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
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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.
Prince George's County Council Stands Firm in Defense of Project Labor Agreements Amidst Concerns Over Phase 2 of P3 Project
Prince George's County Council Stands Firm in Defense of Project Labor Agreements Amidst Concerns Over Phase 2 of P3 Project
Prince George's County, Maryland, is at a pivotal juncture as concerns mount over the fate of Phase 2 of the P3 project. County Council Member Edward Burroughs, representing District 8, has voiced strong apprehensions regarding the direction the project is taking. Burroughs' statements highlight the County Executive's stance and its potential impact on the future of this significant endeavor.
"The dream of expediting school construction for our students in dilapidated buildings seems to have lost its way under County Executive Alsobrooks' leadership," Council Member Burroughs expressed, reflecting on the project's initial goals.
The P3 project, initiated with the admirable goal of expediting school construction and addressing the dire state of many school buildings, appears to be at risk of losing sight of its original objectives under County Executive Angela Alsobrooks' leadership. Council Member Burroughs has expressed profound disappointment in the missed opportunities to uplift Prince George County residents, especially the local workforce and local minority businesses.
"When you have a billion-dollar project occurring in a two-year time period, you have a lot of opportunity to uplift Prince George County residents, in addition to getting the schools built. As county leaders, we must also figure out how to leverage those dollars to uplift Prince George County residents," Burroughs emphasized, lamenting the missed opportunities.
Burroughs emphasizes that a key concern is the lack of substantial mandatory hiring of Prince George County residents and the absence of safeguards against wage theft and exploitation of workers, issues that have surfaced during the first phase of the P3 project. He contends that the economic benefits of this billion-dollar project are not adequately reaching the black and brown residents of Prince George County.
In a recent interview, Burroughs drew parallels to the visionary approach of former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, who leveraged his power to ensure that DC residents, especially minority populations, benefitted from large-scale economic development projects.
Burroughs is committed to ensuring that Phase 2 of the P3 project focuses on the well-being of Prince George County residents and prioritizes project labor agreements (PLAs) as a means to guarantee fair wages, worker protections, and the engagement of local businesses.
When asked about the apparent resistance to PLAs, Burroughs pointed out that County Executive Alsobrooks holds the key to making a positive change. He highlighted the importance of county executives negotiating with major companies to mandate the hiring of Prince George County residents, partner with labor unions to ensure worker protections, and address issues like wage theft and exploitation.
Burroughs underscored the need for transparency in the process, advocating for independent audits of all contractors and the public's right to access information about the project's impact on the community. He firmly believes that taxpayers' dollars should be reinvested in the local community rather than benefit out-of-town contractors.
"I will not be voting for a P3 project without a PLA attached to it. I've sat with too many workers who have been exploited to do that. This money is taxpayer money, and the question is, are we gonna recirculate that money back into our community to uplift our own residents?"
Council Member Burroughs expressed concerns that the County Executive's administration and the school superintendent may very well send down an MOU for them to sign that includes no Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and then blame the Council if the schools are delayed or not built. He described this situation as a dangerous game of chicken, where the County Executive's office attempts to shift the responsibility to the Council.
In closing, Council Member Burroughs highlighted the importance of elected officials standing up for their constituents and urged his colleagues on the County Council to prioritize PLAs as a means to protect workers, uplift local businesses, and create a more equitable future for Prince George's County.
"We must base public policy on what's in the best interest of the people of the county. And Project Labor Agreements have the ability to literally pull people out of poverty and pull them into the middle class with health care and benefits and retirement and scholarships for further education."
The conversation took place during an interview with the Executive Director of Progressive Maryland, Larry Stafford Jr., on his radio show, 'The Progress Report,' shedding light on the pressing concerns surrounding the Phase 2 of the P3 project and the pivotal role Project Labor Agreements play in it
As we embark on another week of relentless advocacy, it's imperative to acknowledge the significance of Latinx Heritage Month, which began this past Friday and will continue until October 15th. This celebration of culture and contributions reminds us of the rich diversity that enriches our state and our progressive movement. With nearly 12% of Maryland's population identifying as Latinx and/or Hispanic, we understand the significance of embracing their voices, stories, and experiences.
Discover how we're spearheading impactful organizing efforts across our various task forces in this week’s memo.
Throughout this month, we'll also be featuring various ally events that honor and support our Latinx community.
Read on to find out what our task forces are planning, ways to get involved, and details on these exciting ally events.
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Maryland's educational establishment is already having trouble digesting the brute facts of the Blueprint for America's Future, and after last week it will have to start looking for a new top state actor to bring it about -- the incumbent state superintendent has opted to go elsewhere.
Plus power company scams, Bidenomics bullhorn in Prince George's, not enough money for transportation projects and social justice action at the county level -- is the Assembly watching? It's News You Can Use for this tumultuous week, including the chaos in Congress for dessert.
While crime among young people is a point of emphasis in mainstream media in Baltimore, homicides and non-fatal shootings are down. Community-based organizations like We Our Us and the Baltimore Peace Movement have been at the forefront of violence prevention efforts over the last several years, but the media does not do the work of exposing the community to the work these organizations do so we can build on their success. What the media does do is lift up the most extreme cases of violence and brutality, painting a broad brush that characterizes these instances as more widespread than they really are, says activist Dayvon Love.
Public knowledge of the work organizations in the Black community are doing to promote peace is minimal. The societal propaganda that is perpetuated through entities like Fox45 impairs our ability to see when we are doing work that is having an impact. Their coverage of Baltimore projects Black people as inherently pathological. They shroud their coverage in the language of accountability and transparency, but their interest is not in empowering Black people.
The writer argues that Black people and organizations in Baltimore and Maryland can fight against the deep pessimism in our community engendered by these systemically negative media and the "tough on crime" posture of some public officialsRead more
Today, as we solemnly remember the events of September 11th, we are reminded of the profound impact that pivotal moments in history can have on our collective journey towards progress. On this day, in 2001, the world witnessed both the worst of humanity's capacity for destruction and the best of our capacity for unity and resilience.
As a progressive organization committed to building a more just and equitable future, we understand the significance of moments like these. They serve as a stark reminder of the importance of our work—working tirelessly to ensure that our communities are safe, inclusive, and empowered to drive positive change.
Don't forget to check out all the incredible work our task forces are doing as we gear up for a transformative fall. Read on for important updates and news you can use.
The Progressive Maryland Team