Can a union president and a former HR Director work together effectively? 

We’ll soon find out at the Connecticut Department of Labor.

Governor Dannel Malloy this afternoon selected Glenn Marshall to serve as the new commissioner of the Department of Labor, and picked Dennis Murphy as the agency’s new deputy commissioner.

In a press release issued today, the Govenor describes the background of both:

Marshall, of Milford, is currently the president of Carpenters Union Local 210, where he led advocacy efforts on behalf of a construction labor force, including working closely on state legislative and administrative matters that impact the construction industry and the economy of Connecticut. In this position, he gained recognized respect as a leader who has worked well with both organized labor and Connecticut businesses.

Murphy, of Bridgeport, is a Neutral Labor Arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association, FINRA and the ADR Center, Inc. He previously served as the Director of Human Resources for the City of Stamford from 2004-2008, and was the Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Bridgeport from 1994-2002.

In making such an appointment, Gov. Malloy was quick to emphasize that he does not expect the department to be pro-union or pro-business:

In order to run the Labor Department, it is important to have someone who can work effectively as a consensus builder.  I strongly reject the premise that you have to be either pro-labor or pro-business – you have to be both. There is no doubt that in these tough economic times we need to have a responsible approach to decision making and an ability to work with broad-based coalitions. Glenn and Dennis – both of whom I have known for years – will take their respective experiences and put them to work at the Department of Labor, finding new and unique ways to ensure our state’s labor force is protected, and our state’s business community thrives.

With budget issues looming, it is quite possible that the department will be asked to do more with less. It is not an enviable task in this environment.  Addressing unemployment compensation claims will no doubt take up some time, but hopefully, other areas of the department can receive some focus as well.

What Does This Mean for Employers?

At this stage, I would encourage everyone to reserve judgment on the appointments.  By making both appointments at the same time, the Governor seems to be reinforcing his message that he wants his administration to be viewed as a business-friendly one, and not merely a pro-labor one. 

The CT Mirror had this story with additional background as well. 

In the meantime, it is best to wish both of them well in this new endeavor. And a little luck too. 

(Note: Dennis Murphy is the spouse of a partner at Pullman & Comley)