AFT-Maryland Opposes "Right to Work" Legislation

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Persons testifying before Maryland State legislative committees are granted approximately three minutes to state their views. The following comments were submitted by AFT-Maryland President Marietta English before the Senate Finance Committee on Senate Bill 660—a bill that would make Maryland a “Right to Work” state.

 

 

Mr. Chairman, honorable members of the Committee, thank you for allowing me to address you today. I am Marietta English, President of the American Federation of Teachers—Maryland. AFT-Maryland represents some 20,000 state and municipal employees.

 

On behalf of these workers, I am here to oppose passage of Senate Bill 660.

 

Throughout the country we have witnessed attempts to stifle and limit the rights of workers to organize and to bargain collectively.  Most dramatically, the events now occurring in the state of Wisconsin demonstrate the degree to which the American people oppose any attempt to limit or erode the rights of workers to organize and to bargain on behalf of workers like themselves. Not only the people of Wisconsin, but union and nonunion members, workers and middle-class people from around the country have expressed their support for union members in Wisconsin and their right to bargain collectively.

 

These so-called “Right to Work” laws are just the opposite of what they purport to be. Rather than strengthening the workers, these laws are intended to weaken and undermine them.

 

Labor unions built the middle-class in this country and the citizens of Maryland and the people of America know it. They know that any benefits acquired by union members also accrue to non-union workers. All workers benefit from union activities.

 

Maryland has a reputation as a forward thinking and progressive state. This is due in no small part to a cooperative and effective working relationship between this state and its organized workers—and while state officials do not always agree with labor’s positions, they have always respected the right of workers to organize and to unionize.

 

It would be uncharacteristic of Maryland to join the ranks of those states that seek to turn back the clock on progress and to erode the rights of working citizens.

 

I urge you to oppose SB 660 and to give this bill an unfavorable report.

 

Thank you.