Members of the largest union of state government employees, who are locked in a contract dispute with the governor, took their complaints of under-staffing to Annapolis Tuesday.
Dozens of members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 3 union wore green T-shirts and packed a hearing room where union leaders told lawmakers about forced overtime and unsafe conditions due to a “staffing crisis.”
“This extreme staffing shortage has dire consequences for the inmates who we are in charge of supervising,” said Rownite Stevens, a correctional officer at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Somerset County.
She was joined by others who told members of the House of Delegates Appropriations Committee and the state Senate Budget and Taxation Committee that the state’s correctional facilities and hospitals, in particular, have too few employees. Those who work at the facilities are poorly trained and underpaid for their work, they said.
AFSCME, which represents 26,000 state workers, estimates that the state’s prisons have more than 1,000 vacancies, and some correctional officers are forced to work as much as 80 hours of overtime during a two-week pay period.
The Hogan administration and AFSCME have had a combative relationship, with the governor and AFSCME Maryland President Patrick Moran sparring often.
Moran said in a press conference Tuesday that Hogan “has lacked any sort of morals” in making decisions on funding for state workers.
“Through systematic under-funding and delays on filling vacancies, the Hogan administration has proven they do not care about the quality of our state services or the critical role they can have for the average taxpayer,” Moran said.