02/15/2011

Maryland State Employees Ratify Contracts; No-Furlough Provision Included

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No-Furlough Provision Included

State employees represented by AFT Healthcare-Maryland and the Maryland Professional Employees Council overwhelmingly ratified their respective three-year contracts in February.

“These contracts were negotiated in spite of the difficult economic conditions that face our state,” says AFT Maryland president Marietta English, who is also an AFT vice president. “The new contracts reflect the unions’ goal of protecting the rights and hard-won progress of workers, and of advancing their ability to earn and enjoy wages and working conditions that promote their health and well-being.”

In addition to securing a no-furlough provision, the agreements provide a $750 bonus in fiscal year 2012, a 2 percent general cost of living increase effective Jan. 1, 2013, and a 3 percent general cost of living increase effective Jan. 1, 2014. Effective April 1, 2014, within-grade step increases will be reinstated.

As part of the state’s effort to mitigate the impact of previously imposed furlough days, workers will receive five additional days off in each year covered by the new contracts.

The agreements maintain the state’s current health insurance premium subsidy for fiscal year 2012, with the parties agreeing to revisit health benefits in fiscal year 2013. Prescription co-pays range from $10 (for up to a 45-day supply of a generic drug) to $80 (for a 90-day supply of a non-preferred brand- name drug).

“By securing a bonus and pay raises, while holding healthcare costs down, and securing a promise that there will be no furloughs during the life of these contracts, these unions have again demonstrated their effectiveness in representing the rights of Maryland workers,” says English.

AFT Healthcare-Maryland represents 1,500 state employees in more than 100 job classifications, including community health nurses, dentists and nutritionists. The Maryland Professional Employees Council represents 5,300 state employees in more than 450 job classifications, ranging from accountants and architects to entomologists and meteorologists to bank examiners and forensic scientists.

The vote count was conducted by the independent American Arbitration Association. Now that the agreements have been approved by the unions’ membership, they go to the Maryland Legislature for approval. [Adrienne Coles]

February 15, 2011