Plan to tie quality of work, pay gets boost State Senate gives Glendening proposal preliminary approval

April 06, 1996|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,SUN STAFF

Gov. Parris N. Glendening's proposal to pay state government workers based on how well they do their jobs got a crucial boost last night.

The bill won preliminary approval in the state Senate, significantly brightening its chances for final passage before the General Assembly adjourns at midnight Monday.

But senators soundly rejected a last-ditch effort to include collective bargaining rights for state employees in the legislation. The 32-13 vote against that amendment virtually guarantees that the collective bargaining proposal is dead for the year.

The pay-for-performance bill would require, in part, that state workers receive raises based on how well their supervisors rate them in job appraisals beginning in July 1998.

"This is the administration bill that tries to make government more efficient, leaner and meaner," said Senate Finance

Committee Chairman Thomas L. Bromwell, a Baltimore County Democrat.

Some business leaders have praised the bill as a means of allowing government to reward productivity among its workers, as is done in the private sector.

Labor unions, however, say pay-for-performance would encourage discrimination by allowing bosses to give raises to their friends and withhold money from employees they dislike.

"The bill is awful," said Katharine Goeller of the Maryland Classified Employees Association.

Earlier yesterday, the Finance Committee rewrote parts of the 182-page bill to make it more friendly to labor.

For instance, the committee substantially weakened a provision designed to make it easier to fire state employees.

Unions, however, still strongly oppose the legislation. "No way will I support this bill without collective bargaining," said Sue Esty of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

On many days this winter, her union has packed the marbled hallways between the House and Senate chambers with collective bargaining supporters wearing green AFSCME hats.

They were aided by the governor, who fulfilled a campaign promise to state workers by sponsoring a collective bargaining bill.

Under the governor's proposal, unions would have the power to negotiate wages and working conditions for up to 50,000 state employees.

Workers in the private sector would not be affected.

But the collective bargaining proposal faced heavy opposition from the outset, with critics saying it would be too expensive. Legislative analysts estimated that it could cost taxpayers up to $40 million a year.

A House of Delegates subcommittee defeated a collective bargaining proposal earlier in this session.

The full House has already passed a pay-for-performance bill. If the Senate gives formal approval to its version this weekend or Monday, negotiators from both houses would have to hammer out differences before adjournment for the bill to become law.

Pub Date: 4/06/96

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