Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration reached a deal Saturday night on a contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Maryland Council 3 — the largest state workers’ union in Maryland — just before an end-of-year deadline.
The new contract will provide step wage increases for eligible workers in the upcoming fiscal year, starting July 1, according to a news release from the AFSCME.
The size of the increase is different for different workers covered by the union, but they average about 2.4%, said Stuart Katzenberg, director of collective bargaining and growth for the union.
The union represents about 30,000 public employees, including correctional officers, state hospital workers and higher education workers.
In a statement, union president Patrick Moran called the wage increases inadequate, faulting the Hogan administration’s bargaining strategy.
“While today’s agreement guarantees some increases to our members, the increases are insufficient and do not keep pace with inflation,” Moran wrote. “Maryland still has a long way to go towards addressing the under-resourcing and understaffing our state agencies are facing.”
The union cited data provided to it by the state, indicating that Maryland had a total of nearly 11,000 vacant or eliminated positions as of November. Under the new agreement, about 2% of the state budget surplus will go toward recruiting and retaining state workers, according to the release.
Hogan’s spokesperson Michael Ricci touted recent raises for state workers in a statement Sunday evening.
“As promised, the state continues to devote a portion of the record budget surplus to enhancements for state employees—including nearly 10% in cumulative salary increases over two years,” Ricci wrote. He referred to a Spending Affordability Committee report showing the state has raised pay at a higher rate than the federal government and Maryland’s largest counties over the past five years.
The contract, which covers the next fiscal year, will be the last negotiated under Hogan who leaves office Jan. 18.
Democratic Gov.-elect Wes Moore’s administration will take over the next round of negotiations, which would affect the 2025 fiscal year and beyond, Katzenberg said.
“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 in his statement.
In early 2022, the union negotiated for about 12% in raises for the workforce before July 2023 — including 7% in cost-of-living adjustments, two step increases and a $1,000 bonus — according to a news release from AFSCME.
Maryland Policy & Politics
In 2021, the union had expressed concerns with the way Hogan earmarked the state’s $2.5 billion surplus.
Hogan announced in October 2021 that he planned to send about $500 million into Maryland’s emergency savings fund, and use the rest to deliver tax cuts for retirees, targeted assistance for struggling Marylanders and an unspecified boost for state workers. AFSCME called for the funds to be put toward raises and new hires, citing staff shortages in key Maryland agencies.
In the union’s statement Saturday, secretary-treasurer Cherrish Vick said Hogan has “hollowed out” the state workforce and failed to increase wages as needed.
“The paltry pay and benefits Maryland gives its state workers just cannot compare to what Marylanders could receive if they went to work in a surrounding state, the private sector, or even in a local or county position. Add on the stress and impossible workloads and it’s no wonder people leave their state jobs,” said Vick, who works as a caseworker at the Prince George’s County Department of Human Services.
The vacancies have changed job requirements for certain Maryland workers, said Rayneika Robinson, a Division of Parole and Probation agent and an AFSCME bargaining team member.
“Because the State can’t and won’t hire anyone, I am forced to take on administrative duties that prevent me from being out in the field. I am spending more than a week every month doing these administrative tasks and covering for these vacant positions,” Robinson said in a statement.
Baltimore Sun reporters Sam Janesch, Lorraine Mirabella and Cassidy Jensen contributed to this article.
A previous version of this article contained an outdated number of employees whom the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Maryland Council 3 represents. The Sun regrets the error.