State workers in Maryland who are members of AFSCME Council 3 won big in the state legislative session that just ended. Through AFSCME Strong organizing, they secured new salary increases, job protections and benefits, including a 6% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for the next fiscal year.
At first, they seemed to be facing long odds. In the fall of 2018, Gov. Larry Hogan tried to change the ground rules, pushing back against workers’ ability to communicate freely with their fellow union members through social media and email, and to seek assistance from the General Assembly. AFSCME members also faced attempts to delay a promised 3% COLA.
Instead, they organized through their union, contacting their legislators in the state assembly to demand that they do the right thing by working families.
“This legislative session, AFSCME Council 3 members refused to settle for less,” said Council 3 President Patrick Moran. “Last fall, our bargaining team rejected unfair ground rules and made a choice to organize around the legislative session for the raises we deserve. In four months, over 200 Council 3 members came to Annapolis to lobby their elected officials. We visited, or tried to visit, all 188 senators and delegates and generated over 1,000 calls to the legislature.”
As a result, AFSCME members were successful not only in stopping attempts to delay the 3% COLA but in winning an additional 3% raise. Correctional officers and correctional case managers will receive a 4% COLA in July 2019.
In addition to salary increases, state workers supported and helped pass legislation that:
- protects professional employees of the University System of Maryland, so that exempt employees can only be disciplined and terminated for cause;
- requires access to free transit passes in the Baltimore Metro Area for state and higher education employees;
- extends the ability of state employees to receive damages if an inaccurate paycheck is not corrected in a timely fashion (state employees have won more than $100,000 in damages so far).