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AFSCME Maryland, state agree on 2023 wages, but union vows to push for more

AFSCME Maryland, state agree on 2023 wages, but union vows to push for more
By AFSCME Council 3 ·

BALTIMORE – Good news for thousands of people who work for the state of Maryland.

All state workers covered by an AFSCME contract who are eligible for a step increase in the upcoming fiscal year will receive one starting July 1, 2023, or Jan. 1, 2024, depending on their hire date. And, depending on the position and agency, some will receive additional pay increases and bonuses.

These increases are in addition to the previously agreed upon 2% cost of living adjustment (COLA) that goes into effect July 1 of this year.

All of this is the result of AFSCME Maryland Council 3 reaching an agreement with outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration on wage increases for the coming year by the statutory deadline of Jan. 1, 2023.

But the union’s fight is far from over.

“With today’s take it or leave it offer, we have finally finished bargaining with the Hogan administration. The tactics and strategies employed throughout Governor Hogan’s eight-year term reinforce the need for binding arbitration for our members,” AFSCME Maryland President Patrick Moran said in a press release.

“While today’s agreement guarantees some increases to our members, the increases are insufficient and do not keep pace with inflation. Maryland still has a long way to go towards addressing the under-resourcing and understaffing our state agencies are facing,” Moran added.  

He said Council 3, which represents nearly 30,000 employees in Maryland state government and public higher education institutions, is disappointed that the Hogan administration didn’t allocate enough resources for state agencies or critical state services.

“We’re looking forward to working with the Moore administration and leaders in the General Assembly who we hope will get serious about providing the resources state workers have earned and deserve,” Moran said, referring to incoming Gov. Wes Moore, who begins his term this month.

Council 3 and the Hogan administration conducted wage negotiations amid record-high vacancy rates in state agencies and a more than $2 billion state budget surplus. Under the agreement, less than 2% of the budget surplus will go towards recruiting and retaining state workers.

State data show that as of Nov. 1, 2022, Maryland had nearly 11,000 vacant or eliminated positions.

“As a parole and probation agent, I need to be in the field working to make sure ex-offenders have what they need to reintegrate safely into our communities and to keep our neighborhoods safe at the same time. But because of understaffing and a lack of clerical staff … I am forced to take on administrative duties that prevent me from being out in the field,” said Rayneika Robinson, a Division of Parole and Probation agent and an AFSCME bargaining team member.

Cherrish Vick, Council 3’s secretary-treasurer and a caseworker at the Prince George’s County Department of Human Services, said the Hogan administration has hollowed out the state workforce.

“From our state’s hospitals to our social services to our correctional facilities and more, we are facing critical staff shortages that make it incredibly difficult for state workers to provide Maryland with the public services our communities need,” Vick said.

She added that the Hogan administration also provided paltry pay and benefits for its workers. They can earn more in the private sector or by working for surrounding states or even local governments, Vick said.

 “Add on the stress and impossible workloads and it’s no wonder people leave their state jobs,” she said.

As in years past, AFSCME members will continue to work with the legislature to resolve the staffing and resource crisis in state agencies resulting from the Hogan administration’s unwillingness to invest in critical public services.

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