By Adam Pagnucco.
NABET-CWA Local 31 has filed an unfair labor practice charge against MCM (Montgomery Community Media) alleging that MCM is refusing to bargain a new collective bargaining agreement. MCM is a non-profit that acts as a vendor for Montgomery County Government by operating a cable access channel and covering county events. In the year ended 6/30/18, MCM reported revenues of $3,567,892, net assets of $1,332,862 and positive net income of $151,566. The county reported giving MCM $2,608,164 in FY18, meaning that 73% of the non-profit’s budget came from the county.
The union, which represents production employees but not other classifications, is alleging that MCM is refusing to negotiate a new contract after its prior one expired on 6/30/18. The union claims that its members have not received a raise since a 3% increase in 2015. (This is waaaaay below the regular wage increases received by county employees.) The union also claims that MCM is using the pandemic as an excuse to avoid bargaining by refusing to discuss the contract in person, by video, by phone or by email. The union filed an unfair labor practice charge against MCM on April 24 and appealed to the county council for help last week.
Given the fact that the county funds nearly three-quarters of MCM’s budget, the council has enormous leverage to end this labor dispute.
We reprint the letter written to the council below and follow with a copy of the unfair labor practice charge.
Dear Council President Katz,
My name is Barbara Krieger. I hope you are well. I am an employee, and the NABET-CWA Contract negotiator at Montgomery Community Television. (d/b/a: MCM) As the County begins to hand out money to businesses because of the pandemic, please read what is happening at MCT. When a Company doesn’t take care of its people before a pandemic, how can you expect them to disperse money to these “Essential” employees because of this present health tragedy!!
The NABET-CWA Union has been attempting to negotiate a Contract with MCT since it expired June 1, 2018. For nearly two years MCT’s CEO, Nanette Hobson has insisted there’s no money for wage increases for the Union-represented employees, who have not had a raise in almost five years!! Yet MCT has received money for “staff” in every County approved budget in the last five years; and moreover, MCT provided a 3% raise to every non-union employee early last summer.
Now, MCT is shifting the blame for not bargaining over employee wages to the County Council and yourself!! According to the Company lawyer… “the pandemic, and resulting uncertainty on the budget, renders my client unable to confidently commit to any wage-related proposal.” The reference to the “budget” is of course the County’s approval of this year’s fiscal budget.
Secondly, MCT has refused to continue the negotiations claiming that parties need to meet in person. Such an argument is frivolous because it ignores the fact that negotiations can still take place by video conference, telephone conference or even email. For these reasons of refusal to bargain, the Union has today filed an Unfair Labor Practice with the NLRB.
Please contact Ms. Nanette Hobson, CEO/MCT. Please inquire as to what’s been happening to the money the County Council has been approving every year for the organization. How can any Company expect employees to live in this wonderful County without at least a Cost of Living raise each year?? These Union employees are “Essential Employees,” who continue to work during this despairing time of the pandemic!
Thank you in advance for your assistance with this egregious problem.
Assistant to the President
NABET-CWA, Local 31