Maryland state employees will receive a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment under a new contract agreement reached with the Hogan administration.

Gov. Larry Hogan's office announced Wednesday that the administration and the four major unions that represent state employees have struck a three-year deal. The agreement follows lengthy and at times bitter negotiations that highlighted staffing shortages and working conditions for correctional officers and other employees.

The labor contracts expired Dec. 31. Employees have been working under a tentative agreement since then.

"These contract agreements are tremendous news for the state and our hard-working employees," Hogan (R) said in a statement. ". . . There have been no furloughs or layoffs, and we are very proud of that."

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Patrick Moran, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 3, which represents the largest group of affected workers, said the agreement was the result of persistence from union members.

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"He gave the employees nothing," Moran said. The Hogan administration, he said, "has no respect for the employees or the work they do. . . . They came to the table with zero. Our members earned every dime they fought for in this agreement."

Moran said the unions' sour relationship with Hogan dates to 2015, the governor's first year in office, when Hogan removed a 2 percent pay raise from the state budget. After pushback from unions and Democratic lawmakers, he agreed to move forward with the raises.

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Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer dismissed the criticism as politically motivated, noting that AFSCME campaigned against the governor in 2014.

Under the new agreement with the unions, which represent nearly 25,000 employees, the state will fully cover the cost of medical, prescription and dental premiums during the month of March. The cost-of-living adjustment goes into effect in January 2019.

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In response to staffing shortages, the state plans to offer a hiring bonus of up to $5,000 per person to correctional officers who meet eligibility requirements and a $3,000 retention bonus for certain registered nurses and correctional officers.

The contracts have not been ratified. Union members are scheduled to vote on the tentative agreement Jan. 31. In addition to AFSCME, the contracts affect workers with the Maryland Professional Employees Council, the American Federation of Teachers Healthcare-Maryland and Teamsters Local 355.

The contract agreement comes as Hogan launches his bid for reelection and as his Democratic challengers are hoping that an energized Democratic base, which includes labor unions, will help to unseat the popular Republican governor.

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