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Maryland Members in Tough Budget Fight

by Michael Byrne  |  January 28, 2016

Maryland Members in Tough Budget Fight AFSCME members who work for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene meet with state Sen. Roger Manno seeking his support for their fight against outsourcing their jobs. (Photo courtesy AFSCME Maryland Council 3)

Political action by AFSCME Maryland Council 3 convinced Gov. Larry Hogan to restore the 2 percent to 4 percent step increases for state and higher education workers in his budget proposal from earlier negotiations, but members still face fights over proposed job cuts and privatization of state services.

Besides restoring the step increases, Hogan’s budget released Jan. 20 does not resort to cuts in overtime pay and sick leave rights, which were in his original proposal. Council 3 also won improvements to the state’s new wellness plan, saving state and higher education workers money.

However, the governor has made clear he wants to cut state jobs and outsource some state services.

The battle lines on privatization have been drawn around employee positions at the SpringField Hospital Center in the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). Fifty-seven food-service worker at the Sykesville facility were notified they will be laid off at the end of June. More than 500 state employee positions have been targeted for cuts, with 100 of them to be outsourced to private companies, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Hogan has yet to fully account for the state positions he wants to cut, the Sun reported, and AFSCME members have been reaching out to Maryland legislators for support. Senate Pres. Thomas V. Miller on Feb. 26 questioned whether the job cuts are necessary when the state is projecting a surplus of more than $400 million this year. “I’m shocked, quite frankly,” Miller told the Sun, saying he’d heard from some state employees with more than 20 years’ experience who had told they are being terminated.

Nearly 20 workers at DHMH braved the weather at their Lobby Night on Monday, January 25.

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