MPEC Member Testifies at State Parks Investment Commission

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Every day, you don’t know what you’re going to be dealing with and your plans are always being upended by circumstances in the park.” That’s how MPEC Local 6197 member Chris Czarra described his experience working as a park ranger in Maryland state parks. Czarra’s testimony to the Maryland State Parks Investment Commission dramatized what a day in the life of Maryland park rangers looks like. Czarra’s testimony continues the union’s efforts for fair wages, greater working conditions, and overall better treatment for Maryland park rangers. 

Earlier this summer, park rangers and MPEC members and supporters hiked to the governor’s mansion to protest rangers not receiving COVID Response pay, despite being frontline workers who put themselves and their families at risk to keep Maryland parks open and operating during the early months of the pandemic. Then, rangers wanted to meet with the Governor, believing he would understand the need to honor the work of park rangers with COVID Response pay. The October 5th meeting of the State Parks Investment Commission drove home just how much financial need state parks are in. 

Czarra warned of the dire need to increase wages to park rangers in order to have enough rangers to staff state parks. Compared to county and federal parks, Maryland parks are woefully underfunded. As the legislative session approaches, the need to fund state parks will be another echo in the call for wealthier Marylanders to pay their fair share. With the wealthiest Marylanders paying their fair share of taxes, the state will have the revenue it needs to invest in parks and the people who work in them. Otherwise, for many park rangers, according to Czarra they’ll say, “it’s just not worth it”.