It’s a new year, and it’s the same struggle for fairness, dignity, and respect; we face the new year with a determination to make it our best on record.
What can we do to have the best year possible? We need stronger contracts, and more members who are active. The old saying goes that we spend a third of our lives at work. If we are united and organized in our union, we have so much power to make that third of our lives better.
We hit the ground running. We are at the bargaining table fighting for Salisbury University employees, Harford County employees, and our newest bargaining unit, the MTA Sergeants, Council 7122, to negotiate their first contract.
But as you know, a contract is only as strong as its membership. That’s why we hope to grow our membership substantially. With more union members we are better able to enforce our contracts and defend our rights, especially when we take the time to train members to represent their union at work and solve workplace issues.
Our organizing efforts with Supervisors is expanding and the voice of Supervisors is getting stronger every day. Make your voice heard and let your elected representative know that you want collective bargaining for Supervisors. If you don’t know who your house delegate or state senator is, look on your voter registration card and send them an e-mail or give their office a call. Make your voice heard.
Here at MCEA headquarters, we are building a strong internal structure capable of carrying out this important work. In this spirit, I’d like to introduce you to the President of MCEA’s Advisory Board: Marilyn Miller.
Marilyn has served MCEA in nearly every position for decades. In many ways, MCEA could not be where it is today without her. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MTA Sergeants (Council 7122)
On July 1, 2022, the law granting MTA sergeants the right to collective bargaining went into effect. This is historic for them. Until now, only MTA officers (corporal and below) have had the right to negotiate over their terms and conditions of employment. MTA sergeants have not only been left out of collective bargaining, but transportation system laws have also specifically prohibited them from filing grievances.
During the summer and fall seasons of 2022, MTA sergeants worked hard to develop their draft proposal of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), many times on Saturdays and other times off.
So, on Friday, December 30, 2022, MCEA Council 7122, MTA Sergeants, held their first negotiating meeting with MTA management. We agreed to review the ground rules at this meeting and set our meeting schedule accordingly—the key question being: How often do we need to meet?
Drawing from MCEA’s long experience in negotiating contracts, our negotiating team pushed for meeting more than once a week. This is based on our experience negotiating first contracts, which can take up to years to finish. However, management stated they wish for these negotiations to be finished as soon as possible.
At the time of writing, even after a second meeting, management is still considering our ground rules. We expected to hear from them and their thoughts on a meeting schedule.
MCEA members: Stay tuned. MTA sergeants may need your solidarity to push through these negotiations.
Salisbury University & Harford County Government
At both Salisbury University and Harford County, negotiations are only just beginning. Though we’ve been able to secure major victories and improvements to both MOUs historically, we are facing new administrations at both. With new administrations come new challenges, but through strength and unity, MCEA always prevails.
At the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences, we have finished negotiations and ratified the new contract, which will expire in three years. Through these negotiations, we have accomplished:
- Increased the amount of administrative leave to 96 hours for Union officers to conduct Union business
- Negotiated language prohibiting the University to establish split shifts
- Fought back the notion of changing the calculation of overtime not to include time not actually worked at the worksite
- Increased the on call pay to $3.50 for each hour while on call
- Added Juneteenth as a paid holiday
- Personal leave can now be used in 15 minute increments
- Provided greater flexibility when requesting annual leave
- Provided language for the use of Sick and Safe Leave
- Strengthened the evaluation process
- Improved the process of reporting unsafe working conditions
- Increased the amount of reimbursement for safety shoes
- Strengthened prerequisites that management must take prior to imposing disciplinary actions to employees
Supervisors United for Collective Bargaining
Since we began this campaign to win collective bargaining for State of Maryland supervisors, we have:
- Released a “Frequently Asked Questions” flyer to help members having conversations with fellow supervisors
- Signed up many new supervisors as MCEA members
- Encouraged many supervisors to contact their legislators to support a collective bargaining bill
Be on the lookout for an announcement about our next meeting. In the meantime, be sure to fill out our supervisors’ survey.
On Tuesday, January 31, 2023, MCEA members testified before the House Appropriation Committee in support of a bill that will win collective bargaining for supervisors, and will be testifying before the Senate Finance Committee on February 16. Stay tuned!
Did You Know?
MCEA’s new constitution and bylaws establishes some important standing committees that are crucial to the running of MCEA.
We invite you to volunteer for any of these committees where your skills, talents, and experiences can shine. Check out these committees:
Standing committees established by bylaws:
A. Finance: A finance committee composed of the Treasurer and four (4) other members appointed by the President and approved by the Executive Board shall prepare a budget in accordance with the MCEA policies to be presented at the October Representative Assembly meeting.
B. Representative Assembly Meeting: A Representative Assembly meeting committee shall be appointed by the President with the approval of the Executive Board and shall plan and convene the meetings of the Representative Assembly.
C. Election: The elections committee shall conduct all elections of officers, Council Vice Presidents and Representative Assembly members. It shall consist of five (5) members in good standing appointed by the President with the approval of the Executive Board. Members of the election committee shall not be running for office in the union.
D. Legislative and Political Action: The Executive Vice President shall chair this committee and shall work in concert with AFT Maryland.
E. Organizing Committee: The organizing committee shall be chaired by the President and have four (4) additional members appointed by the President and approved by the Executive Board. The Committee shall be responsible for developing programs and activities that will focus on strengthening the union by increasing membership, and by creating an informed and engaged membership by working with Council Vice Presidents, shop stewards and staff.
Special committees established by the Executive Board:
1. Building Management Committee: This committee will work with MCEA staff and the Executive Board to review vendor contracts as they relate to MCEA Headquarters.
2. Insurance Trust Committee: This committee works with RK Tongue, our long-time insurance partner, to review various insurance plans that may benefit MCEA members and apply funds from the Insurance Trust as appropriate.
If you would like to contribute to any number of these committees, please contact President Marilyn Miller at email@example.com to express your interest.
Superstar of the Month: Joy Clark
Joy Clark is a 911 Specialist in the Harford County Department of Emergency Services and serves as an officer on the Council 610 Board.
I became a Shop Steward in November 2021 and quickly became the chapter secretary. At first, I was only doing it because, “someone had to.” But I quickly realized that I am passionate about fairness and accountability in the workplace, and I enjoy educating my coworkers and other county employees about the benefits of being a union member.
Our board consists of four members and we are on the same page about everything—we’re dedicated to taking big steps to make big changes in our workplaces! Having like-minded people working together for change and growth is a huge blessing.
Dollars & Sense: Union Plus Debt Management
Source: US Inflation Calculator
We’ve all felt it, and the statistics confirm it: we’re facing the highest inflation levels in decades. And unless we’ve seen some pretty impressive pay raises, it means the same for all of us: Essentially, we’ve all taken a pay cut.
This is why we fight together for collective bargaining and for higher pay where we already have it.
Luckily, there are other ways to stay afloat in the meantime. As an MCEA member, you have access to the Union Plus Debt Management Program and Credit Counseling.
MCEA membership comes with a free credit counseling session, which covers:
- Complete financial review, including budget analysis and credit management counseling.
- Assistance in budgeting or advice on sources of additional income.
- Advice on how to work with creditors.
- An Action Plan that summarizes your financial situation, provides a budget and timeline for reaching your debt management and repayment goals, and restates action items.
- Referral to a social service organization in your area, if appropriate.
- Referral to Union Plus Legal Service or Union Plus Mortgage Assistance program, if appropriate.
Union members who need additional help eliminating debt can receive an enrollment fee waiver for the Debt Management Plan (DMP) available through Union Plus Credit Counseling.
These benefits can be easily accessed through the Union Plus website: http://unionplus.org
We now have an online membership application! Let's grow the union! Forward to your coworkers: http://mcea.md.aft.org/join-union/join-mcea