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Lamont visits transit workers as Democrats near approval of state employee union bonuses

Nick Ut

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont visited the state Department of Transportation headquarters on Wednesday to promote his labor agreement with the state’s employee unions. The state House expects to vote on the $1.9 billion deal on Thursday.

Lamont used the visit to thank the state transportation workers for their dedication during the pandemic. The three-year state employee bonuses and 2.5% wage increase deal he negotiated would help the state Department of Transportation hire and retain its skilled workforce, he said.

He said it’s crucial to helping the department ramp up its transportation infrastructure projects that have been made possible by billions of dollars of federal infrastructure money. “Making us more competitive. Hopefully in a way to say we value what you do. We need you here.” Lamont said.

“And if you have any friends who are into design, engineering, construction, transportation, bus whatever it might be, tell them we want to hire them here,” he urged.

Transportation officials said the department seeks to hire about 700 new employees to replace its retiring workforce. About 20% of the department’s 3,300 employees are expected to retire in the next couple of years.

Democratic House Speaker Matt Ritter expects it will be approved despite some bipartisan opposition. “This is looking at where our financial picture is. It's looking at what the workforce is. It's looking at prior deals. And how difficult it was for some employees. I think it strikes the right balance,” he said.

Republicans have argued that the bonuses would not prevent the retirement wave that Lamont claims it would address.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.