to join us at 9:30am in the 2nd Floor Atrium of the Legislative Office Building.
Following the breakfast, we plan to have meetings with legislators from areas surrounding our colleges as well as legislators that serve on the Higher Education & Employment Advancement and Labor & Public Employees Committees.
We invite you to join us to let legislators know how public higher education benefits Connecticut!
If you plan to attend, please register here, so that we are able to schedule meetings for you and your elected officials.

March 29th, 2018

Posted In: Political Action

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Communities with more college graduates are thriving communities. They have lower rates of poverty, less reliance on public benefits, overall physically healthier populations, and higher incomes.
Please show your support and sign our Thrive Together Connecticut petition to urge our lawmakers to increase funding for public higher education. An investment in public higher education is an investment in Connecticut’s future.

March 29th, 2018

Posted In: Political Action

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On Tuesday, January 30, the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly held a forum on the proposed Community College Consolidation, known as “Students First.” The forum can be watched on demand from CT-N here.
CSCU President, Mark Ojakian, was questioned by legislators for nearly two hours about the proposed consolidation. President Ojakian shared the following PowerPoint Presentation with the Committee:
A representative from NEASC also testified and answered questions for over an hour. The Standards for Accreditation are shared here.
Several faculty and staff from the 4Cs, CSU-AAUP and SUOAF-AFSCME attended to testify against the consolidation, along with students from the community colleges and representatives of the various community college foundations.
While 4Cs President Bryan Bonina was not able to testify in person, he submitted testimony electronically, which can be read here. Other testimony can be viewed here.
Many media outlets covered the forum:

February 1st, 2018

Posted In: BOR, Consolidation, Political Action

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Governor, Constitutional Officers, and the entire Legislature are all up for grabs!!! The 4Cs Political Action Committee (PAC) is beginning to take action on February 2, 2018 with a meeting at the 4Cs office at 1 pm (lunch provided). We are seeking additional volunteers for the committee.
We will be electing a Treasurer and reviewing requests for support from various political committees. Later, the PAC will be involved with endorsing candidates for office in the November elections. PAC members will also be encouraged to be active in the campaigns of candidates who are supportive of collective bargaining and higher education.
“We are not the largest PAC, but we target our funding very carefully and provide volunteer manpower for friends of labor and community colleges. We operate in conjunction with other labor unions in Connecticut to give a powerful voice to hard-working union members”, according to Trenton Wright, PAC Chair.
Please attend and add your voice! Your voice is needed and appreciated. As lunch as being served, we would like an estimated headcount. If you will be coming, please let the office know.

January 25th, 2018

Posted In: Political Action

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While we certainly want to share our warmest wishes for a prosperous 2018 for you and your family, we’re also reaching out today with an important heads-up. Late in December, Republican legislative leaders began circulating false claims about the labor cost savings produced by the agreements you and your colleagues ratified last summer.
To be clear, our agreements are legal and binding, and any such call to “re-open” talks would be little more than a deceptive political stunt. As union leaders, we have no intention of renegotiating the master agreement covering pensions and health benefits through 2027 or individual contracts covering wages and working conditions for five years.
Instead, we’re demanding elected leaders make better choices to close budget shortfalls than shifting more of the burden to working families or cutting vital public services. One such way would be to ask the beneficiaries of recently passed federal tax cuts to do their part for Connecticut in 2018.

Regardless of what politicians may attempt, we’re ready to fight forward in 2018. To defend our past gains and secure a better life for all working people, that means demanding an end to the politics as usual that has repeatedly failed our state.

January 10th, 2018

Posted In: Political Action, SEBAC

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