If a contract expires without a new agreement in place, he said, the contract is over completely. Workers "become at-will employees and the government and state management officials could change the pension plan, could change health insurance, could change salaries and wages. Unilaterally," he said.
The AFL-CIO Wednesday organized a news conference of several union heads to raise the alarm, decry Kurk's amendment and promise a response.
Diana Lacey, president of the State Employees Association, said the changes, which include a full pension reform bill, serve to distract the public from the effect that deep budget cuts will have on the state.
"Maybe he's hoping they won't notice we are shredding the public safety net, devastating essential services, creating no jobs and giving tax breaks to corporations at the same time," Lacey said.