Tuesday morning's announcement by Malloy signaled the beginning of what Occhiogrosso described as "an orderly [process] of notifying the first [4,742] people. But that is a process that takes time. You start with the people who require the most notice, and wherever possible they're doing it in person - so that's obviously a time-consuming matter."
If in-person handling of the pink slips isn't possible, then employees will receive them by certified mail, Occhiogrosso said.
Moreover, there could be significantly more layoffs than the 4,700 already mentioned, Occhiogrosso said - perhaps driving the total above 5,000. "That group of 4,742 ... is not the final group of people," he said, because there are "programmatic cuts" in the Plan B options that would result in additional layoffs. He said it "could be a significant number," potentially in the hundreds.
Larry Dorman and Matt O'Connor, the two union officials who have served as the chief spokesmen for the state employees' bargaining coalition, talked with reporters outside the state Capitol and said although it's disappointing that Malloy has started to move forward with layoff notices, more talks were scheduled with the administration later in the day Tuesday. They would not go into specific issues that are hanging up the talks.
"We're expecting those talks to continue," O'Connor said. "We'll take the administration at their word. They said they want to keep talking. We said, 'great,' we're ready to keep talking. We'll take this day by day, understanding all of the pressures and the deadlines that are out there, until we reach a mutual agreement."
Asked what would happen if the negotiators reach an agreement with the administration but the rank-and-file union members fail to ratify the agreement, O'Connor said that is a "down-the-road scenario that quite frankly distracts from us reaching a mutual agreement now, and coming up with a solution where we don't have to look at massive job cuts."
Rather than focus on Malloy's Plan B, O'Connor preferred to talk about what he called "Plan A," adding: "Plan A is a way in which the state's workforce contributes, and we get this economy moving again, [and] we do something about the backwards policies that have been hurting working and middle-class families for the last decade in this state. That's what we're focused on."
Leo Canty, a vice president for the American Federation of Teachers in Connecticut, said the issues being worked out are extremely complex, affecting not just state employees but also the state economy, and he likened the situation to a "pretty complicated, three-dimensional chess game."
One of the variables, Canty said, is which of the "plan B" options Malloy and the legislature would choose to implement. For example, one of those options would bring "almost an entire elimination of the [state] Board of Education, which would include the vo-tech system," he said. If Malloy chooses that option, Canty said, "that's a question that gets posed back to the legislature - do you really want to do this? ... Plan B is a work in progress."
"It's an incredibly complex situation, dealing with issues that ... are very deep ... [and] have huge impacts and ramifications," Canty said. "So it's in our interest and everybody's interest that we spend the time and do it right, and get it right - and we can't afford to get it wrong."