The 75 doctors who work as medical interns, residents, and fellows at Prince George's County hospitals-and who make up the county's 15th and youngest public employe union-have been negotiating their first contract with the county since September.
So far, according to union staff representative Gail Britton, the doctors have discussed uniforms, Bellboys, coffee breaks "and other small benefits" with county officials. Wages, insurance, and staffing have yet to come up.
"The big-hold-up is the change in the county executive," Britton said. "We're waiting for Mr. Hogan. He's the one we'll have to deal with."
The doctors are not the only county workers who have been awaiting the incoming administration of County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan and the labor policies it will bring. Nine other units of county workers, and three school board unions-representing a total of 16,783 employes-have delayed negotiation of their contracts with the county by six weeks in anticipation of Hogan's arrival.
And despite the revenue-freezing TRIM charter amendment and Hogan's promises to cut the county's budget, the county's union leaders say they are ready to battle for wage and benefit increases at least equal to those in the current contracts.
The contracts of 11 union-representing 47 percent of the 6,299 county employes and 99 percent of 14,017 school board workers-will expire on June, 1979, and new contracts, to mesh with the county's budget-writing process, must be negotiated by early March.
"We're looking for a fight this year," said Michael W. Mooney, president of the ACE/AFSCME Local 2250, representing 4,599 nonprofessonal school workers. "It's going to be much harder this year because of TRIM. But we're prepared to stay at the table longer."
"If the county wants to sing a sob story about TRIM and budget cuts, that's their problem," said Barbara Barton, president of the Maryland Nurses Association, which represents 383 county hospital nurses. "There's no reason why the nurses should have to suffer for it."
If the union leaders stick to their combative rhetoric at the bargaining table. Hogan and the personnel director he eventually appoints could find themselves in a vise early next year between the price of new union contracts and the necessity of holding down costs.
According to figures prepared for a county council briefing on the union negotiations Tuesday, the cost to the county of the contracts now expiring increased by $12.8 million this year because of wage and benefit increases.
If the new contracts cost the county the same percentage increases per year-or if the wage and benefit agreements with the unions remain about the same-the county will have to spend about $13.8 million more next for those 17,000 employes.
That means, of course, that Hogan and his staff would have to slice $13.8 million from the county surplus-now estimated at $11 million to $14 million-or from next year's budget through layoffs, reduction or consolidatin of services, or other cost-saving measures, to keep the budget from rising over its present level of $443 million next year.
"The county is already using scare tactics on us," said Harold Fox, whose AFSCME Local 2735 will merge with two other AFSME locals in the county this year to form one bargaining unit of 641 employes.
"They are telling us not to make large wage demands," Fox said, "or they will lay off workers because of TRIM.
"At a minimum, we are going to want a guarantee of parity," Fox said. "If there are going to be cutbacks in blue-collar employes and clerical employes, we want to see equal cutbacks in management and in all other departments."
"The fact is that there is only going to be so much money," responded departing county personnel director Donald Weinberg, who will be handling preliminary union negotiations for Hogan until his replacement arrives in January. "We have a mandate placed on us by TRIM, and we are going to have to take a look at everything and cut where we can."