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Labor leaders push for workers' bills

Joel McCord/WYPR
Pia Morrison, president of SEIU Local 500 with gubernatorial candidate Tom Perez (l) and Patrick Moran, president of AFSME Council 3

The leaders of state employee unions and one candidate for governor urged Gov. Larry Hogan Thursday to sign a package of bills they said would improve the lives of working Marylanders.

The bills would give collective bargaining rights to staff in the state Public Defender’s office and grant cost of living raises for employees at St. Mary’s College in Southern Maryland. They also would require the state Medicaid program to provide prenatal care for pregnant women who are not citizens and create a paid family and medical leave program similar to unemployment insurance.

The labor leaders focused on the last one, the Time to Care Act, in a morning news conference.

Pia Morrison, president of SEIU Local 500, said her members were excited that the act passed with veto proof majorities in both houses and urged Gov. Hogan “to sign the Time to Care Act to help the 2.5 million Marylanders who do not have access to paid family and medical leave.”

And while pressing Hogan to sign the bills, they also sharply criticized his record on labor issues. Tom Perez, who has state employee union backing in the Democratic primary for governor, said Hogan has “an overactive veto pen” when it comes to labor issues.

“In his two terms, he's vetoed so many bills that would have improved the lives of Maryland workers,” complained Perez, who was US Secretary of Labor in the Obama administration.

Patrick Moran, president of AFSCME Council 3, said Hogan has “a clear bias” against working people and that he “continues to delay or reject legislation that would positively impact workers in Maryland.”

He urged the governor not to veto “important legislation and obstruct further progress for working people.”

Hogan has until Friday to sign the bills, veto them or let them become law without his signature. His office routinely declines to comment on questions about potential vetoes.

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