Unions Collaborate on Legislative Activist Training in Honor of MLK

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There’s an annual effort to mark the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday with an act of community service. The ongoing global pandemic made in-person service activities nearly impossible, but three Maryland unions representing public employees came together for a way to honor Dr. King with a worthwhile effort. AFT-Maryland in conjunction with AFSCME Local 3 and SEIU 1199 held a joint legislative activist training. The event was designed to equip union members with the skills to engage state legislators and advocate for their needs in the workplace.

Todd Reynolds was the AFT-Maryland lead on the training. He and the other leaders prepared facilitators to engage union members in breakout groups that would allow them to practice their pitch to legislators. The breakout sessions were made up of about four or five people who each took turns developing an effective personalized message that would persuade legislators to support pro-union legislation. The joint training was useful because it allowed union members to exchange ideas and best practices for effectively reaching and persuading legislators.

The training was held on the King holiday weekend to remind union members of Dr. King’s dedication to democracy in the workplace, respect and dignity for workers, and his emphasis on economic justice. He was famously assassinated in Memphis in support of striking Black sanitation workers who were members of AFSCME. Labor rights were a part of the civil and human rights he tirelessly fought for during his life. This training was a rededication of the collective union members to his high ideals.