Fighting for YOU
Local 500’s political team works to advance the interests of working families across Maryland, Virginia, and the District. It’s not just about endorsing candidates and providing support during campaigns. In legislative sessions, we’re in state capitols, moving senators and delegates to vote in favor of legislation to improve the lives of working families. We’re also working at the local level with county councils to make fair school budgets for our teachers, paraprofessionals and support staff a reality. And when need be, we head to the Hill to fight for our members and their families at the federal level.
Winning elections, pushing pro-worker legislation, and negotiating with county governments is an important way that SEIU Local 500 is making life work for working people across our region.
OUR 2019 PRIORITIES
Early childhood education
One of our great success of 2019 was persuading the General Assembly to accelerate funding increases for quality early childhood education. Inequality in education starts early. Children who are enrolled in high quality early education programs have a head start in grade school, while children who didn’t have that opportunity fall behind. In 2019, we took a huge leap toward ending this injustice.
Accelerating funding increases will give even more first-time scholarships to young children across our state. What's more, it will make sure that early childhood educators earn a living wage while they provide a vital service to working families.
As many of you know, perhaps our top legislative priority for the past five years has been the passage of a simple bill to provide collective bargaining rights to community college employees. In the final days of this session, we appeared to be moving toward victory in the House. Unfortunately, our Speaker’s rapidly declining health and untimely death made passage in that chamber impossible. Of course, we also faced opposition again in the Senate.
Although it is due to sad circumstances beyond anyone’s control, both the House and Senate may be under new leadership the next time the General Assembly convenes. None of us take any sort of comfort or glee in the misfortune of others. However, a fresh start in legislative leadership will make way for community college professors to gain their right to organize here in Maryland in 2020.
That is why we are declaring 2020 our year. We’re already getting to work building out communications, organizing, and political strategies so that come 2020, we’re ready to get this bill passed. We’re hitting the ground running the first day of session, so if you haven’t signed up already, get in touch with Anne McLeer now and be part of the Faculty Forward 2020 team!
Fight for $15
One of our legislative priorities was the passage of a $15 minimum wage bill. Across the nation, this has been a goal of SEIU for the past four years and here in Maryland, we’ve championed a $15 minimum wage bill for three years.
Thanks to the amazing hard work of Local 500 members, as well as of advocates and allies across the state, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill. But the fight isn’t over. We will be coming back to Annapolis to demand the General Assembly accelerate the implementation of a $15 wage and explicitly protect young workers and tipped employees. 2019 is just the beginning.
Kirwan and fair education funding
Even before the release of the Commission’s findings, we already succeeded in getting:
* Nearly $66 million appropriated for special education services.
* $30 million appropriated to implement a comprehensive statewide Pre-K program - and successfully fought to ensure our member providers are eligible to receive funding!
* $23 million for a special initiative targeting elementary schools with large numbers of ESL students and those receiving free and reduced cost meals to ensure they receive the same quality education as their peers.
We also gained allies and educated lawmakers on the importance of all the caregivers and instructors who help our kids succeed in school. Now we have people in power on our side – legislators who can include paraprofessionals in teacher salary funding in 2020!
Time to Care
This year, we supported the Time to Care Act, which would have made existing Family and Medical Leave Act benefits – which are currently unpaid – a paid benefit of employment for all Maryland employees. Our members felt strongly that Marylanders should never have to face the cruel choice of either taking time off after the birth of a child or an illness in the family or keeping their job.
This is a new issue and so far, only four states have paid family leave laws. Still, it is an idea whose time has come. That’s why we educated lawmakers and why members of COPE and the Executive Board came to Annapolis to testifying. Now that more Delegates and Senators are aware of this important issue, we’ll be using the momentum generated in 2019 to make Maryland the fifth state in the union to pass Time to Care legislation in 2020.