State workers make holiday wish for end to longer workweek There is no expectation Schaefer will cancel plan

May 11, 1991|By Michael K. Burns

"Happy Mother's Day to State Employees," read the oversized card borne by workers at the State Office Buildings on Preston Street yesterday, but the message written inside was aimed at Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

The "greeting" on the card prepared by AFSCME union members announced that Mr. Schaefer was canceling his plan to extend the workweek for all state employees to 40 hours beginning July 1, but there was no expectation that the governor would endorse their holiday wish.

"We're giving him this Mother's Day card ready for his signature so he can show his true appreciation of the value of state employees by rescinding the uncompensated expansion of the workweek," said William Bolander, executive director of Council 92, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The card was taken to the office of the governor, who was not in, by the union representatives.

"With Mother's Day coming, we're asking all state employees who are mothers or fathers to get their children to write the governor and tell him why their parents should not have to work an extra month each year for no pay," Mr. Bolander said. Most employees now work 7.1 hours a day, with a 54-minute unpaid lunch break, for a total of eight hours. Under the new plan, they would work eight hours daily plus a 30-minute lunch break, for a total of 8 1/2 hours.

Later, employees in the office complex talked about the impact on their lives of the governor's decision to extend the hours for NTC two-thirds of the state employees who now work 35 1/2 hours a week.

"It's like asking us for free labor, when he's getting a 40 percent pay raise," said Brenda Ebersole, a 17-year state social worker. "This is no way to build morale."

Plans for the extended workday have already caused her to switch her 4-year-old daughter to another day-care operator, who can provide later hours, Mrs. Ebersole said. "My day-care's going up from $65 to $95 a week, and that's quite a jump, with no cost-of-living or raise this year."

"Some people here already have to work a second job to make ends meet, which is really going to hurt with the longer hours," said Sharon Reichlin, a health department employee. "Pay them for the extra hours or keep the old schedule."

The union protest came on the final day of "State Employees Recognition Week" declared by Governor Schaefer.

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