On Monday, everyone that works in the CSCU System received a message from President Ojakian about his proposed reorganization plan. This proposed strategy to close anticipated budget shortfalls will be discussed at Thursday’s BOR meeting (10am, Betty Tipton Room, Student Center, ECSU).
While the letter and PowerPoint provided a framework for reorganization, the details have not been determined or finalized. The uncertainty of this proposal, has created a lot of fear among our members, especially those identified as “back office” functions by President Ojakian.
In his letter, the BOR President mentions that vital functions, such as HR, IT, and Institutional Research may be eliminated or moved to a centralized location. However, the uncertainty also indicates there may be time to influence the details; influence that will come through many conversations and collective action by all of our members.
There are a few additional factors that complicate matters. First, the legislative session is still underway. While everyone is predicting a significant budget deficit in the state, the state doesn’t have its tax returns back and the Appropriations Committee has not drafted its final budget. Having the threat of significant budget deficits across all state government reduces opposition to the reorganization plan by the public and legislators. Though as noted in the CT Mirror, President Ojakian structured his plan to only need approval by the Board of Regents, and not the General Assembly.
Also, there are many anti-collective bargaining bills this session, nearly 100 were heard on March 24. A bill that is especially concerning to all public higher education unions is SB 596, An Act Concerning the Definition of a Managerial Employee, which we believe, if passed, would remove many current members from being represented by a union. This is a significant concern as the union contract provides our members protection from arbitrary treatment, including the period of required notice.
Finally, the state is currently in discussion with SEBAC leaders to see if there is a means to come to an agreement on $700 million in savings as put forth by the Governor. SEBAC will play a pivotal role in any final agreement that is reached with the BOR. The consolidation effort brought forward affects not only the 4Cs, but all our coalition partners including AFT-CT, AFSCME, and CSU-AAUP. Job protection is likely to be part of any SEBAC agreement.
With all of these factors, our response strategy is complex and involves the input from our many partners.
But above all, we also need to hear from YOU, our members. We have set up a survey for you to submit comments here.
We have a Delegate Assembly meeting on Saturday, April 8 and in the meantime, we will keep our eyes open, listen intently, and learn as much as we can along the way.