Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that about 76,000 executive branch and University System of Maryland employees will get scheduled raises on Jan. 1, after all.
The Republican governor had sought agreements with state employee unions to forego their previously negotiated raises and make other concessions, such as pay cuts and layoffs, due to the strain on the state budget from the recession induced by the coronavirus pandemic.
Two unions, representing state troopers and Maryland Transportation Authority police officers, agreed to concessions, including forgoing an earlier pay raise and allowances to pay for uniforms. Those cuts are now void.
The other state employee unions held out, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which is the largest state employee union.
Now, all of the state’s unionized workers will get the 2% increases that were in their contracts. Nonunion workers will get the pay bump, as well.
“AFSCME members have stood up to this governor for most of the year fighting for PPE and to ensure the raises we had won are paid,” Patrick Moran, president of AFSCME Maryland Council 3, said in a statement. “We are happy that we were able to enforce our contract, but the fight continues for the safety and health of our nearly 30,000 members.”
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In a statement, Hogan said the state can move forward with the pay increases because the state’s financial picture is not quite as dire as predicted earlier in the pandemic. While the latest financial forecast shows that incoming revenues will be significantly less than usual, the dip will be measured in hundreds of millions of dollars, not billions of dollars.
Nick Pepersack, a deputy chief of staff and spokesman for the Department of Budget and Management, declined to say whether any other cuts are on the table for state workers, citing the confidentiality of union negotiations.
The state and AFSCME also are in negotiations on a new three-year contract, and neither side is allowed to discuss those negotiations.
Hogan also declared that Dec. 24, which falls on a Thursday, will be a holiday for state employees in observance of Christmas Eve. State government offices will be closed.
Christmas Eve is not an official state government holiday. But AFSCME members are guaranteed in their contract to have a day off on any day “proclaimed as a holiday or nonworking day by the governor of the state of Maryland or the president of the United States of America.”
Republican President Donald Trump has already declared Christmas Eve 2020 a holiday for federal workers.
Hogan similarly gave all state workers the day off on Christmas Eve in 2019 and 2018.