Testimony Before the Montgomery County Council
In Opposition to Bill 24-16
Merle Cuttitta, President
Service Employees international Union (SEIU) Local 500
July 12, 2016
President Floreen, Vice President Berliner and members of the Council:
My name is Merle Cuttitta and I am proud to serve as President of SEIU Local 500. Our union represents 9,000 staff employed by the Montgomery County Public School System as well as better than 900 adjunct faculty at Montgomery College.
We are here this evening to join in solidarity with the thousands of outstanding county government employees, police officers and firefighters represented by MCGEO, the IAFF and the
FOP, in expressing our profound disappointment and strong opposition to Bill 24-16. This legislation is a cynical attempt to weaken county collective bargaining laws in response to a contentious set of negotiations with the county unions this past spring. It is petty, it is vindictive and it needs to be stopped dead in its tracks!
This bill is not about equity in the bargaining process. In the recently completed county budget process, this Council more than demonstrated that the current bargaining laws give more than ample authority to bend collective bargaining outcomes to your will.
The legislation purports to create a more balanced and transparent bargaining system by silencing the union’s voice in the dispute resolution process. It mandates that, once an interest arbitrator has been selected with no input from the union, that arbitrator must make your fiscal mandates their primary consideration. In other words, “decide whatever you think is fair, as long as you agree with us!”
It has been just a few years since you made your initial move toward weakening worker rights when you stripped the police of their “effects bargaining”. Many of you assured us at the time that your move was a unique circumstance and not about weakening union rights. Yet here we are again.
I want to be clear. This is bad legislation that serves no other purpose than to widen the growing gulf between the County Government and its unions. We have a collective bargaining system that, in the end has always served the interests of the public and those of us who provide public services to Montgomery County taxpayers that are second to none.
This IS anti union legislation. It flies in the face of the core values that, as Democrats, we are supposed to stand for. The choice you make here will define you in the eyes of working people for a very long time. It will not be forgotten.
Let our current collective bargaining laws and the relationships we’ve built throughout our history, continue to stand as an ongoing testament to Montgomery County being the most progressive jurisdiction in our state.
Do not support Bill 24-16.