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.