Assistant attorneys general write “independence” letter praising Jepsen, criticizing labor leaders

Assistant attorneys general who plan to vote “no” in an upcoming union vote are making their case to their colleagues, arguing that a union could interfere with the existing relationship they have with their boss, Attorney General George Jepsen.

A letter circulating among the AAGs and published on the website, AAG Independence, criticized Governor Malloy for rescinding raises for managerial employees in February of 2016. But the unnamed authors argue that if the department had been obligated by union contract to give those raises, attorneys would have lost their jobs.

“It seems clear to us that if we had been unionized last year, we would have a dozen or so fewer attorneys this year.”

Malloy cancelled raises and cost of living adjustments for nearly 2,000 managers and appointees in February in response to the growing state deficit. It was expected to save the state $12.7 million throughout FY16 and 17.

The looming budget deficits were cited a number of times and its potential impact on state employees. “It is reasonable to conclude that all state employees will be asked to make sacrifices,” the letter states. “We believe that negotiations should run their course before we decide whether unionization makes economic sense for us.”

The website contains links to the letter, union contracts and by-laws, and a petition filed by the attorneys for a declaratory ruling by the State Labor Relations Board that AAGs constitute management and are therefore not eligible for unionization.

A section entitled “Management Does Have Its Benefits,” shows that AAGs receive higher pay and better benefits that the unionized staff attorneys in other agencies.

It also references the “Managerial Sick Leave Bank” in which the AAGs participate with the nearly 2,000 other non-union managers working for the state, noting they would lose this benefit if they were unionized.

The authors had high praise for Jepsen, calling him a “tireless advocate” who “fought for us.” They claim that Jepsen will no longer have the ability to advocate for his employees because all their concerns would be routed through union representatives.

However, they reserved criticism for the handling of the union process by labor leaders Lori Pelletier, president of the AFL-CIO and Jan Hochadel, president of the American Federation of Teachers. Pelletier called on Jepsen to approve the unionization without a vote. Hochadel claimed anti-unionization attorneys should not have been allowed to meet anywhere on state property after the attorneys met at the UConn Public Library to discuss legal options.

“This attempt to chill the First Amendment rights of public employees who oppose unionization is both unacceptable and deeply disconcerting. It would be unacceptable for an AAG to make those comments and we believe that anyone that wishes to represent us should be held to that same standard.”

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