For Stefany Accino, the anguish of unemployment has melted into the relief of having a job again.
Accino and 36 other AFSCME Local 2663 members employed as social work trainees by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) were laid off in August because they were not classified as “permanent" on July 1, even though most of them had been employed beyond their 10 month probationary period.
But all 37 of our members are back at work in other agencies, thanks to a fight-back campaign waged by the workers and Council 4. “This is a major step in the right direction for me, and it wouldn’t have happened without my union fighting for me, even after we were laid off” said Accino, now an eligibility services worker at the Department of Social Services (DSS) in Bridgeport .
The laid off workers publicly stepped up to demand their rehiring. They held a press conference, lobbied legislators and also got support from Council 4 members who made phone calls and sent emails on their behalf.
And they stayed in constant communication with Council 4 Staff Representative Neal Cunningham, chief negotiator for our P-2 Bargaining Unit, which includes Locals 269, 714 and 2663. Cunningham advocated for the workers’ speedy return.
The hard work paid off when the state held a special job fair in October to rehire the workers at DSS and other agencies.
“I was extremely nervous when I get laid off. We all voted for the SEBAC agreement and thought we would be safe,” said Sara Schmidt , referring to the job security and cost savings agreement that state employees ratified this summer.
Schmidt now works for DSS in Norwich . “I’m just very excited to be reemployed."
“Turning up the volume definitely helped,” said Thaddea Brown, who took a social worker job with DSS in Hartford . “It feels great to be working again. The union never gave up on us.”