Climate and human rights action at the state level; Feds still paralyzed without House Speaker. News You Can Use
States are busy on projects in carbon reduction (and research, go Terps!), schools improvement, collective bargaining opportunities, fighting book banning and returning citizen improvements. Maryland, we see, is at the heart of all these activities. Good thing. Just a short Metro ride away, the GOP's razor-thin majority in the US House is unable to check the box (elect a new Speaker -- will anyone do?) that would allow the US government to function. It might not all be pretty, but it's all News You Can Use.
Izola Shaw, candidate for Rockville City Council, is a trailblazer for renters' rights and community progress. Endorsed by organizations such as Progressive Maryland, CASA, and Greater Greater Washington, Shaw has garnered widespread support from working-class communities as well as various local community leaders across Rockville who are very well-known and highly respected.
Progressive Maryland Rallies at CareFirst to Demand Corporation Provide Care & Reverse Denied Claims
Our community members and folks struggling to get the care they need took a stand outside CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield offices in Owings Mills yesterday morning! This was one of fifteen actions happening across the country to tell health insurers:
- We’ve had it with their greed
- They don’t have the right to decide what treatment, tests, or medicines we need
- People’s health, not their wealth should be the priority
- To put people first
Recap video from the rally. Footage provided by John Spillane.
Momentum is building for a statewide grassroots movement to stop these profiteering corporations. How do we fight their power? With people power! This is how we can win immediate relief for patients who need care and pave the way to a publicly funded, truly universal healthcare system. We’re already winning important fights against Big PhRMA and we’re confident that we can win the campaign against Big Insurance, too.
This public pressure campaign needs your support! Urge Congress to take action on claim denials!
Stay tuned for updates and more opportunities to take action next week.
Many thanks to everyone who came out yesterday - it was great to be with you at this powerful event. Special shout out to our speakers, volunteers, Task Force leaders, and partners for making it happen!
This Indigenous Peoples Heritage Month, we honor the rich cultures, histories, and contributions of the Indigenous communities that have shaped our nation for centuries. We acknowledge the Accohannock Indian Tribe, Assateague Peoples Tribe, Nause-Waiwash Band of Indians, Piscataway Conoy Tribe, Piscataway Indian Nation, Pocomoke Indian Nation and Youghiogheny River Band of Shawnee Indians as the original stewards of Maryland's lands. We honor their history of resilience and resistance. We are grateful to the Native people who contribute to our lives everyday in essential and meaningful ways.
When we say we are working toward a more just and equitable future for Marylanders, that includes our Indigenous communities. There is so much work to be done — passing federal and state legislation for reparations; formally acknowledging Indigenous history and land rights; and, of course, ensuring that Native residents have affordable healthcare and housing, access to quality education, clean air and drinking water, and the many other basic human rights that everyone deserves. Progressive Maryland is committed to this work.
Furthermore, as October unfolds, we are also reminded that it is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to stand in solidarity with survivors and work towards creating safer, more supportive communities.
As the US House flounders Speakerless with some big crises at hand, activists continue to push the local, state and federal measures that will help working families. Maryland's Senate leader hints that the hiring-hall grip of local central committees on who is appointed to the Assembly may get a serious look (at last!) from the legislators themselves. Meanwhile, fossil fuel use at the individual level in Maryland continues to be a huge contributor to poor air quality, and teachers are not really incentivized to stay in the profession since non-teacher salaries continue to show a bigger and bigger advantage. It's News You Can Use this week.
Progressive Maryland's 7/10 Black Workers Center Plays Pivotal Role in Securing Project Labor Agreements for Prince George's County School Construction
Last week, Progressive Maryland's 7/10 Black Workers Center secured a commitment to improve working conditions on school construction projects in Prince George's County. This is a major victory for workers and the community, and it is the result of years of hard work and continued advocacy for high quality employment opportunities.
“PLAs are a win-win for workers, the building trades, and the community. They provide good jobs for workers, create a stable workforce for employers, and help to ensure that construction projects are completed on time and on budget,” emphasized Shannon Talbert, Lead Organizer of Progressive Maryland’s Black Workers Center.
The 7/10 Black Workers Center organized residents to contact County Executive, Angela Alsobrooks, and urge her to support a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) that would include provisions for increased local hiring and the creation of union jobs. A PLA is a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement between a project owner and the building trades unions that establishes the terms and conditions of employment for a specific project. PLAs are known for providing good wages, benefits for workers, and for promoting safety and efficiency on construction projects.
The 7/10 Black Workers Center's efforts also brought attention to the issue of wage theft on the public-private partnership for new school construction in Prince George’s County. Wage theft is a serious problem in the construction industry, and it is especially harmful to low-wage workers. The 7/10 Black Workers Center's advocacy has helped to ensure that workers will be protected from wage theft on future school construction projects in the county.
"Our efforts ensure that Black workers are able to provide for their families. This victory ensures that students attend high quality schools, in well-resourced, 21st century buildings, and the people that build them make a living wage. Higher labor standards and better opportunities are the foundation of healthy, thriving communities," said Talbert.
The 7/10 Black Workers Center's victory is a powerful example of what can be accomplished when workers and community members come together to fight for change. It is also a reminder that PLAs are an important tool for ensuring that workers are treated fairly and that construction projects are completed on time and on budget.
Larry Stafford Jr.,Executive Director of Progressive Maryland, stated, "This achievement reflects the power of grassroots organizing and the determination of our community to fight for workers' rights. We have proven that when we come together, we can secure a fair future for all in Prince George's County."
Benefits of Project Labor Agreements
Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) benefit workers, the building trade, and the community in a number of ways. For workers, PLAs provide good wages and benefits, job security, and safe working conditions. For the building trade, PLAs create a stable workforce and promote efficiency on construction projects. For the community, PLAs help to ensure that local workers are hired and that projects are completed on time and on budget.
- Good wages and benefits: PLAs require employers to pay workers prevailing wages and benefits. This means that workers will be paid a fair wage for their work, and they will have access to important benefits such as health insurance, retirement savings plans, and paid time off.
- Job security: PLAs can help to create job security for workers by preventing employers from laying off workers during the course of a project. This is especially important for workers in the construction industry, where jobs can be seasonal and unpredictable.
- Safe working conditions: PLAs typically include provisions for safety training and job site safety inspections. This helps to ensure that workers are safe on the job and that accidents are prevented.
- Local hiring: PLAs can be used to promote local hiring by requiring employers to hire a certain percentage of local workers on a project. This helps to ensure that the benefits of construction projects are shared by the local community.
- On-time and on-budget completion: PLAs can help to ensure that construction projects are completed on time and on budget by creating a stable workforce and promoting efficiency.
Happy Monday! Wishing all who are observing Yom Kippur an easy and meaningful fast.
As we head into the last week of September, we want to take a moment to reflect on the tremendous success of our 2023 Annual Gala, which took place last Thursday. With over 160 attendees and an inspiring speech from Congressman Raskin, the event was a night to remember, bringing together elected officials, community leaders, and passionate activists to celebrate the achievements of the progressive movement in Maryland.
Our gala garnered attention in the press, with Maryland Matters covering the event. You can read the full article here. For a comprehensive recap of the gala, including highlights, award recipients, and more, please check out the ‘Gala Recap’ section later in the memo.
Read on for more updates, action items, and loads of events in this week's Memo!
The Progressive Maryland Team
Maryland federal workers in impact zone as government shutdown looms; "Run, Jamie, Run..." News You Can Use
As a federal shutdown looms, Maryland's 150,000-plus civil servants face the ultimate bossism -- the need to show up for work without a paycheck while members of the US House fumble a solution repeatedly thanks to the divisions in GOP-majority ranks. Plus -- a ("somewhat sheepish") Jamie Raskin is urged to reconsider his decision not to run for the Senate at Progressive Maryland's annual Gala in Annapolis, Maryland hospitals (which ones?) flunk a safety check and new Maryland laws go into effect Oct. 1 It's News You Can Use...
Congressman Jamie Raskin gave a keynote speech that ignited the crowd.
The Progressive Maryland 2023 Annual Gala took place on Thursday, September 21st, and it was a night to remember with over 150 attendees. The event was a resounding success, with elected officials, community leaders, and passionate activists coming together to celebrate the achievements of the progressive movement in Maryland.
Image of event attendees listening to Congressman Jamie Raskin’s keynote address. Photo Credit: Bethany Steele.
The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly Congressman Jamie Raskin's powerful speech. With his unwavering commitment to upholding democracy, Congressman Raskin reminded everyone in the room that when Democrats stand together, there's no limit to what we can achieve. “Democracy is not just a static framework, Democracy is something in motion, Democracy is always growing… and we’ve got to get Democracy back on the growth track in America–and let’s start with giving everybody the right to vote and be represented,” said Congressman Jamie Raskin. He also addressed the need to put climate solutions at the forefront of our agenda to conserve the world in which we all live. His words resonated deeply, inspiring all attendees to continue fighting for the rights and well-being of working families.
Ben Jealous, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, 2018 Democratic Nominee for Governor and longtime supporter of Progressive Maryland, introduced Congressman Raskin. He is also openly hoping that Congressman Raskin will run for the soon-to-be-open U.S. Senate seat. “I’ve always been a fan of our Congressman and would be a huge supporter of him rethinking his decision not to run. He is a warrior, the fighter that will turn things around for us, the champion that Maryland needs,“ he stated to Progressive Maryland staff. Ben Jealous’ words about the Congressman at the Gala prompted the crowd to chant “Run! Jamie, Run!” while the Congressman was walking up to the podium to give his inspirational speech.
Congressman Jamie Raskin recieving the Courage Award from Progressive Maryland Executive Director, Larry Stafford. Photo Credit: Bethany Steele.
Many other legislators showed their appreciation for Progressive Maryland through ticket contributions or simply sending their love if they could not be with us in person. The legislators in attendance at the event are as follows:
- Baltimore County Delegate Alethia McCaskill (D44B)
- Baltimore County Delegate Sheila Ruth (D44B)
- Prince George’s County Councilmember Eric Olson (D3)
- Prince George’s County Councilmember Wala Blegay (D6)
- Prince George’s County Councilmember Krystal Oriadha (D7)
- Baltimore City Democratic Central Committee Member Tiffany Jones
- Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee Member Sharonda Huffman
- Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee Member Jennifer Mendes Dwyer
- Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee Member Ian Miller
- Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee Member Connor White
- Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee Member Andrew Saundry
- Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater
- Maryland Delegate Ken Kerr (D3B)
- Maryland Delegate Karen Simpson (D3A)
- Maryland Delegate Lesley Lopez (D39)
In recognition of their dedication, awards were presented to legislators, organizational volunteers, union leaders, and journalists who have played instrumental roles in advancing the progressive agenda. These individuals have been at the forefront of the movement, pushing for positive change and standing up for those who need it most. The legislators awarded with a Progressive Champions Award were Delegate David Moon, Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins, Council Member Tom Dernoga, Council Member Wala Blegay, Council Member Eric Olson, Council Member Jolene Ivey, Council Member Krystal Oriadha, and Council Member Edward Burroughs.
Among some of the community leaders recognized that evening were Le Shaun Quander-Mosley, business owner and advocate for returning residents in Prince George’s County; Ricarra Jones, Political Director at 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East; and Travis B. Simon, Vice President of the International SEIU Lavender Caucus, Director of Political and Legislative Affairs for SEIU 500, Board Member of AFL-CIO’s Pride at Work, and passionate advocate for LGBTQIA+ people.
Le Shaun Quander-Mosely receiving her award for Exceptional Leadership from Progressive Maryland Organizer, Patty Snee.
Photo Credit: Bethany Steele.
Progressive Maryland also presented two awards for Excellence in Journalism to Lindsay Watts, Emmy-winning journalist and Senior Communications Director for Prince George’s County Council Media; and William J. Ford, current reporter for Maryland Matters and formerly with The Washington Informer. “These awards recognize and celebrate the exceptional contributions of individuals who have demonstrated unwavering dedication to the principles of journalism, the pursuit of truth, accuracy, accountability, and the vital role of a free press in our society,” said Christianne Marguerite, Director of Communications at Progressive Maryland.
But the success of the gala didn't end there. Thanks to the generosity of the attendees, and the incredible artists who donated their work to the event’s art auction, a substantial amount of money was raised to further the cause of building power for working families. This financial support will enable Progressive Maryland to continue its work, advocating for policies that promote economic justice, social equality, and a brighter future for all.
"Our Annual Gala was an incredible testament to the strength and unity of our movement," said Larry Stafford, Executive Director of Progressive Maryland. "We are immensely grateful to everyone who attended, donated, and played a part in making this event a tremendous success. By coming together and harnessing our collective power, we are paving the way for a more just and equitable society that will improve the lives of everyday working-class people."
The Progressive Maryland Team. Photo Credit: Bethany Steele.