The pandemic caused a shift in the way quite a bit of legislative business was handled. Some of those changes have outlived the social distancing guidance that dictated how we did business. That includes virtual testimony, zoom meetings, and live streaming of in-person events. One event that returned with a force as strong as it was pre-pandemic was the Metro Baltimore Council AFL-CIO labor rally, held on Lawyers Mall in front of the Maryland State House in Annapolis. The annual event is a show of solidarity among labor as unions collectively flex their strength and call on state legislators to pass bills that support working people and their families. As AFT-Maryland President Kenya Campbell reminded the audience “labor power definitely works.” Click for more photos and to read > > >
The race to the end of Maryland’s Legislative session is in full speed, but that hasn’t stopped AFT-Maryland from pushing for expanded collective bargaining for higher education workers at Maryland public institutions. The bill that would do that (HB275/SB274) is held up in the Senate Finance Committee, as is HB65, a bill granting collective bargaining to Maryland public library workers. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) collaborated with AFT-Maryland for a joint press conference urging the Senate Finance Committee to move those bills out of committee so public employees in libraries and state higher education institutions can have the right to choose collective bargaining.
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Stewardship Training: Helping Stewards Make a Difference
Stewards are the lifeblood of any union. That’s why it’s of the utmost importance that unions offer training to continue to develop and strengthen their stewards. The Maryland Professional Employees Council Local 6197 (MPEC) hosted their stewards for training on Tuesday, March 14, 2023. The training covered a wide range of topics, informing those in attendance of the responsibilities of stewards.
Community schools provide wrap-around services that help close the gap between students' needs and their ability to focus on school and learning. Baltimore is fortunate to have a number of community schools that serve students and families as well as the communities the schools are in. One of those schools is Wolfe Street Academy, a school that went from a low-ranking status several years ago to top-ranking, going remarkably from the 77th rank elementary school to the 2nd in the span of a decade. The school was the site of a visit from AFT President Randi Weingarten. She was joined on the visit by AFT-Maryland President Kenya Campbell and Baltimore Teachers Union President Diamonté Brown.
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What unions do
In AFT President Randi Weingarten’s latest New York Times column, she describes what it is exactly that unions do. Though unions are the most popular they have been in decades, anti-union sentiment still thrives in red states and across the nation. “Several years ago, The Atlantic ran a story whose headline made even me, a labor leader, scratch my head: ‘Union Membership: Very Sexy,’” Weingarten writes in the column. “The gist was that higher wages, health benefits and job security—all associated with union membership—boost one’s chances of getting married. Belonging to a union doesn’t actually guarantee happily ever after, but it does help working people have a better life in the here and now.” Click through to read the full column.
We welcome March with a warm embrace in part because it is National Women’s History Month. AFT-Maryland is fortunate that we don’t have to look too far to find inspirational and encouraging models of leadership. We are fortunate that one of the greatest titans in the history of the American labor movement, Dr. Lorretta Johnson, is one of our own. Her tenacity has delivered meaningful results for working people across Maryland for generations. She has not been selfish with her wisdom or skill as she worked side by side with Marietta English to deliver real results for public employees. Mrs. English dedicated decades of her life to Baltimore city’s children, and to labor causes in Baltimore and throughout the state. We are grateful to use their examples as a north star to guide our path and it is my personal honor to have learned from these women and continue their legacy of leadership.
Our state federation is grateful that we don’t merely have to rely on the past to find examples of outstanding leadership. Many of our locals are led by powerful women who fight for members and stand in solidarity with other labor siblings.