Md. Gov. Parris N. Glendening’s (D) proposal for a mandatory union fee for all state employees appears defeated after a Md. House subcommittee removed it Mar. 17 from a collective bargaining bill. The controversial “agency fee” intended to compensate government employee unions for the costs of representing employees whether or not they are members. Glendening spokesman Ray Feldmann said the governor would continue to seek approval of the mandatory fee in the full committee and the Senate. But Rawlings said the frosty reaction to the compromise shows the depth of the committee’s opposition to agency fees.
The mandatory fee had been widely perceived as a reward to the Am. Fed. of State, County and Municipal Employees for its generous support of Glendening in the Nov. election. It was also portrayed as a serious threat to the Md. Classified Employees Ass’n, which supported Glendening’s opponent Ellen R. Sauerbrey. AFSCME, because it is the elected bargaining agent for more state employees than any other union, would be the largest beneficiary of the fees, which would be paid by state employees who did not pay union dues. MCEA, which lost all of the representation elections it contested under the governor’s 1996 executive order establishing collective bargaining, feared its members would fall away if they had to pay a fee to another union. Sue Esty, AFSCME’s chief lobbyist in Annapolis, conceded that approval of the agency fee was a long shot this year — “but not in the long run.” [Baltimore Sun 3/18/99]