Prince George's County Executive Lawrence Hogan's relations with county employes and labor unions came under fire at a county council meeting yesterday when a task force appointed by the council criticized the executive's handling of the county personnel department.
The council then introduced several measures designed to strengthen the hand of unionized employes.
The legislation, and a council resolution also introduced yesterday to set up a task force to study the county labor code, resulted from council dissatisfaction over Hogan's handling of labor negotiations and a recent strike by the county public employes union.
The personnel task force report found that county personnel policy frequently was not being followed and the executive's office, rather than the personnel director, frequently controlled decision-making and a "poor relationship" had developed between unions and management in the county.
Hogan said yesterday through a spokesman that the report was "too ridiculous to comment on." His son and top aide, Lawrence Hogan Jr., said the report was based on inaccurate information and was "completely politically motivated."
The two bills introduced by the council were designed, according to their sponsor, Council Chairman Parris Glendening, to resolve through legislation the thorny issues that had either led to the summer strike or had prevented its resolution.
In one bill, county union members would be allowed to donate some of their annual leave time to pay the salary of a full-time union representative whose wage now is paid by the county government.
The second bill would reestablish in very specific terms the now defunct county Public Employees Relations Board, one of the casualties of the county's recent labor troubles. The PERB was disbanded when its members, who are supposed to resolve a wide variety of labor issues in the county, and Hogan got into a dispute over legal fees and the board's proper role.
The council also proposed yesterday to set up a labor code task force because of concerns many of them had that the current code did not adequately prevent a strike if one side was intent on avoiding an agreement, as many council members felt was true in Hogan's handling of the public employes union this summer.
Hogan Jr. said yesterday that the two bills currently being considered by the council were designed "to curry favor with the unions. Glendening plays to that crowd quite often."
Glendening responded, "That's so illogical. [Currying favor with unions] is not a political plus in this county. But I can't sit there and see strike after strike come down the road or a 20-year employe getting jerked around because the personnel office is so messed up." The two bills must go to public hearing before they finally are voted on by the council. The labor code task force is expected to be formally approved and then set up by the council in the next week or so.