Together We Win!
AFSCME Council 3’s Top Legislative Wins 2017
After a bill is passed and presented to the Governor, he has 30 days to sign it, let it become law without his signature, or veto it. Except for the MD Environmental Services bill, which was passed earlier in the session, the bills below are subject to this rule.
Call the Governor’s office for support of any bills that are important to you: 410-974-3901 or 1-800-811-8336.
State Wide Victories
Pensions Rescued! – A battery of bills threatened to undermine the State Employee Pension and Retirement System – including Governor Hogan’s “State Retirement Choice
for the 21st Century”. The bills would in some form allow or encourage employees to choose a Defined Contribution Plan which would undermine funding to the pension system and remove retirement security for many. (HB 748/HB 540)
Pension Funding will have a formula for future surplus funds that will designate some funds to pensions and retiree health care. This is important because both retiree health and the pension fund have significant long-term liabilities (HB 28)
Payroll Recovery is happening! Many state employees were short-changed on their paychecks with the institution of the “Workday” program last year. Under new legislation, those harmed after March, 2016 will have one month in July 2017 to file grievances to receive compensation (damages) for lost wages.
Moving forward, employees have 20 days to file a grievance to receive damages – unless the discovery of the missing wages occurs later, in which case, a grievance can be filed up to 6 months after the loss.
Damages, which cap at 3 times the missing amount of wages, will accrue at 30% of the missing amount for each pay period after the filing of a grievance and the passage of
a pay period. This bill will need to be reauthorized in two years. (HB 1144)
Leap Year is a time when many employees notice a cut in pay as a result of the annual
pay being divided into a year that is one day longer. Now, in recognition of this sacrifice, employees will be entitled to an extra personal leave day during future leap years.
(HB 324/SB 580)
Collective Bargaining – MD Environmental Services. Employees at Maryland Environmental Services will be able to elect a union to represent them in collective bargaining. As a quasi-private agency, they were left out of previous collective
bargaining legislation. (SB 291)
Maryland Healthy Working Families Act will require that an employer with more than 14 employees provide 1 hour of paid “sick and safe” leave for every thirty hours worked up to a maximum of 5 days. Smaller employers would provide unpaid sick leave. This bill will affect thousands of state and higher education employees that work as contractual employees.
For non-contractual employees, the reasons for use of leave will expand to broaden the definition of “family member”, and to allow use of this leave related to domestic violence
and related crimes. (HB 1)
Public Safety Wins
Staffing Studies in the Division of Corrections will be done jointly with unions and management every two years and will include a detailed post analysis, use of overtime,
and the impact of institutional activities. (HB 232)
Correctional Officer Bill of Rights Changes were defeated that would have provided management with greater decision-making powers on the hearing board. (SB 11)
Criminal Charges Against Correctional Officers will be scrutinized by a State’s Attorney prior to being imposed. This will provide objective oversight of the process.
(HB 166/SB 207)
Polygraph Tests will be studied to determine policies nationally and changing standards
to improve hiring due to budget language adopted by the legislature.
Treatment Staff in Corrections will begin to participate in the Correctional Retirement System (CORS). All new treatment staff will be in the CORS. Current employees may participate in CORS once vested and after making up for lower contributions while in the pension system. (SB 664)
Victim Services employees would have been forced to move from Reisterstown Rd. Plaza
in Baltimore to Crownsville. Since many employees and victims rely on public transportation, this move would have jeopardized the very services the agency provides. This bill was defeated. (HB 1428)
Parole and Probation Agents – All new Agents will be in the Correctional Officers Retirement System (CORS). Current Agents may participate in CORS once vested
and after making up for lower contributions in the pension system. (SB 650/HB 1081)
Juvenile Services – A series of bills would have restricted the use of searches and restraints in a manner that could jeopardize safety. Now, legislation will require a detailed report on current practices instead. (SB 982)
Department of Mental Health and Hygiene employees now deal primarily with individuals that have been referred by the courts. Their jobs will be studied to determine the proper classification and training due to budget language and a letter sent to the Department by the Health and Government Operations Committee. That letter and budget language will also include a direction to correct the mistake suffered by security attendants at Perkins when they were taken off the same pay scale as Corrections employees. The bill faced heavy opposition by DHMH administrators. While the bill did not succeed, the point was well made. (SB 772)
Higher Education Changes
Contractual Employees will be the focus of attention because of budget language that requires a report on the numbers, titles, length of service and plans to convert employees
to full time positions.
Baltimore City Community College will have its board restructure, and its strategic plan redone with a greater focus on ties to the city and workforce development needs.
(HB 1595/SB 1127)
St. Mary’s College will receive additional funding when state employees get a pay raise.
To see details about any of these bills, plug in the bill number at THIS SITE.
Budget Narratives, which are incorporated into the budget, are an opportunity for the Legislature to require information and reports from the Administration between sessions. They are not subject to a veto but can provide important information for the next legislative session. These recommendations will be contained in the “Joint Chairmen’s Report which is generally issued several weeks after session ends. Items below are of particular interest to AFSCME members.
State Personnel and Retirement
Payroll/Workday* – requires a report on progress by 11/17
Wellness – requires DBM to review other states and consider ways to improve participation including better publicity, and incentives. Due 11/17
Pension Vesting* – Requires a report from Retirement about the costs and benefits of returning to 10 from the current 5 year vesting. This was a major change to pension benefits in 2012 that could discourage individuals from staying on the job. Due 10/17
Staff Turnover – DBM has to report on the turnover of state employees including terminations, demotions and length of service from 2012 to 2017. Due 12/17
All Higher Ed* – required to report on contractual employees: numbers, titles,
length of service and plans to convert to permanent positions. Due 10/17
BCCC – requires a report on progress along the lines of the Schaefer Center recommendations. Due 2/18
DPSCS* – due to high vacancy, must do a report on hiring, departures, length of service and overtime for all employees by category – Parole and Probation, Corrections, Administrative. Due 1/18
Division of Corrections* – must do a plan on how they intent to improve hiring. Due 10/17 Also a report on the results of downsizing MCI-H is required. Due 10/17
Polygraph tests in the Division of Corrections* – Narrative requires review of policies and consideration of changing standards and doing other things to improve recruitment.
P&P* – Interlock Program – a report is required about the effectiveness of the program, the number of cases and outcomes, and the feasibility of requiring dash cams. Due 10/17
State Police – Civilization of some jobs is replaced by a report on progress on this.
Gov’s Office on Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) – has to report on Implementation of the Justice Reinvestment progress by Dec. 1, 2017
Health and Mental Hygiene and Human Services
Hospital Forensic Workers* – DHMH is required to report on the progress since the recommendations of the Forensic Workgroup to reclassify employees working with patients ordered for treatment by the courts in BHA and MHA. Due 10/17
Western MD Hospital Center has funds withheld for expanding the brain trauma unit until there is an agreement on the best use of funds to improve the building. Due 7/1
In addition, a report is required on the possibility of a public private partnership for WMHC.
A task force is created that includes the exclusive reps to review a possible public-private partnership. Due 10/17
DHR Foster Care – A report is required about plans to partner with other agencies on plans regarding housing and employment for folks aging out of foster care. Due 7/17
Office of Health Care Quality – Budget committee want a report on a 3 year staffing plan because they are very understaffed. Due 10/17
State Center – No funding may be expended to move State employees from 201 and 301 to any other location until there is a detailed report to the budget committees. They must give the budget committees 45 days to review and comment.
DLLR – There are two reports required on the staffing, processes, and enforcement measures taken in Employment Standards and MOSH. Due 10-17