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Charles County Workers Win Collective Bargaining Rights After a Long Fight

Charles County Workers Win Collective Bargaining Rights After a Long Fight
By Mike Plewa ·

The movement to secure collective bargaining rights for all Maryland workers has taken a big step forward.

On May 6, House Bill 443 became law without Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature; it will take effect on Oct. 1. HB 443 and Senate Bill 440 both authorized the Charles County Commission to pass a local law allowing county workers to collectively bargain, a right most private and public sector employees in the county already have.

On April 28, the Charles County commissioners unanimously passed a neutrality agreement that provides a fair process for employees to organize.

Charles County employees went to the Maryland State House in February to urge lawmakers to pass the legislation. Their efforts have finally come to fruition as they continue organizing their workplace to form the first union for county workers in the semi-rural jurisdiction, which is about 40 miles south of Washington, D.C.

“The state of Maryland has done the right thing for Charles County,” said Kevin Yates, an equipment operator who has worked for the county for 33 years. “As essential employees, we work day in and day out to provide important service to the residents of Charles County. This legislation allows us to organize our workplace and win the respect, support and safety we deserve.”

Al Butler, a meter technician who has worked for Charles County for 21 years, echoed Yates’ sentiments.

“We need a voice on the job now more than ever. I'm relieved to see our efforts in Annapolis paid off. My co-workers in Charles County are ready to form a union,” he said.

The bills were sponsored by the Charles County delegation, chaired by Delegate Edith Patterson. Charles County employees have been organizing through AFSCME Council 67 and would be joining over 45,000 other AFSCME members who continue to fight and win for public employees across the state.

“AFSCME will always stand in solidarity with the Charles County public employees,” said Glen Middleton, executive director of Council 67. “These workers deserve to have the same rights as others, and passing this bill is the first step to securing those rights.”

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