Critics filing legal challenges to Malloy executive orders

Opponents of two executive orders allowing home care workers and daycare providers to unionize are filing lawsuits this week alleging that the orders violate state and federal law.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy issued the orders in September, following a legislative session in which lawmakers considered but did not pass proposals to give collective bargaining rights to home care workers and daycare providers paid through state-administered programs. The orders did not give either group collective bargaining rights, but allowed them to unionize and created working groups to study how to structure collective bargaining rights.

Waterbury attorney Joseph Summa, who is representing the plaintiffs, said during a news conference at the state Capitol complex Thursday that Malloy exceeded his authority in issuing the orders. “This is a separation of powers issue,” he said.

The complaint against the order involving home care workers, which Summa said will be filed in Waterbury Superior Court Thursday, also alleges that the executive order is in conflict with the National Labor Relations Act, conflicts with state labor law by “allowing election misconduct” and violates the equal protection clauses of the U.S. and Connecticut constitutions. The complaint also alleges that the executive order violates the right to free speech and freedom to associate, saying that the order “in reality is simply state mandated political representation for lobbying purposes.”

Another lawsuit on behalf of the daycare providers will be filed Friday, Summa said.

Maria Nelson, a Southington daycare provider, said during the news conference that it’s important to her to be able to choose the direction she wants for her business.

“I am a self-employed individual and that is my freedom to run my business the way I choose to,” she said.

The lawsuits are backed by the Yankee Institute for Public Policy.

Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior adviser, said, “The Yankee Institute is a right-wing organization, it’s funded by right-wing special interests, and not surprisingly, it’s pursuing a right-wing, radical agenda.  This lawsuit is simply a manifestation of all that.”

Waterbury-based We, the People of Connecticut, Inc., is also challenging the executive orders in court.

Legislation this session aims to give daycare providers and home care workers collective bargaining rights. The proposals died in the Labor and Public Employees Committee this week after lawmakers failed to vote on them before the committee’s deadline for approving bills, but legislators on both sides expect the proposals will re-emerge later in the session.