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AFT-Maryland and IAM Hold Collective Bargaining Press Conference

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. 

Activists at the University of Maryland have been working to gain collective bargaining rights and a democratic voice at their workplace for years. Daniel Smolyak of the Fearless Student Employees, a collective of graduate students fighting for livable wages, collective bargaining rights, and justice for all UMD workers and community, gave remarks at the press conference saying “university administrators love to talk the talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion, yet when it comes to the workplace they refuse to walk the walk.” Smolyak was joined by history professor Karin Rosemblatt, Vice President of the University of Maryland AAUP chapter. Rosemblatt told reporters following the press conference “there’s no way we can compete for the best talent when our wages are so out of whack.” 

“There is nothing controversial about giving workers the freedom to choose to better their lives by having a voice in the workplace with a union. I urge members of the Senate Finance Committee to do right by the library and higher education workers in our great state,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President David Sullivan. Sullivan was supported by Harford County Public Library workers who echoed his sentiment that nothing was controversial about this bill. Some workers even feel they’re being taken for granted. “We feel as though our jobs and job descriptions are kind of ignored,” said Harford County Library worker Megan Baker.

AFT-Maryland President Kenya Campbell said “Labor has strong allies in the Senate Finance committee, and now is the time for them to show up for the working people of Maryland and expand collective bargaining rights to the higher education professionals and library employees across Maryland.” The University System of Maryland has testified in opposition to the higher education collective bargaining bill, denying workers at the institution a legally binding opportunity for shared governance. Activists have a little more than a week to get this bill over the finish line before the end of session. 


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