AFSCME Maryland in the News | Week of September 21st-27th, 2020

Weekly Round Up of AFSCME Maryland Press 

President Pines answers questions on safety of workers, social justice at SGA meeting |Diamondback| September 24th, 2020

Pines went over the university’s summer decision-making about reopening the campus, emphasizing the focus on mandatory testing for students before and after they arrived on the campus. Along with an 80 percent compliance from students on pre-arrival tests, the university has seen some of the lowest total numbers of positive cases among Big Ten universities.

 Josh Steighner, a computer, mathematical and natural sciences representative, was concerned with the safety of staff and the negotiations between the university and the union American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1072.

“There’s no way I don’t care about these issues,” Pines said, mentioning he is the son of two union employees. Pines also cited his meetings with union leaders and work over the summer to provide housekeeping staff in residential facilities “cooling solutions” after the air conditioning was shut off in dorms where they worked.

“[The university has] met literally multiple times a week since COVID has come here,” he said. “We are absolutely interested in making sure they are comfortable and safe.”

Local leaders, social justice groups remember Justice Ginsburg in Baltimore | Fox45 News | September 22nd 2020

BALTIMORE (WBFF) - A candle light vigil is taking place in Baltimore tonight honoring late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

People gathered outside the federal courthouse on Lombard street to remembering Ginsberg as an American hero, pioneer, and inspiration.

While the vigil was the main event, local groups also used it as a call to action, encourage voting and census participation, and share ways Marylanders can act out of concerns about the timing of the U.S. Senate filling the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court prior to Inauguration Day. 

Event sponsors include: Baltimore Women United, NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, CASA in Action, Planned Parenthood Advocates for MD, DC, and NoVA, AFSCME Maryland, Baltimore County Youth Speaks, Young Democrats of Maryland Women, Baltimore Rising, Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, BOND, Together We Will, Restoring the Village, No Without Black Women, Latino Racial Justice Circle, Women for Biden, and more. 

'We’re always in danger' | Workers at University of Maryland voice concerns about being on campus | WUSA9 | September 21st, 2020 

With the school still adjusting to the fall semester during the pandemic, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1072 union told WUSA9 that the recent surge in cases brought plenty of concerns.

"We’re always in danger. When we go into these buildings, we have the chance to be in danger," said Saul Walker, a longtime repairman on campus and a member of the union that represents workers at the University of Maryland. "We’re there every day. We know what’s going on with the students.” 

While Walker does not regularly respond to Denton Hall, he said on-call shifts can lead to workers needing to head to quarantine and isolation housing.

After almost 20 years of working on campus, he said the pandemic had led to strict precautions needing to be taken every day. 

"I’m always mask-wearing. When we go into certain rooms, we have to put on extra PPE. Sometimes we have to put on a Tyvek suit. We've got to put on a shield," he said. "Mostly, I try to think about the work but also make sure that I follow the protocols.”

Moving forward, Walker hoped the school would work with the union to help make the campus safer for the workers.

"If we can come together, we can work it out together," he said.