A union protest might have squelched attendance at a Montgomery County Democratic party fundraiser last weekend , but it hasn’t stopped donations from rolling in.
County Democratic Central Committee Chairman Gabe Albornoz said Thursday that pledges made in the wake of the party’s May 11 Spring Ball have helped the party exceed its fundraising goal for the event.
“What’s happened is we have been receiving pledges over the last four days, since the event ended, from people who indicated that they could not attend, but that they wanted to support the party and all of our efforts,” he said.
A number of donors gave in reaction to the protest, as a gesture of party support, he said.
Albornoz said including money raised through the event’s live auction, the party has raised more than $50,000 so far, but is still tallying the pledges so final numbers were not available Thursday.
On May 12, the day after the event, he said the ball raised about $45,000, but he had expected $10,000 to $15,000 more.
Albornoz said the pledges made this week will tack at least another $10,000 onto that $50,000, exceeding goals.
While the party appreciates the extra support, it will still approach the unions to mend fences.
“We still, obviously, want to sit down with leaders in labor and maintain that we are unquestionably a pro-labor organization,” Albornoz said.
Joslyn N. Williams, president of the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO, which organized the protest, was unavailable for comment Thursday.
Union leaders called for a protest of the party’s Spring Ball as a response to the party’s support of the all-Democrat Montgomery County Council’s position on bargaining rights for the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 that went to the ballot last fall.
All public employee unions in Montgomery can negotiate wages, hours and working conditions. The FOP was the only union also to have the right to bargain the effects of management decisions.
The county claimed the union was misusing that right, stymieing effective management of the department. In a 9-0 vote in 2011, the council eliminated the FOP’s “effects bargaining” right.
The FOP collected enough signatures to take the law to referendum during the November 2012 election, and 58 percent of voters agreed with the council.
Union leaders who opposed the law expected the party to remain neutral on the ballot issue, but instead the party voted 109-14 to support the County Council, which was the motivation for their protest May 11.
A number of high-profile Democrats chose to honor the picket lines, including Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who had announced his gubernatorial bid the day before, and U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin of Pikesville.
But many Democrats decried the action expressing disappointment at the unions.