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AFSCME Maryland prevails in fight against governor’s public service cuts

Photo credit: AFSCME Maryland
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By Meredith Scalos ·

Since mid-March, AFSCME Maryland has rallied against proposals from Gov. Larry Hogan to cut public services. These cuts – including eliminating 5,000 jobs, instituting 5% permanent cuts to salaries and slashing employee health care – were held off the agenda during the July 1 Maryland Board of Public Works hearing following this sustained pressure from AFSCME members.

This marked a huge win for AFSCME workers in protecting the vital public services that communities depend on during this time of crisis – including unemployment insurance, food stamps and other community-based services.

The Board of Public Works – Maryland’s governing body for public services when the legislature is not in session – is comprised of Hogan and two other statewide officers, the comptroller and secretary-treasurer. The board has a lot of power to cut the state budget and reduce services, particularly in times of crisis.

Led primarily by AFSCME Maryland Council 3, workers called attention to Hogan’s mismanagement of the state budget and the irresponsible nature of the proposed cuts. In one of these actions – one of many AFSCME-organized car caravans – state worker and AFSCME Maryland Secretary-Treasurer Cherrish Vick lifted up the experiences of herself and fellow workers to challenge Hogan’s proposals.

“We have worked during this pandemic,” Vick said. “We’re giving Governor Hogan the ‘worst boss’ award because although we worked tirelessly during this pandemic, since he’s been in office he has not worked with AFSCME the way that he should.” 

AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride, who took part in the car caravan, stressed the importance of public services during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Maryland residents and employees deserve more resources and not less during this time of crisis. That’s why we’ve got to stop these dangerous, unnecessary and immoral cuts. And we need federal aid to states and cities to fight the pandemic, reopen safely, and provide the services our communities need,” McBride said.

While the win for Maryland workers certainly should be celebrated, AFSCME Maryland’s hard-won victory may be a sign of the battles public service employees across the nation have to fight in the future if state budget needs are not met.

“Our union has reached out to Governor Hogan to schedule a joint lobbying visit to the U.S. Senate to fight for increased federal aid for state and local governments,” said Patrick Moran, president of Council 3. “AFSCME members are leading the recovery at every level because our communities and our neighbors are counting on us. We call on the governor to put aside politics and stand with us to fight this pandemic and protect front-line employees.”

Instead of funding these front-line and essential workers, the Senate continues to refuse vital state and local funding while also preparing to rip much-needed assistance for workers out from under them.

Now, more than ever, the need for state and local aid and support of public services cannot be overstated. AFSCME workers everywhere are on the front lines of this pandemic as they protect states, counties, and towns.

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