State union sues to block 40-hour week Lawsuit claims new hours will cause hardship.

June 20, 1991|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Evening Sun Staff

Leaders of a union representing nearly 10,000 state workers filed a lawsuit today in an attempt to block a Schaefer administration edict requiring nearly half of the state work force to put in 40-hour workweeks.

William Bolander, executive director of Council 92, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the suit contends that the shift July 1 from a 35 1/2 -hour workweek would bring financial and personal hardships to many of the 40,000 state employees affected by the schedule.

The AFSCME suit follows similar legal action taken May 2 by the Maryland Classified Employees Association, the largest union representing state workers. A hearing on the MCEA lawsuit is set July 2 in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

In an executive order issued in February, Gov. William Donald Schaefer mandated the longer workweek as a cost-saving move.

About half of the state's 80,000 contractual and non-contractual employees work 35 1/2 hours a week under a 1942 personnel policy. About 20,000 public employees, including prison guards, State Police and others, now work 40-hour weeks.

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, or 8 1/2 hours.

The AFSCME suit, filed in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, claims the governor does not have the power to lengthen the workweek without compensating employees for the extra time. The suit also requests a judge restrain Schaefer's executive order until the court rules.

"We feel that what was done was a real outrage . . . ," Bolander said. "If they're talking increased workload, they'll get just the opposite."

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