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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Just Imagine!

(from the "MCEA News", a publication of the Maryland Classified Employees Association)
Instead of just complaining about their low pay, a small band of MCEA Correctional Case Managers transformed their problem into a solution.
It was a difficult battle, but four years after just a handful of case managers met at a Hagerstown, Maryland restaurant to plan strategy to upgrade their salaries, their determination has paid off with big bucks,­ up to $7,000 a year.
As a result, about 285 Correctional Case Managers, their Supervisors, and their Department Managers will earn increases of one and two pay grades, retroactive to July 1, 2005.
The pay hikes will cost the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) $1.5 million to make the case managers equal to Parole and Probation Agents, according to DPSCS.
Despite the sideline naysayers and discouraging setbacks, these MCEA stalwarts persevered until the Governor, Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and DPSCS all agreed that Case Managers deserved a lot more money in their paychecks for the tough jobs they do in the prisons.
Larry D. Kump, a Correctional Case Management Specialist II and Vice President of MCEA Chapter 67, Public Safety Non-custody Employees, did most of the heavy lifting on this issue. Tom Nittinger, also a CCMS II, was designated as the point person to follow up on the upgrade with Mary Ann Saar, DPSCS Secretary.
Class-action grievance hearings on the upgrades were held before an Administrative Law Judge in 2003, after both DBM and DPSCS had recommended the increases to improve working conditions for the case managers.
But things stalled in bureaucratic quicksand.
There was finger-pointing on which agency was at fault, but in the end it appeared the effort died for lack of departmental funding and no final approval by DBM.
Determined not to let the issue die, Case Managers revisited the promise for a salary upgrade with DPSCS Secretary Saar in a January meeting with Western Maryland legislators to discuss security, understaffing, and other correctional issues.
To the group's relief, Saar committed to review the issue.
Meanwhile, Kump organized his colleagues to keep the pressure on the administration.
He also kept in constant communication with legislators and their staff.
"This victory will open the door for other prison salary reform opportunities," said Kump, who continues to speak out and pursue other salary and working condition initiatives on behalf of correctional officers and other coworkers, which includes, but is not limited to, another follow-up meeting with representatives of the Governor, area legislators, and Public Safety/DOC officials in September.
He urged employees to join MCEA and recruit others to join the MCEA team.
Kump pointed out that, "Just a handful of folks CAN make a difference, especially if they are part of the MCEA team, but just imagine what all of us could accomplish if all of us were working together as MCEA team members. Just imagine!"



Blogger Bookslinger said...

Congrats Larry.

5:47 PM  

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