Unions Urge Business Leaders To Take High Road to Growth

Leaders of Connecticut’s labor movement took a strong stand against attacks on working people in a wide-ranging presentation to the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth, advocating an approach that invests in public services and structures, makes Connecticut's tax structure fairer, and provides workers with the security and purchasing power needed for sustainable growth.

Union leaders shared their own recommendations with the Commission (watch the video) and also pushed back against previous presenters who used the Commission’s forum to criticize public employees, collective bargaining and binding arbitration, labeling them as impediments to economic growth.

“Business and labor may be adversaries at the bargaining table, but we are not enemies,” Connecticut AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier told the commission, which last fall was created to make legislative recommendations for balancing government budgets and boosting business competitiveness.

“We all share a common interest in a strong economy with good jobs and high productivity. We want safe, stable and livable communities,” Pelletier said. “The states that are leading in the growth of jobs with good pay and benefits are states that have strong unions in both the public and private sectors.”

Joining Pelletier on the labor panel were Council 4 Executive Director Sal Luciano, CEA Executive Director Don Williams and SEBAC Chief Negotiator Dan Livingston.

Together, they encouraged the Commission to invest in public services and make Connecticut’s tax structure fairer, providing workers with the purchasing power needed for sustainable growth.

And, they mounted a strong defense of tens of thousands of union households — along with a compelling argument for sustaining the vital services all state residents and businesses depend on.

Click here for analysis of the panel's presentation to the commission.

Luciano will argueargued that it’s important for legislators and the public to remember the Commission’s statutory mission as it moves forward.

“The Commission’s explicit mission is to make Connecticut better for families and businesses,” Luciano said. “Taking the low road of lowered living standards, diminished educational opportunities, lower quality public services and an even more unequal economy will only make things worse for everyone – except for the privileged few.”

Click here for press reporting on attempts by lobbying groups to sway the commission against public workers and their unions.

The labor presentation took place on the final day of public hearings before the Commission — largely made up of current and former CEOs — is expected to release recommendations on March 1.

Under public pressure from multiple Freedom of Information requests and unflattering media reports, the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth was forced to disclose this week that its co-chairs, retired healthcare executive Robert Patricelli and Webster Bank Chairman James Smith, established a non-profit organization, Connecticut Rising, Inc.

The entity was created to raise money in order to fund the hiring of its many financial, budget and public relations consultants.

According to the co-chairs, three donors contributed $100,000 each: Webster Bank, Yale University and the Robert and Margaret Patricelli Family Foundation. It’s not clear if the total $300,000 has been spent, what contracting procedures were utilized or if donors were assured their interests would be addressed in the Commission’s recommendations, which are due March 1.