Busting Managment Myths

We're proud to have formed AFSCME Local 423, the Maryland Defenders Union, and proud to be fighting for the right to collectively bargain! If we want to improve working conditions at OPD and the quality of service we can provide our clients, we have to stand in solidarity and fight together.

But you have have heard some rumors, whispers, and myths about what unionizing and collective bargaining means for OPD workers and OPD clients. That's why it's important to know the facts! Unionizing and collectively bargaining will help attorneys, core staffers, social workers, and our clients!  



MYTH: Forming a union will mean putting our needs in front of the needs of our clients.

FACT: unionization will improve the quality of representation we provide. Under the status quo, attorneys have enormous caseloads, core staffers are expected to do the work of two or even three jobs, and social workers have too many clients to work with effectively (and many more who don't have access to a social worker at all). OPD's upper management either can't or won't fight for the resources we need to do our jobs. We need to take matters into our own hands, for our own sake and for the sake of our clients.


MYTH: We don't need a union at OPD, since management wants the same things we do.

FACT: we need a union if we want front-line workers to have a voice at OPD. Forming a union doesn't mean picking a fight with every manager on every decision they make. It does mean that we will actually have input and control over the issues that impact us and our clients, like salaries, workloads, and health and safety protocols. With collective bargaining, we can work with management and make sure our valuable perspective is taken into account. Without collective bargaining, we have to hope that the managers we agree with never change their mind and aren't replaced or pushed out of the agency. That's a risk we can't afford to take.


MYTH: it doesn't make sense for core staffers, attorneys, and social workers to all be in the same union.

FACT: we are stronger when we stand together. The issues faced by one job category impact us all. If we want to improve working conditions at OPD, we have to present a unified front. When we win collective bargaining and start to negotiate with the State, we'll be able to make sure we find a way forward that works for all OPD workers and clients, not just a select few.


MYTH: it just doesn't make sense for public defender agencies to unionize.

FACT: public defender employees in eighteen states already have collective bargaining rights. Attorneys in Cook County (Chicago), Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York, and across the country have fought together in unions for better working conditions and improved representation for their clients. And 30,000 other Maryland state employees already have collective bargaining, many of whom have the same job titles and similar responsibilities as core staffers and social workers at OPD. 

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Heard other myths about unionizing that need busting? Email us at [email protected]. And now that you know the facts, join the Maryland Defenders Union today!