Detention Officers Union Votes Layoffs, Not Pay Cuts

November 06, 1991|By Elise Armacost and Paul Shread | Elise Armacost and Paul Shread,Staff writers

Workers in at least one county union will lose their jobs, because its members have rejected wage concessions requested by County Executive Robert R. Neall.

The 98-member Fraternal Order of Anne Arundel Detention Center Officers voted not to accept a 3 percent pay cut or furloughs. Three of their members will get pink slips, probably laterthis week, said Louise Hayman, Neall's press secretary.

The fate of 27 members of a second union, the American Federationof State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 582, remains unclear. Four unions representing county workers accepted either furloughs or wage cuts, while unions representing school system employees have voted against any type of concession.

Most of Local 582's 879 members, all blue-collar workers, voted Monday night on Neall's proposal, but they failed to report to the executive by his deadline of noon yesterday.

"Given the absence of a vote to the contrary, I can only assume they want to take layoffs," Neall said.

Union leaders say there were problems with the balloting, and they want time to take another vote.

Because the Board of Education chambers on Riva Road was too small for the 600 to 700 union members who showed up, "people were coming in and going out, which is against our bylaws," Marvin Redding, president of Local 582, said.

Redding said many union members challenged the vote, suspecting some non-union members voted or that some members voted twice. Also, he said, "There are some uncounted ballots still in question."

Redding said the union needs until Friday to take another vote because union rules require each member be notified by mail. Neall said he would have given Local 582 an extra day, had Redding submitted the request in writing by noon. But Redding never replied, Neall said.

"They have not lived up to their part of the agreement," he said. "By default, they've done a disservice to their membership."

Redding refused to release the results of Monday's balloting except to say, "It was very close. You are going to have people who say it went one way and people who say it went the other."

But one union member, who refused to be named, said the membership definitely voted to accept the 3 percent pay cut. "We most certainly did resolve the issue," the member said.

The member said unionleaders "most definitely" encouraged members to opt for layoffs. Redding denied this, saying leaders merely outlined various alternatives. He said there is strong sentiment against concessions in Local 582,because many blue-collar workers feel their jobs are secure.

The other four county unions accepted either wage cuts or furloughs:

*AFSCME Local 2563, representing 370 clerical and technical workers, voted "overwhelmingly" for the 3 percent wage cut, President Carol Buttrum said.

* Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70, which represents435 police officers, chose to take five furlough days.

* Anne Arundel County Professional Firefighters Local 1563 took the 3 percent reduction. The local has 549 members.

* Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 106, which represents 24 sheriff's deputies, accepted five unpaid holidays.

Also, 800 midlevel managers and 400 contract workers voted to accept 3 percent pay cuts. Both groups are not represented byunions.

Neall wants the concessions as part of a $20.8 million budget reduction plan.

On Monday, the County Council passed legislation reopening the budget process in midyear and greatly expanding itspower over county spending. Handing Neall his first major defeat in his 11 months in office, five of the seven council members supported amendments giving the council the right to add to Neall's budget.

Under the normal budget process as outlined in the County Charter, the council cannot add money to Neall's budget, except to education.

Hayman said the executive has two choices: He can veto the council bill, or he can refuse to fund anything the council adds to the budget. "Because he believes it is unconstitutional, he may have justification for not implementing any changes the council makes," Hayman said.

County Attorney Jud Garrett, who started work yesterday, said he will give Neall his recommendation this afternoon. Outgoing County Attorney Stephen Beard told Neall Monday night he thought the bill would be illegal only if council members added money to the budget or otherwise violated the charter.

Councilman David G. Boschert, D-Crownsville, who sponsored the amendments expanding the council's powers, said he hopes the administration will cooperate with the council.

"It is not my intention to play politics with this," Boschert said. "This was never intended to be confrontational. We just wanted to be an equal player."

Council Chairwoman Virginia P. Clagett, D-West River, warned union members not to assume the council is bailing them out of wage concessions. Neall "has embarked on a very good course, and most of us support him," she said. "He shouldn't be alarmed."

Another player in the budget crisis, the Board of Education, meets tonight to vote on a plan for cutting an additional $5.1 million from itsbudget, as requested by Neall. The executive has suggested that $4.4million be taken from school employees salaries.

However, unions representing 5,800 school workers have rejected any wage concessions.

Staff writer John A. Morris contributed to this story

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