Gov. Dannel Malloy recently wrote the foreword to a book titled The Lean CEO: Leading the Way to World-Class Excellence. The governor wrote how Connecticut business leaders adopted Lean Management with great success beginning in the 1990s. He extolls the virtues of Lean Management in private industry and its new application in government. As an expert in Lean efforts in both industry and higher education, I would like to compare Gov. Malloy’s words on Lean Management to the Board of Regents’ actions. You will see areas of remarkable misalignment between the governor’s LeanCT effort and the Board of Regents, which is under the new management of Mark Ojakian and currently in contract negotiations with CSU-AAUP.
If there is dignity in all work, why isn’t there dignity for all workers? It’s a question worth considering this Labor Day. Throughout history, when working people have become “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” they have organized unions. This is how they broke the back of sweatshops in this country. And how they forced the end of child labor, so 10-year old kids could attend free public schools instead — another successful labor demand. It’s how they cleaned up dangerous workplaces and the surrounding neighborhoods that suffered from toxic pollution. And it’s how minority and women workers have been able to successfully fight income inequality.
Many ex-convicts who get out of prison end up in Hartford on our streets. According to a Pew Center on the States study, almost half of ex-cons soon end up back in jail for committing crime because it is sometimes their only way to pay their bills. I work as a chaplain at a prison in Connecticut and many convicts, including military veterans, approach and complain to me that they have no future outside of those walls since a lot of them went to prison while they were young, didn’t have education, and worst of all, have a criminal record that will follow them around. I believe that a person who committed a non-violent crime and served a punishment for it should be given a second chance.
Many assumed the next president of the Connecticut State College and University System would have an extensive background in education. Some are disappointed with the recent news, but, the appointment of the Gov. Dannel Malloy’s chief of staff as interim president for the Connecticut State College and University System has nothing to do with education. My read of the tea leaves is that the appointment is based upon the primary strength of the appointee which is collective bargaining experience and budget and finance expertise.
In a recent article “CT still lags most states in saving for public-sector pensions,” the Connecticut Mirror wrote about a report from Pew Charitable Trusts on the strength of pension funds around the country. The Pew report ignores a number of important pieces of context regarding the growing strength of the Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds which provides a safe and secure retirement for many Connecticut families.
Connecticut lawmakers took some critical steps to help low-wage workers and their families in the last legislative session, but they must do more to build an economy that truly works for everyone. People who work hard should be able to support and protect their families. But in our low-wage, race to the bottom economy, that is increasingly becoming a pipe dream. Lawmakers need to do better next year.
A recently released study by University of Connecticut economists says that the passage of a bill to impose a fee on employers who pay low wages would produce thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars in additional state revenue. It is heartening to know that when we share our wealth and ensure that costs are appropriately distributed we can indeed create a thriving state economy.
How will it be possible to reform the state’s pension system when the people who are supposed to be representing the public share in all the benefits they confer on the unions? A first step would be to freeze benefits for all participants in the plans who are not covered by union contracts, and offer them 401k-type defined contribution plans for future service.