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Union plans to deliver message at Hogan party

The largest state employees union wants to negotiate with Gov. Larry Hogan and plans to deliver its message at a holiday reception and two other events today.

AFSCME Maryland Director Patrick Moran

AFSCME Maryland Director Patrick Moran

The governor is scheduled to host an annual holiday party at Government House and AFSCME President Patrick Moran said state employees will hand-deliver a message to Hogan calling on him to negotiate on salary and other issues.

“In our eyes, they’re running the clock out until December 31 and then they can do what they want,” Moran said.

The union is under contract through 2017 but can re-open discussions annually on financial issues — raises and other financial compensation. That window closes on December 31.

In addition to financial compensation, Moran said they have proposed plans to more regularly audit state contractors which he said amounts to about $14.3 billion annually.

“If auditors found just one percent in waste that would about to $143 million,” Moran said. “What that would do to the state budget and the economy would be fantastic.”

Union and administration officials have met twice since October and two other meetings were canceled. So far, the talks have not yielded any movement.

“State employees are going to attend (the holiday party) as they do every year,” Moran said. “We hope to make sure he knows we’re willing and waiting to sit down and talk and try and get things done.”

Douglass Mayer, a spokesman for Hogan, confirmed that the administration was in discussion with the union but declined to discuss details or a potential resolution.

“Always, the fiscal health and long-term finances of the state will be at the forefront of any decision that is made or not made in the upcoming budget,” Mayer said.

The union will also rally outside the Baltimore Harbor Hotel and later deliver a 6 foot tall holiday card to Hogan’s offices in Baltimore.

The organization has done similar protests involving former Govs. Parris N. Glendening and Martin O’Malley.

“This isn’t part of some partisan game here,” Moran said. “This is about issues.”

The rally is the latest chapter in what has been a bumpy relationship between Hogan and the union that supported the candidacy of Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in 2014. Hogan took office in January and announced he was pulling promised 2 percent raises as part and effort to reduce state spending.

State legislators and the union balked and money for the raises was restricted in the budget. Hogan announced in May that he would release the money that would prevent state employees from seeing pay cuts.

Moran said he hoped the latest issue was not motivated by politics.

“If it is, it’s very poor politics,” Moran said. “It’s pretty petty. We thought this governor was coming in above politics. That’s the way he marketed himself during the election.”