AFSCME Maryland Council 3 releases priorities for 2023 legislative session

Largest union of state and higher education workers in Maryland is focused on addressing critical staffing shortages

Annapolis — AFSCME Maryland Council 3 has unveiled their priorities for Maryland’s 445th Session of the General Assembly. This year’s priorities are focused on three major areas: leveling the playing field between workers and management, improving working conditions, and building a better Maryland for workers and their families.

Coming into this year’s legislative session, Maryland has record-high vacancy rates in state agencies but a more than $2 billion state budget surplus. According to numbers provided by the State, as of November 1, 2022, Maryland had a combined total of nearly 11,000 vacant or eliminated positions (7,847 vacant positions and 2,858 eliminated positions).

“As always, we are committed to building a better Maryland and fighting for the pay, respect, and safe working conditions that every state and higher education employee deserves. We’re looking forward to working with the General Assembly and the incoming Moore administration to ensure our state services are funded and the people who provide them are respected and taken care of,” said AFSCME Maryland Council 3 President Patrick Moran.

2023 Legislative Priorities

Leveling the playing field with the administration

Improving labor relations

Maryland currently has three different labor relations boards, each operating with limited effectiveness. One singular labor relations board is needed that will be more effective and can properly adjudicate labor disputes.

The Public Employee Relations Act (PERA) is sponsored by Del. Jazz Lewis and Sen. Brian Feldman.

Establishing binding arbitration

Binding arbitration, in which a neutral third party is brought in when impasse occurs during contract negotiations to rule and make a binding decision on each party’s proposals, does exist at in local government but not currently in Maryland for state and higher education workers. Establishing binding arbitration would help level the playing field between workers and management during contract negotiations.

This bill is sponsored by Del. Marc Korman and Sen. Cory McCray.

Improving our working conditions

Expanding paycheck protection

Currently, higher education and Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) workers do not have the ability to file grievances for damages relating to paycheck issues. This needs to be corrected so that all state and higher education workers are able to quickly resolve paycheck issues.

This bill is sponsored by Del. Jared Solomon and Sen. Ben Kramer.

Improving indoor air quality

A number of workplaces operated by the State are in outdated buildings with poor air quality and ventilation. This affects many workers’ ability to do their jobs effectively and safely.

This bill is sponsored by Sen. Pam Beidle.

Expanding telework opportunities

There are a number of state and higher education positions that are telework-eligible, but workers are still being denied access to working remotely. There should also be protections in place prohibiting managers from entering employees’ homes to check on performance.

This bill is sponsored by Del. Catherine Forbes and Sen. Shelly Hettleman.

Protecting workplace rights for Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) workers

The State has misclassified many MSDE workers as "at-will" special appointees, preventing them from having the workplace rights that other state workers as well as new MSDE hires have. This legislation would convert misclassified MSDE workers into state merit positions.

This bill is sponsored by Del. Shaneka Henson.

Supporting organizing efforts for the Walters Art Museum workers and supervisory and managerial workers

AFSCME believes that all workers deserve a voice in their workplace and should have a right to collectively bargain. Currently, workers at the Walters Art Museum have been seeking to organize for more than a year, but museum management has refused to conduct a neutral third-party union election through a third-party like the American Arbitration Association.

This bill is sponsored by Del. Robbyn Lewis.

For supervisory and managerial workers, collective bargaining does not exist for these units. In both cases, legislation is needed to secure collective bargaining rights for these workers.

This bill is sponsored by Del. Mark Chang and Sen. Ben Kramer.

Building a better Maryland

Creating a strong state budget

From high vacancy rates to under-resourced state services, now more than ever Maryland needs a strong state budget that will provide our state agencies and higher education campuses the resources they need to be successful. This includes paying state workers wages that accurately reflect the difficult work they do, investing in safe work facilities, and providing workers with the tools they need to effectively serve communities across Maryland.

Investing in state facilities and protecting state services

As Maryland’s population has grown, access to quality state services, and particularly physical and mental health care, has become increasingly important. Maryland should be investing state funds into quality public services instead of siphoning off public funds to private corporations that lack accountability. When closing or changing state facilities, Maryland should also have a transparent decision-making process to discuss potential impacts to workers at the facility and the surrounding community.

The facility closures/changes standards bill is sponsored by Del. Ariana Kelly and Sen. Malcolm Augustine. The service contracts bill is sponsored by Del. Bonnie Cullison and Sen. Sarah Elfreth.

About AFSCME Maryland Council 3

As Maryland’s largest union for state and higher education employees, AFSCME Maryland Council 3 represents nearly 30,000 hardworking and dedicated employees in Maryland state government and public higher education institutions from Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore.