An agreement preventing layoffs of human resources employees at the state’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services was announced on Monday.
The department as well as American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Maryland Council 3 announced the agreement. Under an initial proposal the state would have trimmed 63 jobs from the department’s human resources section, some of them staffed.
But the agreement today means only vacant positions will be eliminated and that 26 employees in danger of being laid off have been transferred to other administrative jobs in the department. The changes also allow the department to hit its goal of reducing human resources staff to 82 permanent employees and five contract employees, down from a total of 139 positions.
Corrections Secretary Stephen T. Moyer, in a conference call with reporters on Monday afternoon, said the goal in overhauling the human resources section is to crack down on the corruption that has embarrassed the state in recent years. He said that human resources will take various steps to try to prevent the hiring of employees “that slipped through cracks” and should never have been hired by the department.
Since 2013, about 250 corrections employees have been charged with crimes, and 200 of those employees are still on the job.
Those corruption incidents include a case where the Black Guerilla Family gang was essentially allowed to run the Baltimore City Detention Center. Nearly 30 corrections officers were eventually indicted for alleged corrupt practices. This summer Gov. Larry Hogan ordered all detainees from the men’s section of the prison to be moved from a facility that had been described as decrepit and dangerous.
“One of the most important things I need to do is restructure human resources so that we’re recruiting the best [employees], retaining the best [employees] and then taking the appropriate disciplinary action moving forward,” Moyer said.
As a result of the deal, the employees will keep their current salaries and will be kept in the same geographical area where they are currently working. Staff is located at a centralized facility at the Reisterstown Plaza and each correctional facility in the state. The employees union, AFSCME Maryland Council 3, issued a statement praising the agreement.
“AFSCME members are pleased to reach a mutual understanding with Secretary Stephen T. Moyer which respects the service of and protects the jobs of these hard-working employees, while still allowing the department to reorganize human resources functions,” AFSCME Maryland Council 3 President Patrick Moran said.