One union files for state workers So far, only AFSCME submits petitions to Md. government

August 22, 1996|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

Only one union submitted petitions to the state yesterday showing it is eligible to take part in elections to represent state workers under a limited form of collective bargaining granted them by Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

Under Glendening's executive order giving an estimated 40,000 state employees collective bargaining, yesterday was the first day competing unions could submit petitions to the state -- and the first step in a long, complicated process that will culminate in elections later this year or early next.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) delivered petitions containing the signatures of about 10,000 state employees -- which union officials believe will make the AFSCME eligible to compete in elections for the right to represent certain state employees at the bargaining table.

The Maryland Classified Employees Association (MCEA), the union that represents the largest number of state employees, is withholding its petitions until the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation clarifies the process governing union elections.

"Our problem is that the procedures and policies are unclear and undefined, and have created a lot of problems for us as an organization," said W. Frank Masters, MCEA's executive director.

State officials have said they will work with unions to resolve any problems related to the elections.

"We are in the process of responding to the questions and will attempt to clear up, as best we can, MCEA's questions," said Karen Napolitano, spokeswoman for the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Masters said he was "confident" that once MCEA's concerns are resolved, the union would be eligible to take part in elections to become the exclusive bargaining agent for workers in each of the nine bargaining units established by Glendening's order.

Under the order, unions must submit petitions signed by 30 percent of the employees in a bargaining unit -- a grouping of employees with similar job descriptions -- to qualify to be on the ballot.

After the petitions are received by the state and validated, which is not expected before next month, a 90-day clock will start for the elections.

AFSCME's petitions, if validated by the state, would allow them to take part in elections to be the exclusive representative for state employees in four of those bargaining units -- about 20,000 workers.

AFSCME submitted petitions, which are actually authorization cards signed by employees, to represent three units -- labor and trades; health and human services; and social and human services.

The fourth bargaining unit for which the union submitted petitions is the the public safety and security group.

For that one, AFSCME teamed with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in a coalition known as the United Corrections and Public Safety Employees of Maryland.

Bargaining units

In Maryland, Glendening's executive order set in motion a process that will force eligible workers -- including those already affiliated with a union -- to choose one as their group's collective bargaining agent. Workers also will have the option of voting for no representation.

Glendening's order divides workers into bargaining units and allows each unit to elect a union to negotiate with the administration.

It also requires managers to discuss wages, hours and working conditions with those unions.

The order did not provide employees with full collective bargaining rights because any agreement reached would not be binding on the governor or the legislature, and it contains no provision to resolve disputes between labor and management. It also prohibits state employees from striking.

Pub Date: 8/22/96

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