In 1995, AFSCME received a commitment from Parris Glendening, then candidate for Governor, that he would fight for collective bargaining rights for state and higher education employees. As a result, AFSCME members conducted voter registration and turn out activities as they never had before. Once elected, Governor Glendening came through on his promise and introduced legislation. When it did not pass, he issued a 1996 Executive Order granting collective bargaining to Executive Branch employees. AFSCME continued the pressure on the state legislature and in 1998, they reconsidered their position and made collective bargaining the law for state employees. With university employees keeping up the heat,
the Governor submitted legislation to cover higher education employees, which was enacted into law in 2001.
During state collective bargaining elections, state employees indicated their faith in AFSCME by electing
AFSCME Maryland as the exclusive representative in 6 out of 9 bargaining units which covers over 30,000 state employees.
Gains from the collective bargaining process are notable. In the first 2 years, the average state employees saw their paychecks increase by 10%. Soon after, a new pay plan provided step increases for the 60% of employees who had been topped out at the highest step for years. Raises of 4% for the next two years, new and revised classifications for the clerical, housekeeping and other classifications, provided necessary relief for many of the state’s lowest paid employees.
A free transit pass for the Baltimore area has saved state employees hundreds of dollars in transportation costs per year.
In 2001, AFSCME embarked on organizing to win elections to become the collective bargaining representative on higher education campuses. With a winning track record and a strong history of fighting for improvements for employees in higher education, hundreds of employees are speaking up for AFSCME.
Even though the right to collective bargaining is available to the majority of state and higher education employees,
AFSCME will not rest until all state employees have this right. And, even with collective bargaining, AFSCME maintains a strong presence and high level of activity in the legislative process because the Maryland General Assembly ultimately approves much of what is negotiated.