State employees rally for pay hike

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By Naomi Eide 

Capital News Service 

AFSCME demonstration in Baltimore Thursday.

AFSCME demonstration in Baltimore Thursday.

A labor union for Maryland public employees held rallies across the state Thursday to place pressure on Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration for a pay raise and more money to fill vacant jobs under their current contract negotiations.

The Maryland council of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is asking for “fair pay, fair treatment” at work, and resources to help provide public services, according to Jeff Pittman, a union spokesman.

The union began contract negotiations at the beginning of October, union officials said. Thursday night, it coordinated rallies in Baltimore, Cumberland, Hagerstown, Hyattsville and Salisbury. A larger rally is planned for Dec. 10 in Baltimore.

The union represents approximately 25,000 state and university employees in Maryland, according to Pittman. If the fair wage contract negotiations are successful, they would become a part of Hogan’s upcoming budget.

Asking for $1,200 raise; would cost $36 million

Craig Newman, secretary of the University of Maryland, College Park union unit and part of the university’s grounds crew, said at the rally in Hyattsville that the union is asking for $1,200 across-the-board raise for state employees covered by collective bargaining agreements.

Approximately 30,000 state employees have collective bargaining rights in Maryland, according to the state department of budget and management. Paying $1,200 to each of these employees would cost about $36 million.

Every January, the governor submits the budget to the Maryland legislature, which in turn makes cuts and restrictions. The budget year runs from July 1 through June 30.

In September, the Maryland Board of Revenue Estimates increased its general fund revenue projections for the current fiscal year by $80 million.

Hogan spokesman cites deficit 

“Maryland is facing a $1 billion deficit over the next several years. Making rash decisions to spend a possible surplus is irresponsible and something that this administration will not do,” a spokeswoman for Hogan said in an email Friday.

As part of its negotiations, the union is asking the state to try to fill empty positions. Of the approximately 80,000 state positions, Pittman said, about 5 percent are vacant.

Most Maryland agencies are facing a 2 percent across-the-board budget cut and in some places it seems to be manifesting as not filling open positions, said Pittman. “We all know you don’t do more with less,” he said.

The governor’s office maintains they have recognized the hard work of the state’s employees.

“Despite Maryland’s fiscal situation, in July, Governor Hogan pushed through a 2 percent raise for state employees, which had been eliminated by the previous administration,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

CLARIFICATION, 10 a.m., 11/17: The O’Malley administration negotiated a 2% cost-of-living raise. Gov. Hogan wanted to make it a bonus so it was not part of the base pay that would be built into future salary increases. He then relented during budget negotiations, and allowed the raise to go into effect.

http://marylandreporter.com/2015/02/11/hogan-agrees-that-state-employees-deserve-a-pay-hike-but-says-state-cant-afford-it/

http://marylandreporter.com/2015/03/15/budget-committee-restores-school-aid-pay-hikes-cuts-pension-contribution/

http://marylandreporter.com/2015/03/26/senate-unanimously-approves-budget-but-differs-with-house/

“The work we do deserves to get paid,” Newman said.

  • Dale McNamee

    They should be grateful to have jobs !

    Many of we struggling taxpayers would gladly do their jobs at their current pay…

    Ungrateful curs…

    Maybe there can be further reductions in employees…

    • chuckleberry74

      You clearly have no idea what you are talking about. Everyone is grateful to have a job, State employee or otherwise. However, most areas of the private sector doing similar professional work don’t go 5 years without even getting a cost-of-living raise. Until this past raise, State employees had done just that…and 5 years is far too long, especially in a State this wealthy, to not pay its employees fairly for what it receives.

      • Dale McNamee

        You also have no idea that private sector taxpayers haven’t had any raises for the last 5 years and Obama lowered their standard of living since 2008… I have no extra money to pay for any emergency that arises… I used to before the “hope and change”…

        Also, they have more job security than their private sector counterparts and many get bonuses to boot !

        As for being a “wealthy state”… If the Federal Government was reduced to providing what the the 10th. Amendment of the Constitution tells it to… Maryland would be very poor as the Federal money dries up…

        And over the past 8 years, companies large and small left Maryland… Others closed… Again, Maryland isn’t that wealthy…

        Why don’t you ask to pay more in taxes and make donations so that our “underpaid” state employees can get their raises ?

  • Alonzo Harris

    Naomi, please be sure to note that the bald man on the right is wearing a Barbour jacket, which is an ultra-luxury British field coat brand. Feel free to google how much they cost. Perhaps it would be wise to shed the 400 dollar jacket before marching for a higher taxpayer funded salary.

    • lenlazarick

      That’s AFSCME President Patrick Moran in the jacket. He laughed when asked about the jacket. On a trip to San Francisco in July 2008 it was surprisingly chilly. He bought the now seven-year old jacket at Marshall’s for $70.