Maryland Home Care Providers’ Bargaining Rights Become Law

by Clyde Weiss  |  May 11, 2011

Home care bill signing
HOME CARE VICTORY – Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) (seated, second from left) signs a bill formally granting collective bargaining rights to 4,600 home care providers. Standing behind the governor is AFSCME International Pres. Gerald W. McEntee. Directly behind President McEntee is Glenard S. Middleton Sr., executive director of Maryland Council 67 and an AFSCME International vice president. Other key officials attending the signing ceremony were Senate Pres. Thomas Miller Jr. (D) (seated, left of the governor); House Speaker Michael Busch (D) (seated, right of the governor); Sen. Joanne Benson (D) (back row, next to Middleton); Delegate Veronica Turner (D) (behind O’Malley); and Delegate Adrienne Jones (D) (standing, to the right of Busch).
Photo credit: Mike Bradley

Nearly 5,000 Maryland independent home care providers have achieved another victory in a campaign for dignity that began in 2008 when they voted to join AFSCME Council 67.

With a signature by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), the providers’ right to bargain collectively with the state became law. The action follows legislative passage of a bill codifying O’Malley’s 2007 executive order giving approximately 4,600 providers the power to join a union and bargain collectively with the state over the Medicaid-funded home care program.

“We have fought long and hard for this opportunity and we are pleased to have the governor’s support, along with the state of Maryland, on this bill,” says home care provider Lorena Snow. “This bill will change the lives of all home care providers and our patients. People can say what they want about unions, but my union (AFSCME) fights for me, and I’m forever grateful.”

Last year, the providers won a first contract. The three-year agreement increased provider rates, created a state-provider cooperation committee to address health and safety concerns, and also included a providers’ Bill of Rights.

”This is a great achievement for AFSCME Maryland Council 67,” says Glen Middleton, the council’s executive director and also an AFSCME International vice president. ”At a time when collective bargaining rights are being forced out, we are proud to be able to secure legislation that protects the hard working members of the home care organization.”

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