Members of Unit 2 represented by AFSCME Council 93 and SEIU Local 888 ratified by an eight to one margin contract revisions that will save taxpayers an estimated $22.8 million over the next three years, including roughly $3 million this fiscal year. It is the first time since collective bargaining was established in the Commonwealth that a Governor has successfully negotiated such compromises.
The Governor called for renewed union negotiations and concessions in October, as the Administration identified a $600 million revenue shortfall in the current fiscal year. To date, the Governor has reached tentative agreement with four state employee unions. Unit 2 is the second bargaining unit to ratify the agreement.
"I thank the workers of AFSCME Council 93 and SEIU Local 888 for their contribution to the Commonwealth and their willingness to work with us to find ways to save money in the face of very difficult budget challenges," Governor Patrick said. "It's that spirit of shared sacrifice that I hope other collective bargaining employees will demonstrate when they take similar votes in the coming weeks."
If approved by the Legislature, the new contracts will save tens of millions of dollars through a combination of delayed wage increases and eliminating some payments to the Health and Welfare Fund. Members affected are predominantly developmental service workers and mental health workers at the Departments of Developmental Services and Mental Health, as well as employees of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Soldiers' Homes at Chelsea and Holyoke, the Department of Youth Services, the Department of State Police and a number of other state agencies.
The savings from these revisions will allow the Administration to protect key programs and services and prevent some employee layoffs.
"State workers have contributed significantly to help address our challenges over the last two years, and we thank them for that," said Administration and Finance Secretary Jay Gonzalez. "As we head into another difficult budget year it is important that we all make the necessary sacrifices that will help us climb out of the recession and position the Commonwealth for long-term economic growth."
The Governor last month reached agreement with the bargaining units of SEIU Local 509, SEIU Local 888, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 93 and the National Association of Government Employees. These four unions cover roughly 30,000 union employees - or 75 percent of unionized state executive branch workers. The Governor is continuing to seek agreements with the remaining state unions.