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2023 Legislative Synopsis

Brian Wivell
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Who We Are and What We Do


The Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO has more than 700 affiliated local unions, representing 300,000 union members in the public sector, education, trades and construction, entertainment, manufacturing, transportation, health care, retail, hospitality, and other industries. We work for the freedom of every worker to form and join a union, for the right of all people to be free from employment discrimination, to be treated fairly, to earn family sustaining wages with secured retirement and affordable health care, and to be safe at work. Our focus includes: Investing taxpayer dollars in creating good jobs to build and repair our infrastructure and schools; creating good family-supporting jobs with benefits and job protections; maintaining and building good jobs at home by reindustrializing the Maryland economy and redoubling efforts for worker protections; ensuring fair tax policies, transparency, and accountability in spending public tax dollars; protecting public education and public service workers so that they can continue to provide the highest value and level of support to Marylanders; and ending wage theft through protecting and enforcing current labor laws. 

Our weekly Monday Night Labor Lobbyists meetings returned to in-person while maintaining a virtual zoom option, encouraging every affiliate to fully participate. The State Federation educated attendees and facilitated discussion on bills and issues impacting workers in Maryland. Individual unions presented legislation keeping the broader labor community informed and involved on issues impacting certain sectors of labor. Most labor legislation has an impact on a cross-section of workers. Lobby nights also created and coordinated strategies for moving bills through particular committees and identified legislators to target for direct lobbying in favor of labor’s position on the bills. 

The State Federation also assists unions with lobbying their bills by scheduling meetings with House and Senate Leadership and key committee chairs and coordination of supporting testimony. We also participate in and support several legislative coalitions, including: Everybody Votes Maryland, Caring Across Maryland, End Medical Debt, and Fair Funding.


2023 Session Statistics 


During the 2023 regular session of the General Assembly legislators introduced a total of 2,344 bills and 13 resolutions. The Senate originated 1365 bills and 5 resolutions, and the House originated 1699 bills and 4 resolutions. Of those introduced, 810 bills were passed. The State Federation reviews all bills, assesses its effects on workers and our unions, informs affiliates of bills impacting their members, and asks affiliates to confirm if they will lobby on specific bills. 


During the 2023 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Session, we tracked 580 bills including the Operational Budget and the Capital Budget. We submitted testimony and/or testified before legislative committees on 74 unique bills including their cross-filed versions. 


Our labor coalition passed dozens of bills for our unions and Maryland’s workers. We once again killed “Right to Work” and halted the passage of bills that would have hurt unions and working people.  


The 443nd session of the General Assembly of Maryland convened January 11, 2023, marking the first year of the four-year 2023 – 2027 elected term for 47 Senators and 141 Delegates.  


Resignations & Appointments


House of Delegates Resignations

  • Eric Luedtke - Resigned on January 11, 2023 to serve as the Chief Legislative Officer for Wes Moore.
  • Alonzo T. Washington - Resigned on January 27, 2023 to serve in the Senate.
  • Ariana B. Kelly - Resigned on February 27, 2023 to serve in the State Senate.
  • Kirill Reznik - Resigned on March 21, 2023 to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Inter-Departmental Data Integration for the Maryland Department of Human Services.
  • Kumar Barve - Resigned after the session on April 10, 2023 to serve on the Public Service Commission.
  • Darryl Barnes - Resigned after the session on April 15, 2023 to serve as a partner with Evans, Barnes, & Associates.
  • Tony Bridges - Resigned after the session on May 15, 2023 to serve as an Assistant Secretary for the Maryland Department of Transportation.


Senate Resignations

  • Robert G. Cassilly - Resigned in December 2022 to serve as the County Executive of Harford.
  • Paul G. Pinsky - Resigned on January 18th, 2023 to serve as the Director of the Maryland Energy Administration.
  • Susan Lee - Resigned on January 18th, 2023 to serve as Maryland’s Secretary of State with the Moore Administration. 


House of Delegates Appointments  

  • Bernice Mireku-North was appointed as Delegate in District 14, Montgomery County.
  • Ashanti F. Martinez was appointed as Delegate in District 22, Prince George’s County.
  • Sarah S. Wolek was appointed as Delegate in District 16, Montgomery County.
  • Gregory Wims was appointed as Delegate in District 39, Montgomery County.
  • Kent Robertson was appointed as Delegate in District 25, Prince George’s County.


Senate Appointments  

  • Christian J. Miele was appointed as Senator in District 34, Harford County but served only six days in the position since he lost the election to Mary Dulany James.
  • Alonzo T. Washington was appointed as Senator in District 22, Prince George’s County.
  • Ariana B. Kelly was appointed as Senator in District 16, Montgomery County.


At the time of this report, no replacement has been announced for Del. Kumar Barve (District 17, Montgomery County) or Del. Tony Bridges (District 41, Baltimore City). Montgomery County 360 reported on March 13, 2023 that 39 out of 187 seats in the General Assembly, or 21%, were occupied by someone that was originally appointed by their County Central Committee. 


Veto Overrides

Since a new General Assembly was elected in November 2022 and sworn in on January 11th, 2023, there were no pieces of vetoed legislation available for the General Assembly to override. This process is established in the Maryland State Constitution, Article II, Section 17.



Budget Overview

The 2023 General Assembly legislative session was the first to use the new budget process approved by voters in 2020. Previously, the Governor submitted a budget to the General Assembly and legislators were powerless to add additional spending unless required by law. The new system allowed the General Assembly to increase or decrease budget items so long as it remains balanced, but the Governor also gains the authority to line-item veto changes made by legislators.


Under the new budget system, the Governor introduced his proposed $63.1 billion budget on January 20, which included:

  • Spending down the rainy day fund to “10% of general fund revenues,” which is the legislatively recommended rate, 
  • Maintaining a $820 million general fund balance at the end of FY 2024. 
  • Depositing $500 million into the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Trust Fund to offset future blueprint spending costs. Increasing education spending by 10% to $8.8 billion per year.
  • Funding an additional $15 million for new teacher recruitment efforts.
  • Allocating $500 million for unspecified transportation projects.
  • Funding several other Administration priorities, like $171 million for the Family Prosperity Act, $33 million for the Keep Our Heroes Home Act, and $10 million for the Innovation Economy Infrastructure Act.
  • Public messaging around the Governor’s bill focused heavily on filling vacant state government positions. 


The House of Delegates approved its $62.5 billion budget, carefully drafted by the House Appropriations Committee, on March 17. It took $400 million from the $500 million proposed by the Governor in unspecified transportation projects and pledged it to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund. 


The Senate approved a $62.6 billion budget, with 38 amendments recommended by the Budget and Taxation Committee. The Senate maintained $200 million for unspecified transportation projects and re-funded the Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) program at $10 million. The BOOST program funds private school educations using public money. 


Due to differences in the House and Senate versions of the bill, the budget was sent to a conference committee. On April 4, the General Assembly passed the final recommendations of the conference report. The final budget included:


  • $1.45 billion in reductions from the Governor’s proposed budget, combined with $1.13 billion in additions to the Governor’s budget.
  • $900 million for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund.
  • $421.2 million for salary increases and bonuses for state employees.
  • Maintains $2.85 billion in cash reserves at the end of the fiscal year. 


Bills Impacting Labor That Passed the 
General Assembly


While this report is being written the Governor is still signing bills passed by the Maryland General Assembly. The Constitution allows the Governor 30 days to sign a bill or veto it. If the Governor chooses not to sign it becomes a law without his or her signature after the 30 day period. We have no indications that the Governor plans to veto any legislation passed by the General Assembly. 


Creating Good Jobs with Taxes, Credits, & Business Incentives

The Maryland taxpayer is an investor in businesses throughout the State. Through robust tax credits and exemptions, we support businesses with our tax dollars, deferring their costs and saddling workers with picking up the tab. As an investor, the State can choose to use our money to invest in companies that promote good jobs or those that compete to drive down wages and benefits. We believe that the best way to ensure workers’ taxes are used responsibly is to require labor standards on all business incentives and allow deductions for worker’s routine expenses like union dues. Resolution 15: Prioritizing Transparency and Good Job Creation in Maryland’s Tax Abatement was passed unanimously at the 2022 Maryland State & DC AFL-CIO Convention. 


HB 2 - Income Tax - Subtraction Modification - Union Dues

HB 2 creates a tax subtraction on Maryland Income Tax equal to the total amount of union dues paid. The State Federation coordinated a panel representing public and private unions to testify in support and submitted over 40 written testimonies from affiliates. The Revenues Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee imposed a $250 cap on union dues eligible for the subtraction and the House passed it. We worked with the Senate Majority Whip and members of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee to introduce an amendment removing the cap. By working together, our unions were successful at passing HB 2 without any cap, meaning that starting January 2024 our members will be able to subtract their union dues from their Federal Adjusted Gross Income when calculating their state tax obligations. 


HB 270 / SB 452 - Film Production Activity Income Tax Credit - Alterations and Maryland Entertainment Council

We strongly support the film production activity tax credit and work to structure other tax credits in a similar manner. The film tax credit allows the state to compete with other states for major productions. These films are made with wall-to-wall union jobs. This is the most rigidly audited of all of the business development tax credits in Maryland. These productions add millions to the Maryland economy and create good union jobs. We worked closely with IATSE Local 487 to support this bill. Late in the session, there were disagreements between House and Senate versions of the bill. The State Federation worked directly with leadership to introduce an amendment that directly added a seat for a representative of entertainment labor unions onto the Maryland Entertainment Council, which will review Maryland’s film industry incentives and make recommendations on future increases. The final version passed by the General Assembly increased Maryland’s total film production activity tax credit amount to $12 million in 2023 and gradually increases to $20 million by 2026. 


HB 551 / SB 547 - Office of Statewide Broadband - Study of Broadband Expansion Incentives

The Administration originally introduced HB 551 as an attempt to issue tax grants to individuals for purchasing network equipment that can be used to provide internet service or deploy broadband. The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee amended the bill, deleting all of the original language, to require that the Office of Statewide Broadband study how the state can incentivize broadband rollout. Communication Workers of America worked closely with the House Majority Leader and others to include language in the budget requiring a study of the workforce impacts of broadband rollout and how federal money could best be used to create good union jobs.


HB 552 / SB 549 - Economic Development - Build Our Future Grant Pilot Program and Fund (Innovation Economy Infrastructure Act of 2023)

The Build Our Future Grant Pilot Program issues grants to high technology companies up to $2,000,000 to support purchasing equipment, build laboratories, manufacturing facilities and more. The bill lists a dozen eligible technology sectors, but very little concerning the rules, regulations, or expectations for grant winners. As originally written, there was no language specifying how large the grant program would be and how many companies would be eligible to receive the grant. The bill still does not include any language requiring that the money is used to create good jobs. The State Federation submitted written informational testimony highlighting the need for tax giveaways to corporations to require some demonstration of good job creation to prevent public money from being used to offset the routine costs of businesses. Our critiques of corporate giveaways were cited in The Daily Record.


Collective Bargaining

Tens of thousands of Maryland’s state, county, municipal, special district, higher education, and quasi-public employees do not have the right to form a union to bargain collectively in Maryland. In addition, thousands of private workers are threatened, harassed, and fired for trying to organize unions. We work with affiliates to support all legislative efforts to expand collective bargaining rights and protections. Resolution 17: In Support of Collective Bargaining Rights for All Public Workers in Maryland was passed unanimously at the 2019 Maryland State & DC AFL-CIO Convention. We also unanimously passed Resolution 3: Higher Education and Growing the House of Labor in 2022. 


HB 184 / SB 79 - State Personnel - Education and Transportation - Grievance Procedures

Current law prohibits employees of the Department of Transportation and higher education from filing grievances on pay issues. Workers sometimes wait months to receive back pay that they are owed when grievances can resolve these issues faster. According to the 90 Day Report by the Department of Legislative Services, this bill “require[s] the grievance policies and procedures… to include a redress of any violation of an employee’s rights related to wages and payroll, including the award and payment of damages. The bills also expressly authorize a grievance to be filed by an employee of MDOT or a public institution of higher education in the State (or the employee’s exclusive representative) when payroll information is not reported in a timely or accurate manner to the Central Payroll Bureau.” We testified in person to support this bill. This was supported by AFSCME MD 3 and AFT Local 6197. Opposition from the University System of Maryland, claiming that workers would be able to file grievances on every management financial decision, led to amendments that specified the scope of what workers were able to file grievances on.


HB 797 - Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission - Collective Bargaining Agreement Implementation - Dispute Arbitration MC/PG 103-23

Arbitration is a common dispute resolution process in both private and public sector labor relations. It recognizes that both parties do not always agree and that negotiations can reach an impasse. When this happens, a neutral arbitrator is tasked with drafting a written award that lays out the terms of a settlement. HB 797 grants a “mediator-arbitration” process to workers at the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. These workers are represented by UFCW Local 1994, MCGEO. 


HB 764 - Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission - Collective Bargaining Agreement Implementation - Impasse Arbitration MC 10-23

HB 764 grants a “mediator-arbitration” process to workers at the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission similar to that seen in HB 797. These workers are represented by UFCW Local 1994, MCGEO. 


HB 984 / SB 367 - Public Employee Relations Act

Maryland had three different public employee relations boards. This Public Employee Relations Act consolidates them into a single Public Employee Relations Board and expands staffing for the new entity. In addition to streamlining public sector labor relations, the bill makes several critical improvements to public employee rights, including: prohibiting public employers from spending public money to hire union busters and allowing for certifying exclusive representation through card check.


Environment & Energy

The growing clean energy sector, driven by the demands of its investors, in many cases does not provide the high-quality union jobs that exist in traditional energy and manufacturing industries. Strong job and training quality standards are needed in the clean and renewable energy sector, including prevailing wage, state-approved apprenticeship job training requirements, project labor agreements, and labor peace agreements. Resolution 10: Climate Change and Jobs was passed unanimously at our 2022 convention, committing us to the fight for climate jobs to be good union jobs.


HB 169 / SB 144 - Public Utilities - Energy Efficiency and Conservation Programs - Energy Performance Targets and Low-Income Housing

Part of the transition to a clean energy economy requires retrofitting and weatherizing older buildings. By requiring the Department of Housing and Community Development to only use approved contractors meeting basic job standards for energy efficiency and weatherization retrofits we will remove some of the worst contractors from bidding on these programs. The approved contractor model may help union contractors win more state-funded work in the future. We worked to support this legislation with the Baltimore-DC Building Trades Council.


HB 261 / SB 424 - Eligible Projects - Procurement of Construction Materials (Buy Clean Maryland Act)

The Buy Clean Maryland program requires cement and concrete producers to file environmental product declarations with the Department of General Services by the end of next year. This report will contain detailed information about the environmental and global warming impact that their products create. DGS will then have to set maximum amounts of global warming potential for those products. This will likely lead to increased materials costs for contractors and may impact the Building Trades and Steelworkers involved in the manufacturing of these products. 


HB 793 / SB 781 - Offshore Wind Energy – State Goals and Procurement (Promoting Offshore Wind Energy Resources Act)

Unlike the solar industry, offshore wind has strong state level labor protections and community benefits agreement requirements that help make the industry an engine for good union jobs. Our union members are involved in the manufacture, transport, installation, and maintenance of offshore wind projects in Maryland. The POWER Act sets a statewide goal of 8,500 MegaWatts of offshore wind power by 2031 which would quadruple the current approved projects in the state. The bill also sets up a process for creating a coordinated off-shore transmission system that may save ratepayers money and create even more union jobs. By dramatically increasing offshore wind energy generation we can create new union jobs and bring down energy prices for Maryland’s ratepayers. We worked to support this bill with the Baltimore-DC Building Trades Council, United Steelworkers, Ironworkers, and IBEW Local 24. The State Federation coordinated labor panels for in-person testimony and worked directly with the bill sponsors. 


HB 830 / SB 477 - Residential Construction - Electric Vehicle Charging

New residential construction or significant renovations of units with parking spaces will require that developers include at least one dedicated parking space with charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Electric vehicle charging infrastructure has the potential to be a source of new work for union signatory contractors. 


HB 834 - Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure - Requirements (Electric Vehicle Charging Reliability Act)

Electric vehicle charging stations suffer from long periods of downtime and unreliable maintenance. Drivers are unable to commit to electric vehicles if they cannot rely on charging stations being available when needed. HB 834 extends the EV Pilot Program run by the Public Service Commission, but sets mandatory reliability standards for EV charging stations. IBEW Local 26 sought to explicitly include Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) certification requirements into the bill so that all maintenance workers on the pilot program would meet the training criteria. The bill passed without these requirements but future electric vehicle charging programs can be amended to include these training standards.


HB 843 / SB 880 - Baltimore Regional Water Governance Task Force

This task force will issue recommendations that impact the future of a water and wastewater system that serves hundreds of thousands of families and employs thousands of union workers. It is essential that workers directly have a voice on this task force in order to provide input and feedback on decisions that might impact them. We submitted amendments, in consultation with AFSCME MD 3, IUPAT DC 51, and AFT-MD, to add two labor seats to this task force. Despite active efforts on both the House and Senate side, neither chamber would add language to grant explicit labor representation on the task force, claiming that labor representatives could seek the seats allocated to local elected officials for distribution. The Senate Education, Energy, and Environment Committee did amend the bill to specify that the General Assembly’s intent for the task force was to preserve the region’s water and wastewater utilities as public assets, rejecting privatization as an option, but floor amendments then removed this language from the bill. The final version passed by the General Assembly includes no guarantees against privatization or representation for workers on the task force.


HB 908 / SB 613 - Electricity - Community Solar Energy Generating Systems Program and Property Taxes

Community solar projects are subscription programs where rate-payers may opt-in to paying for electricity from a solar generation facility within their electrical service area. These projects vary in size from 0.5 megawatts to 5 megawatts in size, but will likely become far more common in the coming years since they allow consumers to lower their utility bills. This bill was one of the major priorities of the environmental movement for this session, but due to the low pay and poor working conditions in the solar industry that undermine union prevailing wages, we proposed amending the bill to apply minimum job standards for all community solar projects regardless of size. Working with our IBEW affiliates to support amendments to this legislation we were successful in requiring that all community solar projects over 1 MegaWatt must pay the prevailing wage.


SB 469 - Task Force to Study Solar Incentives

The solar industry is notorious for low pay and poor working conditions. The state subsidizes the solar industry through an array of tax credits, alternative compliance fees, incentive programs, and grants. The State Federation has been working on further transparency and accountability for all tax credits and business incentives since 2003. We worked directly with the sponsor to introduce an amendment that added two labor seats to the task force. Once the bill crossed over to the House of Delegates, the Chair of the Local Revenues Subcommittee amended the task force to expand its scope to include studying all Federal and State incentive supports. The task force is now required to study “that solar development in the state creates good quality, family-sustaining  jobs with training…” The recommendations of this task force may help signatory contractors win future projects and expand the number of union built solar projects in Maryland.


Building Trades

Our affiliates represent tens of thousands of skilled trades workers that help build and maintain our state. The State Federation works closely with the BDCBTC and WMBTC, along with our affiliate unions, to fight legislation that would undermine prevailing wage laws, water down registered apprenticeships, and expand work opportunities for union contractors. 


HB 132 / SB 23 - Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning, and Refrigeration Services - Journeyman License - Qualifications

HB 132 raises the minimum standards for applying for a journeyman heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) license to 6,000 hours and four years as an apprentice license holder. Union HVACR apprenticeships still far surpass the bill’s proposed requirements. Raising industry standards can weed out unscrupulous contractors and result in a better trained workforce. With fewer journeyman plumbers that rushed to take their license exam after the legal minimum of 1,875 hours, our union members have fewer non-union journeymen that undermine our prevailing wage rates. We worked with the Baltimore-DC Building Trades Council and our UA affiliates to support this measure. 


HB 149 / SB 44 - Maryland Electricians Act - Revisions

This bill clarified language in the Maryland Electricians Act regarding licensing requirements for master electricians that did not want to remain fully insured, allowing them to act on projects as journeymen while keeping their licenses. This system allows our union master electricians to keep working without needing to carry expensive liability insurance, so long as they work under another insured master electrician. This bill was supported by our IBEW affiliates and the Baltimore-DC Building Trades Council.


HB 505 / SB 198 - Elevator Safety – Privately Owned Single–Family Residential Elevators – Inspection and Registration Requirements

Private home elevator accidents are unfortunately common and current law exempts them from registration and inspection requirements. HB 505 required private residential elevators to register with the state and pass an initial inspection. This will improve elevator safety throughout the state and provide work for our elevator technicians and inspectors. Following the lead of IUEC locals and the Baltimore-DC Building Trades Council, the State Fed submitted testimony in support. The House Economic Matters Committee proposed amendments that required the Labor Commissioner to delete all information about the elevator unit after it passed inspection and the bill passed the General Assembly with this language. These amendments weaken the original strength and intent of the bill but it is a step in the right direction for Maryland’s elevator safety standards. 


HB 1122 / SB 922 - Maryland Construction Education and Innovation Fund - Funding - Alteration

This bill increases funding for the Maryland Construction Education and Innovation Fund in the annual budget bill from $250,000 to $625,000 until the end of 2029. This fund is a public-private partnership at Towson University with representation from the Baltimore DC Building Trades Council on its Executive Board. The fund helps promote careers in construction. This bill received supporting testimony from IBEW Local 24.



As part of the Caring Across Maryland Coalition, the Maryland State & DC AFL-CIO supports all bills that help promote better wages and benefits for direct care workers. The home healthcare industry suffers from low wages, worker misclassification, and mistreatment. By promoting bills that penalize forcing employees to become independent contractors, raising starting salaries, and stabilizing employment, the coalition aims to make union organizing in this difficult sector easier. 


HB 702 / SB 509 - Health Care Facilities - Nursing Homes - Acquisitions and Licensure

Patients deserve high quality healthcare without having to worry about whether or not their provider has plans to slash staffing and cut services before selling their company to the highest bidder. Nursing homes are frequently purchased by large private equity firms and bad corporate actors. Working with 1199 SEIU and the Caring Across Maryland Coalition, our unions proposed requiring the Maryland Healthcare Commission to only issue provisional licenses to nursing home companies with poor records. The final version of the bill that passed includes a requirement that the Health Care Commission work with representatives of organized labor and consumers to study the current Certificate of Need Program and nursing home acquisitions.


HB 705 / SB 798 - Declaration of Rights - Right to Reproductive Freedom

At the 2022 State Federation Convention, our unions unanimously supported “Resolution #14: Defending Reproductive Rights” calling for the codification of reproductive healthcare rights into law. The AFL–CIO has affirmed that threats to reproductive healthcare are threats to workers' economic rights as well. We testified in support of this constitutional amendment and voters will have the opportunity to vote on it during the 2024 General Election. 


HB 808 / SB 859 - Reproductive Health Protection Act

This bill protects healthcare workers in Maryland from legal harassment by other states that criminalize reproductive healthcare options. Maryland workers should not be punished for following our laws and should not be expected to give private information to out of state courts. In line with our 2022 convention’s Resolution #14: Defending Reproductive Rights we testified in support of the measure.



The Maryland State and D.C. AFL-CIO strongly supports greater access and reliability for commuters, workers, businesses, and consumers, coupled with a cleaner environment through reduced carbon emissions, all while creating good family-sustaining jobs for thousands more Marylanders. This position was established at our 2022 convention, where Resolution 16: Investment in Transit passed unanimously.


HB 9 / SB 19 - Equity in Transportation Sector - Guidelines and Analyses

The bill amends the advisory committee that guides the state on transportation goals and benchmarks to include labor representation and requires future changes or cancellations to transportation projects to undergo a social equity and disparate impact analysis. The bill may make it harder for Maryland to cancel transit projects like the Red Line, which will be a major source of union jobs in construction and for the operations and maintenance. Expanding transit also increases economic opportunities for all workers. This bill was supported in partnership with ATU Local 689 and Local 1300.


HB 12 / SB 151 - Equitable and Inclusive Transit-Oriented Development Enhancement Act

Transit-oriented development may lead to increased transit ridership and can also help expand the local government’s tax base. HB 12 establishes the Transit-Oriented Development Capital Grant and Revolving Loan Fund which can be used by local jurisdictions to help fund and promote these types of development. Transit unions should be aware that alternative funding for their agencies may be available through clever use of this program. Transit agencies across the world have demonstrated that joint-development projects, using valuable real estate owned by the agency near transit services to build housing and retail, can be a reliable and steady source of revenue. These transit agency-led joint development projects may be able to partner with local jurisdictions to access money in the new fund. 


HB 51 / SB 24 - Department of Transportation - Financing and Commission on Transportation Revenue and Infrastructure Needs (State and Federal Transportation Funding Act)

Maryland has a limit on how much it can borrow that is set by the Capital Debt Affordability Committee. The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) issues bonds in order to fund large capital projects. This bill allows MDOT to issue additional bonds, known as Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) bonds, that are partially funded through future federal aid. By allowing more bonds to be issued, it funds more transportation and infrastructure projects that our unions can work on. An original version of the bill limited GARVEE funds from only being used for a select list of transit projects, namely the Purple Line, Red Line, MARC improvements, and the Southern Maryland Rapid Transit Project, but these restrictions were removed. The bill also creates the Maryland Commission on Transportation Revenue and Infrastructure Needs which will study: the current state funding sources of the Transportation Trust Fund, options for public-private partnerships, among other issues that will impact thousands of building trades and transportation workers throughout the state. The commission sets aside two seats for representatives of labor unions.


HB 472 / SB 217 - Transit - Commuter Bus Service - Procurement

Maryland currently uses a lowest-price bid model for selecting commuter bus contracts. HB 472 changes this to a competitive sealed proposal process, where factors outside of price can be used to award contracts. This will disincentivize the state from selecting unscrupulous transit contractors that intentionally put in low bids. Unionized contractors can bid fairly on routes without fear that their higher labor costs will be held against them. ATU Local 689 currently represents MTA Commuter Bus contractors on several routes. 


HB 673 / SB 617 - Maryland Transit Administration – Fare Price Requirements – Alterations

Higher fares decrease public transit ridership. Lower transit ridership can lead to decreased government funding and support for the service. Lower funding and fare revenue then forces the transit agency to close its deficits by increasing fares again, creating a cycle. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “Transit Death Spiral.” HB 673 repeals a 2013 law requiring the Maryland Transit Administration to always increase fares by the consumer price index. By allowing MTA to independently evaluate its own needs to raise fares it can avoid having to raise fares unnecessarily, helping to preserve the jobs of our union members and keep transit accessible for all, especially workers. We wrote testimony in support of the proposal and worked with SMART - Transportation Division and ATU Local 1300.


HB 794 / SB 876 - Baltimore Regional Transit Commission - Establishment

The bill creates a local transit commission with a non-voting seat for labor representation. This commission exercises oversight and represents the Baltimore region’s interests in Maryland Transit Administration decisions specific to the area. The State Fed, along with ATU Local 1300, testified in favor of the bill but advocated for amendments that clarify how labor representation is appointed. Amendments proposed by the Maryland Department of Transportation and approved by the General Assembly eliminated the commission’s budgetary oversight authorities, but still granted the commission a strong role in shaping transit policies in the Baltimore region.


HB 1049 / SB 693 - Transportation - Assaults on Public Transit Operators - Report

HB 1049 requires transit agencies like the Maryland Transit Administration, WMATA or locally operated transit systems to collect information on transit worker assaults and provide recommendations to the General Assembly on how they can be better protected. Our unions previously worked together, including ATU Local 1300, ATU Local 689, and SMART-TD, to support past bills that added public transit operators to the list of job classifications that are felonies to assault. We submitted testimony in support of the bill, but highlighted that sufficient data already exists to take action on this issue. If we can pass bills adding some classifications to the list of protected professions, we can work to add other public facing jobs in the future.


HB 1125 / SB 939 - Transit - Grant Funding for Local Service - Alterations

This bill sought to create a Locally Operated Transit System (LOTS) Grant Program and sets aside a dedicated amount of funding every year for LOTS (e.g. RideOn, TheBus, AnnapolisTransit, etc.). Upon final passage the bill just created the fund and allowed federal money to be diverted into it, but avoided allocating any specific amounts into the fund by law. Efforts like this will likely help to increase funding for LOTS in the future but may divert funds away from other projects that rely on funding from the Transportation Trust Fund unless new revenue is added. This bill will have an unclear impact on ATU Local 689 and UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO.


SB 491 - Charles County - Task Force to Study School Bus Operator Contracts and Wages

Though school bus drivers directly employed by Charles County have increased over the last few years, Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) still hires over a dozen different private school bus contractors to meet their student transportation needs. These contractors in turn employ nearly 200 school bus drivers and attendants. The contracting relationship CCPS uses is unique, as the school bus contractors collectively meet and bargain an agreement with CCPS that lays out worker compensation, benefit amounts, retirement, terms and conditions of employment, and more. In 2022, workers at 10 different school bus contractors voted to join ATU Local 689. Negotiations have been stalled by efforts to claim that several mandatory subjects of bargaining are already set by the contractors agreement with CCPS. SB 491 originally aimed to establish CCPS as a joint employer and required union participation in negotiations with the school bus contractor association. The Charles County Senators completely overhauled the bill, removing all original language and only requiring a task force to study the issue with three seats set aside for ATU Local 689 and three seats reserved for the school bus contractor association. 


Workplace Protections, Safety, and Worker Health

Workers deserve to feel safe at work. Many of our affiliates face daily attacks on their members or unsafe working conditions. The State Federation works with affiliates to promote legislation that improves working conditions and holds employers accountable for worker safety. Our jobs should not require our members to sacrifice their health for a paycheck. By strengthening workplace protections and safety legislation, we can penalize employers that would force our members to put themselves in harm's way. These positions were reconfirmed at our 2022 Maryland State & DC AFL-CIO Convention, including Resolution #4: The Trina Cunningham Resolution to Hold Public Employers Accountable for Public Employee Safety.


HB 590 / SB 377 - Workers' Compensation - Benefits - Offset and Study

If a worker for a governmental entity or quasi-public corporation is eligible for workers compensation benefits, those benefits might be reduced or offset if the worker is already receiving benefits from another source for that same or similar injury. This bill was introduced to reverse the Maryland Court of Appeals Decision in Patrick Spevak v. Montgomery County, Maryland, where a firefighter was awarded benefits for hearing loss caused by his job, but was ineligible to receive them since he was already receiving disability retirement benefits. The law now clarifies that offsets that decrease benefits are only eligible if the benefit payments are for injuries that are related to the same body part. The law also requires the Maryland Association of Counties and Maryland Professional Fire Fighters Association to jointly study the effects of the new benefit offset rule and report its findings to the Maryland General Assembly.


HB 902 / SB 839 - Labor and Employment - Workers' Compensation - Hernia

HB 902 allows a hernia caused by repetitive trauma to be covered as an occupational disease and be subject to compensation under the workers compensation system. Workers deserve to be compensated for their workplace related injuries and this will help protect workers throughout the state.


Public Sector & Education

Maryland’s public workforce has been hollowed out by years of underinvestment and staffing shortages. Vacancies in some state agencies have reached crisis levels, where new hires leave soon after joining the agency because of unrealistic workload expectations. The State Federation works closely with our public sector affiliates to promote legislation that expands public sector worker rights, tackles the staffing shortage, and prevents future privatization. These positions have been reconfirmed at our 2022 Maryland State & DC AFL-CIO Convention by Resolution 17: Privatization and Resolution 18: Binding Arbitration.


HB 153 / SB 31 - Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners - Student Members and Task Force to Study Compensation and Student Members

HB 153 takes the voting student member of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners and makes them elected by their High School peers. The bill also bans the student member from voting on personnel or collective bargaining issues. The bill also convenes a task force to study whether the current compensation of all Baltimore City School Commissioners is appropriate.


HB 309 / SB 574 - State Employee Rights and Protections - Personnel Actions and Harassment - Complaints

This bill expands the amount of time that a state employee in the Executive Branch or an applicant for employment has to file a harassment complaint from 30 days to 2 years. Workers deserve to feel safe and not feel pressured to report harassment immediately in order to comply with a deadline. The Maryland State and DC AFL-CIO maintains our own Code of Conduct that gets read before all meetings and prohibits harassment and discrimination. This was supported by AFSCME MD 3 and AFT Local 6197, Maryland Professional Employees Council.  


HB 395 / SB 223 - State Government – State Facilities Changes and Closures – Procedures

HB 368 fights privatization by requiring a public notice process before making major changes to or closing state facilities. Amendments added by the House Health and Government Operations Committee created exemptions to the 90 day notice and public hearing process if the government agency deems it an emergency. This bill was supported by AFSCME MD 3, ACE-AFSCME Local 2250, and AFSCME Local 3478. 


HB 424 / SB 481 - State Retirement and Pension System - Nonvested Accounts - Regular Interest

If an employee of a state retirement plan fails to meet the vesting period but is now enrolled in another state plan and is not old enough to withdraw their funds they do not accrue any interest on their retirement savings. HB 424 addresses this by granting them interest on their contributions. This issue impacts many state workers that switch retirement plans later in their careers.


HB 788 / SB 414 - Commission to Advance and Strengthen Fire Fighting and Emergency Medical Services Within Maryland

Local jurisdictions across the state are suffering from a shortage of new firefighting and emergency medical service recruits. This bill creates a commission to study potential incentives that could recruit and attract new workers. The Commission to Advance and Strengthen Firefighting and Emergency Medical Services includes two seats for the Professional Firefighters of Maryland. 


HB 1219 / SB 893 - Maryland Educator Shortage Act of 2023

The Maryland Educator Shortage Act establishes recruitment and retention goals in teacher preparation programs, requiring the Maryland State Department of Education and Maryland Higher Education Commission to work directly with the training programs. It also establishes a dashboard for tracking teacher and teaching intern demographic data by 2025. The bill also creates a new way to certify kindergarten teachers through having 10 years experience, having certain educational criteria, and completing an in-classroom observation. The Educator Shortage Act also creates several fellowship opportunities and loan repayment plans that are contingent upon future careers in education.  


General Labor Issues

As the state representative of the AFL-CIO in Maryland and DC, we take our responsibility to defend and expand the rights of all workers seriously. This position requires us to comment on issues or legislation that might not directly impact a particular affiliate, but affects workers throughout our state. 


HB 229 / SB 172 - Employment for Minors - Opportunities for Work 

Registered apprenticeship programs and pre-apprenticeship programs need the ability to reliably contact their current and prospective program participants. HB 229 allows the Commissioner of Labor and Industry to share, with parental agreement, work permit information with apprenticeship and workforce development programs. This will help connect youth into pre-apprenticeship programs and find union careers. 


HB 333 / SB 404 - Hospitals - Financial Assistance - Medical Bill Reimbursement Process

HB 333 creates a process for patients to be reimbursed for their out of pocket medical expenses if they were eligible for free care. This bill was a priority of the End Medical Debt Coalition and 1199 SEIU, SEIU Maryland & DC State Council, and UFCW 400 testified in support.  


HB 498 / SB 328 - Board of Public Works Public Comment Act

This bill mandates that the Board of Public Works allows members of the public to submit public comments electronically on agenda items, similar to the system currently used by the Maryland General Assembly. It also requires that agenda items be posted online 24 hours in advance of the meeting. This measure will help improve transparency and accountability at BPW, which holds final procurement authority over substantial contracts that control the lives of thousands of union workers throughout the state.


HB 546 / SB 551 - Department of Service and Civic Innovation and Maryland Corps Program Service Year Option Pathways - Established (Serving Every Region Through Vocational Exploration Act of 2023)

This Administration Bill creates a service year option, where graduating high school students will have the ability to serve the state at non-profits or government entities. The program is pitched as an alternative to immediately beginning a four year degree program or apprenticeship. What employers would be eligible for participation is not clearly defined, but Governor Moore even testified before the House Appropriations Committee that labor unions would be eligible employers that could participate in the program. This program may provide an opportunity for our unions to recruit and train future labor organizers or promote union skills before students enter the workforce. 


HB 549 / SB 555 - Fair Wage Act of 2023

The Fair Wage Act accelerates the minimum wage increase to $15 per hour on January 1st, 2024. This will increase wages for 160,000 workers in Maryland. The original version of the bill increased the minimum wage to $15 by September 1, 2023 and indexed future minimum wage increases to the consumer price index, eliminating the need to seek legislation every time an increase is needed. By raising the minimum wage it increases our member’s ability to bargain for even higher wages and benefits. Increasing the minimum wage also provides more take home pay for tens of thousands of Maryland workers. The Senate President publicly opposed tying future minimum wage increases to the consumer price index. Our unions helped lead the charge to pass the Fight for 15 bill in 2019 and several submitted testimony in support of this year’s proposal, including 1199 SEIU, UFCW Local 400, AFT Maryland, and AFSCME.


HB 556 / SB 516 - Cannabis Reform

Maryland voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot initiative in 2022 legalizing recreational cannabis use, but the General Assembly was tasked with creating the structure of the new market. This year’s proposed cannabis reform bill included detailed rules for promoting social equity for licenseholders, but did not include labor protections for cannabis industry workers. We sought to amend the bill to include requirements that all license holders enter into comprehensive labor peace agreements like several other states that have legalized cannabis. Labor peace agreements allow cannabis workers to organize unions without fear of retaliation or pushback from employers. Labor peace was included in past legislation for casinos and sports betting. New Jersey has used labor peace in the cannabis industry to set up cannabis apprenticeships. The State Federation, working with UFCW Local 400, testified in favor of amendments to the bill for labor peace. The House Economic Matters Committee Chair supported and introduced amendment language that created “reverse labor peace” for cannabis agricultural workers. Claiming to protect agricultural workers that are excluded from the National Labor Relations Act, language was introduced that explicitly banned cannabis agricultural workers from striking, picketing, boycotting or other forms of protected first amendment activity and claimed that a Cannabis Field Enforcement Division would establish minimum standards to protect them. The State Federation lobbied with UFCW Local 400 on strong labor peace language for all cannabis workers and leaders sent individual letters to each member of the House Economic Matters Committee and Senate Finance Committee members twice. As it currently stands, the cannabis bill contains dangerous anti-labor language and must be fixed in future legislative sessions. 


HB 988 / SB 828 - Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program - Modifications

The Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program passed by the General Assembly in 2022 was not on schedule to meet the deadlines for regulations and implementation required by the bill. HB 988 and SB 828 push back deadlines and make changes to provisions within the program, including capping employee contributions at 1.2% of their wages and removing requirements that workers exhaust all employer provided leave before receiving FAMLI benefits. The final version of the bill also decreased the contribution rates paid by workers to 50% as opposed to the 75% required in last year’s legislation. Workers will now be required to begin payments into the FAMLI program starting on October 1st, 2024. Workers are eligible to receive benefits starting January 1, 2026. The concern that the current program allows too many employers in Maryland to opt out of state coverage by purchasing low quality privately administered plans remains unresolved. 


SB 104 - Labor and Employment - Apprenticeship 2030 Commission and Representation on the Apprenticeship and Training Council

This bill originally only modified the diversity requirements for the state’s Apprenticeship and Training Council (ATC), seeking that “to the extent practicable” the council should seek to add members that are black and latino in addition to the existing language requiring the council to mirror the geographic, ethnic, cultural, and gender diversity of the state. The Senate Finance Committee approved amendments that effectively merged in Sen. Rosapepe’s Apprenticeship 2030 Commission bill in full and added Asian representation to the ATC’s membership diversity considerations. By passing the Apprenticeship 2030 language, labor representatives are granted four seats on a commission tasked with studying how to meet the state’s apprenticeship participation goals of 60,000 registered apprenticeships by 2030. Despite strong efforts by the Associated Builders and Contractors, Independent Electrical Contractors, and other non-union construction entities to seek amendments granting them explicit seats on the commission, it appears that they failed.


SB 591 - Labor and Employment - Noncompete and Conflict of Interest Provisions - Application of Prohibition

Noncompete clauses restrict a worker's ability to freely choose their employment. These contracts were originally designed for highly paid executives at companies dealing with intellectual property, but are now common in hotels and restaurants. This bill raises the threshold to 150% of the state minimum wage before employers can require a non compete clause be signed by an employee. This change frees thousands of workers from their contracts and allows them to work wherever they want to. When workers have more options to choose from, employers are forced to raise wages and benefits to compete. 



Bills That Labor Opposed That Did Not Pass the General Assembly


HB 296 / SB 6 - Maryland Teachers and State Employees Supplemental Retirement Plans - Automatic Enrollment

HB 296 forced state employees and teachers to enroll in the supplemental retirement plans. Since many attempts at attacking pensions occur by initially forcing participation in a non-defined benefit plan and then later chipping away at the defined benefit plan, this bill was treated with skepticism. We testified in opposition but took no position on the House Side as AFSCME MD 3 worked with sponsors to seek amendments. The Senate bill ultimately died after crossing over to the House and having its hearing canceled in the Appropriations Committee.


HB 414 / SB 326 - Washington County – Electricians – Registration and Licensing

After years of work, our IBEW affiliates were able to pass the Maryland Electricians Act in 2021 which standardized electrical licensing rules statewide. HB 414 threatens to allow Washington County to implement its own electrical licensing system parallel to the state’s process. Strong statewide standards prevent untrained or unskilled electricians from undermining our union prevailing wages or endangering the public with unsafe work. Through working with IBEW 307 and our other IBEW affiliates we were able to force the sponsor to reach out to us seeking amendments that might remove our opposition. Shortly after, the House Economic Matters Committee issued an unfavorable report to HB 414.


HB 494 - Labor and Employment - Private-Sector Employers - Right to Work

Right to work weakens unions and harms workers regardless of whether they are in a union. States with right to work laws see lower overall wages, higher levels of workplace injuries, higher poverty rates, and lower levels of healthcare coverage. Right to work laws have their origins in the racist campaigns of Vance Muse, who saw strong multiracial unions as a threat to segregation and white supremacy. We coordinated and collected over 43 pieces of testimony, packed the room, and organized a panel to testify in opposition to the bill. This bill received an unfavorable report by the House Economic Matters Committee on February 28.


HB 840 / SB 743 - Climate, Labor, and Environmental Equity Act of 2023

Originally, this bill required the Maryland Department of Labor to study all state agency decisions to see whether they promote equitable labor and wage standards, including whether the agency works with businesses that pay prevailing wage, comply with state labor laws, use registered apprenticeships, and more. Legislative support behind the bill was spearheaded by the Center for Progressive Reform, but also supported by the Energy Foundation, Sierra Club MD, and League for Conservation Voters MD. Environmental groups deliberately courted labor support for the bill over its strong labor language, leading to the Baltimore-DC Building Trades Council and our IBEW affiliates writing in support. Beyond the labor components of the bill, it broadly dealt with Maryland Department of the Environment permitting processes, requiring the agency to conduct Environmental Justice analysis. On March 30th, the Environment Subcommittee of the House Environment and Transportation Committee issued a Favorable with Amendments report to HB 840 that removed all labor language in the bill. This move was supported by the bill’s house sponsor and environmental groups that courted labor’s support. The State Federation aggressively fought to kill the amended bill. It failed to pass out of either chamber. 


HB 895 / SB 444 - State Board of Electricians - Limited Energy Contractors and Limited Energy Integrators - Licensing

This bill carved out a category of low-voltage electrical systems from the Maryland Electricians Act licensing process, threatening to allow untrained, inexperienced workers to work on projects that still connect to high-voltage systems. This threatened to deprofessionalize the electrical trades and allow their work to go to non-union, unskilled contractors. We worked with IBEW affiliates and the Building Trades Council to oppose this measure. The House Economic Matters Committee issued an unfavorable report on March 8.


HB 904 / SB 689 - Public Utilities - Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions - Alterations and Requirements (Energy Savings Act)

The EmPower program was originally set up to reduce electricity usage by incentivizing homeowners to purchase more efficient appliances. Unfortunately for the bill’s proponents, it led to some homeowners removing their electric appliances and using gas instead. HB 904 modifies the EmPower program structure to incentivize greenhouse gas emission reductions. This bill jeopardized the jobs of our UA members by removing demand for natural gas and would put unnecessary strain on our existing electrical grid. It also includes rebates for home electrification projects that would only be accessible to the wealthy. Our unions support a clean energy economy but oppose programs that would phase out essential energy sources without planning for their replacement. We worked with UA’s Mid-Atlantic Pipe Trades to oppose this proposal.


HB 1015 / SB 902 - Labor and Employment - Maryland Healthy Working Families Act - Seasonal Temporary Workers

This bill attempted to exclude seasonal and temporary workers from accruing sick and safe leave under the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act by changing the rules to prohibit workers from using sick and safe leave during the first 120 days of employment. The bill additionally prohibited workers from carrying over their leave if they are rehired the following year. If a worker is hired by the same employer every summer, this bill would force them to restart the clock each year, never reaching eligibility to use benefits. This bill received an unfavorable report by the House Economic Matters Committee on March 14.


HJ 2 / SJ 1 - United States Constitution – Amendments Convention – Limitations on Federal Power

Republicans in the General Assembly reintroduced their resolutions calling for an Article Five Constitutional Convention. Delegates and Senators claimed that it would only be used to curb “excessive” uses of Federal power that limit freedom, but a new constitutional convention could be used to limit the power and rights of workers. There has never been an Article Five convention before and the United States is already dangerously close to calling one, with 28 states already adopting resolutions, just six short of the threshold. This bill never received a committee vote.



Bills Labor Supported That Did Not Pass the General Assembly


HB 17 - Employment Standards - Retail Establishments - Seating for Employees

This bill required retail establishments to provide adequate seating to employees unless standing is absolutely necessary for the functioning of their position. Employers across the country often force workers to stand even though it is not required for the job. HB 17 improves quality of life for workers and reduces workplace injuries related to prolonged standing for thousands across the state. Our testimony was submitted in coordination with UFCW Local 400. The House Economic Matters Committee issued an unfavorable report on February 28.


HB 39 - Corporate Income Tax Returns of Publicly Traded Corporations - Reporting Requirement

Our unions supported HB 39, in its original form, due to its provisions requiring companies to declare under oath what their effective corporate tax rate is when adjusted for state subsidies, incentives, and credits. This bill provided better data on the effectiveness of Maryland’s tax incentives and helped promote our arguments that the state must require more stringent labor standards on businesses. This bill was part of the Fair Funding Coalition’s legislative priorities. The House Ways and Means Committee amended the bill to only require that the comptroller reports the number of multi-state public corporations that paid no state income taxes. After these significant amendments, the bill passed out of the House of Delegates but never received a vote in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. 


HB 46 - Corporate Income Tax - Combined Reporting

We support combined reporting because it increases state revenues by eliminating tax loopholes that allow multi-state corporations to hide profits made in Maryland in other states with lower corporate tax rates. Maryland is overly reliant on individual income taxes, raised primarily from workers, and must increase revenues over the next few years to continue providing quality public services, future funding obligations, and capital projects. More effective corporate taxation will help close this gap without increasing taxes on workers. This bill was also a legislative priority of the Fair Funding Coalition. HB 46 never received a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.


HB 61 / SB 337 - Utility Contractors - Employment and Licensure - Requirements and Application

The 2021 Climate Solutions Now Act included language that required investor-owned utilities to follow prevailing wage standards and participate in apprenticeship but only for the portions of the project funded with federal money. Our unions testified in support of HB 61 because it removed the language limiting it to only federal money and required compliance with local labor laws. The state needs to massively expand electrical capacity and bills like this will ensure they do it without undermining union wage rates. We worked to support this legislation with the Baltimore-DC Building Trades Council and our IBEW affiliates. This bill received an unfavorable report from the House Economic Matters Committee. It never received a vote from the Senate Finance Committee. 


HB 65 / SB 352 - Education - Public Libraries - Collective Bargaining

We support expanding collective bargaining to all workers. HB 65 granted collective bargaining rights to public library workers across the state, using the Baltimore County public library bill from 2021 as the model. This bill was spearheaded by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, but allowed workers at each library system to choose their own union democratically. The House of Delegates passed the bill late at night on February 27, but included controversial amendments at the urging of the Maryland Library Association that would force already organized library systems to conform to the requirements of the bill after the expiration of their current contracts. This was especially concerning to AFSCME MD 3 and UFCW Local 1994 who already represented organized library workers in Baltimore City, Prince George’s County, and Montgomery County. AFSCME MD 3 worked to draft amendments that would remove the concerning language. After crossing over the bill was assigned to the Senate Finance Committee where it never received a hearing, vote, or discussion on the amendments.


HB 85 / SB 206 - Education - Collective Bargaining - Certificated Employees - Class Size

We support removing prohibitions on bargaining over class size for educator unions. Expanding subjects of collective bargaining for one group of workers helps expand the potential subjects of bargaining for all workers. We worked with AFT-MD to support this legislation. Class sizes are a core factor in determining the working conditions that educators teach in and our students learn in. By allowing educators to bargain over class size, unions can negotiate for smaller classes, requiring schools to address staffing shortages and ensuring that all of our children have more specialized instruction. This bill never received a vote from the House Ways and Means Committee. Despite the bill’s failure, Maryland’s union educators did receive a major victory when the Attorney General issued an opinion allowing unions to bargain indirectly over class size so long as language did not include caps on classroom sizes.


HB 112 - State Personnel - Whistleblower Law - Procedures and Remedies (First Amendment and Public Employee Protection Act)

HB 112 expands the definition of retaliation under state employee whistleblowing protections to include threatened actions while expanding the number of information disclosures that were protected as whistleblowing. Protecting whistleblowers protects the entire state’s public interests and helps expose corruption, waste, and dishonest practices. We testified in support of the bill, following the lead of AFSCME MD 3. The House Appropriations Committee never took a vote on this bill.


HB 147 / SB 250 - Environment - Climate Crisis Plan - Requirement

The state passed ambitious greenhouse reduction and energy goals under the Clean Energy Jobs Act and Climate Solutions Now Act, but failed to come up with concrete plans for how to achieve them. Our unions have direct expertise with energy generation and grid capacity issues and can serve as a resource for officials. HB 147 required counties to develop plans for how they plan to meet state climate goals and mitigate issues like flooding. We supported amendments requiring that county governments take impacts on good jobs into consideration when drafting their climate crisis plans. Renewable energy generation, electrical grid capacity, extreme weather mitigation, and building retrofits are all new opportunities for work for Maryland’s union members. Strong opposition from the Maryland Association of Counties killed this bill and prevented it from receiving a vote in the House Environment and Transportation Committee.


HB 183 / SB 298 - State Personnel - Collective Bargaining - Supervisory and Managerial Employees

We support expanding collective bargaining to all workers, including supervisors and managers where appropriate. HB 183 expands collective bargaining rights to the two bargaining units created in 1997 that cover supervisors and managers. This bill allows these workers, often former union members themselves that were promoted, to democratically vote on whether or not to join a union. This bill never received a vote in the House Appropriations Committee or the Senate Finance Committee.


HB 275 / SB 247 - State Personnel - Collective Bargaining - Faculty, Part-Time Faculty, and Graduate Assistants

We support expanding collective bargaining to all workers and this bill would grant these rights to multiple excluded groups of workers. Maryland’s graduate students have been fighting for collective bargaining rights for over a decade. Recent new organizing victories around the country have added tens of thousands of new union members to our movement. Graduate students that go on to other positions outside of academia will bring their union experience with them, expanding future opportunities for organizing. This year’s bill also grants collective bargaining rights to full-time and part-time faculty. Between all University of Maryland locations tens of thousands of workers may finally have the right to form unions. This bill was supported by a coalition of American Federation of Teachers - Maryland and non-affiliate graduate students at the University of Maryland. Despite having 55 House and Senate sponsors and cosponsors, the bill never received a vote in the House Appropriations Committee or Senate Finance Committee. 


HB 318 / SB 604 - Maryland Medical Assistance Program – Provider Agencies and Personal Care Aides – Reimbursement and Wages

This bill increased the state’s Medicaid reimbursement rate and created a wage pass-through for personal care aides. This directly funds higher wages and benefits for some of the state’s lowest paid healthcare workers. Increasing pay for direct care workers will help decrease turnover allowing workers to better organize. Improving working conditions will lead to higher quality care for our loved ones. Similar wage pass-throughs have been used by 21 other states. This bill was part of the Caring Across Maryland coalition’s legislative priorities and was led by 1199 SEIU. The House Bill passed out of the chamber but failed to receive a vote in the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate version never received a vote in the Senate Finance Committee.


HB 349 / SB 345 - Maryland Fair Scheduling Act

The Fair Scheduling Act protected workers at retail and restaurant establishments with more than ten locations nationwide by setting minimum hour pay guarantees when they are called into unscheduled shifts. By providing predictable and fair schedules for some workers through state law it will be easier for affiliates to win even stronger provisions through collective bargaining. We worked with the bill sponsors between sessions and took part in calls with UFCW Local 400 in support of the legislation. Both House and Senate versions of the bill never received votes in their respective committees, the House Economic Matters Committee and Senate Finance Committee. 


HB 352 / SB 915 - Railroad Company - Movement of Freight - Required Crew

HB 352 improved freight railroad safety by requiring at least two person crews for freight trains operating on tracks shared with passenger railroads. Having a second crew member on board allows one worker to focus on directing emergency personnel if there is an accident, collision, or derailment. Railroad companies have pushed their workforce to the limit and led to dangerous cost-cutting on staffing and safety. The recent contract negotiations and high profile derailments have drawn nationwide attention to railroad issues. We testified in person and coordinated dozens of pieces of testimony collection from affiliates for SMART - Transportation Division, who have worked on this issue for years. HB 352 passed out of the House and was assigned to the Senate Finance Committee where it never received a vote. The Senate version of the bill was originally assigned to the Senate Rules Committee but was released to Senate Finance Committee where it never received a vote. The Senate President strongly opposed this bill. 


HB 380 / SB 218 - Arbitration Reform for State Employees Act of 2023

The arbitration reform act creates a constitutional amendment, subject to voter approval, that creates a process for binding arbitration on state contract disputes. This eliminates the incentives for the state agencies to bargain in bad faith and use delaying tactics to avoid funding wage and benefit improvements. Binding arbitration is one of the most common forms of labor-management dispute resolution processes. This was one of AFSCME MD 3’s priority bills, presented at the 2022 Legislative Conference. This bill never received a vote in the House Appropriations Committee or Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. 


HB 398 - Economic Development Tax Credit Programs - Qualified Position and Qualified Employee - Definitions

Our unions support adding good job requirements to all state tax credits, including basic wage expectations, opportunities for career advancement and apprenticeships, paid leave, retirement benefits, among others. HB 398 adds these standards to the One Maryland and the More Jobs for Marylanders economic development tax programs. The State should not be giving away workers’ tax money to businesses to subsidize the creation of low-paying jobs. HB 398 never received a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.


HB 489 / SB 180 - Residential Service Agencies - Reimbursement - Personal Assistance Services

This bill prohibits the Maryland Department of Health from reimbursing a residential service agency, also known as a home health care agency, for personal assistance services if the caretaker is not classified as an employee. This bill is designed to fight worker misclassification of home health care workers. Worker misclassification is so rampant in the home healthcare industry that when the U.S. Department of Labor recovered wages stolen from a Maryland residential service agency, they could not even find all of the workers that were eligible. State money should not be used to misclassify workers. This bill was part of the Caring Across Maryland coalition’s legislative priorities and was led by 1199 SEIU. The House Bill passed out of the chamber but failed to receive a vote in the Senate Finance Committee.


HB 490 / SB 230 - Residential Service Agencies - Employee Registry

This bill required residential service agencies to create and maintain lists of all employees and submit them to the Maryland Department of Health. In order to facilitate union organizing it grants unions access to the employee lists.  Unionizing the healthcare sector will help cut down on the low pay and mistreatment, leading to better quality care. This bill was part of the Caring Across Maryland coalition’s legislative priorities and was led by 1199 SEIU. The House bill was withdrawn by the sponsor on March 17. The Senate Bill never received a vote in the Senate Finance Committee.


HB 491 / SB 465 - Transportation - Commission to Study Establishing a Baltimore Regional Transit Authority

After the cancellation of the proposed Red Line in Baltimore, transit activists and legislators believed that a Baltimore controlled regional transit authority was the only option for avoiding future project cancellations. HB 491 creates a study group to explore options for creating a Baltimore Regional Transit Authority. Unfortunately, this study commission only offers a non-voting seat for labor representatives. ATU Local 1300 has thousands of members employed by the MTA working in and around Baltimore. Future questions about pension obligations, the validity of existing collective bargaining agreements, and funding sources will all have a tremendous impact on union transit workers. Working with ATU Local 1300, we proposed amendments and worked with sponsors to ensure that they win full voting rights on this study group. The House bill never received a vote in the House Environment and Transportation Committee. The Senate Bill received a Favorable with Amendments report from the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, which included labor’s proposed language, but was assigned the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee after crossing over where it died. 


HB 708 / SB 661 - Unemployment Insurance – Tax Parity for Delayed Payments of Benefits

This bill was introduced at the request of the Comptroller. Over 45,000 workers who were eligible for tax relief on their unemployment benefits that they filed for in 2020 or 2021 did not receive their benefits until 2022. This means that these workers will have to pay taxes on those benefits unlike other workers that received their unemployment on time. The State Federation testified in support of the bill, along with IBEW 24 and the Baltimore-DC Building Trades Council, in order to promote tax parity for our members that received unemployment.  


HB 719 / SB 835 - Public Schools – Heating, Ventilation, and Air–Conditioning Systems and Carbon Dioxide Monitors – Monitoring and Reporting Requirements

This bill required the Interagency Commission on School Construction to check all public schools against a statewide uniform standard for HVACR. Checks had to be performed by certified technicians. The Department of Legislative Services issued a fiscal and policy note that claimed the bill would cost $75 million dollars in general fund expenditures. These bills were withdrawn by both sponsors before they received a vote. 


HB 724 / SB 670 - Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act of 2023

Maryland’s unemployment insurance system needs to increase benefits and expand the taxable wage base that employers pay on to fund the system. The bill also proposes creating a mandatory bond system that penalizes private equity firms that buy companies with the intent of laying off their entire workforce. This helps our members in retail and grocery sector unions. Many unions complained that unemployment insurance was one of their top issues during the last few years. We testified in support of the bill along with IBEW 24. This bill never received a vote in the House Economic Matters Committee or Senate Finance Committee.


HB 725 / SB 468 - Funding for Wage Increases for Medical Provider Workers

This bill increased the state’s Medicaid reimbursement rate and created a wage pass-through for direct care workers and support workers. This directly funds higher wages and benefits for some of the state’s lowest paid healthcare workers. Increasing pay for direct care workers will help decrease turnover allowing workers to better organize. Improving working conditions will lead to higher quality care for our loved ones. Similar wage pass-throughs have been used by 21 other states. This bill was part of the Caring Across Maryland coalition’s legislative priorities and was led by 1199 SEIU. The House bill never received a vote in the House Health and Government Operations Committee. The Senate bill never received a vote in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. 


HB 769 / SB 614 - Public Safety - Fire Dampers, Smoke Dampers, Combination Fire Smoke Dampers, and Smoke Control Systems

This bill required that all fire dampers, smoke dampers, and smoke control systems had to meet certain industry safety standards and be approved by the state’s Fire Marshall. It also required regular inspection and testing by certified technicians. The Department of Legislative Services issued a fiscal and policy note that claimed the bill would cost $100 million dollars in general fund expenditures. The House version of the bill was withdrawn by Del. Heather Bagnall on March 14. The Senate version of the bill was withdrawn by Sen. Brooks on March 8. Neither the House nor Senate versions of the bill received a vote in their respective committees, the House Environment and Transportation Committee or the Senate Education, Energy, and Environment Committee.


HB 832 - Labor and Employment - Equal Pay for Equal Work - Wage Range Transparency

HB 832 requires all job postings in Maryland to include a salary range. Maryland law already requires jobs to provide one upon request. Salary transparency is shown to decrease gender pay disparities and pay inequality among comparable positions. A University of Utah study found that total pay transparency, “can attribute up to 50% of an observed reduction in gender pay gap…transparency results in up to 20% reduction in differences in pay across individuals within academic departments and institutions. The House Economic Matters Committee never took a vote on this bill. Unionized organizations with collective bargaining agreements that establish clear pay scales would easily be able to comply with the bill’s requirements.


HB 900 / SB 355 - Occupational Safety and Health - Public Buildings - Indoor Air Quality

The air quality of public buildings impacts everyone in Maryland. Poor air quality can lead to allergies, asthma, headaches, congestion, and the spread of infectious diseases. This bill required the state to develop a comprehensive Indoor Air Quality standard and test all buildings. The bill also requires a technical advisory committee to study cost-effective solutions for bringing buildings into compliance. This bill never received a vote in the House Environment and Transportation Committee or the Senate Finance Committee. 


HB 1052 - Transportation – Consolidated Transportation Program – Scoring

By changing the scoring criteria for the state transportation program, the State can promote transportation projects that will bring the maximum benefit to residents, the environment, and the economy. Our transportation affiliates, including SMART-Transportation Division and ATU Local 1300, supported this measure because it would accurately calculate the benefits that public transit provides to our state by taking into consideration the social costs of private car trips. Past approaches to the state’s transportation program largely focused on congestion relief by expanding highways, without considering other social costs. This could increase the number of union transportation jobs and promote union construction projects. This bill never received a vote in the House Appropriations Committee.


HB 1053 / SB 203 - Maryland Department of Transportation – Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Awareness, Training, and Response

This bill required the Maryland Department of Transportation and its contractors to provide training to employees on how to spot victims of human trafficking and child exploitation. Our unions support efforts to train our members and provide them with the tools needed to be effective frontline employees, but raised some concerns about how the bill impacts contracted employees that do not have guarantees that mandatory training occurs on company time. Our testimony was submitted at the request of SMART - Transportation Division. Both House and Senate versions of the bill never received votes in their respective committees, the House Judiciary Committee and Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. 


HB 1072 / SB 875 - Task Force to Study the Reconstitution of the Maryland Transportation Commission

The Maryland Transportation Commission is an advisory body with 17 members tasked with studying the state’s transportation system and advising the Transportation Secretary. HB 1072 proposed studying the commission’s role, responsibilities, and effectiveness. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1300, SMART Transportation Division, and Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen worked together to seek amendments that would add two seats to the study task force. The bill never received a vote in the House Appropriations Committee or Senate Finance Committee.

HB 1097 / SB 453 - State and Private Construction Contracts - Prompt Payment Requirements

HB 1097 hoped to bring model prompt payment legislation to Maryland, which required prime contractors to pay their subcontractors within a certain time frame upon successful completion of the job. Support for this bill was undermined by cynical attacks by the Associated Builders and Contractors and Maryland Minority Contractors Association who claimed that the bill would destroy black businesses. Numerous witnesses in support of the bill were minority contractors themselves. The House sponsor withdrew her bill and the Senate version never received a vote in the Senate Finance Committee. 


HB 1234 / SB 735 - Workgroup to Study the Wages of Education Support Professionals

Maryland has over 56,000 education support professionals but they are often left behind in statewide discussions about school staffing shortages. The term education support professional includes our paraeducators, clerical workers, custodial staff, food service workers, and more who all provide valuable services to our students and make our public education system possible. This bill explicitly included labor representation on the workgroup. Our unions including AFT-Maryland, ACE-AFSCME Local 2250, and AFSCME 67 supported the measure. The House version of the bill never received a vote in the House Appropriations Committee. The Senate version passed out of the chamber but was assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee and House Appropriations Committee, where it failed to receive a vote in either. 


HB 1256 / SB 803 - Labor and Employment - Payment of Minimum Wage - Tipped Employees

The tipped credit and subminimum wage have racist legacies, where black workers in the hospitality and restaurant industries were not paid by their employers but forced to directly rely on patrons for their pay. By eliminating the tip credit that allows employers to not pay their employees at least the full minimum wage, workers will feel more comfortable standing up to customers and their employers who mistreat them. The current system forces workers to withstand abusive behavior to avoid jeopardizing their tips. Employers often pay their workers the subminimum wage for hours worked when employees are ineligible to receive tips which is a form of wage theft. This bill never received a vote from the Senate Finance Committee. Its House companion never made it out of House Rules and Executive Nominations.


HB 1261 / SB 838 - Workplace Fraud and Prevailing Wage - Violations - Penalties and Referrals

Wage theft and misclassification rob the state of essential revenues and undermine legitimate contractors. This bill proposed increasing penalties for wage theft and misclassification, including the possibility of imprisonment. It also requires wage theft cases to be referred to the comptroller's office so they can pursue cases against these bad actors in order to recuperate the state’s tax money. Stronger penalties for workplace fraud violations will help drive bad actors out of the industry and allow companies that play by the rules, including our union contractors, to compete on a level playing field. This will create more job opportunities for our union members and eliminate threats to the prevailing wage. The Senate bill passed out of the chamber, but removed all of the strong criminal penalties. Neither the House or Senate bill received a vote in the House Economic Matters Committee. 


SB 170 - Energy Generation Projects – Required Labor Standards

We support requiring all energy generation projects in the state over two megawatts to pay at least the prevailing wage and prohibit contractors that have been debarred, defaulted on projects, or had their licenses revoked. This will allow union contractors to fairly compete on the numerous energy generation projects that our state will have to take on in order to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals. Maryland consumes five times more energy than it produces and will focus heavily over the next decade to build more energy generation facilities in the state. By requiring prevailing wages on these projects our union members can help build and maintain this work, strengthening our labor movement as a whole. We supported this legislation with the Baltimore-DC Building Trades Council, the Mid-Atlantic Pipe Trades Association, LiUNA, and our IBEW affiliates. SB 170 passed out of the Senate on March 3, but did not receive a vote in the House Economic Matters Committee.


SB 456 - Healthy Working Families Act - Railroad Employees - Unpaid Leave

Maryland has already set a floor for all full-time workers to receive a minimum of 40 hours of sick leave per year through the Healthy Working Families Act. Unfortunately, the 1936 Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA) prevented railroad workers from enjoying the benefits of paid state leave programs, meaning that railroad workers were left behind. This bill added railroad workers to the statute by clarifying that they could receive 40 hours of unpaid sick leave. Railroad worker’s fight for sick leave has received nationwide attention after their most recent round of contract negotiations. Our unions support our railroad union workers and have committed themselves to making sure they win sick days. The State Federation worked closely with SMART - Transportation Division to support this bill. SB 456 never received a vote in the Senate Finance Committee where it was assigned.