Tag Archives: MCM

MCM Labor Dispute Heats Up

By Adam Pagnucco.

Back in April, I wrote that a union representing production employees at MCM (Montgomery Community Media) had filed an unfair labor practice charge against MCM alleging failure to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement in good faith. MCM is a non-profit that receives most of its funding from the county government to act as its cable access channel. As of FY21, the county is due to provide MCM $2.8 million. MCM’s collective bargaining agreement with NABET-CWA Local 31, which represents some (but not all) of its employees, expired on 6/30/18. MCM and the union have had discussions about a new agreement off and on since then.

As of this writing, a new agreement has not been reached. The union sent the email below to its members updating them on the status of negotiations. When reading it, bear in mind that management likely has a different point of view.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
September 17, 2020

We would like to thank you for all of your hard work and diligence of pursuit during these trying times. Mostly however, your Union extends a huge congratulations for the incredible awards and accolades you have received for your ongoing work at MCT/MCM. It is with great pride that your Union wants to acknowledge all of you!

The Union understands the value of your contribution to MCT/MCM’s success. That is what fuels our negotiating committee, as we fight to gain better wages, benefits and working conditions for you. During these negotiations, we have faced an employer that does not acknowledge your hard work and dedication. To recap, the Contract expired on June 30, 2018, and CEO Nanette Hobson refused to bargain during the following 6 months. Your Union insisted on talks to present ideas, discuss issues, and hopefully put us on track for a “quick” settlement of decent terms once the Company was ready to bargain in January 2019.

When the Company sat down at the bargaining table, it sought to eliminate many of the benefits that you enjoyed in the collective bargaining agreement. The Union has spent the past 18 months fighting either to preserve those benefits or negotiate new provisions to protect all of you. The Union has gotten MCT/MCM to agree to a 3% wage increase for all full-time employees retroactive to July 1, 2019. The Union has gotten MCT/MCM to agree to a 3% lump sum payment for all part-time employees. The Union has further negotiated increases to the rate codes for part-time employees ranging from 6% to 35% depending upon the work being performed.

Here we are in September 2020, and the Company has presented us with another “Last, Best and Final” offer. To be very clear, we have been kind in our rendering of some older clauses with the hopes that the Company would respond in-kind with some substantial offers that acknowledge its respect for your continued hard work. We were wrong on that assumption!

There are only three issues that separate the parties:

First, the Company wants either to limit part-time employees’ participation in the Flex Plan to those who are currently participating in it or reduce its contribution to the Flex Plan from $10.00 per 8 hours worked to $5.00 per 16 hours worked. The former proposal is unacceptable because it would leave those part-time employees who are not participating in the Flex Plan with no other option for fringe benefits. The latter proposal actually discourages participation by making it harder for part-time employees to obtain coverage and access meaningful benefits. Your negotiating committee has repeatedly explained these issues to the Company, but it has not relented. The Union’s proposal is to maintain the Flex Plan, work on encouraging participation in the plan, and, if employees do not want the plan, then the parties can negotiate alternative arrangements in the future. The Company has rejected this proposal too.

Second, the Company wants to take playback operators out of the unit. It proposes eliminating a Playback Operator from the minimum/maximum wage scales for full-time employees (while acknowledging a Playback Supervisor will remain). Playback duties are bargaining unit work. The Union’s proposal keeps that work in the bargaining unit, but it at the same time provides greater flexibility to the Company as to which bargaining unit employees would perform that work. The Company refused that proposal as well.

Third, the final issue that is preventing a new agreement is the Company’s bad faith bargaining. MCT/MCM initially exploited the coronavirus pandemic by refusing to meet at all and then refusing to negotiate over economic matters. When the Union was finally able to force MCT/MCM back to the table, it tried to short-circuit the negotiations with ill-advised “Last, Best and Final offers.” MCT/MCM further tried to short-circuit the negotiations when CEO Hobson sent e-mails to you, mischaracterizing the Company’s last, best and final offers and encouraging you to ask your Union for a vote on proposals that the Company had not made at the time.

Throughout these two years of negotiations, the Union simply wanted to negotiate a new agreement that was fair and reasonable to everyone. The Union wanted an agreement that embodies the respect you deserve, as award- winning contributors to local, independent media. The Union wants an agreement that is fair to MCT/MCM, so that it can provide you with the employment that allows for you to continue winning awards and improving the quality of the media in Montgomery County.

On the other hand, MCT/MCM has not considered your needs as valuable employees. It refused for a long time to pay you properly. Now, it wants to limit or eliminate part-time employees’ access to fringe benefits, and it is seeking to do so during difficult times.

This has been a very frustrating time for the NABET-CWA negotiating team. We need your help! Wear RED whenever possible. Tell the Company you need to be appreciated! Union employees were slapped in the face in 2019 when every other employee at MCT/MCM got a pay raise.

This Company has received funding from the County budget. They have received special appropriations during COVID. Under the County “Services Contract” MCT/MCM receives almost double the salaries paid to those employees! Where does all the money go? Ask yourselves, then respond! Discuss this with management, but better yet… call and write to the County Councilmembers! They need to hear from you! This has continued too long!

The County Councilmembers emails are:

President, Sidney Katz – councilmember.Katz@montgomerycountymd.gov
Vice President, Tom Hucker councilmember.Hucker@montgomerycountymd.gov
Gabe Albornoz – councilmember.Albornoz@montgomerycountymd.gov
Andrew Friedson – councilmember.Friedson@montgomerycountymd.gov
Evan Glass – councilmember.Glass@montgomerycountymd.gov
Will Jawando – councilmember.Jawando@montgomerycountymd.gov
Craig Rice – councilmember.Rice@montgomerycountymd.gov
Nancy Navarro – councilmember.Navarro@montgomerycountymd.gov
Hans Riemer – councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov

In Solidarity,
MCT/MCM Negotiating Committee
/mw opeiu153afl-cio


Union Files Unfair Labor Practice Charge Against MCM

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.
Barbara Krieger
Assistant to the President
NABET-CWA, Local 31