Workers at the University of Maryland College Park rally for better pay, safer working conditions, and more

Housekeeping, facilities, administrative, and other university staff call attention to stressful working conditions and insufficient pay at university

College Park — Nearly a hundred workers at the University of Maryland College Park, as well as students and community allies, rallied in front of the Thomas V. Miller Jr. Administration Building at the University of Maryland College Park.

Workers from across campus, including housekeeping staff, facilities staff, and more, called attention to ongoing issues at the university, such as insufficient pay that barely keeps up with the cost of living, stressful and unmanageable workloads, a reliance on underpaid contractual workers with no rights or benefits, discrimination and bullying by management staff, and more. After bargaining for over a year, the USM and the anti-union lawyers they have hired have done little to work towards a union contract that addresses these serious workplace concerns and poor working conditions.

"The USM has been downright disrespectful. They’ve disrespected the valuable experience AFSCME members bring to the table, they’ve disrespected the hard work we do every day, and they’ve disrespected us by not fairly compensating us for the ESSENTIAL work we do to make UMD a leading higher education institution. It’s a shame that they’re pretending to “Do Good”, when doing good starts right here on this campus. It’s time for the USM to come to the table ready to truly work on a contract that improves the pay, improves the benefits, improves the lax health and safety policies and poor leave policies, and improves working conditions,” says Patrick Moran, president of AFSCME Maryland Council 3.

“At the same time that UMD proudly announces they are going to invest $30 million to tackle the ‘grand challenges of our time’, they’re turning their backs on their own staff and failing to address the poor working conditions and pay happening right on their own campus. UMD pays the AFSCME members who do the essential work to keep the campus running with state tax dollars and refuses to invest in the staff that work tirelessly to make the university run smoothly,” says Todd Holden, a senior web developer at the university and president of AFSCME Local 1072, the union representing many UMD workers.

“While UMD leaders are being paid millions of dollars, there are UMD workers who are barely making enough to live in this area. And they’re employing hundreds of contractual workers who don’t even have benefits or insurance. While these leaders are sitting in their air-conditioned offices, we’re working in hot buildings without air conditioning. We’re working without the equipment we need or with faulty equipment that has injured us,” said Saul Walker, a facilities maintenance worker at the university.

For years, the University System of Maryland (USM), despite a public-facing campaign to “Do Good”, has exploited its workforce through various means, including:

  • Suppressing wage increases for non-management staff and perpetuating inequitable wages between different groups all while hiring more top-level administration staff and paying them exorbitant salaries
  • Failing to address lax health and safety protocols that put students, faculty, staff, and local communities in danger as well as poor working conditions, including buildings with no AC, mold exposure, faulty equipment, and more
  • Failing to address workplace bullying and discrimination that create toxic work environments for staff
  • Employing thousands of “contingent” employees who lack many employment rights and are paid less and have no state health or retirement benefits
  • Pursuing and relying on expensive contracts without accountability

“For several years upper management has told us not to speak Spanish at work, even though it is the language that many of us feel the most comfortable using. Upper management uses the term 'the Spanish group' to refer to us as if speaking Spanish is a problem. She tries to make us feel bad for speaking our language even though the housekeeping staff speak a variety of languages, including French, Amharic, and more,” says Roxana Cruz, a housekeeper at the Stamp Student Union on the College Park campus.

Exempt and non-exempt staff at the University of Maryland College Park are represented by AFSCME Local 1072. Since the passage of SB 9 in 2021 which makes a consolidated bargaining process possible across the University System of Maryland (USM), workers at all USM campuses that AFSCME represents are bargaining one unified contract for the first time. This includes workers from the University of Maryland College Park, University of Baltimore, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Bowie State University, and more, marking a major shift from having to negotiate individual contracts for each campus to having one unified contract for all USM workers that addresses pay disparities and working conditions across the system.


About AFSCME Maryland Council 3
AFSCME Maryland Council 3 represents nearly 45,000 public service workers in local, city, county and state government as well as in higher education who provide the valuable public services that our communities rely on. From Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore, we make Maryland happen.