Tuesday, April 06, 2010

County Employee Unions Holding Competing Rallies in Rockville

Montgomery County’s employee unions are trying to hold the line against more budget cuts tonight. But interestingly, they’re not doing it together.

MCGEO, the giant county employees union, is holding a rally on the top floor of the County Council’s parking garage tonight at 5:45 PM. Following is their press release.

For Immediate Release

Date: April 5, 2010
Contact: Josh Ardison (240)876-0772, (301) 977-2447

Montgomery County Public Employees Press Conference and Rally at Budget Hearing Protesting “Californication” of Montgomery County

• Montgomery County Public Employees
• County Council Members George Leventhal, Valerie Ervin, Nancy Navarro, and Marc Elrich.
• Community Group leaders: CASA Gustavo Torres, NAACP-MOCO Henry Hailstock, Progressive Maryland Exec. Dir. Sean Dobson, Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO President Jos Williams, Regional Director Al Vincent, UFCW International President Joe Hanson.
• County Council candidates Hans Riemer, Becky Wagner, and Ilaya Hopkins.
• MC: Local 1994 President Gino Renne

What: Press conference and rally against County budget decisions

Where: Council Office Building, Top of Parking Garage

When: Tuesday, April 6, 2010, 5:45pm

Why: The Montgomery County Council is making budget decisions that will have a huge impact on services for county residents. Current round of cuts will hit transit, school health room aides who serve public school students, libraries, corrections and public safety. The county needs a new approach—reorganizing to eliminate structural inefficiencies.

Once, Montgomery was the leading jurisdiction in Maryland. It's now falling behind in job creation (7,000 jobs created last year; Fairfax added 40,000). Montgomery is going the way of California with decay, low growth and the attendant problems of funding and managing government services.

A coalition of labor, business and community organizations anticipating the ongoing budget problems in Montgomery County is adopting the slogan: “Don’t Californicate Montgomery County.”

UFCW Local 1994 President Gino Renne is spearheading the coalition calling on the county to reorganize itself and rethink its choices.
MCGEO’s guest list sends an interesting signal to the council. Besides including four incumbents who have often been allies, they are inviting three challengers to speak: at-large candidates Hans Riemer and Becky Wagner and District 1 candidate Ilaya Hopkins. MCGEO was displeased with incumbent at-large Council Member Duchy Trachtenberg and District 1 incumbent Roger Berliner for proposing “labor savings” two years ago. MCGEO has already given Wagner $3,000. If the union also chooses to back Hopkins, that will be helpful to her campaign, which could benefit from institutional support.

Perhaps not coincidental is the choice of MCGEO’s rally location. Given the configuration of the council building and the garage, its members will be yelling into the office windows of Trachtenberg, Berliner and their arch-enemy, Phil Andrews.

At the same time, the three school unions are holding a rally on the council steps along with the Montgomery County Council of PTAs. Here is their flyer.

Why aren’t the unions holding their rallies together? First, they have competing interests. In a tight budget, each faction may be looking to hold onto its own money. Second, MCGEO’s members are carrying a disproportionate burden of the budget crisis. None of the unions are likely to get cost-of-living adjustments or step increases this year. But the school unions, police and fire fighters are exempt from the County Executive’s furlough plan while MCGEO’s members are not. That may pose additional problems for labor solidarity.

Rockville is sure to be a noisy place tonight!