A group of Washington-area legislators announced yesterday their plan to submit a bill restoring the 35 1/2 -hour work week to state employees.
Two weeks ago, Gov. William Donald Schaefer signed an order establishing a 40-hour work week for all state workers beginning Feb. 6. About two-thirds of the state work force -- about 40,000 people -- currently work 35 1/2 -hour weeks.
State employees have complained the move is unfair and will prove particularly costly for working parents who rely on day care. The governor has already warned state workers they will get no cost-of-living salary increases or annual step raises this year.
"It was a very inappropriate way to deal with a loyal work force," said Delegate Pauline H. Menes, D-Prince George's, a College ++ Park resident and one of the bill's three House sponsors. "I think it's just reprehensible."
The proposed legislation would stop the governor's order until July 1 of next year and require the Department of Personnel to report on the cost and benefits of a 40-hour week by year's end.
Page Boinest, a spokeswoman for Governor Schaefer, said the governor's order is an effort to save on payroll expenses rather than lay off state workers. The state has already made cutbacks to make up a $423 million deficit, and shrinking tax revenues will likely mean more cuts in the coming year, she said.
"A corporation faced with a similar situation would just lay people off," Ms. Boinest said.