PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - A ransomware attack on one of the largest human resource firms is having far-reaching impacts, including on some Prince George’s County government workers.
Employees who are part of the local AFCME union said they were told they would receive 17 weeks of retroactive hazard pay before Christmas, thousands of dollars in some cases, and they just found out it’s not coming after all.
Union leaders said they were told Tuesday that it was due to the Kronos hack.
The workers impacted provide critical services countywide, including crossing guards, nurses and truck drivers.
"Those employees run the gamut," said Anthony Smith, president of AFCME local 3389. "I think about crossing guards when I think about this. Most of our crossing guards are senior in age, they’re grandparents, they’re doing this on a part-time basis, but nonetheless, they do not have the option to not perform their duties. And we expected our folks to be taken care of as was indicated to us."
Union leaders are questioning why the hack would impact their money. They say they were told in a November meeting with County Executive Angela Alsobrooks that funds would be processed by Dec. 4, before the breach, and paid out this Friday.
"Something fell through the cracks," said Smith.
He believes there must be a way to get employees paid.
A statement Wednesday night from the county executive’s office says:
"During a meeting with AFSCME representatives in late November, a commitment was made to do everything we could to ensure that their members received their retroactive hazard pay by Christmas. We will work diligently to meet that goal if at all possible."
A spokesperson says Alsobrooks is now looking at every option.
Prince George’s County says the Kronos breach is impacting the county timekeeping system, but not the payroll.
D.C. Fire and EMS is also among agencies impacted by the hack, and it’s forcing the department to move from an electronic staffing system to a manual system. A spokesperson says there has been no impact to response to 911 emergency calls.
It remains unclear how long the Kronos outage could last.
A spokesperson for Ultimate Kronos Group says:
"UKG recently became aware of a ransomware incident that has disrupted the Kronos Private Cloud, which houses solutions used by a limited number of our customers. We took immediate action to investigate and mitigate the issue, have alerted our affected customers and informed the authorities, and are working with leading cybersecurity experts. We recognize the seriousness of the issue and have mobilized all available resources to support our customers and are working diligently to restore the affected services."
A spokesperson for Montgomery County released this statement to FOX 5 on the Kronos attack:
"We have about 1,900 police employees who are affected by the Kronos issue. Due to the architecture of our systems, we have a plan in place to help ensure they are all paid, and paid on time. Employees affected are sworn, management, and professional staff that are either bargaining unit members or non-union personnel. The County advised the affected employees on Monday, and also advised the affected unions. We are focused on ensuring that our employees are paid and have put an action plan in place as of Wednesday. We are in regular communication with the company on the status of their recovery."