In a sea of dwindling choices, most of Anne Arundel County's employee unions have made the right one -- holding on to their members' jobs.
Hundreds of government employees have opted to take unpaid vacations or a 3 percent pay cut through the current budget year at the request of County Executive Robert R. Neall. There is a case to be made that these concessions -- aimed at closing a $20.8 million revenue gap -- were made under duress. They were. From the outset, layoffs were the clear alternative.
But this misses the point. In a recession, job security is the overriding issue. Most of the county's non-education workers recognized this. Police accepted five vacation days without pay, Firefighters, sheriff's deputies and blue collar workers opted for a 3 percent pay cut. For reasons not yet clear, only one county union -- the Fraternal Order of Anne Arundel Detention Center Officers -- chose to sacrifice three of its 98 members to layoffs. What this demonstrates, clearly and emphatically, is that rhetoric flies out the window when the choice is putting food on the table or joining the swelling ranks of the unemployed. In cases such as this, the alternative is no alternative.