Laura Cadiz December 12, 2000 Tuesday ARUNDEL EDITION Copyright 2000 The Baltimore Sun Company All Rights Reserved The Baltimore Sun December 12, 2000 Tuesday ARUNDEL EDITION
(ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md) -- In a move to block the hiring of retired Anne Arundel police officers as deputy sheriffs under a new county law, the Teamsters filed for an injunction in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court yesterday.
The union is also asking the court declare the provisions of the county law - which became effective Dec. 3 and allows Sheriff George F. Johnson IV to hire county police retirees to work as deputies while they collect their pensions - invalid, illegal and void. Under the law, retired officers who are rehired cannot have a second pension or additional medical benefits.
The union, which represents deputies, said in its complaint that the legal effect of the law is "to create improperly a subclass of employees" within the Sheriff's Department.
The Teamsters claim the law violates the deputies' three-year contract, which will expire in June 2003. The union argued that retired county officers could not be part of the union's bargaining unit because the terms and conditions of their compensation are not the same as other members', according to the complaint.
However, Johnson said he doesn't see how the law violates the contract or financially harms the deputies. "They would be eligible to be members of the union," he said. "The only difference is that in order for us to be able to rehire the police officers, they would not be able to have a second pension or a second set of medical benefits."
J. William Mowery, business agent for the Teamsters, said the union would be harmed if sheriff's deputies received different benefits. He said he wonders whether the law could eventually result in the union having to take money from current deputies to cover the benefits of the retired officers.
"The reasons it's a bad idea is because you fracture the integrity of the union," he said. "This is a case where basic benefits are going to be different."
Mowery said he is also concerned that the retired officers would be promoted instead of the current deputies because those officers would cost the department less money because of their lack of benefits.
But Johnson said he rebuts that "all the way up and down."
"Anybody that's hired, regardless if they're county police officers or not, they will be required to go through the promotion process just as anybody else," he said.
The complaint follows a grievance the Teamsters filed with the county last month requesting that Johnson refrain from hiring retired county officers under the new law. Johnson did not agree to defer hiring deputies pending a resolution to the grievance.
Johnson said he has not hired any retired officers under the new law, but if any did apply for openings, the department would "seriously consider them along with anyone else."
He said hiring retired officers would benefit the department and the county. "It's very good for the agency because we're bringing on fully seasoned law enforcement officers who know the lay of the land," he said. "And we're making the best of the county's investment in these people by allowing them to come back and work for us."