Students and union workers represented by AFSCME Local 1072 unfurled two banners during a rally at the University of Maryland College Park campus last Friday, demanding higher pay and an end to parking fees. The rally was held during the bustling lunch hour in UMD’s student union, allowing union members and activists to distribute hundreds of flyers explaining the union’s contract proposals. In addition to expanding sick leave and reducing parking fees, the union has proposed protections for LGBTQ workers, making the University a sanctuary campus, and ensuring the campus is accessible to people with disabilities. Though the administration has refused to bargain around some of these more universal proposals, union activists argue that the contract should not apply exclusively to bargaining unit employees. “Many of the social issues that students are concerned about in today's climate are ones that employees of the university are equally concerned with,” says Todd Holden, an exempt employee and member of the union’s bargaining team. “We are really welcoming of all the involvement that the students have started to demonstrate about what we're trying to achieve.” Contract negotiations are expected to continue for at least the next few weeks as the Fall semester comes to a close.
- report by Chris Bangert-Drowns, photo by Sam Luebke