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, but that it was “important for state and local employees to support federal government employees. The federal government sets the template for the nation, so if workers there aren’t getting the respect they deserve, don’t have healthy and safe working conditions, and have low employee morale, we know that it is only a matter of time before those problems start trickling down to state and local government workers as well. You could say, we’re out here to fight battles on the federal level that we don’t want to have to fight at home.”
AFT-Maryland President Kenya Campbell further states, “Federal employees at the Social Security Administration are far more important to our country than I believe most folks realize. Consider how many of our loved ones rely on Social Security to provide for their daily needs. A number of our seniors, retirees, and countless other Americans need federal workers at Social Security to perform their jobs at the highest quality possible and in order for workers to do that, morale and working conditions must be up to a professional standard befitting the work they do.”
AFGE has long warned of the threat of crises at the Social Security Administration. Such a crisis could affect millions of Americans. AFGE Council 220 President Jessica LaPointe said “The union has been sounding this alarm for years — SSA is severely underfunded, having devolved into an agency on life support,” she said. “We need swift and meaningful change.”
If you want to support AFGE workers fighting for adequate staffing, increased recruitment and retention and higher quality of service for 65 million Americans, sign AFGE’s petition.