Topics: Labor Unions

Democratic fundraiser exceeds goals despite union boycott

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Local,Maryland,Labor unions,Andy Brownfield,Montgomery County,Labor

The Montgomery County Democratic Party's spring fundraiser brought in more money than expected despite a union boycott that organizers credit for low attendance.

A spokeswoman for the county Democratic Central Committee said the May 11 Spring Ball had already raised more than $50,000 and the party is still seeing pledges rolling in.

"We did see less of a number of attendees, but those who were there definitely stepped up to the plate," said spokeswoman Almina Khorakiwala. "We do feel we did really well this year and exceeded our expectations of a regular fundraising year."

Khorakiwala said the union boycott might have had the opposite intention and loosened donors' purse strings.

"I do think supporters were galvanized by the boycott. People know how important this fundraiser is for our annual efforts," she said.

Unions called for a protest of the ball after the all-Democrat County Council voted to curb some of the Fraternal Order of Police union's bargaining rights. The union had the unique power to bargain over management decisions -- something other public employee unions can't do. The council said the union was misusing its "effects bargaining" right and voted to eliminate it.

The police union was able to push the matter to the November 2012 ballot with a voter referendum, but 58 percent of voters chose to uphold the new law. The FOP had expected the county Democratic Party -- a traditional ally of unions -- to remain neutral, but instead, the party overwhelmingly voted to support the council's decision to strip the bargaining right.

Joslyn N. Williams, president of the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO, whose labor federation organized the protest, did not return a call for comment.

Some high-profile Maryland Democrats honored the picket line, including 2014 gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin and at-large County Councilman Marc Elrich.

Khorakiwala said the party now is working to mend fences.

"Prior to the ball, we have engaged in discussions with labor leaders and will continue to sit down with them to see how we can continue to be great partners in the near future," she said.

abrownfield@washingtonexaminer.com

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