Want more raises? Join the Union!

By now, everyone has probably heard the great news about pay increases for state workers, including OPD employees! We've been asked lots of questions about where these raises are coming from and what they mean. Read on for the four takeaways from these raises, and send this to any coworkers who have questions of their own! And if you want more good news like this in the future, join the MDU today.
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1. AFSCME members fought for and won these raises through collective bargaining! 
Workers from all over the state who have unionized with AFSCME and have the right to collectively bargain have been going back and forth with the state for months about these raises. The state's original proposal was a paltry 2% increase with only two steps, and it's only because of the hard work, tenacity, and solidarity of other locals in AFSCME Council 3 that we're getting raises, steps, and more steps added on to the top of the scale for the committed OPD employees with decades of service! These gains didn't come from OPD management or from statewide management – they came from organized workers fighting together and winning. 
2. These raises are proof that our organizing is working! 
Because OPD workers don't have the right to collectively bargain, we weren't guaranteed these raises after the other locals negotiated hard for them. In fact, we STILL aren't guaranteed anything – there's nothing to prevent the state from changing their mind tomorrow and going back on these promises, since we don't have a written contract! The reason we're getting these increases even without collective bargaining is because we are organizing. It is not a coincidence that after years and years of stagnant wages, we are getting our first pay bump in years just over a year after we launched the Maryland Defenders Union and began publicly demanding fair pay, better working conditions, and the resources needed to vigorously represent our clients. But we're only getting started!
3. We'll have so much more once we win the right to collectively bargain! 
AFSCME members with collective bargaining are also getting these pay bumps, plus a lot more. Workers who were required to report to a physical worksite after the state's COVID-19 emergency declaration but weren't paid the hazard pay they were contractually promised were able to file a grievance about that fact, and now they're getting an additional $2,500 on top of these pay increases. That wasn't an option for OPD workers, even though many of us (especially core staffers) were required to be present at courthouses and offices without adequate PPE or health and safety procedures. When we have the right to collectively bargain, we'll have a seat at the table during salary negotiations. We'll know exactly what the state is offering us and be able to craft our counter-offers around the items that are most important to us. And we'll be able to file grievances and hold management to account when necessary. Whether you're already a union member or haven't signed your card yet, sign our petition today and tell Maryland legislators that we want the right to collectively bargain.
4. Even with this raise, OPD workers are still paid drastically less than what we deserve and what we need to support our families. 
If you want to build on this progress and win more raises, join the MDU today. Dues are $18.48 per pay period, and they're an investment in our future and the future of this agency that will pay off in the form of future salary increases, better working conditions, and better representation for our clients. The time is now! Sign your union card today. And once you've done that, or if you're already a member, email [email protected] to find out how you can get more involved in the fight for a better OPD.