Unfair practice complaint filed against Md. Department of Labor

September 15, 1998|By Greg Garland | Greg Garland,SUN STAFF

A state employee union filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the Glendening administration yesterday, claiming the union's representatives have been improperly denied access to state agencies and workers.

The Maryland Classified Employees Association filed the complaint with the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. MCEA officials said they have asked for a hearing before a neutral arbitrator.

Although it is the oldest labor group representing state employees, MCEA lost in collective bargaining elections after Gov. Parris N. Glendening signed an executive order in May 1996 giving state employees limited collective bargaining rights. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and an affiliate won elections for six bargaining units. Three elections were won by other unions.

"We are not contesting that another union has the collective bargaining rights," said MCEA interim executive director Robert D. Watkins. "We are contesting the denial of access."

Watkins said that since July, MCEA has been denied access to orientation sessions for new employees and to state workers who are not part of one of the recognized bargaining units. He said the union also has been prohibited from posting information on work site bulletin boards.

As a result, MCEA has not been able to inform workers about various benefits available to members, such as insurance programs and representation on grievances, Watkins said.

He said 10,500 state employees and 7,000 retirees are active members of the MCEA.

Watkins said Glendening has refused to meet with MCEA officials to discuss the dispute, which has heated up in recent weeks.

Ray Feldmann, a Glendening spokesman, would not address the union's specific complaints. He said: "We feel we are being fair. Thanks to Governor Glendening, state employees now have a seat at the table when decisions are being made that affect their future."

MCEA has endorsed Glendening's likely Republican challenger, Ellen R. Sauerbrey. Yesterday, an MCEA van equipped with a loudspeaker circled the State House briefly, playing a recorded message about what the group maintains is its unfair treatment by the administration.

AFSCME Council 92 Executive Director George T. Johnson said MCEA just can't accept losing the collective bargaining elections. About 27,000 state workers are in the AFSCME bargaining units.

"What you have basically is some sour grapes," Johnson said. "I can't put it any other way. We beat them basically 2 to 1 in everything we did. That's what this is all about."

Pub Date: 9/15/98

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