An agreement between the state of Connecticut and the Administrative and Residual Employees Union would allow 62 employees labeled as managers and unit directors at the Department of Labor, the Department of Banking and the Department of Transportation to join the union.
Although Connecticut statute does not allow for managers to be part of a union, the Connecticut State Labor Relations Board found the positions listed in the contract did not meet the statutory criteria of “management.”
According to statute, management is defined as having responsibility of a major division of an agency; development, implementation and evaluation of goals and objectives; participation in formulating of agency policy and a major role in the administration of collective bargaining agreements and hiring and firing of employees.
The state must show that an employee meets at least two of those criteria to be considered management.
Undersecretary of Labor Relations Sandra Fae Brown-Brewton testified before the Appropriations Committee in support of the agreement, noting the state has difficulty proving its managers actually qualify as managers under state statute.
“The State Employee Relations Act has a very stringent definition of a managerial employee,” Brown-Brewton said. “The way that state business is conducted, the way things are set up in most agencies, it’s very difficult to meet two of those criteria.”
“We end up being able to prove one, but not two,” Brown-Brewton said.
Unions have been making in-roads into unionizing managers over the last twenty years, capitalizing on the state’s inability to meet those statutory standards and the fact that management has repeatedly been passed over for raises due to state budget deficits.
Greg Messner of OPM said there are “a little over 1,300” managers remaining in state employment. “If you go back twenty years, there was probably over 3,000,” Messner said.
According to the Memorandum of Agreement, salaries for the listed managers and unit directors ranged from $86,000 per year to $149,000 per year.
Under the terms of the contract, the employees will receive 3.5 percent wage increases retroactive to June 19, 2020, plus step increases valued at 2 percent starting in January of 2021.
The Office of Fiscal Analysis estimates the total cost of the contact to be $410,247 on an annualized basis.
Several committee members worried that Connecticut is unionizing more and more managers due to salary issues and asked what the state is doing to address managerial pay to prevent more contracts in the future.
“The problem is, I think we’re opening the flood-gates,” Rep. Charles Ferraro, R-West Haven, said. “That every single management team across every agency is going to want to do this and the cost I imagine will be quite substantial.”
“That issue is under scrutiny and being seriously reviewed, as far a wage compression, salary compression of managerial groups of employees and bargaining unit folks,” Brown-Brewton said. “That is being reviewed right now.”
The Connecticut Board of Labor Relations approved the inclusion of unit directors at the Department of Labor in March of 2020 and the Department of Transportation managers in February of 2020 into the A&R union.
The contract will require approval by both the House of Representatives and the Senate in order to pass.