Council 4 members packed the Legislative Office Building Feb. 21 to voice their opposition to a slew of proposed anti-labor bills.
Chief among those bills was HB 5552, which would remove retirement as a subject of collective bargaining for state and municipal employees. The Labor and Public Employees Committee raised the bill for hearing.
"HB 5552 would put us into poverty," said Claudine Chambers, president of AFSCME Local 3429 (New Haven para-educators). "It would turn collective bargaining into collective begging." (Click here to read Chambers' testimony.)
Elisa Villa, president of Council 4's newest bargaining unit of state public defenders, called pensions "a hallmark of civilized society," adding that HB 5552 was an unwarranted distraction from the real problems facing the state, such as the failure to restore taxes on the super-wealthy and large corporations. (Click here to read Villa's testimony.)
Council 4 Executive Director Sal Luciano testified against HB 5552, as did Harold Brooks, vice president of AFSCME Local 3144 (New Haven City Managers)."Proposals like this are based on the false and dangerous premise that taking money out of the hands of working class folks will somehow spur economic growth," Brooks told the Labor Committee. (Click here to Brooks' testimony.)
HB 5552 is among more than 100 proposed bills -- all coming from Republicans -- that attack collective bargaining rights, reduce our members' pay, pension and health care, and lower community wage and living standards.
David Ionno, vice president of Local 1716 (City of Hartford) works for the Hartford Public Library. He took time off to attend the public hearing. "I'm here because I don't want to see Connecticut become Wisconsin," Ionno said, referring to the notorious 2011 assault on Wisconsin public employees that destroyed their bargaining rights and consequently harmed that state's economy.
Members of Council 4's NP-4 Corrections bargaining unit turned out in force to oppose HB 5552, including Diana Flores of AFSCME Local 387, a first year corrections officer who works at the Cheshire prison and brought her 8-year-old daugher along. "Our jobs are challenging enough without these unfair attacks on our benefits," she said. "We need to stand together to protect our pensions, for our ourselves and our families."
You can take action against HB 5552 and other anti-worker proposals. Click here to send a message to your State Rep and State Senator.