Maryland Gov. Hogan, largest state employee union reach deal on worker pay

AFSCME Maryland Council 3 expressed frustration with the outgoing Republican governor and what it called a “take it or leave it offer.”

Published on: January 01, 2023 10:07 AM EST|Updated on: January 01, 2023 1:51 PM EST

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The largest union for Maryland state government employees and Gov. Larry Hogan have reached an agreement on pay for the coming year, union leaders said Sunday.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Maryland Council 3 announced late Saturday that the two sides struck a deal affecting more than 30,000 state workers.

Hogan’s administration made no announcement, and the governor’s office had no immediate comment Sunday. The outgoing Republican governor posted a New Year’s message on his social media accounts that read in part: “As we enter 2023, we can be grateful for another year of changing Maryland for the better.”

Under the agreement with AFSCME, workers who are eligible for a step increase in salary will receive one in the next government budget year that starts July 1.

The union was not able to win across-the-board pay raises or bonuses, but some workers also will get additional pay increases and bonuses, the union said. AFSCME has a broad range of members — from social workers to correctional officers — and the increases vary greatly among job categories.

AFSCME leaders expressed frustration with the Hogan administration, noting that they had to push hard to get modest increases even though the state has a multi-billion-dollar budget surplus and is saving money by leaving thousands of positions unfilled.

“We’re disappointed that Governor Hogan’s administration could not find the will to resource our state agencies or critical state services and made it incredibly difficult to work together to tackle these challenges,” AFSCME President Patrick Moran said in a statement. He characterized the agreement as a “take it or leave it offer” from the state that the union had little choice but to accept.

AFSCME and other unions for state government employees have multi-year contracts that leave open the ability for them to seek pay increases each year.

Throughout Hogan’s tenure, AFSCME Maryland Council 3, which is the largest union, has had a strained relationship and difficult negotiations with the governor.

Moran said in a statement that the union and the state should have the opportunity to go into binding arbitration to settle differences over pay. State workers are banned from going on strike.

AFSCME continues to raise concerns that the state government workforce is woefully understaffed, particularly in agencies where they’re responsible for the health and safety of often-vulnerable populations, including state hospitals, prisons and juvenile justice centers.

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During Hogan’s eight-year tenure, at least 2,800 positions have been eliminated in state government and another 7,800 positions left vacant, according to the union.

Gov.-elect Wes Moore, a Democrat, will be sworn into office on Jan. 18. AFSCME leaders expressed hope that they’ll have better relations with Moore, whom they endorsed.

“We’re looking forward to working with the Moore administration and leaders in the General Assembly who we hope will be serious about providing the resources state workers have earned and deserve,” Moran said.