In mid-August, the Maryland Defenders Union sent a survey to the frontline workers of the Office of the Public Defender that asked a variety of questions about OPD and how it could be improved. We received a total of 187 responses from all over the agency, covering every district except one (District 12) and a number of the non-geographic divisions. Of those 187 responses, 119 came from attorneys, 60 came from core staffers, and eight from social workers. Respondents expressed their concerns with a wide range of issues but also showed significant agreement on several key principles.

The way we’ve been doing things is not working. We face salary issues, problems with supervisors, concerns for our health and safety in the time of COVID-19, lack of resources for ourselves and our clients, and concerns over discrimination and racial inequities. 

collage of MDU workers in PPE

Less than a week after OPD workers announced the formation of the Maryland Defenders Union, OPD management may have stepped up to provide one type of PPE, but questions and concerns remain.

Several Maryland legislators have announced their enthusiastic support of Maryland Defenders Union decision to organize as well. You can view a downloadable version of this letter by clicking here.

The Maryland Defenders Union (MDU) has decided to unionize with AFSCME Council 3, the Maryland-wide affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, to which dozens of OPD core staff and social workers already belong. 

Baltimore skyline with a sign in the foreground saying "BLM 2 OPD"

As front-line defenders, the attorneys, social workers, and core staff of the Maryland Office of the Public Defender have a front-row seat to racist police violence.

Photo of the front of the Talbot Court HouseAmidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maryland Office of the Public Defender (OPD) employees have stood together to provide the zealous representation our clients deserve, and fight for their health, safety, and dignity, despite di


We are the Maryland Defenders Union, an association of the frontline workers of the Office of the Public Defender whose labor is essential to the agency’s mission of providing outstanding representation to indigent clients. We are strongest when we speak together, work together, and fight together. Are you ready to join us?