Connecticut assistant attorneys general voted to join the American Federation of Teachers via mail-in ballot on Tuesday. The ballots, which were mailed out October 4, tallied 101-64, according to the Connecticut State Labor Relations Board.
Attorney General George Jepsen remained neutral throughout the process but did send an internal memo to staff attorneys yesterday following the vote.
“I have stayed neutral throughout this organization effort to permit you to consider the issue without my interference or influence,” Jepsen wrote. “To that end, it was important to me that each of you have your say in a secret ballot election. Now that the votes have been cast and counted, I intend to fully accept and respect the outcome of the election upon certification.”
The push for unionization was a result of Governor Dannel Malloy’s cancellation of their pay raises in January of 2016 in order to deal with the budget deficit, according to an “Independence Letter” released by AAGs opposing unionization.
An increase in AAG healthcare costs was also cited as sparking the union drive.
Opponents of the unionization effort repeatedly questioned whether or not AAGs were eligible to form a collective bargaining unit, making the case that AAGs constitute management. However, the SLRB allowed the vote to move forward.
Opponents also argued unionization would not be in the best interest of the attorneys with the state facing large deficits and potential budget cuts and advocated waiting for the negotiations between the state and State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition before joining the AFT.
AFT president Jan Hochadel – who claimed anti-unionization attorneys should not have been allowed to meet on state property – celebrated the vote. “I am so proud to have stood with these dedicated state employees from the beginning.”
“I am aware of the strong and varying opinions among you on this issue,” Jepsen said in his memo. “But I have no doubt that we will continue in our shared public service in the best spirit of collegiality that is the strong tradition of our office.”