Four top staff members of the independent Maryland Classified Employees Association, the largest state employees union in Maryland, yesterday defected to a rival union, saying that independent labor unions face an increasingly difficult future.
The four said their move from MCEA to Council 92, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, was based on belief that the national union, with affiliation, offered more resources and capability to represent state workers.
Meanwhile, a third union organizing state workers announced that it has secured enough member signatures to achieve the automatic deduction of dues, or check-off, on state payroll checks.
The Maryland Correctional Union, a unit of the American Federation of Teachers that is signing up correctional officers, said it has submitted more than 1,200 member dues cards to the state and expects the dues check-off status by next month.
The state requires a union to have at least 1,000 members to get the payroll deduction privilege.
William Bolander, executive director of AFSCME, said the addition of former MCEA staffers would bolster his union's legislative push for bargaining for state employees.
A spokesman for MCEA, which has about 21,000 members, said the organization had no comment.
Joining AFSCME, which has about 10,000 members, are Joseph Cook, former field services director of MCEA; Carol Hammen, former membership director; and Don Hammen and Eric Pryor, both veteran recruiters. The four have combined MCEA service of about 90 years.
Mr. Cook said that he left MCEA on good terms after 23 years, but that his departure was partly prompted by disintegration of the union's political action committee, which is under investigation by the state.