The voters of Bridgeport decided long ago, validated in the City Charter, they don’t want city employees serving on the City Council because of inherent conflict of interests. A loophole in state law, however, allows city employees to sit on the legislative body, something State Rep. Jack Hennessy wants to close. Hennessy says it’s improper for city employee council members to approve their own wages and benefits. Hennessy’s battling a coalition of powerful interests such as the Connecticut AFL-CIO that will be testifying against his bill at a public hearing Wednesday (today) morning in Hartford. Email from Hennessy: Just got off the phone with Lori Pelletier of AFL-CIO. Said she will be testifying against the bill. The guns are getting bigger.
A number of Bridgeport residents have either submitted written testimony or will be sharing verbal testimony in support of Hennessy’s bill at the public hearing before the state legislature’s Planning and Development Committee. Unions, however, have a lot of juice with Democrats around the state. The Democrats in the General Assembly have long rewarded unions for their election support, one of the reasons for the bloating of state government the past 20 years. Hennessy, himself a Democrat, is a realist in this process. His bill will likely die the gooey death as a result of unions reminding the Democratic-controlled legislature what they’ve done for them under (in this case) the political guise of don’t exclude hardworking people who care about their communities. Can you hear the violins?
Reality check: Union leadership cashes in on conflicts when conflicts suit them. They go to bat for the city employee council members who approve union contracts. And so it goes. And then you pay for it. Hennessy’s bill, however, is strategically flawed because it doesn’t grandfather in those council members in question. If this bill were to pass in present form council members on the city payroll could not seek reelection in November. You grandfather them in and you take away the argument of retroactive punishment that in part is driving the audience against the bill.
Pelletier serves as the state labor federation’s chief legislative advocate, representing the AFL-CIO at the Connecticut General Assembly on workers’ issues ranging from workers’ compensation and unemployment compensation to corporate accountability and workers’ rights, according to the organization’s website.
Give the city employee council members credit for rallying the troops against Hennessy’s bill. What, we haven’t rallied anyone, the council members will protest. This is all on behalf of good government.
Or maybe gravy train government.