Laborers endorse Kamenetz for BaltCo. exec
The union representing some 2,000 construction and maintenance workers who live in Baltimore County on Thursday endorsed County Council member Kevin Kamenetz in his bid for the Democratic nomination for county executive, Baltimore Sun colleague Arthur Hirsch reports.
"He's very thoughtful, he asked a lot of questions" during several interviews, said Jayson Williams, political director for the Laborers International Union of North America, which claims a half-million members in all 50 states and Canada. "He's an energetic policy wonk."
Between 100 and 200 members of Locals 710 and 572 turned out at the hiring hall in Overlea Thursday afternoon for the announcement of the endorsement of Kamenetz, who is running against County Council member Joseph Bartenfelder for the party nomination in the primary on Sept. 14. A lone Republican, former House of Delegates member Kenneth C. Holt, is also running.
Williams said in an interview later that Kamenetz has "laid out a vision of how to put people back to work," including support for contract policies that would look beyond the lowest bid to the "best value" for the county. That system would allow points to be awarded for bidders who finish work on time, on budget, who hire local workers, provide health care and other benefits to their members, Williams said.
Kamenetz said in an interview later that the "best value" system would mean "the low bid alone would not be the sole factor" weighed, allowing officials to consider other factors. "Is the employer from Baltimore County? Would the project create economic spinoff to Baltimore County residents?"
Members of Local 710 perform highway and bridge construction and maintenance work such as the construction now going on at the Interstate-95 interchange in the east of the county; those in Local 572 are public employees who work in maintenance departments and as truck drivers.
Kamenetz, a 16-year council member who also has been endorsed by the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, also proposed that the county school system take part in LIUNA's construction trades apprenticeship program for local high schools. That would give students the "opportunity to work on a construction site, to gain apprenticeship status with the union," Kamenetz said.