Mar 18, 2002
On March 9, leaders of AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) signed off on the governor’s third contract proposal for Maryland state workers. Like the previous two, this one would also give up pay raises and health benefits that state workers now have. Unions affiliated with the AFT (American Federation of Teachers) had already agreed to proposal number two.
Governor Parris Glendening spoke of a budget crunch to justify demands for these sacrifices. Nevertheless, his administration has continued and even expanded its subsidies to businesses. What the governor really means is that he will continue to sacrifice the interests of working people to serve the interests of the rich.
This isn’t the first time the Maryland state administration has delayed state workers’ raises. Over the past few years, across-the-board pay raises have been delayed repeatedly. Having gotten away with that, Glendening must have decided he could now also delay seniority-based raises called “steps.”
While they call it a “delay,” in reality it’s a cut in pay. Workers never get the money for the time it’s “delayed.”
The Glendening administration was playing a game with these three contract proposals – much like a shell game where a pea is quickly shifted back and forth under three shells. Now you see it, now you don’t: Shift things around often enough and the governor expects to hook a sucker.
The unions are doing the dirty work for the governor – pretending that because one proposal appears to take less away from the workers than the others that it is less bad than the other two. And AFSCME is warning the workers that the state legislature might not agree to proposal number three, implying that the workers better take one of the governor’s proposals before it’s too late.
What nonsense! This is a Democratic governor with a Democratic state legislature. But the unions pretend that the governor can’t control the legislature. This is nothing but the old hard-cop-soft-cop routine!
In effect, the unions are running interference for the governor.
Workers certainly can see through these games. At the very least, they don’t have to give their stamp of approval to sacrifices being foisted on them.