With freedom on our minds as we celebrate the Fourth of July, our state employees will be experiencing a diminishing of their freedom. Beginning with the July 1, 2011 pay period, the state will be withholding an "agency fee" from all state employees, including the two-thirds of state employees who do not want to join the union (higher education employees are specifically excluded). This is due to the passage in the 2009 Legislative Session of Senate Bill 264, a bill requested by the O'Malley Administration which authorized the unions to negotiate with the administration the collection of service fees from non-members. Interestingly enough, although the legislation was passed in 2009, a year ahead of the election, the provisions were not included in the contract until after the 2010 election.
The contract that was ratified by approximately 10 percent of eligible voters also included a $750 bonus for "employees who had endured furloughs," though the bonus will be given as well to new employees who had not been furloughed. In the analysis of the personnel actions by the Department of Legislative Services, "the bonus as currently conceived will be spread over the 26 pay periods of fiscal 2012. Given the current tax structure for the average employee earning $48,500 per year, this $28.85 pre-tax boost to each check would likely result in the general post-tax range of an added $18.50 per pay period. This amount will be just enough to offset the fair share charge, hence doing little to provide a bonus to employees."
Thomas Jefferson once said, "To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." The O'Malley Administration and the majority in our legislature believe otherwise. As these deductions begin, employees can thank the following Howard County legislators for this legislation: state Sen. Ed Kasemeyer, state Sen. Jim Robey, Del. Elizabeth Bobo, Del. Steve DeBoy, Del. Guy Guzzone, Del. James Malone and Del. Shane Pendergrass. (Del. Frank Turner was absent.)
We are proud to have opposed this legislation and to have supported legislation that promotes freedom in the Maryland work force.
Gail Bates and Warren Miller are Republican members of the House of Delegates.