AFT-Maryland is now the recognized bargaining agent for full-time faculty at Howard and Frederick Community Colleges. This comes after intense and laborious organizing by faculty activists and AFT-Maryland organizers. Frederick and Howard Community Colleges filed on Monday August 21, 2023 and fittingly during the week leading to Labor Day, they were recognized by the recently created state Public Employee Labor Relations Board.
In a portion of her remarks about the unionization efforts at Frederick and Howard Community Colleges, AFT-Maryland President Kenya Campbell said:
AFT-Maryland is a statewide leader in the field. The affiliation between AFT and AAUP [the American Association of University Professors] has only strengthened us as a state federation as we organize and protect public employees across Maryland. Faculty at community colleges across Maryland are public employees engaged in the essential work of preparing the bright minds of today to confront the challenges of tomorrow.
Workers all over the United States see the value of collective bargaining and worker solidarity, and community college faculty are no different. We welcome these new members into our union family and remember the deep roots AFT-Maryland has in organizing higher education faculty dating back to Local 1980 at the former Community College of Baltimore. We will continue to fight for higher education workers throughout Maryland to get the representation they deserve and democracy in the workplace.
Faculty activists were eager for unionization and also saw it as a way to protect workers’ rights. “I'm for unionizing because faculty know what's best for our students, our schools, and higher education, and a union and a contract will finally give us our say. Administrators tell us how to do our jobs without knowing their way around a classroom. But when it comes to our students and their learning, I trust my colleagues. I trust faculty,” said HCC English instructor Tim Bruno.
Greg Coldren, an FCC math instructor, said "I support FCC faculty's unionization effort because the history of the institution shows that no existing organization, including FCC's board of trustees and various state and regional accreditation organizations, will protect faculty and other employees from abusive administrators. The solidarity and power we are creating with our union will ensure our protection."
Unionization has attracted attention from a wide audience curious about the efforts at the respective campuses. After filing for recognition, faculty at Frederick Community College held a rally to celebrate their status as a union, and to turn attention toward bargaining for their first contract. Reporters took to X (formerly Twitter) to announce that faculty at Howard Community College organized and were recognized. The Maryland politics and policy news publication Maryland Matters wrote a Labor Day piece focusing on the efforts of activists, the state federation, and the legislature that brought about unionized full-time faculty at the two schools.
The state federation has received national support from the AFT, as well as the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The affiliation between the two organizations came about in 2022 with the announcement of a merger.
AAUP president Irene Mulvey and AFT president Randi Weingarten also weighed in on the higher education faculty unionization with a press release: Maryland Community College Workers Say ‘Union Yes!’