Questions regarding the implementation of SB 639 and SB 693: Forensic Pay

Forensic Pay for Forensic Work: SB 639 is the LAW!

In 2020, AFSCME members successfully lobbied to pass SB 639 and SB 693. These two pieces of legislation establish pay parity across MDH facilities with at least 75% forensic admissions with Clifton T. Perkins Hospital. They also require that employees at Perkins in bargaining units D, E, F & H who do not currently receive a forensic pay premium receive at least a 2-grade increase. Additionally, in maximum security forensic facilities, these laws require that the corrections-trained security attendant-to-patient ratio be 1:3 and 1:12 in minimum-security facilities. Finally, it requires that corrections-trained security attendants be compensated on an equivalent pay scale as the Department of Corrections. During the 2021 legislative session, AFSCME successfully lobbied for over $30 million in the FY22 budget to implement both pieces of legislation. AFSCME members have been meeting with the MDH administration to ensure that both laws are correctly implemented. We still have remaining questions and issues to work out with the MDH, but here is what we know so far:

Which facilities will be getting the Forensic enhancements required in SB 693 in FY 22?

Effective July 1, 2021, the following facilities will be included in the forensic enhancements (pay parity to Perkins and Security Attendant PINs) required in SB 693:

  • Finan Center
  • Potomac Center
  • SETT
  • Springfield Hospital
  • Spring Grove Hospital
  • Eastern Shore Hospital Center 

Which classifications at these facilities will receive pay parity with similarly trained, qualified, or licensed employees at Perkins?

At these facilities, the following classification series will receive pay increases to provide parity with Perkins: 

  • Alcohol and Drug Counselors (including A/D supervised counselors)
  • Activity Therapy Associates
  • Art Therapists
  • Assistant Directors of Nursing
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists
  • Dance Therapists
  • Dental Hygienists
  • Dentists
  • Directors of Nursing
  • Direct Care Assistants
  • Developmental Disabilities Associates
  • Licensed Practical Nurses
  • Mental Health Counselors
  • Music Therapists
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Nurse Educators
  • Nurse Instructors
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Occupational Therapy Assistants
  • Physical Therapists
  • Psychologists
  • Registered Nurses
  • Social Workers
  • Therapeutic Recreators
  • Volunteer Activities Coordinator
  • Work Adjustment Coordinator

Also, effective July 1, as part of SB 639 (2020), corrections-trained Security Attendants will receive a 4% increase to provide parity with the Correctional Officer pay scale in the DPSCS. Separately, the following classifications at Perkins who do not currently receive a forensic premium will receive a 2-grade increase:

  • Activity Therapists
  • Alcohol and Drug Counselors
  • Dentist
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Social Worker Advanced
  • Therapeutic Recreators

Are corrections trained security attendants going to be placed into the CO pay scale, or will they be given the 4% increase within their current scale?

Security Attendants trained at the corrections academy will be on a new pay scale that mirrors the CO pay scale. DBM is creating a separate pay scale for SAs. It will be effective July 1, but there may be a delay in publishing the new pay scale. All corrections trained SAs will receive the 4% adjustment effective July 1to parity DOC.

When will the pay increases hit?

All increases will be effective July 1, 2021. MDH says that they are trying to pay the increase in the first full pay period in July, but, disappointingly, MDH has been unable to confirm the exact pay date that the pay increases will appear. If the increases hit at a later pay period in FY22, eligible employees are owed the adjustment in pay going back to July 1, 2021.

What's the plan to reclass building security officers who want to get corrections trained into security attendant positions? When will the CO academy training become available?

MDH is still working on the details to make the academy training widely accessible to Building Security Officers at the facilities mentioned above. Before July 1, regional and facility HR Directors should have distributed an acknowledgment letter to all Building Security Officers to make them aware of their options: attending the academy and being reclassified to Security Attendants or remaining in their current positions as Building Security Officers. BSOs who choose to go through the corrections academy training will be reclassified into Security Attendant positions effective 7/1/21 and will immediately receive the pay increase and move into the 20-year retirement system. BSOs choosing to be reclassified will designate their choice and must sign to acknowledge that if they fail the academy, they will return to their previous BSO position and pay/retirement.

What will their roles be for building security officers who do not want to complete the CO academy training? Will they be grounds and lobby security, and then only Security Attendants will be in the Units?

At this time, there won't be any changes in job duties. If a BSO chooses not to be corrections trained and reclassed to a Security Attendant, they cannot be fired.

What about the other classifications? Will they be reclassified into Perkin's job titles?

MDH and DBM have created new job titles for the classifications above who work with court-involved patients and residents. Except for job titles that are exclusive to Clifton T. Perkins (e.g., Security Attendant, Nursing), job titles will now include the phrase "court-involved or CI.)

When are the facilities going to start hiring security attendants?

Beginning July 1, the facilities listed above will no longer be hiring into the Building Security Officer job title. They will instead be required to hire only Security Attendants. MDH cannot begin to hire until after July 1, when the FY22 funding becomes available. SB 693 (2020) requires a security attendant-to-patient ratio of 1:12 in minimum-security facilities and 1:3 in maximum-security facilities. MDH is still working on calculating the number of additional Security Attendant PINs that will be hired at each facility. AFSCME has requested a rundown of how many new Security Attendant PINs will be added to each facility and will continue to hold the MDH accountable.

What will be the supervision structure for the security attendants?

Perkin's job specifications are SA I, II, II, supervisor, manager I & II. These will be the same throughout all facilities. The titles Corporal, Sargent, Lieutenant, Captain, Major are in-house titles. Supervisors and managers at Perkins are required to complete the CO academy training to supervise SAs. The same will be true at the other facilities.

When folks get the pay increases, will they be able to maintain their steps?

MDH will be following DBM salary guidelines. If folks get a one or 2-grade increase (less than 12%), they will keep their step. If folks get a three or more grade increase (more than 12%), they will not be able to necessarily keep their step. They will get the equivalent raise and be placed on the step that correlates with the 12%+ increase once the grade is adjusted.

When will staff receive communication of the increases and change in job titles set to go into effect on July 1, 2021?

MDH will do this in several ways. CEOs & facility HR Directors are being briefed. MDH HQ will provide a template letter to impacted staff by July 1 announcing the increases and changes. MS-22 will be changed after July 1 to indicate the new job titles.  MDH will provide the new job specs to AFSCME. If you have specific questions relating to your pay, please reach out to your HR department. 

Connect with your facility representative on AFSCME and the Maryland Department of Health's labor-management committee:

Union RepresentativeFacility 
Jackie CaldwellSpringfield Hospital 
Peter OpokuSpring Grove Hospital 
Ikeia CornishEastern Shore Hospital Center
Scott HanekampFinan Center
Andrea Blair Potomac Center
Breanna SuiterSETT
Kim NealPerkins

We are continuing to monitor the implementation of both laws and will fight to make sure our members get every dollar they are owed. If you have any additional questions or updates, please contact Lisa McKinney at 410-547-1515 or [email protected].