Dear Bargaining Unit Members,
I am writing you on behalf of the Local 500 Executive Board to inform you that Local 500 will be moving our offices from the current Gaithersburg location, to Rockville. We will be leasing office space in the building owned by MCEA, 12 Taft Court, Rockville, MD 20850. We made this decision as an important step in securing the financial wellbeing of the Local, as well as an opportunity to be located along side our partners at MCEA. We also believe that a Rockville location will be more centrally located and convenient for our members.
How Member Services will be affected beginning October 29, 2018 – November 2, 2018:
- Both our current and new office locations will be closed to visitors.
- We will have limited communication capability. Bargaining Unit employees will still be able to contact our office by calling our main number at 301-740-7100. Your call will be returned within 24 hours.
- Email and website services will be unavailable during the period of October 29th through November 1st.
- Normal business at our new location will resume on November 2, 2018, at 9:00 AM.
Local 500 purchased our current offices in 2007. As many of you are aware, there was a significant downturn in the economy beginning in 2008. This resulted in commercial real estate throughout our region, including our offices, losing significant market value. While we have worked collaboratively with our lenders to find a solution to the situation, the fact is that the market still has not fully recovered. This means that many commercial property owners, including Local 500, find ourselves in a situation where the amount we owe on the property exceeds its current market value.
Our current loan came due in full this past summer; a decision was made to either seek some form of refinancing, or sell the property and to lease office space elsewhere. We have explored refinancing options. Conventional loans simply are not available to us because of the continuing weak office real estate market. The type of loan that may be available out there carries with it exceptionally high interest rates and restrictions on the operation of the local that would severely impact our ability to operate in service to our members.
We have decided that our best course of action is to sell the property and to lease new space. We have worked collaboratively with our lender to allow us the time and ability to market the property. Also, the payments on our lease will be considerably lower than what we would have paid on a non-conventional real estate loan. Making this decision along with the other reductions to our operating budget we previously announced, means more dollars out of our budget that will be available for program and service to our members.
These are challenging times for our labor movement. Threats to our ability to empower our members are constant. We are entering the fall with full resolve to help build a movement more powerful than ever. Making choices as basic as an office location and designing an operating budget that keeps resources where they need to be, are important contributing factors in planning for success.
President, SEIU Local 500