Photo Credit: file photo
Q & A with AFSCME MD Organizer Adil Ahmed. Adil hails from New Jersey, graduated from Columbia University in 2009, majored in History and minored in Biology.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently organizing Local 3167, which represents all bargaining unit employees in the State of Maryland's Department of Juvenile Services. These workers are resident advisors in youth jails and case management specialists who work one-on-one with Maryland's most troubled youth.
What were you working on prior or during school? How did transitioning to labor organizing make sense?
Before I joined the AFSCME organizing team I worked with Obama for America's Faith Action for Change, New York City Chapter. I was an active student leader with the student government and Muslim Students Association while I attended Columbia University.
Near graduation, I began to consider careers in social justice. AFSCME's labor organizing made sense to me because at the core of AFSCME’s organizing model strives to mobilize working-class America by motivating hearts, hands, and minds. As the son of Indian immigrants I saw how important it was for my parents to have family-friendly jobs that provided decent healthcare. If it wasn't for the labor movement, working class America wouldn't be leading this charge for health care and financial reform.
What has been your most memorable or challenging moment as an organizer?
My most memorable moment was recruiting a dynamic leader by the name of Donnette Bellamy. From our first conversation to helping her develop as a leader has easily been one of my biggest challenges. The work we have put in together to build the union has paid off. Even though she is a new face to the union, her social capital and strong relationships with almost everyone in her facility was amazing. At first, she spurned me.
After a meeting with her co-workers and seeing the multiple levels of AFSCME Maryland's fight taking on the changes in her facility, administrators in her agency, and the state overall moved her to get more involved. She jumped on board and never turned back. It took about two weeks to fully get her on board, but since then we have recruited even more leaders and our membership is almost 100%.
What you about Baltimore that most people wouldn’t know?
I am a recent transplant to the Baltimore area, but as an organizer I drive extensively to parts of the city that most people who live here never see. One thing I have found time to do has been to reduce my carbon footprint and explore the city on my bike. By far Baltimore City has some pretty exciting and challenging bike paths, namely the Jones Fall Trail in the heart of the city.