Sheriffs, detention workers ratify one-year contracts

May 17, 1992|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff Writer

A contentious season of labor negotiations with county government settled slightly last week as detention center officers and sheriff's deputies ratified one-year contracts.

Some 550 county firefighters have already approved a contract, and the 435-member police union is scheduled to vote tomorrow.

But the real fireworks involving organized labor are set to go off Wednesday, when the County Council holds an impasse hear ing on a disagreement between the Neall administration and two large locals of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 106, representing 25 sheriff's deputies, voted Friday night to accept a contract that includes few changes from the current agreement. Under the new contract, deputies would get floating annual leave days in lieu of specific holidays, just as other county law enforcement officers do.

On Wednesday, the 100-member Fraternal Order of Anne Arundel Detention Center Officers ratified its contract, said Michael Milanowski, the county's director of labor relations.

The new agreement transfers health insurance from the Blue Cross Comprehensive Plan to the Preferred Provider Network, specifies that detention officers may receive tuition reimbursement and establishes a "leave-sharing" program. Under the program, officers could donate annual leave to other employees who had exhausted such leave, with county approval.

Retirement is the pivotal issue for the police union, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70. Police, who now may retire at age 50 with 20 years service, want to be able to retire after 20 years regardless of age.

The three-year contract includes a commitment from the Neall administration to support this change before the County Council, which must approve it.

Central to the disagreement with the AFSCME units is the issue of privatization -- contracting out work now performed by county workers to private firms. County Executive Robert R. Neall has been saying for months that he wants to explore privatization for possible cost savings; his proposed 1993 budget includes some minor privatization.

He wants to remove current contract language allowing privatization only as a supplement to the regular work force. The language prohibits privatization if, as a result, a county worker would lose his job.

The two AFSCME units -- Local 582, representing 900 blue-collar workers, and Local 2563, with 370 clerical and technical workers -- have mounted a visible campaign against privatization in recent weeks. The council's decision, they say, is crucial to their job security.

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