Testimony on Montgomery County Bill 24-16

To: Montgomery County Council
Date: July 12, 2016
Position: Oppose

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on bill 24-16. I am here on behalf of Progressive Maryland, one of the largest grassroots advocacy organizations in the state building power for working families. We have over 120,000 members, supporters, and organizational affiliates statewide, including over 36,000 here in Montgomery County.  We ask the Council to oppose bill 24-16.

We  believe this bill would change the rules governing collective bargaining in the County in such a way to unfairly favor employers at the expense of workers. While the stated goal of this legislation is to increase government transparency, the sensitive nature of some negotiated issues, such as those related to HIPAA or other confidential agreements, could in fact limit the rights of workers to collectively bargain beyond what is explicitly stated in the bill.

Labor negotiations are unique and complex affairs that require experts with the appropriate knowledge and experience to ensure they are conducted fairly and efficiently. Labor Relations Administrators (LRAs) have served this function well for decades and are understood to be a neutral party by both employers and employees. Replacing them with retired judges would call that neutrality into question, making the process less efficient and likely increase the number of legal battles in the future.

Furthermore, as a statewide organization headquartered in Montgomery County, we know that legislation passed here is often a model for other jurisdictions and the Maryland General Assembly. For that reason, we are also concerned about the precedence this legislation could set for the state, ultimately limiting the voice of working families when it comes to workplace issues.

For these reasons and many others mentioned by our allies tonight, I ask that you oppose bill 24-16. Thank you.

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