State workers are seeking double pay for work during Feb. snow emergency

March 06, 2003|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Correctional officers stuck in maximum-security prisons for 24 hours at a time during last month's record snowfall, along with other state workers, are seeking double pay for their work while the state of emergency was in effect, a provision their union says is in its contract.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 92 filed several class-action grievances last week on behalf of its members who are considered essential employees, including hospital workers and some state highway workers who plowed after 28.2 inches of snow fell.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. declared a state of emergency Feb. 16 and lifted it at 6 p.m. Feb. 23.

The contract states that essential employees are to be paid double under such circumstances, union officials said. The provision was negotiated after the 1996 blizzard, which left them in a similar bind.

A Feb. 26 letter to Ehrlich's Cabinet members and agency heads from the Department of Budget and Management reiterates that although the governor declared a state of emergency, provisions had not been made for additional compensation.

"This snow emergency has given us a vivid idea of how Governor Ehrlich is going to treat state workers," said Zachary J. Ramsey, executive director of AFSCME Council 92, which represents 35,000 employees.

The governor's office had not received a formal list of grievances from the union yesterday, Ehrlich spokesman Henry Fawell said, and won't comment until it does.

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