Montgomery Co law to cut back on police bargaining rights heads to voters

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Local,Maryland,Rachel Baye
A bill scaling back collective bargaining rights for the Montgomery County police union will be on the ballot in the November 2012 general election after the county Board of Elections validated 34,828 signatures union members collected outside grocery stores and on street corners.

The bill, which was passed unanimously by the County Council in July and took effect Oct. 31, restricts the Fraternal Order of Police's ability to engage in "effects bargaining" --or bargain over any action taken by management that could have any effect on employees, an ability that was not shared by the other county government employee unions.

Under the law, police retain the right to bargain over wages, benefits and working conditions.

Effects bargaining created problems for the Montgomery County Police Department when it came time to make decisions, Police Chief Tom Manger told the County Council Public Safety committee in July. For example, the department spent 170 hours over two years in collective bargaining when the union objected to a new computerized reporting system and 400 hours over two years negotiating over a police dog scheduling issue.

"It will be important for the voters to understand what's at stake regarding this measure," said Councilman Phil Andrews, D-Gaithersburg/Rockville and chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee.

He pointed to other limitations Manger mentioned in July -- the ability to assign scarce equipment based on who needs it rather than seniority and to require police officers to check their email daily.

"The chief needs this law to be upheld by voters in order to best serve the public," Andrews said.

FOP President Marc Zifcak could not be reached for comment.

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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Rachel Baye

Staff Writer - Education
The Washington Examiner