By Adam Pagnucco.
County Executive Marc Elrich has reached agreement with the three county employee unions (MCGEO, the fire fighters and the police) to provide additional pay related to the COVID-19 crisis to their members. The additional pay will range up to $10 per hour, is retroactive to March 29 and will last for at least six pay periods. Elrich’s press release appears below.
County and Labor Representatives Reach Agreement on Recognizing the Risks of On-site Employees
For Immediate Release: Friday, April 10, 2020
County Executive Marc Elrich is pleased to announce that the County has completed its negotiations with all three County unions and agreed upon COVID-19 differential pay to recognize the unusual risks employees now face in leaving their homes and delivering vital services to the public. These agreements are significant because the union representatives worked with management during this crisis time to achieve an agreement that ensures that critical services are maintained, employees are taken care of and fiscal realities are addressed. The three unions are the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 1664; the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 35; and, the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1994 (MCGEO).
“I appreciate the work and the willingness of our union representatives to join with us in a collaborative approach to bargaining, to achieve an agreement that respects the increased risk for our workers who are continuing to do their jobs and respects our budgetary obligations,” County Executive Elrich said.
This agreement recognizes the increased risk of the work done by our first responders – firefighters and police officers during this pandemic. It also recognizes that other employees are doing work that requires public interaction – and therefore increased risk, including work by corrections officers, bus drivers, nurses, and social workers.
The County Executive noted that under provisions of existing county bargaining agreements (which were negotiated years ago), the unions could have insisted on much larger benefits, but they understood the importance of the ongoing fiscal health of the county. The County Executive also noted the progressive nature of the agreement, which gave dollar, rather than percentage, differential payments.
The County Executive acknowledged that the County has nonprofit partners serving on the front lines of the Corona-19 response and will work with them to find possible ways to help them maintain necessary staffing.
After teams of management, in close coordination with union representatives, identified the critical core services that would need to continue for the next eight weeks, the likely minimum duration of the COVID-19 crisis. This COVID-19 differential pay would apply to those front-facing and back-office onsite employees who are required to come to work to respond to COVID-19 or provide County’s selected critical core services. Those who must work onsite are in the following two categories:
Front Facing Onsite: work that cannot be performed by telework, involves physical interaction with the public and cannot be performed with appropriate social distancing.
Back Office Onsite: work that cannot be performed by telework and does not involve regular physical interaction with the public.
The broad details of the COVID-19 pay differential are as follows:
The differential pay will be uniform for FOP and IAFF members. For MCGEO-represented and GSS employees, the differential will distinguish between front-facing onsite and back office onsite work. The differential pay for all impacted employees are retroactive to March 29, the beginning of the current pay period.
The front-facing onsite employees will receive an additional $10/hr and the back-office onsite will receive $3/hr.
Additionally, this week masks will be distributed to employees who do not have them, and administrative leave will be given to high risk employees who cannot telework and do not feel safe working on site.
The agreements cover six pay periods, which started on March 29, or until the Maryland State of Emergency is lifted. If the State of Emergency is still in effect at the end of the six pay periods, the agreements will be revisited.