Maryland's largest state employee union is set to begin collecting fees from nonmembers this month — a move that sets up the Maryland chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees for what could be a $4.7 million gain over the fiscal year.

AFSCME sees the additional money as a matter of fairness, since the union negotiates contracts with the state on behalf of all its bargaining members, though fewer than half pay dues. Union officials say the extra money will allow them to improve services.

But some of the 12,500 state workers who will find as much as a $389 bite out of their annual pay criticize the new fees.

"People like me, I don't have a lot of faith in unions," said Michael White, who works for the Motor Vehicle Administration in Glen Burnie.

The fees — which will also be collected by smaller unions such as the American Federation of Teachers— are allowed under The Fair Share Act, which the state legislature passed in 2009 largely on a party-line vote. Gov. Martin O'Malley, a pro-labor Democrat who benefited from strong union support in his re-election bid last year, had pushed the measure.

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