Looking Forward: 2021 Legislative Session

This year will be different than any other General Session Maryland has ever had. Much of the work we do in Annapolis will now be done virtually presenting new challenges and opportunities.

This year, the Council has created “legislative subcommittees” which will meet weekly to plan and discuss updates for each of our agenda items. Any member, no matter your experience level, is welcome so long as you come with the mutual determination to better the lives of their brothers and sisters – and their families – which in turn will be better for all of Maryland. Please reach out to Lance Kilpatrick at [email protected] or Denise Gilmore at [email protected] to join!

We have a robust agenda going into session this year. Learn more and download a version of our legislative agenda for your bulletin board here!

To get involved this legislative session we will have our regularly Monday Lobby Nights held virtually. See the schedule below and register for the virtual events by following the corresponding link.

  • January 25 – Higher Education / USM Consolidated Bargaining

  • February 1 – Health & Safety: Register Here

  • February 8 – Merit Protections for the Office of Public Defender Register Here

  • February 15 – Telework Policy Reform Register Here

  • February 22 – Fight for a Fair Budget Event Register Here

We will also be closely monitoring the State Budget and all Budget Hearings for your agency. If you want to participate in telling the human side of your agency’s budget, reach out to Lance Kilpatrick at [email protected], Denise Gilmore at [email protected] or your Field Organizer.

If you would like to consider testifying, you MUST give us at least 2 weeks notice in order to prepare.​ Budget testimony can have a huge impact. Check out the schedule here to find out when your agency is being reviewed! Budget Hearing Schedule: https://www.afscmemd.org/system/files/2021_budget_hearings_1_0.pdf

This year our Legislative Agenda consists of the issues below. If you would like more information about any of these topics, don't hesitate to reach out.

A Fair and Equitable Contract for Council 3 Bargaining Unit Members

AFSCME Council 3’s contract with the State expires at the end of this year. Given the existing differences of opinion between the State and Council 3 on a host of issues, it is possible we will once again have to go to the General Assembly to assert our right to a contract that treats state employees with fairness, dignity and respect. We also belong to the Fair Funding Coalition, a group of organizations banded together to close corporate loopholes, remove special interest tax breaks, and bring more progressivity to our income tax structure. Enhancing state revenues in a fair equitable manner will enable the state to address sorely needed problems such as public sector staffing shortages, state government program resourcing, and education quality enhancement.

Health & Safety for Essential Frontline Workers

Lack of protections for both public and private sector workers have been exposed. We will be working in coalition with others to enact: • Safe & Hygienic Working Conditions • Hazard Pay & Healthcare Assistance • Emergency Action Plans • Universal Health & Bereavement Leave • Right to Refuse Dangerous Work • Free Testing and Reporting of Positive Test Results • Injury & Illness Prevention Programs

Telework Policy Reform

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the positives, and negatives, of telework. Many AFSCME members have thrived with the ability to telework, while others have been challenged by equipment needs, broadband access, childcare access and work schedule restrictions. AFSCME looks to enshrine the right to telework into state law, and add requirements on management of telework, training, equipment access, and performance measurement.

University System of Maryland Consolidated Bargaining

This legislation would require the Chancellor of the University System of Maryland (USM) to act on behalf of USM and its constituent institutions, rather than the institutions’ presidents under current law, for the purposes of collective bargaining.

Place Office of Public Defender Employees in the Merit System

Under present law, Maryland Office of Public Defender core support staff and social workers are considered “merit” employees, but frontline attorneys are considered “special appointment” employees, making their employment “at will” and denying them many of the basic rights and opportunities provided to merit-based state employees. This legislation would remove the special appointments status of OPD attorneys and place them within the state’s meritbased system.