Fighting Poverty Wages and Unsafe Working Conditions in Higher Education!

State employees of Maryland have consistently pushed forward to contain the virus at work and stand up for healthy and safe workplaces and non-poverty wages.  State employees have been successful in many of the efforts to gain fairness and compensation on the job, and as of July 1st, the state will start every employee at a minimum of $15 an hour. This is a result of our union, AFSCME, fighting at the bargaining table for several years to put state employees on a path out of poverty. 

But Higher Education members have continued to work under unsafe and poverty conditions, too, which has been a tougher battle. At the pandemic's beginning, many Higher Ed members were working under horrendous conditions, cleaning up student dorms and buildings where sick students were housed.  No personal protective gear was provided, and no standards or protocols were implemented to ensure safe and healthy conditions.  On top of that, many of the higher education members have been working for wages that have made them eligible for public assistance, such as Food Stamps and Medicaid. These were many reasons we worked to pass the higher education consolidated bargaining bill that we passed during the 2021 legislative session.  A Bill that we successfully passed but that Governor Hogan vetoed.

Higher Ed members are still fighting for essential health and safety protocols and a living wage. They are exposed to deplorable conditions and a lack of safe working conditions, many of which have not been addressed.  Higher Education Locals are supporting each other in a combined effort to take on the conditions and the poverty wages at the campuses across the state.  On August 5th, members from across the state gathered in person and virtually to expose management's poverty wages and unsafe working conditions.  This is in addition to the rallies and actions that have taken place at Frostburg State, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, College Park, and the University of Maryland Baltimore.  Standing together, we are moving the USM to bargain as one, to have one policy for health and safety, and move working people out of poverty.  

Working together works!  We have seen the power of collective action work.  At Morgan State University, after members publicly stood together to demand a $15 an hour starting wage and converting contractual employees to full time, Morgan State has recently changed their policy and will now enact a $15 an hour starting wage and is converting the contractual employees in our bargaining units!  This is in addition to the $15 an hour that the University of Baltimore has recently committed to pay new hires after pushing it at the bargaining table!  This will bring families out of poverty and provide health care and retirement security for previously uncovered workers! 

We will continue to stand together, push to override the Governor's veto of the Higher Education Consolidated Bargaining bill.  This will move everyone forward to fight for living wages, healthier working conditions, and safer learning environments. PUSHING FORWARD is the positive direction for our workplaces and our families.