The scandal that is currently sweeping Maryland with the bulls eyes of all four unions in Prince George’s County is the latest in a series of stinging labor setbacks, stemming from an unusual combination of forces, that have made the Prince George’s County and Maryland the national capital of union excess and corruption besides New York.
The major drivers of Union corruption in Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is Mr. Christian Rhodes and Labor relations Director Lewis Robinson. Both of these individuals previously worked for Prince George’s County Educator Association (PGCEA). Mr. Rhodes was a universe Director for a long time before moving on to Maryland State Educator Association (MSEA). Mr. Rhodes was hired by the county Executive Mr. Rushern Baker III to be Education Director for the county before resigning to work for PGCPS as the chief of Strategic and External Affairs. Mr. Rhodes received nearly $50,000 in three years for a total of $188,058 as part of illegal pay raises by Dr. Maxwell.
On the other hand, Current Labor relations Director Lewis Robinson who was the Executive Director for PGCEA for a long time before being hired by Dr. Maxwell in his current role is faced with a number of conflicts of interest. Mr. Robinson’s and Mr. Rhodes activities have not been good for the PGCPS as they have misused their positions to undermine union grievances brought about by staff. In each of the union, they have their own persons who either worked for MSEA previously or AFSCME International who act as their eyes and hears for their shenanigans. In ACE-AFSCME Local 2250 for example, they have James Spears who is also involved in similar scandals concerning pay raises within the union. Their illegal activities is covered up by Union lawyer Mr. Damon Felton who “carries water” for the executives involved in violation of law in Maryland.
Mr. Damon Felton and his ongoing shenanigans is supported and covered up by the Labor relations Director Lewis Robinson who also works closely with former PGCPS Chief legal counsel Mr. Roger Thomas Esq and his friends.
Some of these concerns were highlighted to the unions and other stakeholders previously but all of them have failed to act. In the latest saga involving the salaries, Even though there is difference between how salaries are calculated, Dr. Kevin Maxwell clearly is on the wrong here. He requested an increase in the school budget and used the money for unjustified compensation for senior management that has left Prince George’s County system scandal ridden and our student performance at the bottom of all county schools due to fraud.
”I don’t think there’s any question that Prince Georges County, because of some historical reasons and some unfortunate traditions, has the unfortunate rank as the No. 1 labor racketeering county in the nation,” said a concerned parent Mike Thompson.
Labor corruption is so widespread in Maryland that union locals representing thousands of workers — nearly one-fourth of the Maryland’s unionized work force — have been in trusteeship at some point over the last two years.
Maryland’s union scandals stem from many factors, among them more aggressive policing by parent unions, a continuation of prosecutors’ longstanding cleanup efforts, and a push by union dissidents to expose their leaders’ misdeeds.
A confluence of factors — historic, demographic, economic and political — has made Maryland the mother lode of union corruption at the moment. Those factors include the Baltimore city’s entrenched Mafia like presence, its huge construction industry, many immigrant workers and the juxtaposition of muscular unions and small, vulnerable businesses.
”Public employee unions are cash cows at election time such as now,” said Mark Reed. ”They feel they can keep Democratic and Republican politicians off their backs. They feel untouchable because of that.”
Other cities are well known for union corruption, of course, among them Chicago, Boston, Providence, R.I., and several New Jersey locales. But labor investigators and experts say no other city today comes close to New York in the number of officials under investigation or the dozens of union locals under trusteeship.
For labor leaders, there is concern that all the corruption is souring the public on unions and eclipsing the positive developments that point to a rebirth of labor. Those developments include last year’s 100,000 increase in union membership nationwide, labor’s successes in electing union-friendly candidates to Congress last Election cycle and the continuing campaigns to unionize hotel maids, home health aides and doctors around the country.
”The high-profile episodes of corruption and skulduggery in Maryland and elsewhere are unquestionably hurting efforts to revive the labor movement around the country. Parent unions have often been very slow to act. In many unions, there is great reluctance to recognize that corruption is a problem.
However, on a positive note, the endorsements of Prince George’s County Educator Association (PGCEA) appears to be having an impact in the State’s Attorney, Governorship, County Council and School Board races. It has shaken the political machine in Maryland and especially Prince George’s County that has grown comfortable with steam-rolling over all the competition to ensure establishment puppets gains victory at whatever cost.
Let us stay focused on the war on corruption here and the personnel involved — voting out the picks of the political machine that oppresses Prince Georgians and Marylanders as well. This to us is a high priority.
More to come!