Member Spotlight: Elisha Mack

Two years ago, Elisha Mack took a job at the Spring Grove Hospital Center as a Security Attendant Supervisor, seeing the opportunity as a promotion and the chance to be in a new environment after nearly two decades with the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS).

In her role at the hospital center, she provides guidance and leadership to the security attendants as they work together to ensure the safety of both patients and staff. "My mom actually used to be a nurse here, but it's definitely not my mother's Spring Grove anymore. There's a lot of short staffing because many staff are burnt out or frustrated, and they're not able to access additional training that could help them feel more equipped to work with our patient population," says Elisha.

Before coming to Spring Grove and becoming a part of AFSCME Local 266, Elisha was a member of AFSCME Local 1427. She used that opportunity to learn more about her union contract, workplace policies, and how to hold agency leaders accountable for mistreatment and poor working conditions; she also worked with her local to put together regular labor-management committee meetings. "Even after I took the supervisor role at Spring Grove, I chose to stay an AFSCME member because our union gives people like myself a voice, even when we don't always have the courage to stand up for ourselves or know how to fight back."

The 2024 Legislative Session was an important one for Elisha, since she was directly impacted by not just one, but two, major pieces of legislation: a bill granting collective bargaining rights to state supervisors (HB 260/SB 192) and a bill correcting a decades-long mistake that left certain Maryland Department of Health (MDH) employees out of the Correctional Officers Retirement System (CORS) twenty-year retirement plan (HB 1005/SB 972). When it comes to the former, Elisha says, "I'm happy to be able to have a seat at the table again and to advocate for both the employees that we supervise and my fellow supervisors that are also on the front lines." And when it comes to the latter, Elisha is grateful that the bill brings everything full circle and has brought a lot of relief when she thinks about her retirement plans. "If we hadn't passed this bill, I was contemplating going back to my old position just to avoid starting over in terms of my years of service and eligibility."

Reflecting on this year's legislative session, Elisha says she initially had some hesitation about what she could do to help win these important changes. But the more she thought about it, the more she realized that she could be the one to deliver the message to her legislators. "I realized, 'Why not me? Who else can communicate how important these pieces of legislation are to myself but me?' I was honored to be a part of this process, to share my story, and to help us win." Elisha's story just goes to show that without the tireless organizing of AFSCME members, a 20 year retirement and a voice on the job wouldn’t have happened.