Harford Community College Officials Voice Concern Over Collective Bargaining Bill

As reported in the Baltimore Sun, Harford Community College officials are voicing concerns about Maryland senate and house bills to establish a collective bargaining process for community colleges in Maryland that would authorize up to four collective bargaining units on each community college campus.  MACo opposed the legislation, which threatens to increase community college expenses without providing any additional state funding.  In the absence of additional state funding, the financial burden of the state’s legislation will fall to county governments, or to the students through tuition increases.

As described in MACo’s testimony, this legislation would create new costs just as the State constrains funding for community colleges,

As counties struggle to recover from a weak economy and State cutbacks, adding administrative and personnel costs only aggravates funding challenges. Even this year, the Governor’s budget plan actively restrains the State funding formula for community colleges, depleting the very resources necessary to help sustain proposals such as this.

The legislation would also require community colleges that already have collective bargaining to change their current practices to match those specified in the legislation.

The Baltimore Sun reported on the potential negative financial effect of this legislation, according to the bill’s fiscal note, which is assembled by the Maryland Department of Legislative Services,

Locally, the proposed collective bargaining house bill may increase administrative expenditures during implementation. Personnel expenditures may also increase by 1 to 1.5 percent to establish collective bargaining, according to the fiscal impact note. . . Community colleges may need to hire a labor relations administrator to manage the collective bargaining process at an estimated cost of $60,000 per year, the fiscal note states. These cost may increased based on the number of disputes per year and the circumstances surrounding the disputes.

County Community College officials have stated that costs could be even higher than the estimates.  As reported by the Sun,

. . . the real costs could be significantly higher, Harford Community College officials said, both in terms of dealing with unionization efforts, contract negotiations and, ultimately, potential contract disputes and employee grievances. The college officials’ letter [to Harford County legislators] mentions “unintended consequences, which could impair the mission and operation of community colleges.”

MACo testified against the bill, sharing concerns of the increased financial burden.  For more information, read the full story from the Sun.

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