Maryland Professional Employees Council (MPEC) Local 6197, kicked off a contract campaign for state workers in Unit G. The union is in negotiations with the state for a new contract and is seeking to educate members on the existing contract, as well as rally support for demands to be included in the new contract. To accomplish this, the union will visit worksites from late October through mid-November. The campaign kicked off at the headquarters of the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA). Members at the worksite (both agencies are headquartered in Baltimore at the Montgomery Business Park in south Baltimore) gathered to celebrate the kickoff.
AFT-Maryland President Kenya Campbell was on hand and offered remarks affirming the solidarity of the state federation with the efforts of the local. MPEC and AFT-Maryland staff supported the campaign by providing copies of the contract as well as sharing information regarding their rights as state employees and union members. Several activists were in attendance and introduced colleagues to union staff and explained the value of membership to colleagues who are not yet members.
In addition to President Campbell, Felicia Hawkins, who serves as the Director of Operations for MPEC, also addressed the group answering questions about the contract, upcoming negotiations, and new member outreach efforts.
The foundation of any union however is the members. Those attending the kickoff ecstatically touted the benefits of membership. For one member, Jose Camacho-Vargas, the union is a shield from potentially abusive management. “More employees should know their rights. I feel like more employees should know the options and the access they have in being a member of the union. The union has personally helped me with a couple of issues and I think there are other issues that people have that they do not get help with because they do not know their rights. They do not know that the union is there to help them so they don’t reach out because they are unaware. I think outreach and education, letting people know their workers’ rights is very important and that’s why I wanted to be here because I want to be more informed and be able to bring this information back to my coworkers so I can help them with their issues,” said Camacho-Vargas who is a Responsible Gaming Specialist for the MLGCA.
MPEC member Carter Reitman, who works at the DHCD, volunteered his time and effort to support the kickoff as well. For him it is important to participate in the union because MPEC is, as he called it, “our union”. Reitman went on to say “a powerful union means to me: better benefits, better wages, better working conditions, better representation to management, everything we need to make our lives better… Highly compensated, highly educated, valued employees working for the state of Maryland means that Maryland residents get good services.”
MPEC will continue the contract campaign through late November wrapping up just before Thanksgiving. During the contract campaign the union will be at the Department of Natural Resources, State Highway Administration, Department of Human Services, Maryland Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Labor.
If you would like MPEC to also come to your worksite to educate members on the demands the union is making in current negotiations, to educate members of their existing rights, or for member activation and engagement, contact the union via email or phone at email@example.com or (410) 863-7171.
Story and photos by AFT-Maryland staff.