Office of Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker Characterizes Worker Pay Raise as Fiscal Threat
The Prince George’s County Council votes to hear the pay dispute before the public.
Representatives of Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker (D) told the county council Tuesday a pay increase for county workers could cripple the county’s budget for years to come.
Last week, members of the AFSCME union swarmed the council meeting pleading with council members not to take back a 2010 agreement from former County Executive Jack B. Johnson that gave union members a 2 percent cost of living raise that would have started in January.
But Tuesday, Baker’s team blasted back, saying a pay increase would cost millions and leave the county’s budget so crippled in the coming years that it could damage its Triple-A bond credit rating, possibly cause furloughs and make it harder for the Prince George’s County delegation to secure state funding.
“This, to us, is an issue of affordability,” said Brad Frome, a deputy chief of staff for Baker. “We do not support raises of any kind for county employees.”
But AFSCME members were also on hand Tuesday, imploring council members to honor the agreement.
“Look into your souls, these workers serve the public,” Glen Middleton, an executive director for AFSCME told the council. “Please don’t change history that has been negotiated.”
The council is weighing a resolution that would terminate the agreement and ax raises for other union and non-unionized workers in the county. Baker recommended against giving the raises. About 1,500 county workers would be affected.
“You’re setting a very bad precedent,” said C.J. Ross, an administrator for AFSCME. “Don’t disrespect the process of good faith negotiating. Don’t disrespect the workers.”
The council voted to allow a public hearing May 11 at the county’s administration building. The council is scheduled to cast a final vote on the resolution May 17.
Council Approves Baker’s Picks to Head County Agencies
In other business, the council approved two of Baker’s choices to head county agencies.
Brian R. Moe of Laurel, brother of Laurel Mayor Craig A. Moe, was approved to head the county’s office of Homeland Security, and Stephanye R. Maxwell will be the head of Human Resources Management.
Baker said that Moe and Maxwell represent everything that the county “wants to be about” and praised the two for their commitment.
Moe is expected to receive an annual salary of $140,000. Maxwell will receive $151,411.
County Taxis Make Push Against Proposed Legislation
Also at the meeting, taxi drivers in the county continued a campaign of opposition to a proposal to limit cab permits, contending such a plan would create a monopoly.
The proposed resolution the drivers were protesting would effectively repeal 2010 legislation that allowed the county to add 400 permits for cabs and sell 75 more permits each year until 2016 for $200 each. The plan would also increase the fee for selling a permit to another driver to $2,000 and sets new rules for how the cab industry should operate.
Tuesday marked the second time since March that the Prince George’s County Taxi Workers Alliance has gone before the council in protest of the bill. Members said that they fear taxi cab companies will prevail, leaving drivers either tied to companies or forced to leave the county to operate.
“This is a bill engineered by the taxi cab companies,” said Mikyas Wolde, a driver who lives in College Park. “This bill does not speak for drivers or the public.”