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MSD Faculty and Staff Overwhelmingly Choose Collective Bargaining

It is rare to get 99% of people to do anything these days, unless it's unionization at the Maryland School for the Deaf. Last week, faculty and staff at the state facility voted 159-2 to unionize, authorizing the Maryland School for the Deaf Faculty and Staff Association, Local 4828 (MSDFSA) to serve as the exclusive bargaining agent for faculty and staff at the school. The huge and historic win comes after years of organizing. AFT-Maryland has supported the faculty and staff at the state institution for more than two decades. In the last few years however, efforts to codify collective bargaining have intensified, culminating in a collaborative effort between  AFT National, AFT-Maryland, and faculty and staff at the Maryland School for the Deaf that made up the organizing committee. 

In 2021, through efforts from AFT-Maryland and MSDFSA, legislators passed enabling legislation making faculty and staff at the school state employees enrolled in the state personnel management system. This moved some workers at the school from contractual to PIN employees. From there, the next step was getting workers there to vote yes on AFT. The efforts on the ground made all the difference. There was an eager and ready workforce who wanted a voice to address their demands. Workers knew the collective union voice was how their demands would be met. Workers spoke to their colleagues, and began advocating for their needs, organizing around the ideals laid out in the mission statement

The mission statement followed efforts to get the Hogan administration to fully fund the Maryland School for the Deaf. Following a petition and press conference, the Hogan administration still would not meet with faculty and staff from the institution. One source of inspiration has been the election of Governor Wes Moore who has looked to establish his record as distinct from the Hogan administration’s legacy of underfunding state agencies. 

"The 99% vote for AFT shows that teachers and staff at MSD are ready to fight for our school. We're telling Governor Wes Moore: MSD needs major investment to create permanent positions for the more than 1/3 of teachers, teachers' aides, and others who have been kept in temporary status for years, and we need to bring salaries where they should be so we don't lose more talented, bilingual educators to Governor Hogan’s legacy of broken promises and salary freezes," said MSDFSA President Edna Johnston. 

Rank-and-file members also share President Johnston’s excitement. Teacher Nicole Goldberg said, “I’m so happy to have collective bargaining here at the school. I feel like we can now have our voices seen and heard and as faculty and staff we can be a part of our school’s decisions.”

Kenya Campbell, President of AFT-Maryland, was full of joy upon learning of the overwhelming majority who voted for MSDFSA to collectively bargain for faculty and staff saying, “This is only the beginning and AFT-Maryland will be there to support MSDFSA in negotiations, advocacy in Annapolis, and standing in solidarity with them every step of the way. As a teacher, I know how important it is that educators have a say in their school. It’s good for students and families as well as for faculty and staff.”

Following the huge election win, faculty and staff along with staff from AFT-Maryland enjoyed a celebratory gathering at a local restaurant where everyone had a chance to celebrate this win, and gear up for the road ahead. 



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