Save the Dept. of Labor

Elizabeth Willcox of Local 269,2nd from left, talks to Willimantic townspeople about the impact of DOL office closings and layoffs.

The Connecticut Department of Labor announced the layoff of 95 front-line employees, including 85 members of AFSCME Council 4 bargaining units, blaming a reduction in federal funds over the next two years for the pink slips.

Union leaders predicted the layoffs would result in a dysfunctional state labor department.

“If the state of Connecticut wants a Connecticut Department of Labor, they won’t have it after these layoffs,” said Sal Luciano, AFSCME Council 4 executive director, also an AFSCME International vice president. Currently, it takes an individual as long as three hours to file an initial unemployment claim over the phone. A reduction in force will only result in longer wait times, Luciano said.

The cuts also mean that six of the 11 American Jobs Centers statewide would close on Oct. 1, causing longer waits and more hardship for people looking for work. Additionally, with fewer people hearing unemployment appeals, employers and employees would have to wait much longer than the current 6 to 8 weeks to have their cases heard.

The Meriden and New Britain job centers are among the centers slated to be closed.

“New Britain has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the state,” Caroline Raynis, Local 269 chief union steward for the affected area, told CT NewsJunkie. “Ironically, the department will soon be offering their co-workers the very same services they offer the public.”

AFSCME Council 4 and affected Locals are not taking lightly these layoffs and the impact to the community. They have launched an online campaign and are planning local protests at offices slated for closure to make sure lawmakers and Gov. Daniel P. Malloy understand the severity of the situation.

AFSCME Local 269 member Caroline Raynis talks to Channel 30 about DOL service cuts.

The layoffs and office closings go into effect Oct. 1. Scroll down to Additional Resources for more information and resources in the fight to save DOL services.

Cross posted from AFSCME's blog, with thanks to Kevin Hanes.