With freedom on our minds as we celebrate the 4th of July, Maryland's state employees will nevertheless be experiencing a diminution of their freedoms.
On July 1, the state will begin withholding an "agency fee" from all state employees, except those who work in higher education, as a result of legislation requested by the O'Malley administration authorizing state workers' unions to negotiate with the administration the collection of service fees from non-members. This despite the fact that two-thirds of state workers do not wish to join the union.
Interestingly enough, although the legislation was passed in 2009, a year before the last election, the provisions were not included in the contract until after the 2010 election.
The contract that was ratified by approximately 10 percent of eligible voters also included a $750 bonus for "employees who had endured furloughs," even though it will now be given to new employees who have not been furloughed as well.
According to an analysis by the Department of Legislative Services, "the bonus as currently conceived will be spread over the 26 pay periods of fiscal 2012. Given the current tax structure for the average employee earning $48,500 per year, this $28.85 pre-tax boost to each check would likely result in the general post-tax range of an added $18.50 per pay period. This amount will be just enough to offset the fair share charge, hence doing little to provide a bonus to employees."
Thomas Jefferson once said that "to compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." The O'Malley administration and the majority in our legislature clearly believe otherwise.
We are proud to have opposed this legislation and to have supported legislation that promotes freedom in the Maryland workforce.
Dels. Gail Bates and Warren Miller,Annapolis
The writers are Republicans representing Howard County.