Troopers agree to phase out longevity pay

Four years after most state employee unions agreed to phase out controversial “longevity” payments, Connecticut’s state police have done so as well.

According to a tentative, three-year contract negotiated with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration, any union members hired after July 1, 2015, would be ineligible for longevity pay.

The roughly 1,050 troopers, sergeants and master sergeants already represented by the bargaining unit would remain eligible to receive longevity payments for as long as they work for Connecticut.

This mirrors a concession granted by most state employee unions during the summer of 2011, when Malloy sought major givebacks to help close a historic budget deficit. The unions that accepted that package agreed to a two-year wage freeze, new restrictions on health and retirement benefits, and an end to longevity pay for all members hired after July 2011.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley expanded his effort Tuesday to reassure state employees, saying he would not use layoffs to help close a projected, $1.4 billion deficit in the budget.

Foley has lots of confidence, few details, on plans to fix CT budget
Tom Foley accepts the GOP endorsement. His wife, Leslie, stands with one of their twins.
To say Tom Foley is keeping his cards close when it comes to his plans to fix state finances might be an understatement. The Greenwich businessman and Republican gubernatorial contender’s positions on key income and business taxes and public-sector wages are guarded at best.

The troopers union rejected that concession plan.

The longevity pay system, first created by statute in 1967 and subsequently guaranteed in most union contracts between then and 2011, rewards most workers with bi-annual bonuses after they have achieved 10 years of service. But it became a target of bipartisan criticism four years ago as Malloy and state legislators struggled to close a projected deficit of almost $3.7 billion, or 18 percent of annual operating costs, in the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The governor, who called for an end to longevity pay, released details of the tentative agreement with the state police union through his budget office early Wednesday.

“The state and the union reached an agreement after several months of intensive contract negotiations,” Office of Policy and Management spokesman Gian-Carl Casa wrote.. “While neither received everything that was originally sought, the parties agree that it is a fair outcome of arms-length contract negotiations.”

Sgt. Andrew Matthews, president of the police union, said the administration had requested the phaseout of longevity pay, and the union agreed in order to secure “fair and reasonable salary increases.”

Other provisions of the tentative contract announced Wednesday include a:
3 percent wage increase in July 2015.
2 percent wage increase in July 2016.
1 percent increase in January 2017.
2 percent increase in July 2017.
1 percent increase in January 2018.

Union members who receive promotions also would be eligible for step increases, and meal and clothing allowances and shift differentials would remain unchanged.

The agreement is considered ratified one month from now unless rejected by the legislature.