Have you heard of Maryland's FAMLI act? The Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program is a new program created by the state legislature in 2022 and updated in the 2023 legislative session that grants eligible employees in Maryland the right to 12 weeks paid leave to care for a family member, or for that employee to take leave for their own serious medical condition. Maryland joins 10 other states—California, New York, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia—that offer some sort of paid, long-term family leave to workers to help care for a worker’s family member.
AFT-Maryland knows all too well the pressure public employees are under. The state federation represents a broad coalition of workers employed by state and local governments so the plight of labor siblings employed by the federal government, though different, is familiar. That’s why it was important for the state federation to stand in solidarity with American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) members who work at the Social Security Administration (SSA) as they rallied to address current working conditions and address the ongoing public service crisis. The crisis centers around low staffing levels resulting in an inordinate amount of work for remaining SSA employees. Moreover, the union is back at the bargaining table and is looking to provide fair working conditions for existing employees while creating a healthy working climate for new hires.
AFT-Maryland Community Engagement Director Jeffery Johnson is a consistent advocate for solidarity among workers and often represents AFT-Maryland at events such as these. He said the show of solidarity was about more than just standing beside federal government employees. CLICK TO READ > > >
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 > > >
For the first time in four years, Baltimore welcomed back Artscape, but Mother Nature had other plans for the weekend. What was planned as a weekend full of art and culture that welcomed many from across the Baltimore area, became a one-day cultural event with a largely washed-out weekend due to heavy rains and threatening winds from Tropical Storm Ophelia. Despite not being able to enjoy the entire weekend of celebrating the arts, AFT-Maryland was present on day one of the cultural festival and distributed hundreds of books as a part of our ongoing partnership with Reading Opens the World.
The Baltimore metropolitan area’s water governance may take on a new form. What that means for City Union of Baltimore, Local 800 (CUB) members who work diligently to service the water and wastewater infrastructure is yet to be determined. However, CUB joined forces with a coalition of advocacy groups to hold a press conference demanding greater transparency of the Baltimore Regional Water Task Force, a body that was authorized by state elected officials during the 2023 legislative session. The coalition featured environmental, racial, and economic justice advocates including representatives from Food and Water Watch, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Maryland Volunteer Lawyer Services.
The AFT has always been a solutions-driven union, and our new campaign, launched during TEACH on July 21, proves it once again with a fresh, practical approach to strengthening public education. As AFT President Randi Weingarten pointed out during her keynote speech, the $5 million, yearlong campaign, “Real Solutions for Kids and Communities,” stands up against attacks on public schools and offers real-world solutions to build up, rather than break down, our communities.