DMV office closures await union concessions vote
Published 5:55 pm, Sunday, August 7, 2011
DERBY -- There was a steady stream of last-minute customers at the state Department of Motor Vehicle's photo license center Friday before the 4:30 p.m. closing time.
The center is now open only Wednesdays and Fridays, but will be shuttered for good if state unions pass up a second opportunity to ratify a $1.6 billion concessions package.
But the DMV this week did push off the closure date from Aug. 11 until after Aug. 18, when labor leaders intend to announce the final concessions vote tally. Other DMV sites included in the reprieve are full-service offices in Danbury, Enfield, Old Saybrook and New Britain, and photo license centers in Milford and Middletown.
If the givebacks are rejected as they were in June, Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy has pledged to pursue around 6,500 state worker layoffs to help balance the new two-year budget.
He has already issued around 3,000 pink slips, although many agencies can keep their fingers crossed and will not experience job losses until after Aug. 18.
The DMV layoffs were to have occurred by Aug. 11, necessitating the planned closures. But department spokesman William Seymour said Friday the agency had second thoughts when it estimated it would cost $500,000 to shutter then re-open those locations a week later if the unions come through.
"When we announced the closings (in July) we had no idea that a second vote would be scheduled," Seymour said. "Then a second vote becomes clearer and more certain. Then a second vote actually starts. ... We said, 'We better sit down and look at this because we don't want to be incurring unnecessary expenses.' That magic number's about $500,000 for salaries, overtime, layoff payouts and material costs associated with the buildings."
Before announcing the delay, Seymour said the DMV needed the OK from the state Office of Labor Relations, which agreed to notify employees their separation dates had been pushed off a few days.
"If the (concessions) deal is ratified as well as bargaining unit contracts " it would not have made sense to close them and then reopen," Linda Yelmini, head of labor relations, said in an email.
Sonia Malave, of Ansonia, was one of the last-minute visitors renewing her license in Derby. She will be disappointed if the office no longer exists after Aug. 18.
"It's convenient for me to renew my license," she said. "The one in Bridgeport is just too busy."
Staff Writer Brian Lockhart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org