Fraternal Order of Police, Montgomery County Lodge 35 was chartered by the National Lodge, FOP in October 1969 through the efforts of 35 Montgomery County Maryland police officers who saw the need for an organization to represent the interests of working police officers.
Our founders met in secret at the Coca Cola plant in Silver Spring to unify and create the new organization. County Government and Police Department officials resisted the organization and promptly transferred many of the organizers. This action gave members greater access to other police officers throughout the County and, to the dismay of management, our membership rolls rapidly expanded.
Subsequently, individual officers were threatened, harassed, and subjected to disparate treatment, but they persisted, fought back, became more united, and ultimately prevailed. Since that time, Lodge 35 has both respected and represented the rights of individual police officers.
In 1977, Lodge 35 became the first organization of County employees to become certified under a “Meet and Confer” law. Thereafter, three “position papers”, or memoranda of understanding, were negotiated setting forth certain terms and conditions of employment. Meet & Confer turned out to be nothing more than “meet and beg.” The processed was doomed when the County failed to bargain in good faith and unilaterally eliminated or reduced career pay, longevity steps, and retirement benefits. Left with no alternative, we were forced to resort to picketing and job actions.
Lodge 35 members then went to the voters with a petition to amend the County Charter to require that the County Council enact legislation providing Montgomery County police officers with the right to bargain collectively with binding interest arbitration. Sufficient valid signatures were collected to submit the issue to the voters, but the county attorney opined that the wording in the petition was improper.
Undeterred, yet more determined, many members got involved and, with only two weeks remaining to redo the entire process, enough signatures were collected a second time and the issue was submitted to the voters in the General Election of 1980.
The amendment passed by a vote of 2:1, but the County Government and County Council dragged their feet in enacting the enabling legislation.
Less than four months after passage of the new Charter provision, the County unilaterally required police officers to go from a well-established four-day, ten hour work schedule to a five-day, eight hour schedule with rotating shifts that often left officers with only 28 hours off between workweeks. This change and the Draconian work schedule disrupted officers’ lives and their family relations.
The result was more job actions, picketing, and total demoralization. Clearly, the efficiency and effectiveness of law enforcement suffered as management abused its power and defied the voters.
Finally, in April 1982, the collective bargaining bill was enacted, thus leveling the playing field. Our first negotiations commenced in November 1982 with a contract effective on July 1, 1983. That law excluded police sergeants, but Lodge 35 went on record in opposition of this exclusion.
The initial contract restored the four-day work-week and locked in important benefits. Subsequent contracts and reopeners were negotiated or arbitrated in 1985 (arbitrated), 1988 (arbitrated), 1991 (arbitrated), 1992 (arbitrated), 1993 (arbitrated), 1994 (arbitrated), 1995 (arbitrated), 1996 (negotiated); 1997 (reopener arbitrated), 1998 (negotiated), 2001 (arbitrated); 2002 (reopener mediated), 2003 (arbitrated), and 2004 (settled during arbitration.), 2006 arbitrated, 2008 voluntarily reopened contract and voluntarily postponed a 4.25% general wage increase, 2009 (reopener arbitrated), 2011 reopener (arbitrated) The new Contract covers the period July 1, 2010 – June 30, 2012. Negotiations for a successor contract began on November 1, 2011.
In June 2000, County Councilmembers Berlage, Silverman, Ewing, Leggett, Denis, and Andrews voted to include sergeants in the police bargaining unit. County Executive Doug Duncan signed that bill and, effective September 18, 2000; police sergeants became members of the police collective bargaining unit.
We are proud that there have been no job actions, pickets, or other disruptions since the Police Labor Relations Act was enacted in April 1982. All we ever demanded was a level playing field and County Council’s honoring of contracts. Our mission is to protect our community and that is our ultimate goal. Under a fair system of bargaining, Lodge 35 can serve its members who in turn can serve their community without disruption.
Our members bravely, efficiently, and proudly serve their community. We are in a constant battle with the county government to eliminate hurdles that impede our members’ efforts to more effectively serve people. We need and seek community support, for without that support we will fail, but with it we can achieve a safe community where all can enjoy the quality of life we deserve.