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Public impeachment hearings in Washington; dreamers protest in Texas; roadless wilderness areas possibly at risk around the country; and an ozone indicating garden, at the North Carolina Governor's Mansion.

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Supreme Court hears DACA arguments, and likely will side with the Trump administration, but doesn't take up a gun manufacturer's appeal. Former SC Gov. Mark Sanford drops out of presidential race; and former President Jimmy Carter recovers from brain surgery.

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Connecticut Public Employees Oppose Pension Bill

Public employees' collective bargaining rights have been under attack in several states. (Fibonacci Blue/Wikimedia Commons)
Public employees' collective bargaining rights have been under attack in several states. (Fibonacci Blue/Wikimedia Commons)
February 22, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. – Hundreds of state workers packed the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Tuesday to oppose a bill that would end collective bargaining over pension benefits. House Bill 5552 would apply to recent and future state and municipal employees. Proponents of the bill say it would bring Connecticut law into line with surrounding states.

But Ben Phillips, communications director for the Connecticut State Employees Association (CSEA), disagrees. He says the bill would weaken a process that helps set the standards for all workers, public and private, union and non-union.

"Removing certain items from the scope of collective bargaining virtually guarantees a free-fall in the standards for all workers in Connecticut," he explained.

The bill was the subject of a Tuesday afternoon hearing in the Joint Labor and Public Employees Committee.

Phillips says union members told legislators that maintaining the collective bargaining process is good for the entire state.

"It makes important benefits the subject of contracts determined by neutral arbitrators, rather than the whims of politicians; and it encourages long-service employees, thus reducing training costs and improving public services," he added.

And Phillips points out that HB 5552 was just one of several bills on the legislative agenda that are aimed at cutting costs by targeting public employees.

"We fear these bills are the start of the same slippery slope that several other states have already descended, where workers saw their rights and compensation slashed by politicians in the name of fiscal austerity," said Phillips.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT