Montgomery County Council Considers Public Union Collective Bargaining Reform

A Washington Post article (2016-06-20) reported that Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen has proposed legislation to reform the county’s collective bargaining process and create more “balance.” From the article:

Floreen’s bill, to be introduced at Tuesday’s legislative session, would open parts of the negotiations between unions and the county government to the public for the first time and use retired judges, rather than experienced labor negotiators, as neutral third parties. It would replace the single arbitrator who currently decides labor disputes with a three-person panel, and require that panel to give more weight to the county’s financial ability to pay for labor agreements.

“This Council is committed to finding the right balance between the needs of our residents and the needs of our employees,” Floreen…said in a statement Monday. “The bill would help the County and our employees establish more equitable contract arbitration awards and enhance the likelihood that negotiations are grounded in fiscal reality.”

The bill was condemned by county public employee unions:

Union leaders immediately denounced the bill, calling it a series of solutions to problems that do not exist. They also expressed disappointment that Floreen did not reach out to them prior to introducing the measure.

“We don’t understand the need for the bill,” said Jeff Buddle, president of the career firefighters union, the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1664. “We have a process that is extremely effective.” …

[Municipal and County Government Employee Organization President Gino] Renne said some of the bill’s provisions come “right out of the ALEC playbook,” referring to model legislation drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative policy group that works with state legislatures.

The article stated that since 1988 public employee unions have won 16 out of 20 arbitration decisions. Floreen also denied the bill’s provisions came from ALEC and were actually based on a 2011 report issued by a county reform commission.