"You want to dump your garbage" yelled one striking public works employe as he stood outside the county landfill in Upper Marlboro yesterday. "Take it to Hogan's house and dump it on his lawn."
On the first day of the first public workers' strike in Prince George's history, the striker's statement summed up the prevailing sentiment on the picket line.At the landfill, the County Administration Building and the County Jail -- where pickets were also present -- there was undisguised anger at County Executive Lawrence Hogan.
Most strikers seemed determined to continue picketing until their demands are met, no matter what personal hardships they might suffer.
"I have a family of four and I'm broke. Sure, this strike is going to hurt me -- I have a $600-a-month house note to pay," said one landfill employe who asked not to be identified. "I can't afford even a day on this line, but I can't afford to keep living on what I'm living on either."
"Ain't nobody who can afford even a day of this strike," said Lloyd Deans, an 11-year employe at the landfill. "There are some out there who don't even have a nickel to rub together. But we've got to strike to keep our dignity."
At the County Detention Facility in Upper Marlboro Corrections officers got the news that they may be out of jobs regardless of what happens in the strike. Hogan had announced that they had been fired, but the news was greeted calmly.
"Yes, I heard he had said that," said Bud Blend, 28, an employe at the jail. "We still want our money. We risk our lives every time we go into the jail. We deserve a raise."
"If anybody loses his job because of the strike, it will probably be me," Blend added, noting he had only worked at the jail four months. "But this is important. If I lose my job, I just get another. Personally, I don't think it (Hogan's firings) will ever stand up in court."
While the strike continues, Blend said he would depend on his wife's $100-a-week secretarial paycheck to feed his two children. Asked if he could survive a long strike, Blend laughed, "Hopefully," he said.
For Sylvia Taylor, supporting the strike may mean her 19-year-old son will miss the fall semester at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore.
"I don't want to strike, I need $1,200 for tuition or else my son can't go to school," Taylor said as she stood outside the county animal control shelter in Forestville. "But dealing with Mr. Hogan, I don't have any choice. You can only be pushed into a corner so many times before you have to fight your way out. So I'm going to walk the picket line until my legs drop off."