The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit last week ruled in favor of 2,800 Connecticut state employees, 700 of whom are AFSCME members and were illegally fired in 2003 based on their union membership.
In late 2002, former Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland and his budget director, Marc Ryan, asked a coalition of state workers, including AFSCME members, to make $450 million in long-term concessions under existing collective bargaining agreements. They targeted unionized employees only and threatened to fire many of them should they refuse to meet their demands.
The unions made an alternative proposal and bargained in good faith. And we stood by our members. But the Rowland administration fired 2,800 unionized employees.
“The workers were targeted because of their union affiliation, in what was a clear violation of their constitutional right,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “Not only were no non-union employees fired but the Rowland administration had the gall to advise the unions that the workers would be given their jobs back if they agreed to proposed concessions. This illegal and immoral act disrupted thousands of lives.”
“AFSCME fought hard for 10 years on behalf of our members, and we’re elated about the U.S. Court of Appeals’ decision, which is an unequivocal defense of union members’ constitutional rights,” said Salvatore Luciano, executive director of Council 4, also an AFSCME international vice president. “We urge that fair compensation be given to the Connecticut employees who were illegally fired.”
Now a U.S. District Court must decide how much money should be awarded to the fired workers to compensate them for their losses. The employees also will be able to pursue civil penalties against Rowland and Ryan in their individual capacities.