Connecticut Governor Orders 2,600 Layoffs
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr., out of patience with unions for not agreeing to concessions as the budget deficit mounts, said Monday he would begin laying off 2,616 state employees this week.
Weicker said he hoped state employee unions will agree to givebacks in talks later this week and avoid the need for any layoffs beyond 938 already called for in his proposed budget for the year beginning July 1.
″The layoff process has started, unfortunately,″ Weicker said during a news conference. ″This whole exercise is total anathema to me.″
Weicker repeatedly has said layoffs would be a last resort, to be used only if the unions didn’t agree to $400 million in concessions. The administration had pushed for wage freezes, health benefit cuts and changes in pension funding.
Attorney Robert Krzys, representing a coalition of 45,000 union state employees, denounced Weicker’s announcement as precipitous and deplorable.
There will be ″a lot of families sitting around their kitchen tables wondering how they’re going to pay their bills,″ Krzys said.
Counting layoffs already in his proposed 1991-92 budget, the state’s 53,463-strong work force would be reduced by 3,554 under the latest plan.
Layoff notices will begin going out as soon as Tuesday, Weicker said. Depending on individual contracts, layoffs require notices ranging from two weeks to 15 months.
The governor’s plan would result in $285 million in savings. He said he hoped to make up the remainder of the $400 million total through further talks. But he said additional layoffs were a distinct possibility.
Weicker’s proposed $7.48 billion budget for 1991-92 was balanced using the anticipated $400 million in employee concessions.
Weicker’s announcement represented the first call for significant state employee layoffs by a governor in more than 15 years. The last was by Democrat Ella T. Grasso during the 1975-76 budget year. Weicker is an independent.
Weicker had set April 1 as the deadline for negotiations before layoffs would be announced.