Preparing for the 2022 Legislative Session

AFSCME Council 3 represents approximately 30,000 state and higher education employees across Maryland. Together, our union is a strong voice during the Maryland General Session because we work year-round to engage legislators and identify ways to strengthen Maryland's laws for all working people. 

During the pandemic, thousands of state and higher education employees helped to make sure our state and campuses kept running, despite the worst pandemic in over 100 years. After the “thank yous” and appreciations so many essential workers have received, the true test is to convert platitudes to dignity, respect, and pay for those same workers. AFSCME Council 3 is organizing to win improvement to our wages and expand collective bargaining to ensure all workers have a voice on the job. 

Why is it important for Council 3 Members to have a voice in Annapolis?

As public employees, AFSCME members have a unique ability to elect our own boss. The Governor and Maryland Legislature determine the state's budget which contains funding for our pay and all of our state agencies. Our power comes from standing together to influence elections and ensure that candidates understand that AFSCME members are public employees and voters who pay attention. 

Electing a new Governor in 2022 will allow AFSCME members to actually sit across the bargaining table from negotiators focused on improving state services instead of cutting them. By speaking out in Annapolis during the legislative session and building relationships with legislators, we can positively impact our agency's budget and build power for working people. 

To get involved in our legislative program, don't hesitate to reach out to our Member Resource Center at 410.547.1515 or email [email protected]. Our strength is our members and we are always excited to discuss your ideas and concerns. 

Learn more about our legislative agenda for 2022 below and don't hesitate to reach out with any questions. Before the session begins next January, the Maryland General Assembly will be gathering for a special session on December 6th. Read more about what is at stake in the special session here.


During the special session, the Legislature will convene to redraw our state's congressional boundaries and we anticipate overriding a number of Governor Hogan's vetoes from last year. 

One of the pieces of legislation that we anticipate being overridden is Senate Bill 9 (SB9). This bill would consolidate collective bargaining for public higher education employees, allowing for one contract to cover them just like one contract covers state employees. It will be a huge win for higher education employees.

There is also a smaller bill, Senate Bill 717 (SB717), which will ensure new employees' right to meet with their union representatives during orientation is protected in state law. 


Council 3 members are on the frontlines of the pandemic. Before the pandemic though, our public services were already facing a staffing crisis driven by below-market wages and Governor Hogan's refusal to fairly or adequately compensate hard-working frontline employees. This year our union will be fighting to ensure Maryland's budget includes funding for fair increases. 

In addition, AFSCME Council 3 is exploring whether a dedicated funding source could be established by the State to ensure earned steps equal paid steps.  While it may be a long-term fight, our union is prepared to win b ensuring Maryland's public services are protected for generations to come. After all, it is only fair that Maryland state employees are recognized for ongoing quality work and commitment to Maryland’s residents.

Binding Arbitration

Back in December of 2017, AFSCME and the Hogan Administration had reached an impasse in bargaining over new economic terms.  A Fact Finder was brought in and reviewed data and arguments, and determined that what the union was proposing was fair and appropriate. The Hogan Administration responded by doing… nothing.  Because they could.

There is nothing in Maryland law that compels the resolution of a collective bargaining session. This hurts Maryland because as wages have remained stagnant, thousands of positions are vacant because the state can’t recruit and retain workers currently. It’s also our local economy because when our members get a raise, they spend it right back here in our neighborhoods in our barbershops and salons, corner stores, and local theatres.

We need a process that brings resolution. We need a process where we can put our best proposal forward, and management can put their best proposal forward, and a neutral arbiter can determine what will be the result.  That process is binding arbitration.

Collective Bargaining for the Office of the Public Defender

There are roughly 425 assistant public defenders in Maryland, all of whom are categorized as at-will “special appointees.” This means that they can be terminated at any time, and for no reason or regard for their job performance. When the Office of the Public Defender was first formed in the 1970s, it was staffed with contractual, part-time attorneys. Today the line attorneys are full-time, permanent employees. Similarly situated state employees with professional licenses and advanced degrees fall under the “professional service” category, and the assistant public defenders should too.

This legislation would grant merit status and allow for collective bargaining rights for all of those employed at the Office of Public Defender. It is time that all the employees within the Office of Public Defender be granted the rights enjoyed by their state workforce siblings. We thank the city delegation for their support last year.

Health and Safety Legislation

Health and Safety Planning is important. There should be a minimum expectation that an employer should be at least trying to prevent injuries and illnesses.

Health and Safety Committees and Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (IIPP) made up of labor and management are proven ways to reduce incidents. IIPPs are found in states as diverse as California and Louisiana. IIPPs are common sense, logical approach that literally defines the concept of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on our lives.  What we are still learning about is something called “long COVID”, which can be a truly debilitating illness due to lingering COVID effects. Last year a law was enacted to grant Line-of-Duty benefits to state employees who died from contracting COVID; this year we are advocating for Line-of-Duty disability benefits for those who suffer from long COVID.