Angry over a plan to eliminate accident leave for injured Baltimore County workers, the leaders of unions representing police officers and firefighters threatened last night to work for the defeat of County Executive Roger B. Hayden in the 1994 election.
Under the proposal that became public two weeks ago, injured workers would have to file for less generous workers' compensation and would not get their full regular pay while out of work because of injuries they received in job-related accidents.
Mr. Hayden said the change would end fraud and abuse and save the county $700,000 to $800,000 annually.
Although Mr. Hayden said this week that he would delay implementation of the controversial policy, the union leaders were not satisfied.
"Brothers and sisters, let me tell you. We are under attack. We have to take the fight to Roger Hayden, and we have to take the fight to the County Council," said Kevin O'Connor, president of the Baltimore County Fire Fighters Association.
Both Mr. O'Connor and Lt. Timothy Caslin, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4, urged their members to barrage the County Council with telephone calls as part of an effort to defeat the new policy.
Some 500 policemen and firefighters at the meeting at the
Towson American Legion Hall on York Road responded to the union leaders' call by stomping their feet and applauding loudly.
The union leaders then hinted at plans to unseat Mr. Hayden in next year's election.
"We need to map out some strategies so that we can prevail in the next 18 to 20 months, and I think all of you know what I mean by that," said Mr. O'Connor.
"We're giving them a chance to back out gracefully," said Lieutenant Caslin, "but we want them to know that we're looking ahead to '94."
The lieutenant received perhaps the loudest applause of the night when he said, "The first police officer or firefighter who is injured in the line of duty and is denied pay, we're going to drag this administration through the mud."
The union leaders also said they are planning court action, perhaps even filing for an injunction, if the Hayden administration goes ahead with the plan.
Lieutenant Caslin and Mr. O'Connor said that it was the first time the two unions had joined forces on a particular issue.
During the meeting, the police officers and firefighters also touched on two other sore points for county workers: the furlough days Mr. Hayden ordered all employees to take in 1992 and his demand last summer that workers pay more for health care coverage.
Mr. O'Connor and Lieutenant Caslin noted that the unions filed grievances on both issues and won in arbitration and that county appealed the awards. The appeals are pending.
With the furloughs, Mr. O'Connor said, the county executive attacked the unions' right to collective bargaining because he violated the labor contracts.
Both police and firefighters have no-furlough stipulations in their contracts, he said.
Administration officials were invited to the meeting, but none showed, said Mr. O'Connor.