Includes 2 Percent COLA for State Employees; Hiring and Retention Bonuses for Correctional Officers, Registered Nurses
ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Hogan administration today announced that the state has reached contract agreements with major employee unions to provide for two benefits premium holidays, a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), along with various enhancement and retention bonuses in critical public safety and health agencies. In addition, the state also signed economic reopeners with unions representing police officers, fire marshals, and firefighters. The administration has now reached agreements for full contracts or economic reopeners with all of the state employee unions.
“These contract agreements are tremendous news for the state and our hard-working employees. I want to thank Department of Budget and Management Secretary David Brinkley, Executive Director Cindy Kollner of the Office of Personnel Services and Benefits, along with all of their staff for their efforts throughout this process,” said Governor Hogan. “I also want to thank the leaders of these unions for working with our administration to reach these important agreements.”
Agreements were reached on three-year contracts with the Maryland Professional Employees Council, representing approximately 3,723 employees; the American Federation of Teachers Healthcare – Maryland, representing approximately 1,619 employees; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) – Maryland, which represents approximately 9,892 employees and the Teamsters (Local 355) that, along with AFSCME, represents approximately an additional 8,001 employees.
Economic reopeners were reached with the State Law Enforcement Officers Labor Alliance, representing approximately 1,700 sworn police and state fire marshals; the Maryland Transportation Authority Fraternal Order of Police, representing approximately 430 sworn police at the transportation authority; and the BWI Fire Fighters, representing approximately 63 firefighters at BWI Airport.
“Our administration has responsibly held the line on spending increases in all four of our budgets, but we have continually made our state employees a priority. Unlike in many previous administrations, there have been no furloughs or layoffs, and we are very proud of that,” said Governor Hogan. “State government cannot work without our dedicated employees.”
“These agreements are a result of the state’s good-faith negotiations with these four employee representative groups,” Department of Budget and Management Secretary David Brinkley said. “I’m pleased that our efforts will ultimately benefit the people who work so hard for our state.”
The agreements will provide for a 2 percent COLA effective January 1, 2019. If revenues for Fiscal Year 2018 exceed December 2017 projections by $75 million, state employees also will receive an additional half percent COLA and a one-time $500 bonus on April 1, 2019.
This will be the second COLA to occur during the Hogan administration. The administration maintained the January 2015 COLA when Governor Hogan first took office, and further, included a step increase in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget.
The new agreements also provide for two additional benefits premium holidays in March 2018, which means that the state will cover employees’ portion of their medical, prescription, and dental premiums in those pay periods, saving employees roughly 8 percent in the cost of their premiums in 2018. This is in addition to the 10 percent reduction in pharmacy premiums announced last year.
In addition to these significant wage enhancements, the state is introducing a hiring bonus of up to $5,000 for correctional officers and correctional officer cadets who meet certain eligibility criteria, along with a $3,000 retention and attendance bonus program for registered nurses and correctional officers who meet certain criteria. These programs are in response to hiring and retention challenges facing states across the nation and will attract more qualified individuals to these important jobs.
Previous to this agreement, the Hogan administration has provided numerous benefits to state employees, including salary adjustments for building security officers, social workers and warrant apprehension detectives, along with salary adjustments for State Police forensic scientists and veterans’ cemetery staff. The administration has also provided up to a $500 tuition or training reimbursement for job-related classes or training for professional and healthcare employees.