Workplace Bullying at Connecticut Valley Hospital/State Budget Analysis

This column appears in the November 19 – 25 edition of the Hartford News…

Community Party Media
Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio
Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. Next show: Tuesday, December 1 at 9:00 PM. Social worker Janet Frazao-Conaci will join us for a discussion on the state budget and the revolutionary Gloucester Police Department drug program model. Connecticut Valley Hospital employees John Hollis and Michael Hernandez will talk about racism and workplace bullying at CVH (I’m also an employee). Tune in! Replays the following Wednesday, same time.   http://sometroradio.com/
False Choice: The Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color
Trebol Press has published my first nonfiction book on politics. The Democrats and Republicans spar publicly, but the reality is that these two parties have more in common than they have differences. This duopoly is run on corporatist economic policies that benefit the ruling class, at the expense of the workers and the poor. Global hegemony is at the core of the foreign policies of the Dems and the GOP. False Choice is a diary of national and global issues, set against the backdrop of the Connecticut gubernatorial election between Gov. Dannel Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley that was rated as the most negative in the country in 2014. The book also features commentary on politics at Hartford City Hall, including analysis of the highly controversial baseball stadium deal orchestrated by Mayor Pedro Segarra and City Council President Shawn Wooden. Visit the Trebol Press website for ordering info.  http://trebolpress.com   Check out the False Choice Author Page on Facebook for commentary on the Democratic/Republican duopoly and coverage of third party politics. https://www.facebook.com/False-Choice-Author-Page-103530079741195/timeline/
No Sellout
Visit our blog for news and commentary you won’t get from the corporate media.  https://hendu39.wordpress.com/
Safe Work Environment Act Update : Gimme a Break!/A CVH Employee Speaks Out 
CVH is infringing on the contractual break rights of their employees by refusing to provide break rooms. Workers in the Whiting, Woodward, Dutcher  and Battell buildings typically eat lunch at their desks, as management attempts to keep them working continuously; they are pressured into allowing their lunch breaks to be interrupted.  The ‘new’ Battell break room is a joke: when I visited the area, it was in a shambles. Management is trying to act as if workers are doing something wrong by taking a break. ‘Anonymous complaints’ are used to intimidate and undermine them. The complaints are being presented in a manner to circumvent the formal complaint process, and deprive workers of their right to know who their accusers are and defend themselves. Meanwhile, CVH documents and emails John and I obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests show that managers are flouting rules left and right, and allowing workers who they favor to do the same. This is how employers maintain control: divide and conquer. Pet employees who act as stooges for bosses are protected, while workers who managers/supervisors don’t like are targeted using Policy and Procedure.

Republican legislators will certainly use the NBC Connecticut interview with CVH whistleblower Laurie Bernier to argue for a crackdown on state employee overtime. http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/troubleshooters/Big-Time-Overtime-350816821.html
The point that was totally glossed over by reporter Len Besthoff was how a state worker was bullied by her employer for reporting unsafe working conditions. Bernier says CVH retaliated against her with a trumped up disciplinary action for speaking up; as I mentioned earlier this is a common tactic. Coming in 2016: The Community Party’s Safe Work Environment Act would remove legal obstacles employees face when they file workplace bullying lawsuits.
https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/real-protection-against-workplace-bullying-safe-work-environment-act/
Token Appearance
Face the State host Dennis House made a big deal out of Republican hood ornament Brian K. Hill, a former Senate candidate, being Black when he had Hill as a guest on his show last Sunday. Just because Hill is Black doesn’t mean that him being elected to office means anything, either for Blacks or anybody else. What matters is his policies. Hill didn’t mention poverty, Black unemployment, racial economic disparity, Black mass incarceration, or racial profiling/police violence once during the interview. Hill is just another corporatist politician who doesn’t represent the interests of the Black community, or working class/poor people of any color.
Hill talked about the need for the GOP to develop an urban strategy to trick Black folks into voting for them in state elections; this is his primary concern regarding communities of color.  Hill personifies the false choice for voters. The budget plans of both Democrat Gov. Dan Malloy and Dem/Republican legislators are designed to protect the rich and corporations, literally at the expense of working people and the poor. A recent Quinnipiac poll found that Malloy has a 32% approval rating, with lawmakers in the General Assembly even worse at 27%.
Policy Watch
The bipartisan attack on the working class and the poor heated up at the State Capitol last week, as Malloy and legislators outlined their so-called budget plans. As usual, the state is swimming in red ink: a $254 million deficit for the current fiscal year, a $508.1 million shortfall in the next and a whopping $ 1.72 billion deficit after the next election has the two corporate parties sharpening their axes. These manufactured crises are aimed at furthering the corporatist agenda of the Democratic Party and the GOP: rolling back the wages and benefits of public sector employees, while privatizing state services.
Malloy, the Democrats’ national bag man in addition to being a Hillary Clinton sycophant and Cabinet hopeful, sunk to a new low with his budget proposal. Details courtesy of the Connecticut Mirror (Keith Phaneuf, Arielle Levin Becker, Mark Pazniokas and Jacqueline Rabe Thomas contributed to this story) :

“The administration Thursday offered cuts worth about $350 million per year.
Just over $40 million of them fell on departments involving social services and health care. Lawmakers rejected most of those ideas this past spring.
Those include cuts to regional mental health boards, social service programs, grants for mental health and substance abuse programs, funeral and burial funds for poor people, and grants for museums and other cultural programs. It also calls for closing the Department of Social Services’ Torrington regional office, a plan Malloy proposed in February that legislators rejected.
Malloy’s plan would privatize 10 group homes that serve people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The state currently operates 62 group homes that serve 330 people, at a cost of $56 million per year. The majority of people with developmental disabilities who receive state-funded residential services are served by private nonprofit providers, whose facilities tend to cost less than public ones. The change would save $123,641, according to the proposal. Approximately 70 full-time and 55 part-time workers in the state-run group homes would be transferred to fill vacancies elsewhere in the system to help reduce overtime, according to the proposal.
Other elements of the governor’s plan include reducing funding for community health centers and school-based health centers, eliminating funding for a program called Project Access New Haven that coordinates donated specialty care for uninsured residents, eliminating money for adult and child asthma programs that are currently funded by money from a settlement with tobacco companies, cutting $1.5 million in grants intended for “community care teams” that work to address the needs of people with mental illness or addiction who frequently visit emergency rooms, and closing the 20 detox beds at Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown.
The proposal would also reduce funding to mental health programs that received money under the controversial gun control measure lawmakers passed in response to the Newtown school shooting. Those include a $500,000 cut from emergency mobile psychiatric services that help people in crisis in Bridgeport, and a 50 percent cut – $250,000 – to programs in Hartford and New Haven that care for people in the early course of psychotic illness.”
The Democrats’ proposal consisted of, you guessed it – cuts:

“The leaders of the legislature’s Democratic majority Monday recommended suspending the state’s public-financing of elections for 2016, cutting social services, and retreating from two major initiatives on transportation and municipal aid.

The suggested cuts are part of continuing negotiations with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, and the Republican legislative minority over how to eliminate growing deficits projected for this fiscal year and the one that begins July 1.
Senate President Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, said a lack of support for an early-retirement proposal — Malloy and House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey are opposed — prompted legislators to counter with the unprecedented suspension of a high-profile campaign finance reform created in 2005.”
The Republican strategy as usual is extortion of state employees, who have already agreed to concessions twice since 2009:
“The Republican plan would cut $372 million overall, plus achieve additional savings — if concessions can be negotiated with state employees.
Among the concessions the GOP is seeking include:
  • Requiring all non-hazardous duty workers to contribute 4 percent of their salary toward their pensions.
  • Capping cost-of-living adjustments to future retirees’ pensions.
  • Calculating pensions using only base salaries. This could be very controversial. Unions fiercely resisted earlier efforts to remove overtime earnings from pension calculations.
  • Developing a new, hybrid retirement plan that relies partly on a defined contribution for new workers, similar to the system recently adopted in Rhode Island.
  • Suspending longevity payments for all workers after April 2016.
  • Increasing state employee health and dental insurance premiums by 10 percent.
  • Increasing drug co-payments for both existing employees and retirees.
  • And only granting state employees cost-of-living raises next fiscal year. Most workers also normally receive an annual step increase that reflects their growing experience on the job.”   You can read the full articles here.  http://ctmirror.org/2015/11/12/malloy-pitches-350m-in-cuts-gop-wants-labor-concessions/    http://ctmirror.org/2015/11/16/in-departure-democratic-lawmakers-recommend-cuts-in-social-services-education/
The same bs scenario plays out year after year. The Democrats and Republicans follow their Wall Street marching orders. Liberals prove to be too spineless to hold Malloy and the Dems accountable, while they rail on social media about how heartless the GOP is. Sickening.

Resources:

Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948   Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm and So-Metro Radio the first and third Tuesday of each month at 9:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s archive for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/). Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com  
David Samuels
Founder
Community Party
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