Regents mandate 40 hours of work UM employees hiss after vote ordering 40-hour work week.

June 19, 1991|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Evening Sun Staff

ADELPHI -- The University of Maryland Board of Regents today mandated a 40-hour work week for about 5,262 classified employees of the UM system.

The vote drew protests from more than 300 workers who picketed the board throughout a committee meeting and heckled and hissed at the regents.

One regent, Constance Unseld, voted against the 40-hour work week resolution. She received a two-minute standing ovation from the workers.

Vice Chairman Roger Blount, who voted for the resolution, refused to comment.

The issue has been controversial since Gov. William Donald Schaefer announced in January that all state employees would be required to work a 40-hour week. The board was the last state body to take action on the issue, which will become effective July 1.

"It is grand larceny," said Frances Hallinan, who has worked on the staff at University College since 1970. "It is like sticking the gun to the head. There is no justice."

UM Chancellor Donald Langenberg proposed before the vote a study of salary equity for state and non-state employees, which drew hissing from the crowd. Langenberg also proposed flex-time, flexible lunch periods, job sharing, a four-day work week in the summer, better day-care facilities, elder-care facilities and transfers to work on other campuses "for professional growth and development" as ways of easing the demands of the longer work week.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union that represents the classified workers at the 11 UM campuses, held a rally after the vote and announced plans to file a lawsuit against the state. Another rally is planned for Monday at College Park, with a statewide protest scheduled June 25 in Annapolis -- on the eve of a special General Assembly session.

Employees' fears of layoffs and furloughs followed anger in the wake of cuts to the UM system's budget.

Most classified workers work 35 or 37 1/2 hours a week and object to working a full 40 hours without more pay. The average salary is $20,000.

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