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As Long as We Remember...

July 10, 2002

Union Busting - Out With The Leeches

Lee Marshall

There was a time when the "union" meant everything to the workingman. It could be as oppressive and repressive as the corporate big shots with whom they sparred. So now, the city workers are being bullied into voting for union representation. Better get the old resume updated, because no good can come of it!

With the Ever Lovin' Mare cozying up to the union bosses in Montgomery County just prior to the election last fall, she realized lots of bucks for her campaign war chest. Plus, the union organizers mobilized the workers in Frederick and pushed them to vote her way. All's fair in love and politics. So far there isn't much love, just politics.

She has promised her full support to the unionization move. She drew no wrath when her budget escaped a significant review by the aldermen, who apparently agreed that it would be all right to stop paying for retired workers' insurance, plus jacking up our real estate taxes. That insurance cut didn't bother the union, which would need to discuss that with the current work force.

That was a great benefit, but the retirees don't deserve to have their pensions reduced at the whim of the mayor and the union cares little about retirees, they don't pay dues. Remember what "Deep Throat" said during the Watergate investigation, "Follow the money, follow the money."

How we rue the day the Fraternal Order of Police made its way into Frederick and set about a systematic fouling of a pretty good police department. Today, with many of our peace officers enrolled, the FOP has backed off a bit from its incessant roiling against the leadership. It could even begin to play a positive role now that some of the early dissidents are gone from its leadership.

With new chief Major Kim Dine taking over next week, the union may or may not have a friend in uniform, but are assured that the Ever Lovin' Mare will guide things with promises she can't keep on today's budget. Major Dine better gird his loins because he'll probably lose several key people to retirement soon.

The good Major also has been warned about at least one department officer, whose car was seen parked at the Ever Lovin' Mare's house for about three hours just prior to selection of the new chief. The officer is certainly the internal spy and has been referred to in this column previously. Major Dine better move him out on the street and away from the flagpole if he is to survive.

We see grounds for discomfort, too, in the AFL-CIO founded firefighters union. It is a small voice among the sea of volunteers and paid fire and rescue personnel, but still a force soon to be reckoned with. And Stan Poole, the director of Emergency Services is about to run headlong into the union.

The tragic death last week of 23-year-old firefighter trainee Andrew J. Waybright exposes the soft underbelly of Mr. Poole's domain. He has shown a flair for demagoguery and now, at his urging, we find ourselves having to fork over big bucks for an ambulance ride. Blame that, too, on our county commissioners who along with Mr. Poole will soon dismantle the volunteer companies that have served us well since the Revolution.

The ambulance fee will come back to bite us in the rear because of the low income and elderly who may not be able to afford what their taxes should have paid for.

Mr. Poole was quoted, in response to Mr. Waybright's death, as saying so eloquently that there "might" have been a trained person in charge that morning, it wasn't too far to run and there "might" have been a water fountain in Pine Cliff Park. There is no need to put trainees at risk; there will be enough demands when they make it to full time service.

Mr. Poole has shown his dedicated fire and rescue personnel that he cares little for personal requirements, even dictating June 15th as the date, not before, when duty personnel could wear the distinctive blue uniform T-shirt. The weather should dictate it, not a deskbound despot.

True, that firemen contend with intense heat while fighting fires, but training officers need to use their heads a bit in the kind of weather we have had in recent days. It was simply too hot to run and do strenuous calisthenics last Wednesday. The Department of Defense has learned this lesson the hard way, too, but the trainees, including Mr. Waybright, have borne the brunt of this "lesson."

Will the union ever be strong enough to demand accountability from Mr. Poole? Who knows? Some would say he is in cahoots with them, at least on the volunteer issue. But the firemen's union can be a benefit to the rank and file if they use good sense and good political sense with our fickle officials.

We won't even get into the union at the former Eastalco plant in Buckeystown. That union realized it had better work with the company or there wouldn't be any jobs or rank and file in Frederick. The Canadians took over and together with the union is playing a good game of snooker.

There was a time when this writer got a much-needed job because his family was long-time friends with the head of a union. And over the years there has been membership in a writers' union - a waste of dues - and in a big national union, that was schmoozing so much with the corporation that we would have dropped out if we hadn't been part of management, therefore ineligible to join.

Unions once had their place and produced a work environment that today has gone beyond the boundaries of right and reasonable. I can't really trash the railroad unions, which made lifetime employment almost a certainty, because my uncles and grandfather spent their lives toiling in the rail business, joining the union when it was required.

There comes a time, however, when workers need to form their own independent union, get rid of the national high-dollar, ax handle form of union politics, also get rid of the corporate and union executive alliances and demand equal pay for equal work.

In Frederick, we recommend highly that the union trust of the Ever Lovin' Mare and the Montgomery County Mafia be rejected out of pocket. Use your vote and get rid of these power and dollar hungry leeches. Believe only what you see and realize your power is in the ballot box.

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