Families push to try and stop governor's plan to privatize state - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Families push to try and stop governor's plan to privatize state services

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(WFSB file photo) (WFSB file photo)

Union officials and other state employees who work with people who have developmental disabilities made a push to stop the governor's plan to privatize state services.

Two unions, CSEA and SEIU 1199, announced Wednesday that they filed an injunction at Connecticut Superior Court in Hartford.

They officially unveiled the nature of the injunction during a 11:30 a.m. news conference on Thursday.

They said the goal is to stop Gov. Dannel Malloy's plan to privatize group homes and other services.

Malloy has said that the plan to privatize 40 group homes would save $70 million and help ward off a large state budget deficit. The plan also called for the elimination of 600 jobs.

Parents and caregivers have been speaking out about the plan for several months. They said they are worried about the quality of care for their loved ones.

"To have them ripped out of Jeffrey's life, I just can't imagine," said Joyce Cierchia.

Jane Vasseur, of Enfield, has a brother named Billy who has received care at Grey Pond Group Home in Simsbury for many years.

"What makes up a home? It's not necessarily the four walls or the driveway or the nice yard. It's his group home, family inside that home. He deserves that and he deserves to have that," Vasseur said. "Billy thrives in the state group home. The staff there has become his family. Some of the staff members have been with him for 20 years."

"In order to make changes you need to negotiate with the union. They refuse to do that," said David Pickus, SEIU 1199 NE president.

Others, however, have told Eyewitness News that private companies can do a good job.

The unions cited state law which said the Department of Developmental Services has an obligation to bargain with them over decisions to subcontract their kind of work.

Gian-Carl Casa, president and CEO of the CT Community Nonprofit Alliance, issued a statement Thursday afternoon on the injunction.

"It is unfortunate that the union is taking an obstructionist position on a plan that experience and research shows will only benefit the individuals in state care. The high quality of care already being delivered by private providers to thousands of individuals with some of the most challenging and complex needs is equal, if not superior, to state facilities. And the lower cost of private care could allow the state to provide services for many more families who are languishing on waiting lists. 

Change is difficult. For the union to suggest that only state employees can deliver quality care is simply false, and ignores the fact that private providers already deliver care to the majority of individuals receiving state-supported services.

We are confident that private, community-based agencies can provide care that individuals now living in state facilities need and deserve.”

While Malloy says we need to make sure everyone is taken care of, he says we need to be aware that we're in a new economic reality.

"There is a substantial difference in cost. One of the reasons we can care for more people is a lower cost structure. I think that's what everyone's target is and these things have to run their course," Malloy said.

Now that an injunction has been filed, they're waiting for the judge to set a hearing date.

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