Editorial called a sledgehammer

June 12, 1996

LIGHTEN UP! Your May 29 editorial attacking Gov. Parris N. Glendening for providing workers in state agencies at least a minimal voice in their workplaces was a classic case of a sledgehammer aimed at a gnat. And your sledgehammer didn't even hit the gnat.

All that the governor has done is set up a labor-management cooperation system in which workers may choose their own representatives.

Workers in the private sector, the federal government and many local governments in Maryland have that right. State workers should not be second-class citizens.

Far from "having thumbed his nose at the legislature," as your editorial claimed, the governor issued an executive order that is sound from both legal and management perspectives.

The attorney general has already determined that it is "a lawful exercise" of the governor's authority. As important, the governor, not the legislature, has the primary responsibility for managing the state's work force. After all, he does head the "executive" branch of government.

Indeed, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in 1991 that then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer had authority to reduce the hourly pay of state workers without legislative action. Surely if the governor can take away worker benefits without legislative action, he can grant them as well.

Governor Glendening's plan complements the personnel reform legislation passed by the 1996 legislature.

Experience throughout industry and government demonstrates that such reforms are most successful when workers are actively involved and represented by spokesmen of their own choosing.

Your claim that the governor "ignored the General Assembly's wishes" on the substance of the executive order is just wrong. The governor's executive order is similar in many respects to provisions of HB 774 which passed the House 124 to 4. Those "meet and confer" provisions were deleted in the Senate at the request of labor, despite substantial Senate support.

We need more cooperation between the governor and the legislature, just as we need more cooperation between the political parties and between labor and management. Your overheated editorial aimed at turning a modest initiative to make government for effective into a pseudo-constitutional crisis was neither accurate nor constructive.

Jim Rosapepe

College Park

N The writer is a state delegate from Prince George's County.

Pub Date: 6/12/96

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