Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SEIU Local 500 Reacts to Leggett Budget Proposal

Following is an email sent by SEIU Local 500 President Merle Cuttitta to the union's members, who include staff other than teachers and administrators employed by MCPS. We find it noteworthy that the union is not condemning Leggett, vowing to oppose his Maintenance of Effort waiver request or demanding salary increases, but is instead concentrating on preventing even deeper cuts.

Dear [Member]:

Please find below a statement from SEIU Local 500 on yesterday's announcement from County Executive Leggett on the FY 2011 operating budget for the county.

Statement from Merle Cuttitta, President of SEIU Local 500:

Yesterday, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett announced his recommended operating budget for FY 2011. It included deep cuts to MCPS, Montgomery College, and Health and Human Services among other programs and departments. Representing thousands of working men and women at MCPS, Montgomery College and developmental disabilities provider CSAAC, SEIU Local 500 is concerned with the potential impact on services, those that provide them, and in particular the most County's vulnerable residents.

The budget included an additional 6.1 percent in cuts to MCPS over what was approved by the Board of Education early this year. The cuts are deep, totaling 3.4 percent or $75 million (equaling nearly $1,000 per student) less than the current budget. Yet, MCPS, Local 500, and the other MCPS unions believe that the system can sustain these cuts without furloughs or layoffs.

Maintaining excellence at MCPS during these incredibly difficult times, however, will require a waiver of Maintenance of Effort by the state, and absolutely no further cuts in state or county funding.

Part-time faculty members at Montgomery College, represented by Local 500, could also be affected by cuts in Leggett's budget. His proposal decreases funding for the College by $8.3 million, or 2.3 percent, from the current budget. Local 500 is concerned about the impact on instructional staff and their ability to continue to provide excellent education at the College. Local 500 members will stand together and work with the Montgomery College Board of Trustees to identify savings that preserve quality for students and job security for faculty.

Finally, Local 500 members who provide direct care for individuals with developmental disabilities at CSAAC will face even greater challenges as they carry out CSAAC's charge with still more limited resources, due to a cut of 7 percent in funding to providers in Leggett's FY 2011 budget. Local 500 members will fight to ensure that absolutely no additional cuts in county or state funding are imposed on programs that operate with little room for error. We will also work to ensure that funding in these difficult times continues to reach those providers, like CSAAC, with a track record of excellent services and responsible, efficient administration.

Local 500 members at MCPS educate children, transport them on buses, prepare their lunches. We are their link to technologies of the future; we clean and maintain the spaces that make education possible in this County, and so much more. Local 500 members at Montgomery College and CSAAC provide educational and life opportunities to individuals across the spectrums of age, background and income, and thus enrich individual lives and the County as a whole.

We will do everything in our power to make sure that the County Council passes a budget without cuts deeper than those already outlined. Further cuts would have devastating consequences to the students of MCPS, to individuals with developmental disabilities, to students and their families fighting to get ahead at Montgomery College, and to all that we've worked so hard to build in Montgomery County.

Local 500 members will work tirelessly to bring this message to the County Council and to our state legislators in Annapolis over the coming weeks and months.

You can read the full announcement on Leggett's proposed budget at:

For more information, contact Local 500's Member Strength Department at (301) 740-7100.


Merle Cuttitta
President, SEIU Local 500