Montgomery councilman questions proposed raises for county employees -- Gazette.Net


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Proposed pay raises for Montgomery County workers has one County Councilman alleging the pay hikes are unsustainable and too high too soon.

A tentative 3-year deal reached between Montgomery County and its workers union, United Commercial and Food Workers/Municipal and County Government Employees Organization local 1994, would pay some workers as much as an additional 6.75 percent each year.

Specifically, the agreement calls for paying eligible workers a 3.5 percent step increase, a 3 percent longevity increase and a 3.25 cost-of-living adjustment increase.

County Spokesman Patrick Lacefield said employees cannot receive a step and an longevity increase, but some workers could receive either of those two plus a cost of living adjustment under the contract.

Councilman Philip M. Andrews said that for some workers, their pay could go up as much as 13.5 percent in two years under the agreement.

Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg, chief sponsor of the county’s 2002 Living Wage law, called the pay increases “excessive, unsustainable and irresponsible.”

“The cost of this labor contract, which could exceed $40 million over three years, is larger than the County can afford, and will likely substantially exceed pay increases that federal employees and private sector employees will see in the near future,” he said in a statement released Friday.

County employees deserve a pay raise after years of going without, Andrews said.

Since fiscal 2010, county employees have not received cost-of-living increases. Since fiscal 2011, step increases have been frozen and in that year, employees were required to take between three and eight unpaid furlough days.

But raises given now should be sustainable for taxpayers, not create unrealistic expectations or encourage other unions with taxpayer-funded agreements to also ask for more, Andrews added.

If ratified by union members and approved by the county council, MCGEO’s contract would last for 3 years, but it includes a clause allowing it to be reopened after two years to discuss wages.

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) declined to speak about the proposed contract.

MCGEO representative Amy Millar said previously that the tentative contract was livable for members.

“We think it’s fair. We think it’s equitable, and it’s something we think our members can move forward with,” she said.

kalexander@gazette.net