Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Floreen's Koch Brothers bill would gut MoCo employees' bargaining rights, union says

An expedited bill introduced by Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen would make collective bargaining with County employees more "transparent," she says. Its language evokes anti-labor initiatives by the Koch Brothers, a curious choice of inspiration in a blue jurisdiction like Montgomery.

"Council President Nancy Floreen is introducing a bill that would gut collective bargaining rights in Montgomery County," said Amy Millar, who is the lead negotiator for the UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO union. "The attacks [on public employees] never let up," Millar added.

According to Millar, the bill would reduce bargaining rights over working conditions, and allow the County Executive to ordain a "permanent umpire without union input." That refers to a provision in Floreen's bill that would strip all union power to determine who the County Executive and Council appoint as the Labor Relations Administrator. The LRA is a powerful position, because he or she has the authority to declare that either the executive or the union has violated the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. If only the County can choose the LRA...well, you can guess who would be favored.

Floreen's bill would also allow retired judges, as opposed to only those with neutral history in labor disputes, to be LRAs. That could introduce a bias, as judges are appointed by the same government officials who bargain with public employee unions.

On page 5 of the bill, number 17 would allow the County government to "create, alter, combine, contract out (italics and underlining added by me), or abolish any job classification, department, operation, unit, or other division or service, provided that no contracting of work which will displace employees may be undertaken by the employer unless ninety (90) days prior to signing the contract, or such other date of notice as agreed by parties. written notice has been given to the certified representative."

Millar says the bill's language "comes right out of ALEC model legislation," referring to the Koch Industries-backed American Legislative Exchange Council.

Floreen's support of Koch Brothers initiatives is only the latest Council link to Wall Street. Councilmember Hans Riemer's campaigns have been funded by numerous Wall Street firms and their lobbyists, including Mitt Romney's Bain Capital and Danaher Corporation, both pioneers in outsourcing American jobs to China and Mexico.

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